Here’s a photo album from my recent trip to Israel and Palestine. First, Romney’s rich backer Sheldon Adelson, on the right, comes to Jerusalem to host a fundraiser of mostly-American Jews for Romney:
Adelson’s shaking hands with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. That’s Adelson’s wife in the background, Miriam. I saw her in the King David Hotel. She has a nice smile.
Next is another American Jew deeply involved in Israel’s political life, Dore Gold, the former ambassador of Israel to the United Nations under Netanyahu, arriving at the same event Adelson was going to, Romney’s speech a week back.
Like Sheldon Adelson, Dore Gold has worked hard to block the creation of a Palestinian state.
So has the American-born Israeli ambassador to the United States. Michael Oren once worked at the Adelson-backed Shalem Center in Jerusalem. During Romney’s visit he was always hanging round the King David Hotel, where Adelson was staying. At midnight last Sunday, Oren kindly stopped to be photographed– below. I guess we were both drunk on Jewish nationalism.
Inside the hotel the next day, I met Mitt Romney’s brother Scott:
Romney’s brother Scott
You can’t really see his button. Here it is on the right:
Romney button in Hebrew
Among Sheldon Adelson’s other causes is the Holocaust Memorial, as you can see in the picture below.
At Yad Vashem
Another Adelson cause is getting young Diaspora Jews to come to Israel. I doubt he’s responsible for this bar mitzvah boy’s trip; but I thought Salomon Moishe Weinberg’s banner, hanging outside one of the big West Jerusalem hotels, was impressive. Maybe some day he’ll be an Israeli ambassador.
Bar mitzvah banner
Change of scene, to the West Bank.
Below is a Palestinian street in occupied Hebron that Dore Gold, Benjamin Netanyahu and Michael Oren have all worked to Judaize. It’s the central market street, Shuhada Street. You can see the apartheid conditions: Palestinians on the left, Jews on the right, in this short section of the road that Palestinians are allowed to walk on.
Jews in Shuhada Street in occupied Hebron. Palestinians must walk on the side.
Here’s another shot of Shuhada Street where Palestinians aren’t allowed to walk. In fact, the settlers and Israeli government closed down all the Palestinian businesses. You can see the settlers’ propaganda about Arabs and the peace process and the “Oslo War” at left.
The Oslo War
Below is a Palestinian school in Hebron with a peace mural outside it. Jewish settlers have put angry graffiti on the school walls, including the legend, “Free Israel” — meaning they want to take over Palestine. I was told that one of the Hebrew messages reads Death to Arabs.
A month ago settlers held a conference in Hebron about annexing Palestine. You can see the agenda on the poster next to the settlers’ horse and buggy: Jewish sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, the West Bank. How is this related to Sheldon Adelson? Well he’s supported the endless colonization project, and stood by Newt Gingrich last spring when he said that Palestinians are an invented people.
Settler horse and agenda
I first heard of Adelson when he helped found One Jerusalem in 2000 to keep the Palestinians from getting a capital in Jerusalem. The fruits of his labors are visible in the photograph below of the separation wall at the eastern edge of occupied east Jerusalem, cutting off the community of Abu Dis on the other side. Abu Dis was supposed to be the Palestinian capital under the two state solution. Well, you can’t get from Abu Dis to Jerusalem. This wall is deep inside occupied territory and at 26 feet high is twice the height of the Berlin Wall, according to Jeff Halper. Also the top is electrified and has concertina wire spread on it. Halper says Palestinian children were managing to climb over it, to get from one part of their lands to another. No longer.
Wall at Abu Dis
Above is a revision of a famous travel poster for Palestine from the 1930s. I took the picture in the Jerusalem market.
In the next picture, you can see what people mean by “apartheid roads.” The faint road traveling up the tree-topped prominence in the left foreground, about a third of the way from the left, is a Palestinian road. Palestinians only. The big black one on the right is going to be for Israelis only, which is to say Jews traveling to settlements deep inside the West Bank. Separate roadways, and starkly different standards.
Apartheid roads in Palestine
More evidence of apartheid. The wall below is in the West Bank outside Jerusalem. It separates the Jewish settlement of Har Gilo on the right from the Palestinian village whose lands Har Gilo has taken, Al-Walaja. The Jewish settlers want to be separated from that village. The outside of the wall facing the Palestinians is gray concrete. The side of the wall facing the settlement is neatly tiled with limestone-style tiles. Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, who brought me to the wall, calls the different faces “visual apartheid”.
Wall at Har Gilo settlement, tiled on the Jewish side
Yet another form of separation. You should be able to make out the signs hanging in the middle ground over the left and right lanes of this checkpoint in Bethlehem. The sign on the left says MEN. The one on the right says WOMEN. The Israeli authorities are separating men and women, for some reason.
Men and women separated at Bethlehem checkpoint
We’re getting to the end of my pictures. Here are some Zionist images from the departure ramp at Ben Gurion Airport. First a famous athlete, 1947.
Zionist iconography at Ben Gurion
I like this one because I like the Zionist project of bringing Jews to the land:
Here is a picture of a grandmother and granddaughter returning to the Jewish “homeland.”
The idea of Jews returning to a land where they had not had sovereignty in more than 2000 years is of course problematic. It involved forcing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians off their land. And as this billboard in Bethlehem shows, the right of return is precious and resonant for Palestinians.