Susie Kneedler responds to Ethan Bronner's report in yesterday's Times on Nir Barkat, the rightwing mayor of Jerusalem, and his plans to tear down Palestinian homes near the Old City to make way for park space.
Bronner's "story" is fiction; the news of the continuing destruction of
Palestinian homes is absolutely tragic, as well as unfathomably
aggressive. But how does Bronner start his narrative of the planned
demolition of Palestinian homes by Israeli bulldozers? With a
Palestinian "terrorist attack" by bulldozer and Jewish "local heroes":
delayed by a terrorist attack. A Palestinian had used a front-end
loader to turn over a police car and ram a bus near ’s main
shopping mall. The assailant was gunned down by two off-duty police
officers and a taxi driver. Mayor Nir Barkat rushed to the scene,
consulted with the police and handed out merit pins to the three local
Bronner unfairly frames the episode as incontestably "a terrorist
attack," though no humans were killed except Palestinian man himself.
Hmmm, what does that mean about the Mayor's meditated destruction of
Palestinian homes by bulldozer [!], let alone about Israeli slaughter
in Gaza? Bronner
asserts that, "The MURDEROUS bulldozer driver had a copy of the Koran on
his seat. His defenders noted that dozens of Arab homes in Jerusalem
were about to be destroyed by the Israeli authorities and called his
act a “natural response” [my caps]." Nowhere does Bronner either
identify "his defenders" or hint that they have justice on their side.
Bronner applies the epithet
"murderous" to the dead man, though he killed no one.
Bronner assigns all negative feelings to Palestinians:
that every breath of air in this city is filled with HISTORICAL
RESENTMENT, and none of the residents of BELIEVE FOR A SECOND that he [ ] is looking out for their welfare.
Protest tents filled with Palestinians whose houses have been torn down
or are about to be destroyed are popping up in neighborhoods like
Silwan, Shuafat and Sheikh Jarrah. ANGER is palpable [my caps].'
Bronner never allows that the indisputable fact of the Israeli destruction
of their land and homes might justify the Palestinians' perspective. Bronner only tells us surreptitiously–almost haphazardly–about the colossal
destruction of 1500 homes that Barkat plots, by quoting posters on the
tents of already purged, homeless people:
Destroyer of Jerusalem,” reads a poster in one such tent. Another says,
“No Tourist Attraction on the Ruins of 1,500 People’s Homes.” '
Bronner acquiesces to Barkat's racism–particularly Barkat's image of
cleansing Jerusalem, which "must be cleaned up and fattened up with
help from abroad." Incidentally, what precisely does the "fattened up"
mean? We all know of some starving children in who could use some
pasta and hummus–not to mention, soap, toothpaste, and toilet paper.
Bronner never asks. Doesn't he care? Bronner reiterates Barkat's aim
to 'generally clean up what he calls the “wild East.” "
Barkat's detestable verb "clean" has become Bronner's own–so little do
their perspectives apparently differ. Worse, Bronner characterizes the
mayor's actions as, "Mr. Barkat is bringing a sense of modern renewal
and entrepreneurial spirit to City Hall," a newness and enterprise that
cast out the existing occupants merely because they are of a different
claims that "FOR him [Barkat], Jerusalem is ’s eternal and
indivisible capital….All religions must be free to worship in it. But
it must never be shared or divided." Bronner never questions how "all
be free to worship in Jerusalem if the city "must never be shared or
divided," or how any country can decide the future's eternal destiny.
Bronner doesn't question the sort of tyranny Barkat covets for Israel
and his rule as Mayor: 'What Mr. Segev, like Mr. Barkat, means is both
improving services for the Palestinians and ending any ambiguity about
Jewish dominance.' What a sinister description of oppression, putting
a stop to any mystery about Jewish–what–victory, supremacy,
despotism? As Phil, Adam, and many readers have said on
Mondoweiss many times before, how can "Jewish dominance" exist in a
sensitive and that it must be handled in a sensitive, but definitive,
way.' In other words, Bronner himself announces his bias by supplying
his own extremely dishonest euphemism, "sensitive," to cover up the
facts. Bronner's repetition of "sensitive" hides the real, confirmable outrage to
international law of Barkat's–Israel's–illegal attacks on Palestinian
people and their houses. Bronner's slimy word "sensitive" disguises as well the violence Barkat and
HIS bulldozers will commit in ruthless, self-aggrandizing theft: the
obliteration of lives and homes. "Cheerleading sadism" is the only
phrase I can imagine for Bronner's "sensitive, but definitive"
falsehoods about Israel's wanton annihilation of others' existence and
Bronner heartlessly gives Barkat the last, distorted, word:
Palestinians are teaching their children how to be terrorists,” he
said. “They say they want us out. We come to them with a win-win
solution. They come back with a win-lose. The answer is no. I don’t see
any solution that divides Jerusalem.” '
Bronner omits any mention of
International Law or U.N. Resolutions that make Israeli Occupation of
East Jerusalem illegal. He leaves unexamined Barkat's lie that Barkat
offers people who aren't Jewish a "win-win" when it's actually a
total "lose-lose"–to use Segev's word: "domination" by a conquering
behemoth. The Caterpillar bulldozer: that is the proper image of the
for which Barkat spoils and Bronner advertises.