When it’s quiet in Jerusalem the settler security cameras are still rolling

Israel/Palestine
on 58 Comments
settler camera crop
Settler security camera in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. (All Photos: Allison Deger)

Nearly once a week clashes break out in East Jerusalem. Settlers live on top of Palestinian businesses or across the street from Palestinian homes, and white security cameras peek over the sides of buildings every 20 feet like, flags in an American suburb. They prowl for arrest around the clock, capturing the faces of Palestinian children. At times the armed private guards in striped t-shirts that tail each settler provoke neighborhood kids. In some instances the children throw stones. In those cases later the same night the police will show up and arrest them, recognizing their faces from the security recordings. In other instances, the children will awaken to tear gas canisters smashing through their windows.

settlement old city
Israeli settlement on the second story of Palestinian owned buildings in the Christian quarter of the Old City, Jerusalem.
settlement business
Israeli settlement situated between Palestinian businesses
near the Via Dolorosa in the Old City, East Jerusalem

In other parts of the city, near the Haram al-Sharif, the compound that encapsulates al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, daily religious settlers plead with the Israeli military to let them pass through the tourist check point so they can enter the Muslim holy sites. There is a movement among Israel’s hardliners to pray at al-Aqsa mosque, and destroy it in order to build a Third Temple on the site. According to a recent report by Shany Littman in Haaretz Magazine 92% of religious Jews believe they have a right to pray at the location of the historic and long destroyed Second Temple. Littman reports, “52 percent of the entire Jewish public” believe Jews should be able pray at the mosque, and “17 percent of Israeli Jews, religious and secular alike, want to see a Third Temple built.” Since 1967 it has been illegal for Jews to pray at the mosque, yet in cases like last Friday not only did Jews break the law and pray, they brought in busloads of faithful extremists.

police stuff
Police shields between the two tourists checkpoints
for the Haram al-Sharif.

For the past two months clashes have broken out in East Jerusalem once or twice a week resulting in either arrests or mob violence against Palestinians. When I visited Haram al-Sharif it was the day after a violent confrontation between 140 Israeli-rightists on a Sukkot themed tour to the mosque. Twenty-four hours after the fighting, the Israeli military was not letting religious Jews into the compound. Here everyone is profiled, including Israelis and with a glance at the black pants and payot, the soldiers knew trouble would follow. The youths forced their fingers through the gated door and pleaded once more for entry. The military had locked the gate, and then one solider shooed the teenagers away. That is all it takes to prevent a major outburst of violence that, like the day before that ended with tear gas billowing inside of al-Aqsa.

Of course when it’s quiet in East Jerusalem, that is the time between chemical dispersants, arrests and public beatings, there is still a tremendous level of violence pressed upon Palestinians. And oddly, although everyday there are literally hundreds of tourists mulling through the streets they do not see the violence taking place. Stand on the Via Dolorosa, a path Jesus was believed to have once walked, and Christian pilgrims flood over the stone walkway. They take pictures and sing hymns, but they are blind to the settler houses on this street that evicted Palestinians in the 1980s. Their tour guides manufacture their entire experience, lying to them about what is in front of them. At one overlook point in East Jerusalem I overheard a tour where the guide told the tourists that the Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem were part of the “Judea Desert.” He mentioned only the Jewish sites, excluding the Mukataa, the Palestinian Authority compound in Ramallah. This showing and telling, yet omitting constitutes a major emphasis of hasbara programs, which offer free trips to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. So many times have I heard the Zionist argument, “just go and see Israel for yourself.” But when guides do not explain that the black smoke off in the distance is tires burning from a demonstration, and the house above you is filled with extremists who used false affidavits to evict a family, tourists are able to walk through conquest in action without noticing any conflict.

Bustan
The Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, now under threat of demolition by the City of David, or the Elad company.

Last Saturday after passing the holy sites I walked through the narrow corridors of Silwan into a sub-section of the neighborhood called the Bustan, where it was quiet except for the occasional giggles of children popping their heads over mine from nearby verandas. They asked my name and where I was from. Just after introductions, the kids, no more than eight years old, would point in unison to a settler home. Invariably the commotion would catch the ear of the private armed security whose presence is paid for by city taxes. On quiet days, the armed guards turn away after spotting the children.

The Bustan is an embattled area for no other reason than a biblical tale. It is said that the wife of King David once walked through this region and so the city of Jerusalem has posted demolition orders on almost every home—of course excluding the two settler houses. Both public and private city planners run the permit process in this part of East Jerusalem. In fact, this area is the only neighborhood where the Israeli government shares municipal duties with a private company. Elad, or the City of David, wants to evict around 1,000 Palestinians and in place of these families, which number between 65 and 85, construct a Green Zone. The nature reserve is slotted to geographically connect to the City of David Visitor Center at the top of a hill near the Old City, effectively bisecting Silwan.

When it is quiet like last Saturday, still the Elad company and the Jerusalem municipality illegally construct archaeological tunnels underneath Palestinian homes. According to one archeologist who disagreed with the planning process, there are nine tunnels that run underneath Silwan for the purpose of excavating Jewish remnants. Due to Israeli legislation on antiquities, the presence of artifacts found from these tunnels could green-light further demolition orders on the homes above. And the tunnels also cause another danger for homeowners — collapse. There is one house in the Bustan where the living room floor gave in to the tunnel. According to the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolition, the family sofa fell into the gaping hole.

Jonathan house
“Jonathan’s House,” settlement near the Bustan
neighborhood of Silwan, East Jerusalem.

After walking through the neighborhood I was invited into the home of a Palestinian family that live within eye-shot of a massive seven-story settler structure called “Jonathan’s House.” A typical settler edifice, the home is adorned with tattered Israeli flags and security cameras. Settlers moved into the building in 2004, and unlike other cases in Silwan, they legally purchased the building, however the previous homeowner is currently in an Israeli prison on charges unknown to the neighbors. I watched as adult men and one woman carried baby items into the building. According to the neighbors, who wished to remain anonymous, the settlers are unpleasant neighbors. They are loud, play music late and just that day they had erected an over-sized light on the roof, which was expected to cause problems during sleeping hours.

But living next to a settlement causes more serious problems. Just a few weeks ago the settlers, or their guards shot two tear gas canisters into the Palestinian home, one into the living room and one into the youngest boy’s room. When the child’s father tried to open the window to air out the home because the children were choking, more tear gas entered from the outside. And another time, when Palestinians families in the area got together recently for a hefla, a party, Israeli soldiers showed up and started checking identification cards.

At times the settlers from this large building walk with their guards through the Bustan to the other settler home on the same road. Sometimes they even take the full 15-minute trek to the City of David Visitor Center, which boasts a large outdoor patio, a smoking area, and public restrooms. Most of these properties were taken over by settlers claiming the properties used to belong to Jewish owners before 1948. Haaretz has reported extensively on settler organizations relying on falsified evidence of ownership to carry out evictions of Palestinian families, but in certain cases the settlers are correct. Before the nakba and the founding of the state of Israel Yemeni Jews did live in Silwan. But when Israeli law forbids Palestinians from reclaiming their property and not only allows Jews to reclaim property, but allows Jews with no affiliation to the original owner to reclaim property, the policies look like Apartheid. As the Palestinian man who invited me into his home in Silwan said, “how come Jews can reclaim their houses from before 1948 and we can’t reclaim Lifta or Jaffa.”

graffiti
Graffiti depicting a home demolition, Silwan, East Jerusalem.

 

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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58 Responses

  1. Chu
    October 12, 2012, 11:43 am

    “Both public and private city planners run the permit process in this part of East Jerusalem. In fact, this area is the only neighborhood where the Israeli government shares municipal duties with a private company.”

    I didn’t realize private agencies could provide permits for evicting Palestinians. Israel is a true rogue state. The Palestinians must feel as oppressed as blacks were in the Jim Crow South. But as all the American Jews say its ‘Next Year in Jerusalem!’, the show must go on…

    • Allison Deger
      October 12, 2012, 5:05 pm

      It’s an atypical situation in Israel for private interests to so blatantly merge with the public sphere. Still, while Silwan is the only municipality with shared jurisdiction, it is worth noting that local planning councils–that is the city planning councils for districts within Israel–do have spots for private groups.

      In cases where a private organization owns a town, like the Or Movement, the Judaization equivalent to Disney’s Celebration, a leader from that town can be appointed to the council. As well, the 1965 Planning and Building Act reserved slots on planning councils for the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency and “women.” Allowing private groups with explicit demographic interests to hold positions that can determine who gets a building permit (and who doesn’t) is precisely why the heavily populated Palestinian districts in Israel still have discriminatory permit systems. Prime example is Menashe Regional Council in Wadi Ara. There are no Palestinians on the local planning council.

      • Shingo
        October 12, 2012, 10:09 pm

        It’s an atypical situation in Israel for private interests to so blatantly merge with the public sphere

        Hardly surprising seeing as this is the defining characteristic of fascism.

  2. jon s
    October 12, 2012, 12:28 pm

    A correction: the settler NGO is “Elad” , short for “El Ir David” (“to the city of David”).

  3. Annie Robbins
    October 12, 2012, 12:52 pm

    i wonder if there has ever been an ethnic cleansing in the history of mankind so meticulously documented as what is going on today in palestine.

    well, i have confidence this is temporary.

  4. German Lefty
    October 12, 2012, 1:26 pm

    Great article, Allison. Made me feel like I was there with you. These settlers are so creepy.

  5. upsidedownism
    October 12, 2012, 3:14 pm

    WONDERFUL work by Alison.
    excellent report and insight, please keep it up, if you can.
    It might be dis-spiriting witnessing the annihilation of a nation.

    I can’t help noticing how the two comments on the forum are tied together:

    “The Palestinians must feel as oppressed as blacks were in the Jim Crow South. ”

    “i wonder if there has ever been an ethnic cleansing in the history of mankind so meticulously documented as what is going on today in palestine.”

    Blacks in the jim crow south always had at least a few influential persons in washington concerned for their plight; eventually there were enough representatives in congress and senators to make a difference. This ethnic cleansing in palestine today is happening in plain view because there are no ‘pro-palestinian’ people of influence in power in washington now; america’s elected representatives only differ in the degree of their support for zionism. Tel Aviv has washington’s middle east policy completely in its pocket.

  6. Bumblebye
    October 12, 2012, 3:22 pm

    Isn’t “Jonathan’s House” supposed to have been demolished years ago due to being built several stories over the limit, and illegally even under faux Israeli law being applied in EJ?

    • Allison Deger
      October 12, 2012, 4:44 pm

      It’s still there. EI covered it in 2010. link to electronicintifada.net

      “Beit Yehonatan, or Jonathan’s House, is distinctive not only for its height — at seven stories, it is at least three floors taller than its neighbors — but also for the Israeli flag draped from the roof to the street.

      The settlement outpost, named for Jonathan Pollard, serving a life sentence in the US for spying on Israel’s behalf in the 1980s, has been home to eight Jewish families since 2004, when it was built without a license by an extremist settler organization known as Ateret Cohanim.”

      Note, EI says the building was built w/out a permit. But ICAHD (whose been following this for years) and the neighbor (whose got the street news) both say the property** was purchased legally.

  7. giladg
    October 13, 2012, 12:07 pm

    What do you call someone who hates Jewish archeology?
    Allison has relayed an account of visiting the City of David, the place Jews believe where it all began and a place mentioned in the Bible. She refers to the visitor’s center. She does not tell us whether she actually took the tour and was able to view the remarkable archeological finds in the area, that happen to be beneath some homes on street level. The City of David is on a hillside. During the Second Jewish Temple period, Jews would need to bath in religious pools and then slowly walk up the hillside preparing mentally and spiritually, before entering the Temple Mount courtyard. The City of David, to which Allison refers, contains many archeological places of great importance to the Jewish people, who practiced their religion a long, long time before Islam was introduced to the world. The ritual baths and the carefully designed steps with marble and sophisticated water drainage systems to allow rainwater to flow into the ritual baths, rainwater being the purest form and preferred water for this religious ceremony. Also found bellow street level is the Gihon Spring that was the only natural source of water for the ancient city of Jerusalem. An underground tunnel exists from this area to alongside the Temple Mount itself. Allison likes to refer to the Islamic reference to the site, the Haram al-Sharif. Anyone interested in true peace would give greater detail and place greater importance to this site from a Jews prospective as well.
    Allison, and those who would deny the importance of Jerusalem to Jews, have a gripe with archeology. Allison is unable to internalize the historical importance of the site to Jews. Any other place in the world with anything similar, would have relocated all of the homes and residents in the area, which is not that large by the way.
    So again I ask you, “What do you call someone who hates archeology that ties back to Jewish history and heritage?”

    • Bumblebye
      October 13, 2012, 1:27 pm

      giladg
      What do you call an occupying country, defying international law in order to dispossess the inhabitants and destroy the heritage of the invaded lands and its peoples?
      Who is hating on who here?

    • lyn117
      October 13, 2012, 2:15 pm

      Jerusalem was a pagan town for a lot longer than it was “Jewish,” and Islamic for a lot longer as well. The fact is, the settlers are only interested in the “Jewish” archeology. They are using archeology to prove a biblical myth. They have no desire to use archeological finds to determine what the human world was like back in the day, but to demonstrate it was “Jewish.” Or possibly, to help expel the present-day Palestinians, and make it Jewish. Their “archeology” isn’t a scientific endeavor any more than creationist “science.”

      The “second temple” period, Jerusalem was ruled by Persians (Zoroastrian), Greeks (pagan), Hasmoneans (purportedly Jewish, also known for forced conversion of pagans), and Romans (pagan). An honest archeologist would question whether all the worshippers at the “temple” were Jewish.

      @giladg, why are you so eager to support a pseudo-archeology that’s being used only to expel the native people of “your” land, establish the land as being Jewish and cover up any evidence of non-Jewish existence?

      • giladg
        October 13, 2012, 7:23 pm

        I ask you lyn117, where do you get the information from? What you will discover, if you are honest enough with everyone here and yourself, is that the same sources you quote and think as discrediting Jewish history and heritage, actually strengthen the Jewish connection in other places. Are you cherry picking again?

      • piotr
        October 15, 2012, 7:35 pm

        I want my Temple of Jupiter back.

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 16, 2012, 9:55 am

        “I want my Temple of Jupiter back.”

        I agree. Let’s give the town back its proper name: Aelia Capitolina.

    • Woody Tanaka
      October 15, 2012, 10:43 am

      “Anyone interested in true peace would give greater detail and place greater importance to this site from a Jews prospective as well.”

      Bull. This excavation is nothing more than you fascists going about ethnically cleansing present-day people in a mad hope to justify your present day theft of land.

      • giladg
        October 15, 2012, 3:27 pm

        Woody, stop living in denial. This is the Jewish homeland and was Jewish long before it was anything Palestinian Arab.
        Jews speak the same language today as was spoken on the Temple Mount 2,000 years ago. Find a way to live with Jews, otherwise the conflict will never be solved.

      • Shingo
        October 16, 2012, 8:48 am

        This is the Jewish homeland and was Jewish long before it was anything Palestinian Arab.

        And it was a Canaanite homeland before and an Arab land for much longer.

        Jews speak the same language today as was spoken on the Temple Mount 2,000 years ago.

        No it’s not. The language spoken today is re-invented.

      • Ellen
        October 16, 2012, 9:16 am

        Gilad, your thinking is primitive. If you were honest and all the Jewish Tribal myths of “homeland” (which is a sickening expression) Jews would be returning to Ur, the “homeland” of Abrahamic tribes. Ur is in what is now called Syria. Early Jewish tribes spent more time in Ur than in Jerusalem. And for that matter also spent more time later in Babylon.

        The brainwashing behind the European Jewish justification of colonizing this part of the Middle East is really insane.

        In the arch of history, Jerusalem was simply one of many cities Jews lived in the Hellenic Mediterranean at that time. They were all over the Middle East and North Africa, later to proselytize in central Asia and Eastern Europe, which expanded the Jewish religion.

      • German Lefty
        October 16, 2012, 9:57 am

        @ giladg
        “Find a way to live with Jews, otherwise the conflict will never be solved.”
        Living WITH Jews EQUALLY is not the problem. The problem is living UNDER Jewish OPPRESSION. Why are Zionists too dumb to understand the difference? It’s the Zionist Jews who deny Palestinians equal rights and destroy their homes, not vice versa.

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 16, 2012, 10:27 am

        “This is the Jewish homeland”

        It’s also the Palestinian homeland.

        “and was Jewish long before it was anything Palestinian Arab.”

        and then it was non-Jewish for 2000 years.

        “Jews speak the same language today as was spoken on the Temple Mount 2,000 years ago”

        False. The Hebrew spoken today is not the same Hebrew spoken then. And one was more likely to have spoken Aramaic or Greek (or Latin, among some of the Romans whose city it was.)

        “Find a way to live with Jews, otherwise the conflict will never be solved.”

        The issue is whether the Jews will be able to find a way to live with the Palestinians. And the way you say, “everything is the Jews’ and nothing is the Palestinians’.”

      • eljay
        October 16, 2012, 11:20 am

        >> Living WITH Jews EQUALLY is not the problem. The problem is living UNDER Jewish OPPRESSION. Why are Zionists too dumb to understand the difference?

        Zio-supremacists understand the difference very well, but they just don’t care. They expect non-Jews in (the former) Palestine to accept their “Jewish State” supremacism.

  8. German Lefty
    October 13, 2012, 1:49 pm

    Hey Gilad, how about I dig a tunnel under YOUR house and then watch it collapse?

    • giladg
      October 14, 2012, 11:47 am

      German Lefty, the significance of the history and archeology at the City of David far outweighs the need for physical relocation of some families in the area. The legal home owners can be suitably relocated with compensation. The families that moved there illegally, can be moved elsewhere in the general area.
      Go to Google Earth or Google maps. Take a look at how few homes there are in this area. Are you suggesting that archeology be disregarded here? I mean the area has items 4,000 years old which for some, may not be significant. For me it is, but you seem all to ready to keep a few families in their homes, no matter what is under their homes. The City of David is not just another place with old “things”.

      • Shingo
        October 15, 2012, 6:43 am

        German Lefty, the significance of the history and archeology at the City of David far outweighs the need for physical relocation of some families in the area.

        Only of you are a religious lunatic. especially considering that in spite of digging up every inch of Silwan, the excavation has turned up absolutely nothing but remnants from the Romans. In fact, the leader of the project has admitted that not only do they have no evidence that Abraham, Solomon or David existed, they don’t even know if David was David’s name.

        The legal home owners can be suitably relocated with compensation.

        Only if they agree to it.

        I mean the area has items 4,000 years old which for some, may not be significant. For me it is…

        First of all, the 4,000 year old things have no connection to any Israeli Kingdom, and the idea that people would be evidence fro their homes just to placate your sense acute narcissistic itch is truly macabre and sadistic. You remind me of those paedophiles who justify satiating their urges by describing it as perfectly natural and man-boy love.

        The City of David is not just another place with old “things”.

        No, it’s a place with old Roman things.

      • seanmcbride
        October 15, 2012, 12:05 pm

        Only of you are a religious lunatic. especially considering that in spite of digging up every inch of Silwan, the excavation has turned up absolutely nothing but remnants from the Romans. In fact, the leader of the project has admitted that not only do they have no evidence that Abraham, Solomon or David existed, they don’t even know if David was David’s name.

        Would giladg care to comment on this? Is this true?

      • giladg
        October 15, 2012, 2:38 pm

        No archeological artifacts have yet to be found that confirm King David’s story. King David is believed to have lived in the City of David in a palace, as described in Jewish scriptures. A thousand years later the Romans turned up and eventually destroyed everything Jewish they could lay their hands on. The fact that no artifacts have yet to be found does not diminish the story for Jews in any way.
        On a side note, when Ehud Barak was Prime Minister, he allowed (for which he will not be forgiven) the Muslim Wakf on the Temple Mount to remove, unsupervised, earth on the southern side in order to allow access to an underground room, called Salomon’s Stables, to allow extra space for Muslims to pray in-doors. Against all understanding on how this was to be done, the Wakf used bulldozers to quickly remove large amounts of earth that was then dumped not too far way in the valley down below.
        This was done unsupervised with total disregard for archeological significance. When archeologists sifted through the earth that was dumped, many artifacts were found. If anything large was dug up by the Wakf, there is little change these were left in tact, as any artifact on the Temple Mount will only connect back to the Jewish history on the site. This dig took place less about 50 meters from the City of David, right next door. Finds have been made in the City of David with the latest significant find being a gold bell as described in the Jewish scriptures as being worn by the High Priest on the Temple Mount. Who knows what will be found under the next rock or during the dig tomorrow? Stay tuned.
        By the way, after the Wakf removed the earth on the Temple Mount, the wall adjacent to the area where the they worked started to bulge and nearly caused the collapse of a major section of the southern wall. And guess who was blamed for this?

      • Shingo
        October 15, 2012, 4:17 pm

        The fact that no artifacts have yet to be found does not diminish the story for Jews in any way.

        Story being the operative word.

        But if you don’t need the artefacts to support your “story” then surely there is no need to excavate or displace any of the population right?

        earth on the southern side in order to allow access to an underground room, called Salomon’s Stables, to allow extra space for Muslims to pray in-doors.

        Again a big deal was made of this but the so called artefacts that were uncovered (just a few tiny stones) had nothing to do with any Israeli kingdom.

        That’s what’s so absurd about debating you religious nut jobs on this topic. You did and dig and dig, and insist that that you’re looking for exists but simply hasn’t been fond – even though those digs turn up mountains or remains from civilizations that existed before and after your Israeli kingdoms apparently existed. And when others dig, you accuse them of destroying priceless evidence that would have been found had it been dug up properly.

        When archeologists sifted through the earth that was dumped, many artifacts were found.

        None of which had anything to do with any Jewish Kingdom. None had any significance to any Jewish history on the site.

        This dig took place less about 50 meters from the City of David, right next door.

        That comes back to my point. You’ve been digging at the City of David site for years and found nothing, but we’re supposed to believe that there was something significant 50 meters from the site.

        Arguing with you hsabrats is like arguing with Rumsfeld about WMDs. You start with the premise that the evidence exists and lies waiting to be found. The fact we haven’t fond them yet proves they haven’t been found – not that they don’t exist.

        Finds have been made in the City of David with the latest significant find being a gold bell as described in the Jewish scriptures as being worn by the High Priest on the Temple Mount.

        One gold bell with no markings to tie it to the High Priest on the Temple Mount.

        Who knows what will be found under the next rock or during the dig tomorrow? Stay tuned.

        Yeah right. Your grand children will be making the same excuses 100 years from now.

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 15, 2012, 4:32 pm

        “No archeological artifacts have yet to be found that confirm King David’s story. ”

        LMAO. I understand that there’ve been no artifacts to confirm the story of Bilbo Baggins or Scooby Doo, either. (Although they are hot on the trails of the Mystery Machine as we speak, and they would’ve found it, too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!!)

      • American
        October 16, 2012, 11:45 pm

        @ sean

        Yes it is true. I posted two of the latest archaeological reports (by 2 world renown archaeologist) here months back and they don’t even believe there was any “Kingdom”…the most they have found of any ancient Jewish Kingdom is evidence of shanties and animals stables and bones…. remnants of a primitive settlement village.
        In fact none of them now believe there was any Jewish exodus from Egypt.
        Myths are being destroyed more and more.

      • seanmcbride
        October 17, 2012, 11:07 am

        American,

        Myths are being destroyed more and more.

        Religious Zionists don’t care whether myths are grounded in facts and truth — what matters is that they fulfull an emotional need to feel “special” — more special than anyone else. Magical thinking. Infantilism. All cults exploit this lamentable side of human nature.

        This it is why it is impossible to enter into a rational and factual discussion with religious Zionists — they reject the very premise that rationality and facts matter. It’s all about their psychological needs, not what is true, or fair, or right, or just.

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 15, 2012, 10:53 am

        “German Lefty, the significance of the history and archeology at the City of David far outweighs the need for physical relocation of some families in the area.”

        Nonsense. Bits of junk from thousands of years ago are irrelevant compared to the interests of modern day people. And the israelis aren’t interested in this for archiological reasons, but to press your judeo-fascist ideology by ethnically cleansing the residents.

        “The legal home owners can be suitably relocated with compensation.”

        And no doubt the place where you people will “relocate” them will JUST HAPPEN to coincide with your plans to Judaize Arab East Jerusalem. Funny how coincidental THAT is.

        “but you seem all to ready to keep a few families in their homes, no matter what is under their homes.”

        Yes, because the ethnic cleansing is using the bits of ancient junk as an excuse.

        “The City of David is not just another place with old ‘things’.”

        Yes, it is. Historically it’s of minor signficiance, at best; at the time the place was a backwater.

      • giladg
        October 16, 2012, 7:42 am

        Sorry Woody, but Jews are not going to rely on your interpretation of the significance of archaeology and what a “backwater” is. Some still say that many Arab countries are still there.

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 16, 2012, 11:21 am

        ” Jews are not going to rely on your interpretation of the significance of archaeology and what a “backwater” is.”

        Value whatever you want, but there is simply no denying the historical fact that during the times in question, Israel was nothing but a backwater. It was a land and society which was nearly without value, save for the fact that its location between Asia and North Africa made it important to the societies that actually did matter, such as those in Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome.

        “Some still say that many Arab countries are still there.”

        So what? Some are. Big deal. The reality is that very few places at any one time can be considered to be a major player on the world stage. Some places, like Spain or Persia/Iran, once were major player but now are not. Others, like the United States, were once the middle of nowhere but are now one of the centers of the world. Israel in antiquity was nothing, and is today an afterthought of Western/European civilization misplaced in the Near East, notable solely for its belligerence and its nuclear weapons.

      • giladg
        October 16, 2012, 3:53 pm

        This is the land that G-d promised to the Jewish people so we cannot be fussy. I suppose it would have been nice if the there were some more natural resources, including more water. And from this “backwater” Woody, G-d gave to the world, through the Jewish people, the moral code via the Ten Commandments and the teaching of the Torah. And if you have studied your Koran, and you happen to know something about the Jewish scriptures, you will find that some parts were “borrowed” from the Jewish scriptures, which is perfectly okay as we pray to the same G-d, which is something many Muslims seem to not understand or want to accept. Judeo/Christian values inspired Mohammad.

      • Blake
        October 16, 2012, 5:43 pm

        When was that gilad because the word ‘Jew’ is only a relatively recently used word, having been first employed in the 1750’s in England, as the J sound was just being introduced into England from France. It was first seen written down in Sheridan’s play, “The Rivals,” in the year 1775.

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 16, 2012, 6:04 pm

        Believe your “god” nonsense all you want, giladg, non-existent spooks and spirits are no basis to form political policy. Further, the “moral code” in the Abrahamic religions and the Torah contains easily as much bad as good (if not more), so perhaps its escape from the Middle East is something to be lamented. Finally, please don’t presume that “we pray to the same G_d.” As an atheist, I certainly don’t pray to anything, especially your god. Rather nasty bugger, he is.

      • Annie Robbins
        October 16, 2012, 8:12 pm

        G-d gave to the world, through the Jewish people, the moral code via the Ten Commandments

        because before god and the jewish people no man realized stealing and murder was wrong.

      • RoHa
        October 16, 2012, 8:27 pm

        “G-d gave to the world, through the Jewish people, the moral code via the Ten Commandments and the teaching of the Torah.”

        Much of the world developed superior moral codes through the use of reason. Stoic, Buddhist, and Confucian morality were all more influential in Europe and Asia than the Jewish moral code. Christians adapted Stoic moral principles because the religious resources were inadequate. (They pretended to derive them from religious principles.)

        “we pray to the same G-d, which is something many Muslims seem to not understand or want to accept.”

        I have known a lot of Muslims, but never met one who does not understand or accept that. I have read a great deal of Islamic religious literature. I found the idea is explicitly stated, and indeed stressed, in that literature.

      • eljay
        October 16, 2012, 8:59 pm

        >> G-d gave to the world, through the Jewish people, the moral code via the Ten Commandments and the teaching of the Torah.

        If the Ten Commandments are the best that gawd – and not just any old gawd, apparently, but THE one and only gawd – could do, then gawd is at least as useless as you are.

        And let’s not even start on the “morality” of the commandments contained in the Torah:

        - Not to bow down before a smooth stone — Lev. 26:1
        – Men must not shave the hair off the sides of their head — Lev. 19:27
        – Men must not shave their beards with a razor — Lev. 19:27
        – To circumcise all males on the eighth day after their birth — Gen. 17:10
        – Not to marry non-Jews — Deut. 7:3
        – Not to offer to God any castrated male animals — Lev. 22:24
        – Not to eat the meat of an animal that died without ritual slaughter — Deut. 14:21
        – Not to cook meat and milk together — Ex. 34:26
        – Not to pick the unformed clusters of grapes — Lev. 19:10
        – To give the first shearing of sheep to a Kohen — Deut. 18:4
        – To break the neck of the donkey if the owner does not intend to redeem it — Ex. 13:13
        – Not to omit the salt from sacrifices — Lev. 2:13
        – Observe the laws of impurity of a seminal emission (regular ejaculation, with normal semen) — Lev. 15:16
        – Purchase a Hebrew slave in accordance with the prescribed laws — Ex. 21:2
        – Destroy the seven Canaanite nations — Deut. 20:17
        – Not to let any of them remain alive — Deut. 20:16
        – Prepare latrines outside the camps — Deut. 23:13

        Yup, lots of “morality” there…

      • Shingo
        October 16, 2012, 9:17 pm

        This is the land that G-d promised to the Jewish people so we cannot be fussy.

        You should be, because God did not promise it to the Jewish people so you really should shop around.

        from this “backwater” Woody, G-d gave to the world, through the Jewish people, the moral code via the Ten Commandments and the teaching of the Torah.

        Both of which said that the land no longer belongs to you because you broke the covenant.

        if you have studied your Koran, and you happen to know something about the Jewish scriptures, you will find that some parts were “borrowed” from the Jewish scriptures

        And if you have studied your Torah, and you happen to know something about the Jewish scriptures, you will find that some parts were “borrowed” from the pagan myths and stories about other deities.

      • RoHa
        October 17, 2012, 12:10 am

        eljay, why do you hate the unformed clusters of grapes so much?

      • straightline
        October 17, 2012, 12:11 am

        Where the Ten Commandments came from is not clear but almost certainly from an earlier form, possibly of Egyptian (ie Book of the Dead) or Hittite origin. Guess the Jewish scriptures were partly borrowed too.

        I’m getting rather tired of doing your homework for you giladg – you can do the googling this time.

      • American
        October 17, 2012, 1:36 am

        @ gilad…..you do realize don’t you, that everyone except zionist themselves understands that you don’t really exist as a distinct people or ancient race. You were members of one of three monotheistic religions in ancient times that lost a lot of it’s adherents to Christianity when it arose, that’s all, the rest is myth. All there is of Jews from ancient times or ever was, is Judaism, not a separate race or an ethnic or a distinct people, a religion that centuries ago converted people of mixed races and ethnics into Judaism. Jewish means a member of Judaism, that’s all it means. And as a religion Judaism borrowed some of it’s ideas and myth from folklore of the region and even from the Persians just as many religions have borrowed from and built on other religions. As a zionist, religious or not, what you think you are and where you think you came from does not exist and never did except in the religious background of Judaism. And even without the people myths, the religion of Judaism and it’s members would still have no more claim to Palestine than the pagans who first inhabited it or the Muslims or Christians who inhabited it.
        In zionism you are a figment of your own myths.

        The Invention of the Jewish People- Sands

        Dismantling the Myths

        It couldn’t last for long. As historical methodology developed, particularly with its new pragmatic focus on archeological research, the Biblical-racial version of Jewish history began to collapse. Biblical archeology in Israel – and despite international legal prohibition of excavation in occupied territory, in the West Bank too after 1967 – was always “an enlisted instrument of the nationalist ideology,” but one which rebounded nevertheless.

        It now appears that the Torah was written as recently as the sixth or fifth century BCE. Rather than a record left by the ancient patriarchs, it was the product of the “self-isolating literary politics” of Jewish elites who had come into contact with abstract Persian religious ideas. These literateurs made use of exaggerated administrative records from the past as well as myths and parables common to the region. Their Torah wasn’t intended to generate a sense of belonging to the nation among the peasant majority – most of whom were pagans – as it would be in a modern context, because neither the Judeans nor anyone else at the time entertained the concept of mass national belonging. On the contrary, the Torah was part of an exercise in isolating the bearers of high culture from the rabble. It identified the noble strain among the people.

        The elite claimed a prestigious Mesopotamian ancestry, locating themselves as foreigners from the highest and oldest of cultures, Ur of the Chaldees. Iraq was the supposed home of the great ancestor Abraham.

        After Mesopotamia, the second centre of Middle Eastern civilisation was Egypt, and Moses’s Egyptian associations retrospectively added to the civilisational prestige of the Jews. But the nation-shaping flight from Egypt seems to have never happened. In the 13th Century BCE, the supposed period of the exodus, Egypt ruled Canaan. How then could the Children of Israel have escaped from Egyptian rule into Egyptian rule? In all the many surviving Pharaonic records there is no mention of the Children of Israel passing through, nor of the various plagues visited on the Egyptians. Karen Armstrong’s book “The Great Transformation” suggests that the actual exodus may have been of believers from the coastal cities of Palestine, under total Egyptian control and so known as ‘Egypt’, to the hills of the West Bank, and shows that the language used in the Book of Exodus to describe the parting of the Red Sea is suspiciously similar to a Canaanite text which describes a ritual crossing of the River Jordan.

        Likewise, archeology has found no trace of the genocidal conquest of Canaan described in the Book of Joshua. Jericho, according to the Biblical account a mighty walled city before its destruction, was a small unwalled town at the time. And none of Solomon’s many fabled palaces have been unearthed. The consensus is that the glorious united national kingdom of David and Solomon, the state that Zionism sought to reconstitute, never existed.

        The Converts

        The story of the exile of 70AD was also dramatically exaggerated. The Roman Empire did not expel entire populations. It had neither the ability nor the motivation to do so. Rome destroyed the Jewish political class when it destroyed the temple, but the mass of the Judean population remained on their farms. By this time anyway there were already more followers of Judaism outside Judea than within. The signification of ‘Jew’ was no longer ‘inhabitant of Judea’ but ‘a believer in the Judean religion,’ and the Jews had become“a heterogenous mosaic of human populations that lived in the Hasmonean kingdom, in the Persian domain and in the far flung expanses of the Roman empire.”

        How did Judaism spread? Judea and Israel were peasant societies, not traders like the Phoenicians and Greeks who established port-colonies around the Mediterranean. Certainly a few Jews travelled to do business, but the demographic change was made by preachers, for Judaism at this stage was a converting religion.

        Sometimes it engaged in forced conversion, as was the case with the inhabitants of conquered Edom in 125 BCE. More usually, and most especially in the two centuries before Christ, it spread by peaceful proselytisation. Monotheism’s universalising tendencies answered well the demands of decaying late-Hellenism. Centres of converted Jews bloomed in Damascus and Alexandria and all around the east Mediterranean. Aggressive proselytising in Rome – where the religion was particularly popular among women – irritated the conservative pagan classes as much as Christianity would later, leading to several expulsions of Jews from the city. But Judaism continued to grow, unwittingly preparing the way for Christianity, a Jewish heresy which preached an even more universalist message and gave up the demand for converts to be circumcised.

        By the 4th Century Christianity had taken over and Jewish numbers began slowly to decline. When Christianity became Rome’s (or Byzantium’s) state religion, Jews were repressed as Christ-killers and stubborn rejectionists of the true faith. Christianity and later antisemitism developed the myth of Jewish exile as divine punishment. According to the tale, the converts were not native Europeans but homeless Judeans cursed to wander in foreign lands. Jewish theology internalised this in response.

        But conversion still continued beyond the Christianised Roman lands. The Yemeni kingdom of Himyar converted to Judaism in the 4th Century CE, shortly after its Ethiopian rival had converted to Christianity. Yemen’s brand of the religion was known as ‘Rahman Judaism’, ‘Rahman’ being a Hebrew-Arabic word for God the Merciful, after ‘Allah’ the name of God most commonly used by the first Muslims. In the Maghreb and Spain, Berbers, Arabs and Iberians converted.

        The most remarkable of the Jewish communities arose from the Khazar Kingdom of the 4th to 13th centuries CE. Originally a coalition of shamanistic Turkic clans, the Khazars mixed with their Slav, Magyar and Bulgar subjects, and with immigrant Armenian and Iraqi Jews, and adopted Judaism in the 8th or 9th century. Thereafter the kingdom became a pluralist polity similar to Muslim al-Andalus, but one with a Jewish aristocracy and perhaps a Jewish majority. The same Mongol invasion which sacked Baghdad destroyed Khazar power and, more decisively, the irrigation sytems on which the country relied. In the ensuing depopulation, Khazar Jews fled west towards Poland and Lithuania.

        Later the encounter of these Jews with German eastward colonisation resulted in the Yiddish language, a mix of Germanic, Slavic and Turkic dialects. By the end of the 19th Century, 80% of the world’s Jews were Yiddish speakers.

        Arthur Koestler wrote about the Yiddish Jews’ Khazar origins in his book “The Thirteenth Tribe.” “Their ancestors,” he said, “came not from the Jordan but from the Volga, not from Canaan but from the Caucasus .. genetically they are more closely related to the Hun, Uigur and Magyar tribes than to the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

        Clearly this history does not fit with ‘Palestinian’ Jewish nationalism. If memory of the conversions had survived, the imagined narrative of a unified ethnos bent on ‘return’ would never have been born. But this memory was killed as surely as the memory of the hundreds of dynamited Palestinian villages after 1948. Research into the Khazars, after a brief flourish, was silenced by Zionism in Israel and by Stalinist national chauvinism in Russia. And, in an earlier age, the converts themselves would have been eager to claim a noble Judean ancestry. In the same way we find an inordinate number of Indian Muslims with the family name Quraishi, to emphasise a pure Arabian tribal origin rather than an idolotrous Hindu past.

        Zionism panicked when it was confronted by Khazar history. Israel’s ambassador to the UK hysterically labelled Koestler’s book “an antisemitic action financed by the Palestinians.” Koestler was himself a Jew, and a soft Zionist, but it was no good. Even remembering was cast as an act of terror.

        The Judeans

        But what of Judaism’s Judean originators? What had happened to them in the meanwhile?

        By the arrival of Islam, Judea – named Palestine by the Romans – still contained a core of Jewish believers. Many had converted to Christianity, however. There was also a Samaritan minority, and the bulk of the peasantry remained pagan, as it had always been.

        Palestine had experienced constant ongoing immigration of and intermarriage with southern desert tribes since the earliest times, and the Muslim conquest didn’t dramatically alter Judean demographics. The Arabs did not settle the land in numbers, and the Jews welcomed these conquerors who respected them as ‘people of the Book’, a significant improvement on Byzantine state persecution. One contemporary Jew wrote, “God it was who inspired the Ishmaelite kingdom to aid us,” and reported that Jews had joined the Muslim army to fight the Byzantine forces. Under Islamic rule Jews were permitted to enter Jerusalem, which had been forbidden to them formerly.

        It is reasonable to assume that a slow, moderate process of conversion took place in Palestine and accounted for the disappearance of the Jewish majority in the country.

        Jabotinski, the father of the Israeli right, wrote, “It is physically impossible for a Jew descended from several generations of pure, unmixed Jewish blood to adopt the mental state of a German or a Frenchman, just as it is impossible for a Negro to cease to be a Negro.”

        In a state which forbids marriage between a ‘Jew’ and a ‘non-Jew’, this sort of thing is not the stuff of mere comedy.
        Israel is a state whose main purpose is to serve not a civil-egalitarian demos but a biological-religious ethnos that is *wholly fictitious* historically, but dynamic, exclusive and discriminatory in its political manifestation.

      • American
        October 17, 2012, 2:16 am

        I would also say the more one delves into the evolutions in Judaism like the producing of Torah, the more we can see the similarities between the ancient Jewish elites wanting to portray themselves as “Nobility” and the Zionist today who now promote the concept of Jewish superiority extended to include ‘all’ Jews…which is a extension or accommodation they have to make to attract and keep their subjects. And then of course any Jews who reject that ‘nobility of superiority’ are attacked as hertics to the nobles.

        “‘It now appears that the Torah was written as recently as the sixth or fifth century BCE. Rather than a record left by the ancient patriarchs, it was the product of the “self-isolating literary politics” of Jewish elites who had come into contact with abstract Persian religious ideas. These literateurs made use of exaggerated administrative records from the past as well as myths and parables common to the region. Their Torah wasn’t intended to generate a sense of belonging to the nation among the peasant majority – most of whom were pagans – as it would be in a modern context, because neither the Judeans nor anyone else at the time entertained the concept of mass national belonging. On the contrary, the Torah was part of an exercise in isolating the bearers of high culture from the rabble. It identified the noble strain among the people.”

      • piotr
        October 17, 2012, 6:05 am

        “Greek Ioudaios and Latin Iudaeus”: before J was used I was doing just fine.

      • eljay
        October 17, 2012, 7:25 am

        >> eljay, why do you hate the unformed clusters of grapes so much?

        Ummm…are you trying to tell me that Jews invented grapes and that hating unformed clusters of them (grapes, not Jews) makes me an anti-Semite? Wow, I’m speechless (except for the preceding paragraph).

      • sydnestel
        October 17, 2012, 11:32 am

        Well whoopdi-do! Jews aren’t ethnically pure!

        So what? Nationality is all in the head anyway? Are Americans ethnically pure? Are Brits? Are Checks or the Slovaks – who mostly think they are ethnically pure, really ethnically pure. Nationality is about common cultural touch points, common symbols, a common SENSE of history (aka – mythology). Washington did not really cut down the cherry tree: does that make the American nation a sham?

        The debate about whether being Jewish is about blood-lines, belief, or just plain self-identification has been going on (in the Jewish community) for hundreds of years – or more. In the Bible, Ezra is aghast that his fellow Judans (“Jews” would be an anachronism) have intermarried, and orders them to divorce their non-Jewish wives. King David – on the other hand – is, according to the Bible, the grandson of a “convert” (actually she never converts, she just self-identifies as a Judean.) Maimonides (circa 1200) points out that Jews are not literally “descendants of Abraham” as the Bible itself says that they were joint by a “mixed multitude” when they left Egypt. But that didn’t stop Maimonides from believing that the Jews where a nation (aka People.) Ben Gurion (ptu ptu ptu) himself believed that the “Arabs of Palestine” where mostly descendants of Jews who had converted, and early on, he held out hope that they would join their “cousins” in supporting a Jewish State.

        Nation is not the same as State, and they should not be identified one-to-one with each other. Nations often cross state borders. States can (and often do) contain many nations, but should nevertheless treat all their citizens (and significant nations) equally. That is Israel’s sin. That it privileges Jews and discriminates against Palestinians. But that does not mean Jews are not a nation (People).

      • RoHa
        October 17, 2012, 10:07 pm

        “But that does not mean Jews are not a nation (People).”

        True, but what is it that makes them a “nation (People)”?

      • RoHa
        October 17, 2012, 10:14 pm

        “Ummm…are you trying to tell me that Jews invented grapes”

        No, though we all know they did. (Along with everything else that exists.)

        “and that hating unformed clusters of them (grapes, not Jews) makes me an anti-Semite?”

        No, though it does. (Along with everything else you do.)

        It’s just that you included the injunction to protect the unformed clusters of grapes in the list of “moral” commands for which you have little respect. But don’t worry about it too much. It was a bit obscure.

      • sydnestel
        October 18, 2012, 5:48 pm

        @Roha

        Nationality is all in the head … Nationality is about common cultural touch points, common symbols, a common SENSE of history (aka – mythology).

        Are the Scots a nation? If enough of then think so they are. Otherwise their British. They are going to have a referendum soon to decide if they should have separate state. These things are fluid.

      • RoHa
        October 18, 2012, 7:36 pm

        “Nationality is all in the head … Nationality is about common cultural touch points, common symbols, a common SENSE of history (aka – mythology).

        Are the Scots a nation? If enough of them think so they are. ”

        You have got two different criteria here.

        (1) “All in the head. If enough of them them think so, they are.” In other words, “being a nation” solely depends on enough members of the group thinking of themselves as such.
        This gives us the definition:

        “Nation (n) – a group of people who think of themselves as a nation. ”

        Nicely recursive.
        And, of course, if enough stamp collectors think of themselves as a nation, lo! we have a nation of stamp collectors!

        (2) “Nationality is about common cultural touch points, common symbols, a common SENSE of history (aka – mythology). ” This looks like a criterion that is independent of whether the members of the group think of themselves as a nation or not. Being a nation depends on whether the members of the group have these common symbols, cultural touch points, etc.

        “Nation (n) – a group of people who have common cultural touch points, common symbols, a common SENSE of history (aka – mythology). ”

        Douglas Adams fans around the world certainly meet that definition. We have a nation of “Galactic Hitchhikers”.

        But do the Jews (all or most of the world’s Jews) meet the definition?

      • eljay
        October 18, 2012, 10:08 pm

        >> It’s just that you included the injunction to protect the unformed clusters of grapes in the list of “moral” commands for which you have little respect.

        But…had I dared to tamper with the words of gawd and remove the injunction from that list, those poor unformed grape clusters would no longer be safe. And I want them to be safe! (I also want the donkey to be safe – I guess I should have removed him from the list.)

        :-)

      • RoHa
        October 19, 2012, 2:58 am

        I really don’t want to know about your feelings for donkeys.

  9. Mayhem
    October 13, 2012, 8:39 pm

    52 percent of the entire Jewish public” believe Jews should be able pray at the mosque

    This is a misleading distortion of the real report that states

    in regard to the possibility of praying on the Temple Mount, with 43 percent of the secular public and 92 percent of the religious public in favor, which averages out to 52 percent of the entire Jewish public

    Praying on the Temple Mount is not the same as praying in the mosque.

    • Annie Robbins
      October 13, 2012, 9:35 pm

      Praying on the Temple Mount is not the same as praying in the mosque.

      that would depend on who you talk to.

      link to meforum.org

      By calling it the Temple Mount, I am already standing in one political corner. Muslims call it al-Haram ash-Sharif, which includes the Dome of the Rock and al-Masjid al-Aqsa, or “the furthest mosque.” People ask me if there is a neutral term for the Temple Mount. The answer is no. There is no neutral term or neutral story.

      • giladg
        October 14, 2012, 5:23 am

        Annie, your comment again demonstrates your lack of understanding of the issues and in fact the central issue that is the key to peace. The problem that you face is that the more you delve into and understand the Jewish position on the Temple Mount, the more you will understand how reprehensible the Palestinian and general Islamic position is, where they reject anything Jewish. What makes it reprehensible is the acknowledgment of the Jewish connection and significance to the Temple Mount will not compromise the freedom to practice Islam on the Temple Mount. Jerusalem, under Israeli control, whether you like it or not, has resulted in the highest levels of freedom of religion for all three as in no other time in history. Many Jews believe that no physical changes can be made on the Temple Mount until such a time when G-d clearly shows his hand once again, through the Messiah. Until that day or time, Muslims should have continued access to pray on the Temple Mount. But what should not happen is the uncompromising position Palestinians have taken. They, the Palestinians, have no right to claim sovereignty to this site or any part of Jerusalem, as they have never controlled this site or any part of Jerusalem, in all of history. Instead, they should settle for imaginative access sharing arrangements that keep Jerusalem united, with special access not requiring contact with Israeli security personal, from Abu Dis.

      • piotr
        October 17, 2012, 6:12 am

        Forbidding worshippers under age of 45 does not strike me as particularly good example of granting religious freedom. Temple Mount is the property of a corporation, the Waqf, which should be able to decide what can be done on that property.

        Israeli position is that what was ever a Jewish property must be Jewish, and other properties can be freely confiscated. This is not the Western approach to the notion of “property”, which confers the rights even in the absence of political control.

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