The banality of ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem

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We tend to focus on the most dramatic aspects of Israel's efforts to force Palestinians out of Jerusalem and "judaize" the city, such as the massive home demolitions in Silwan or the plans for Israeli settlements in E-1. But the reality is that the most effective ways Israel exerts control over Palestinians are in the mundane details of daily life.

This past weekend at the One State for Palestine/Israel: A Country for All Its Citizens? conference in Boston, Palestinian Professor Saree Makdisi offered the following description of Israel's policies in Jerusalem. It mirrors the style he took with his book Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation, which looks at the administrative mechanisms Israel uses to control Israel/Palestine. Makdisi explained:

The Judaization of Jerusalem is a cynical exercise in social engineering, according to John Dugard the former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. In pursuit of its claim that Jerusalem is a Jewish city, Israel has revoked Palestinians' rights to residency, it has forcibly ejected them from the city of their birth, it has denied their applications for family reunification, it has refused to register the birth of their children, it has devised laws intended to separate families from each other, and compelled children to leave their parents in effect at the age of 18, it has built a wall to force Palestinians to choose between jobs in the West Bank and homes in Jerusalem or the other way around, and it has made it as difficult as possible for them to build homes on land in Jerusalem that their families have owned for generations.

What is at stake here of course is Israel's desire to consolidate its claim that Jerusalem is, as that slogan has it, 'the eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish people.' By its very nature the process of consolidating this claim excludes the Palestinian claim to the city and puts an end to any thought that the city can be shared equally between two separate states.

Update: From the comments section, Helena Cobban pointed us towards two great resources. First, an article she recently had in The Nation "After Gaza: Jerusalem?" and "A Layman’s Guide to Home Demolitions in East Jerusalem" a resource from the Israeli NGO Ir Amim.

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