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‘Will the protesters turn violent?’ Deconstructing the media’s view of Palestine

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on 31 Comments

Trump’s latest decision on moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is ignorant and destabilizing and dangerous on so many levels. After flinging red meat to Adelson (Thanks for the millions) and the evangelical Christian right and their orthodox and less religious Jewish compadres (Thanks for the vote. You know I keep my promises), one of the responses that feels particularly irresponsible and devoid of context that is making me more outraged than usual goes something like this:

Journalist/newscaster/mideast analyst:

“So Trump, blah blah blah, Jerusalem. Israelis claim a united Jerusalem as their eternal capital (they did win that war and it was 50 years ago, so really…). But the Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state (even though the Jews really have a historical claim that dwarfs everyone else’s). Do you think the protesters will turn to violence?” Gasp, horror.  Underlying thought: Israelis (i.e. the 80% of them who are Jewish citizens and the only ones who count in this conversation) are peaceful folk and the Palestinians (the good ones in the West Bank and the bad ones in Gaza and the ungrateful ones in East Jerusalem) are really violent terrorists.

So here are my complaints. First, there are a collection of international laws and UN resolutions that the entire international community (except you know who) respects, whereby East Jerusalem is recognized as occupied territory which is not allowed to be colonized by the occupying force, i.e. Israel. All of the peace processes, as bankrupt and ineffectual as they have been, recognized that should there be a two-state solution (which you can argue has finally met its fatal blow), East Jerusalem would be the capital of that future Palestinian state. This matters.

Moving on to the question of violence, consider this. One-third of Jerusalem residents are Palestinian and they receive 10% of the municipal budget although they pay the same taxes as their Jewish neighbors. This means that the provision of services to their part of the city is grossly unequal: less benefit offices, health centers, mail carriers, road maintenance, garbage collection, sewer pipes, electrical connections, parks, schools, etc. Three-quarters of the city’s Palestinian population now lives below the poverty line. Since 1967 no new Palestinian neighborhoods have been built and restrictive zoning prevents Palestinians (who continue to marry and have children and try to live their lives) from building legally, which means that 93,000 residents live under the threat of home demolition. Over half of the land in East Jerusalem has been designated unavailable for development, over a third is for Jewish settlements, and the Palestinians are left with 13%, most of which has already been built on. The separation/apartheid wall snakes through East Jerusalem. Three-quarters of East Jerusalemite Palestinians find themselves on the “Israeli side” and one-quarter are now on the “West Bank side” which means they endure long lines and have to wait at checkpoints to access their schools, hospitals, work, educational institutions, and family. The Israeli authorities are also always looking for new ways to revoke East Jerusalem IDs, and the bar is extremely low.

This past year, fanatic right wing Jews demanded to pray on the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary and they arrived armed and with police protection, despite the rabbinic injunction against praying on that site. This was clearly not a religious gesture, but a nationalistic, political incitement with fascistic overtones at one of Islam’s holiest sites. There has also been a steady expulsion of East Jerusalemite Palestinian families to make way for Jewish settlers, using bogus legal claims, physical removal, and outright hooliganism.

In the West Bank, settler attacks increased 144% from 2009 to 2011 and 90% of investigations into “price tag attacks” are closed without indictment. Additionally, if you look at the military laws that govern the occupied territories, protests are illegal, so if Palestinians do want to call attention to these grave injustices, they have no legal mechanism to do so. Once arrested, they are often caught in endless administrative detention. If they come to trial there is a 99% conviction rate in military courts.

I would argue that this is all a form of violence: functionally, institutionally, politically, emotionally.

And the IDF is responsible for the vast majority of deaths, not to mention all the tear gas, skunk water, stun grenades, tanks, drones, and a host of other sophisticated weaponry, often produced or funded by the US and aimed at Palestinians, including children.

Spraying skunk gas over Bethlehem. Image by Tom Suarez.

There is a context in which desperate people do desperate things, but what always amazes me, is that the vast, vast majority of the Palestinian population faced with daily brutal violence from Jewish Israelis, is totally peaceful. Angry but peaceful. They are focused on work, education, family, and building a future against overwhelming odds. And when they call for protests in the street or a boycott of Israeli products they are the ones accused of fomenting violence.

About Alice Rothchild

Alice Rothchild is a physician, author, and filmmaker who has focused her interest in human rights and social justice on the Israel/Palestine conflict since 1997. She practiced ob-gyn for almost 40 years. Until her retirement she served as Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Harvard Medical School. She writes and lectures widely, is the author of Broken Promises, Broken Dreams: Stories of Jewish and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience, On the Brink: Israel and Palestine on the Eve of the 2014 Gaza Invasion, and Condition Critical: Life and Death in Israel/Palestine. She directed a documentary film, Voices Across the Divide and is active in Jewish Voice for Peace. Follow her at @alicerothchild

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31 Responses

  1. Keith
    December 9, 2017, 3:57 pm

    ALICE ROTHCHILD- “Trump’s latest decision on moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is ignorant and destabilizing and dangerous on so many levels.”

    The US Congress’ passing legislation in 1995 recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and requiring the government to move the US embassy there was ignorant and destabilizing and dangerous on so many levels. Continuing to expect incoming US Presidents to sign a six month waiver in perpetuity to prevent this is unrealistic. Trump is the symptom, not the disease. When are the Democrats going to accept some responsibility for their actions? When are the Democratic Party faithful going to hold Democratic politicians accountable for their actions?

    • CigarGod
      December 10, 2017, 10:21 am

      As soon as they have a second source of income equal to what they get now.

  2. just
    December 9, 2017, 4:02 pm

    Thanks for this, Dr. Rothchild.

    It’s pretty clear who always, always, always ‘turns’ violent with malice and premeditation:

    It’s not the Palestinians. It is Israel and its armed forces/thugs/zionists including the “settlers”.

  3. Boomer
    December 9, 2017, 4:53 pm

    Thanks for this. I noticed this pattern, and reacted as you did, when hearing Inskeep’s interview with Diana Buttu. He is not as bad as many (e.g., Tom F, pictured above) and it was a good interview, to the extent that she was allowed to talk. But then Inskeep cut her off with a question about whether there would be Palestinian violence that would discredit them. Nothing about Israeli violence. Victim and perpetrator are inverted in Zio land. Only so much reality can make it onto NPR.

    “INSKEEP: Diana Buttu, I just wanted to interrupt. I’m so sorry. Your time is short, and I want you to have time to address one other question because we have some news this morning. A leader of Hamas has been calling for a new intifada. As you know, there are also Palestinian protests going on – some of them peaceful, some of them not looking quite so peaceful. Is there a risk of violence that’s going to discredit the Palestinian side here?”

    Full transcript is here:
    https://www.npr.org/2017/12/07/569057434/palestinians-respond-to-trump-declaration

    • just
      December 9, 2017, 5:49 pm

      Boomer~ I heard that interview, and uttered some special words when it was over…

      In an almost laughable irony, check this out:

      “Israeli Army Commander Suspended for Stealing Fruit From Palestinian Vendor in Hebrew

      An investigation has been opened into a commander who was caught on video taking apples from a vendor’s stall while deployed to keep the peace …”

      read more: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.827915

      ( video at link)

      There are no words . I’m not even sure that ‘irony’ does it justice.

      • LHunter
        December 10, 2017, 10:46 pm

        Just – The Prison Guard taking food off an inmate’s plate for his own privileged belly

      • Marnie
        December 12, 2017, 12:43 am

        So it’s a crime for an israeli jew to steal the fruit from palestinian trees, but not the fruit from palestinian loins or the land those palestinians live on? Just – ‘there are no words’ – damn straight. I can’t make any sense of any of the events in the world I’m living in. The horror….

    • Marnie
      December 10, 2017, 12:11 am

      The question they’re really asking is ‘are they going to fight back’, but they’re too afraid to phrase it that way because it legitimizes their anger and frustration. Best to frame all questions in the context of their ‘violence’. Unbelievable zionist projection.

    • CigarGod
      December 10, 2017, 10:28 am

      We’re just going to have to mow the grass shorter if they keep asking for it to be longer.

  4. Kay24
    December 10, 2017, 12:12 am

    Who can blame the Palestinians for responding in some violent fashion? What does the US and Israel expect them to do after 60 years of a brutal occupation, endless peace talks, lands being stolen daily, leaders letting them down, false promises, the occupier pretending it is a victim of the occupied, and their kids being killed at the slightest excuse? They must feel that the so called “honest broker” has finally stabbed them in the back, and given Israel the right to act even more arrogantly, for nothing in return? So much for Kushner the savior of the ME.

    Time for BDS, and trying other means to get their freedom. Time for appealing to the rest of the world when they sympathize with them, and criticize the US and the occupier. The US has let them down, and there is no more hope, although many around the world knew this ages ago.

    • Egbert
      December 11, 2017, 5:36 am

      Indeed. Since when did the occupied and ethnically cleansed have to have a ‘civilized debate’ with those trying to eradicate them? Since Warsaw in 1942/3?

  5. JosephA
    December 10, 2017, 1:40 am

    NPR isn’t exactly fair and balanced when it comes to their coverage of Israel/Palestine. Very nice breakdown of the formula we hear over and over.

    I recently read the plaigiarist (Alan Dershowitz)’s recent article on Fox News of all places, such drivel. Who else would take his arguments seriously?

  6. yourstruly
    December 10, 2017, 2:36 am

    “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel”

    said Humpty Trumpty
    prior to his big fall

  7. Kay24
    December 10, 2017, 8:30 am

    A journalist on BBC mentioned that Saudi Arabia is also on board with this decision, which means the young, not so bright king, has okayed this, betraying his people, and taking the side of their new best friend, the occupier, who has held the Palestinians in open prisons for 60 years, and keeps stealing their lands. Shame on SA for betraying the people who need help desperately, and all for what? Israeli Weapons? Military training? Waging war with Iran? It does seem that US/Israel/Saudi Arabia have become the new axis of evil. Throwing the Palestinians under the bus, must be part of the deal SA was expected to agree to, to please the zionist masters. Three dangerous and devious nations.

    I wish those who protest and try to attack the US embassies, would turn their attention to Trump properties, wherever they are, and show their anger over there instead.

  8. StanleyHeller
    December 10, 2017, 11:05 am

    about Mr. Friedman his wildly complimentary article about Israel’s pal Prince Salman last week prompted a number of scholars to suggest that the NYT suspend Friedman. http://www.merip.org/open-letter-senior-middle-east-scholars-new-york-times-regarding-its-thomas-friedmans-column-saudi-a

    We’ve started a petition to that effect here https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/new-york-times-suspend

  9. echinococcus
    December 10, 2017, 12:13 pm

    I wish those who protest and try to attack the US embassies, would turn their attention to Trump properties, wherever they are, and show their anger over there instead.

    Oh, so… So YOUR Obamas and Harpy Clintons and Democrats were not part of the Zionist invaders and their only official lifeline, eh? It all started only with Trump is your contention.
    Wow.
    Incredible, how low the “liberals” will sink.
    Showing one’s anger –your terms– against your Mafia would be way more productive.

    • CigarGod
      December 10, 2017, 3:09 pm

      “Showing one’s anger –your terms– against your Mafia would be way more productive.”

      Yes, it would.
      But one musn’t get ahead of one’s own evolution;-)

      • echinococcus
        December 11, 2017, 2:22 am

        Cigar God,

        A reasonable remark –provided the subject were of a species capable of evolution.

  10. Ossinev
    December 10, 2017, 1:13 pm

    It is perhaps worth pointing out that the name “Jerusalem” stems not from “Jews” “Jewry” or”Judaism”. I think that there may be are a lot of people throughout the world who make this assumption and also assume that the city was first populated and built by Jews. This is certainly an impression which Zionist propagandists are happy to go along with. The original name was Urusalima and was given at around 2400 BCE as a reference to the city as being the “City of Shaleem”, Shaleem being a Canaanite God.Incoming Semitic peoples inc those practicing the cult of Judaism appear to have melded and yes OMG assimilated ! into the existing Canaanite population and the rest is mostly well made up Zionist history.

    BTW It is important to focus on Jerusalem as being a Holy site for the three Abrahamic religions = Christians approx 2.5 billion / Muslims approx 1.6 billion and Jews approx 14 million. So in terms of straightforward demographic rights it would be first claim Christians , second claim Muslims and in an extremely distant third position Jews ( including Sheldon Adelson , AIPAC et al).

    • Boomer
      December 10, 2017, 2:51 pm

      re: “The original name was Urusalima and was given at around 2400 BCE as a reference to the city as being the “City of Shaleem”, Shaleem being a Canaanite God.Incoming Semitic peoples inc those practicing the cult of Judaism appear to have melded and yes OMG assimilated ! into the existing Canaanite population and the rest is mostly well made up Zionist history.”

      So interesting that I looked for more info:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shalim

    • Mooser
      December 10, 2017, 2:59 pm

      ” Shaleem being a Canaanite God.Incoming Semitic peoples inc those practicing the cult of Judaism appear to have melded and yes OMG assimilated !”

      See Mircea Eliade “A History of Religious Ideas”. The Jewish religion is cast in solid syncrete.

      • catalan
        December 10, 2017, 8:15 pm

        Mooser,
        I wonder if you share your idol’s views:
        “The Poles’ resistance in Warsaw is a Jewish resistance. Only yids are capable of the blackmail of putting women and children in the front line, to take advantage of the Germans’ sense of scruple.” Eliade

      • Mooser
        December 10, 2017, 10:20 pm

        “catalan” that quote is as authentic as your conversion to a Unitarian -Universalist.

      • echinococcus
        December 11, 2017, 2:49 am

        Count on “Catalan” to present totally unsourced an at least highly doubtful “personal recollection” by a rather shady character like Mihail Sebastian –a Nazi collaborator and extreme Romanian nationalist himself, notwithstanding his having been born Hechter.
        It is not an Eliade quote and unlikely to have been an Eliade quote.
        Reading Catalan’s BS, you’d sure be under the impression he is quoting from Eliade’s own writings… what a charming character!

        That’s the extent of “Catalan”s intellectual honesty: google up, pick a damaging quote without even checking the source or the context or the ability to evaluate the context. Zionist propaganda.

    • RoHa
      December 10, 2017, 9:14 pm

      There are more than three Abrahamic faiths.

      Using the RoHa scale for Holiness, I demonstrated mathematically that Jerusalem is holier to the Muslims than it is to the Jews. My proof has, alas, been lost in The Great Archive Cock-up. (Has anyone done any penance for that?)

      • Mooser
        December 11, 2017, 4:47 pm

        “My proof has, alas, been lost in The Great Archive Cock-up. (Has anyone done any penance for that?)”

        Have they! I’ve repeated every joke I lost in those archives. That’s more than enough. Deinde, ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis!

        There were some real ‘Hail Marys’ in there, too. Of course, nobody jokes about making passes these days.

  11. gamal
    December 10, 2017, 8:37 pm

    “I would argue that this is all a form of violence: functionally, institutionally, politically, emotionally”

    “Today They Took My Son
    7m 20s

    A mother coping with her young son being taken away by a military system. Her helplessness to prevent the cruel and inhumane treatment she knows he is experiencing is more than any mother can bear.”

    “This is a brilliant film and demands to be seen. The story it tells is irrefutable, entirely justified – the evidence is there for all who are not blinded by prejudice. Television companies should be fighting each other to show this. If you care about nothing else, care about Palestinian children. You don’t know what’s going on? Then watch this film and I dare you to turn your back. ”
    Ken Loach
    Multi-Award Winning Film Director

    “I’m deeply touched and moved beyond words! The familiarity of recurrent pain only makes it all that more intolerable. Farah’s film made me sob with all other mothers, grandmothers, children, human beings who are overwhelmed by the casualness of such horrific injustice and persistence of such willful cruelty. Her revelation of the simple Palestinian story is so personal, so human, so stark that its intensity becomes unbearable. The aesthetic of immersion left me breathless and silent. ”
    Dr Hanan Ashrawi
    Palestinian Legislator, Spokeswoman, Academic

    http://www.oceansofinjustice.com/en/film/372/today-they-took-my-son

  12. lonely rico
    December 12, 2017, 2:54 am

    “Today They Took My Son”

    It is difficult to fathom the cruelty of these Israeli thugs.
    This is what being “God’s Chosen People” does to you ?

    A very painful film. I am moved to tears.

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