When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to a joint session of Congress last month, he proclaimed proudly that “only a democratic Israel has protected freedom of worship for all faiths in the city.”
This is a lie, as a key youth organizer based in Ramallah recently told me in a phone interview. A few days before he returned back to Palestine after a trip to the United States, Fadi Quran said that Israeli restrictions on Palestinian travel to Jerusalem would be plain to see on the June 5 protest commemorating the Naksa. Quran is an organizer with the March 15 youth movement, which first demonstrated in favor of Palestinian reconciliation.
He was right.
Hundreds of Palestinian protesters who marched on the Israeli Defense Forces’ Qalandia checkpoint that separates Jerusalem from Ramallah were met with tear-gas and rubber bullets. Dozens of injuries were reported. The demonstrators, as shown in this YouTube video circulated on the internet, demanded that they be allowed free access to Jerusalem. Israel strictly controls Palestinian access to Jerusalem.
Quran told me:
On June 5, we’re going to ask the world the question, ‘Why are five million Palestinians prevented from getting to Jerusalem?’ And if they are prevented, then didn’t Netanyahu just lie to the American Congress, and if so, why did they stand up and clap for him when he said that lie? We’re going to make these types of lies, and this type of false rhetoric, obvious. And the question then will be, are the people who believe in justice going to stand up on the side of those fighting for their rights, or are they going to stay on the side of those who are unfair and unjust and survive by stripping people of their dignity?
Alex Kane, a freelance journalist and blogger based in New York City, writes on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia at alexbkane.wordpress.com, where this post originally appeared. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.