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‘Gaza, Gaza’ is chant from Palestinians demonstrating near new US embassy

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The demonstrations I just left near the new American embassy in Jerusalem were a dismal object lesson in Jewish sovereignty. The police beat up Palestinians merely for holding Palestinian flags and chanting that Palestine would be free. The police crumpled the flags, while women on an apartment balcony four floors up were spraying water on the Palestinian demonstrators.

Thankfully, there were also Jewish demonstrators here to protest the embassy, most of them from America. I did not see any of them roughed up.

Israeli women spray demonstrators with water, near US embassy in Jerusalem, May 14, 2018.

A half dozen different demonstrations went off at once, two blocks north of the new embassy, as official cars could be seen flashing on the hill in the distance under a surveillance balloon. The police pushed the demonstrators back so that they would not be visible from the embassy, and at times separated the Jewish protesters from the Palestinian ones, and roughed up the Palestinians.

They also took down a Peace Now banner saying that Jerusalem must also be the capital of a Palestinian state; the banner had a Palestinian flag on it. Any “incitement” would not be tolerated, said Micky Rosenfeld of the Israeli police.

Peace Now poster for two states, which was taken down because it depicted Palestinian flag. May 14, 2018

Israeli police officer holds crumpled Paletinian flag, May 14, 2018 near US embassy in Jerusalem.

Every big street in Jerusalem is now plastered with Trump Make Israel Great and Trump is a Friend of Zion signs. Often there are two of the same messages in one intersection. It rings in your head like a mosquito. Do they know how despised Trump is in the world? Well yes. And Israelis feel despised too.

Trump posters repeat, on a Jerusalem intersection.

“Trump’s speech [on Jerusalem] was written in Netanyahu’s office,” says Ahmad Tibi, the Palestinian legislator, at the embassy demonstration today.

Yanki Farber, a 38-year-old Israeli, wears a tshirt saying Israel Loves Trump on the hill across from the embassy.

Yanki Farber

When I ask him how many Israelis feel the way he does, he says 75 percent. Not the Palestinians, and not the extreme left, he says. The left, he says, is jealous that Netanyahu got this political victory. But the rest of Israel is behind it. Brian Reeves of Peace Now, who has come to protest the embassy move, can’t argue with those numbers. “I’m clearly in the minority,” he says. “It’s very hard for people to understand that something like this can hurt Israel’s national security interests. We’re here to try to clarify that.”

But even the messaging at the rallies underscored the polarization of this society. “Jews Are Not Free Until Palestinians are Free,” said a sign held by the anti-occupation collective All That’s Left. Another said, Kvetch, Organize, Repeat. It seemed a little weak on a day when Israel was carrying out a massacre in Gaza, and everyone near the Embassy was getting updates. The protesters chanted, “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, the Embassy Has got to Go.”

All That’s Left demonstration near US embassy in Jerusalem, May 14, 2018.

But the Palestinian messages were more direct. “Gaza, Gaza,” they chanted. “Israel is a terrorist state.” “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea.”

The police have to shut that down. Their tactics seem pathetic and brittle. Israel seems to lack confidence in its ability to endure. After 70 years it  has still not figured out any way to live with its neighbors, and it feels more isolated than ever. It hears the criticisms coming from Europe and the Palestinian solidarity movement and it is frightened. The only answer it has now is, Trump.

“BDS is doing damage to Israel- now companies don’t want to come here,” says Yanki Farber. “I think they are going to rot in hell. And there are a lot of Jews who are for BDS. But you know there were Jews who helped the Nazis too They are fake Jews. People who betray their own nation.”

These kinds of statements are common among Israelis. The separation has worked. I’ve been coming to Jerusalem for 12 years and the politics have never seemed so tragic as they do today. The government has fully won the mind of the Jewish people, and the Jews are utterly separated from the Palestinians and regard them with contempt.

There is no center here, no sense of shared space—just two peoples, with one completely in command of the other. And that one celebrating things that the other finds hateful. At Jerusalem Day yesterday the Israelis held a commemoration of soldiers killed taking East Jerusalem in 1967. Even as they said the mourner’s kaddish and sang Jerusalem of Gold, they were surrounded by soldiers on point with semi automatic rifles. Because they were in occupied Sheikh Jarrah, where Palestinians are being evicted, and  they are fearful. The Nakba never ends and neither does the Israeli insecurity. The country lives on fear.

As Israelis commemorate battle for Jerusalem in 1967, a soldier with a rifle stands at point to protect them from the occupied Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, May 13, 2018.

The new embassy is on a ridgeline in the south of the city with a view of occupied territory. Right around the corner is the house of S.Y. Agnon, the Israeli Nobel prize winner who wrote about Eastern Europe and this very hillside. It was desert in his time, he heard foxes barking at night. Now it is filled with modern buildings, including a hotel with another of the huge posters, Trump Make Israel Great.

Embassy as ceremony was ending, May 14, 2018

It is frightening to see what Trump has done here, encouraged the very worst in Israeli society. While the Palestinians were being beaten up, Israelis with Jerusalem syndrome were holding forth to reporters about God giving the land to the Jews.

America has never been an honest broker, Ahmad Tibi said. That has not changed. “But Trump has made it more aggressive.”

Tibi also told reporters, before the police attacked the demonstration and he was moved off, that  he feels more optimistic amid the despair. I guess that is because the contradictions are clearer than ever. Because America’s role is clearer than ever. Because the apartheid is clearer than ever. Maybe that means that a crisis is upon us. In the meantime, this place is completely dispirited.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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17 Responses

  1. eljay on May 14, 2018, 2:21 pm

    Zionist King (Bibi) and his loyal Jester (Trump) seem in a hurry to lower the “Jewish State” to the bottom of the barrel.

    • Kay24 on May 14, 2018, 3:20 pm

      Where Butcher Bibi is concerned, this would make his poll numbers soar. The grateful zionists will forget that he, with his wife, and son, are under police investigations for corruption. They have been given Jerusalem in a gift package by Crooked Don.
      All this at the expense of the Palestinians.

  2. Citizen on May 14, 2018, 2:39 pm

    Hey, look at the upside, maybe now 5% of Americans will actually learn something about the character of Israel beyond its just the eternal victim of jew haters?

    • Donald on May 14, 2018, 6:23 pm

      I was wondering if that 5 percent guess of yours is right. Could be. Lots of people in the US still seem very wary of saying anything too critical of Israel.

      I get the impression some liberals are willing to look at this situation and blame Trump’s embassy move, but that is about as far as some will go. Blaming Trump is in their comfort zone. He deserves it, of course. They also blame Hamas for Israel’s bloodbath. This type of liberal is useless.

    • DaBakr on May 14, 2018, 10:47 pm

      That’s lower then the actual amount of Americans who don’t support Israel or Israeli policy. Closer to 10% probably

  3. Keith on May 14, 2018, 6:45 pm

    PHIL- ” It hears the criticisms coming from Europe and the Palestinian solidarity movement and it is frightened.”

    So frightened that it is intentionally engaging in mass killing and maiming of non-violent protesters to show that defiance will not be tolerated? Israel is showing no restraint because it correctly perceives that it doesn’t have to. What has been the biggest protest so far? Natalie Portman not sharing a stage with Netanyahu? What is BDS going to do? Get another popular star to cancel their visit to Israel? It is one thing to look on the bright side but being flat out delusional is never a good thing.

  4. DaBakr on May 14, 2018, 10:39 pm

    Usually, the definition of a “polarized” nation is not one where 75%-80% are in the majority and 25-20% (representing the Israeli far left and probably another 75-80% Israeli Arabs)are opposed to or are very opposed. Israel may have stark divisions but it’s vast majority is not polarized, especially on Jerusalem as the capital of the nation which it’s always been.

    • echinococcus on May 15, 2018, 1:47 am

      Aboubakr may be the most dada of the Zionists who practice the theater of the absurd over here.
      If the entire Zio population consists in hand-picked invaders, thieves, murderers and anyway criminals as defined by GC, well duh they won’t be much divided in the matter of their crimes.

      Looks like it takes a rocket designer to figure it out.

    • Maghlawatan on May 15, 2018, 5:35 am

      Israel is brain dead, except for the Palestinian population. Wall to wall nihilism. The left has been destroyed.
      There is no polarisation in Israel.
      Unfortunately Israel is not sovereign. It depends on the US. And the US is increasingly polarised concerning……Israel

      Roughly 80% of GOP voters sympathise more with Israel while for Dem voters the proportion is one quarter.

  5. DaBakr on May 14, 2018, 10:54 pm

    We all wonder why, if the mossad and the ‘lobby’ were SO insidious, PW is able to freely travel to Jerusalem. But thanks for your fretting and your concern. We still live with a large population of Arabs and Druze. They are our doctors, lawyers, judges, police, bureaucrats, lifeguards etc. For this reason alone, PW is aputz

    • JosephA on May 15, 2018, 1:03 am

      Are they Arabs, or Palestinians?

    • Citizen on May 15, 2018, 3:16 am

      DaBakr, I thought you lived in eastern USA, NY maybe?

    • Maghlawatan on May 15, 2018, 5:45 am

      The UK magazine Private eye always prints letters pro and anti Israel rather than either pro or anti and what is interesting is how pathetic the pro letters are. “There is no apartheid in Israel. Arabs are pop singers and judges”.
      Only when the bots avoid the occupation. The occupation is a moral catastrophe that is run by Israel.

    • Marnie on May 16, 2018, 12:13 am

      “We still live with a large population of Arabs and Druze. They are our doctors, lawyers, judges, police, bureaucrats, lifeguards etc.”

      Curious about your definition of large. Also you are completely blind, deaf and mostly ignorant/don’t give a shit about what they go through having to live among us, who are mostly people who want them all gone one way or another.

  6. Marnie on May 15, 2018, 12:07 pm

    “It is frightening to see what Trump has done here, encouraged the very worst in Israeli society. While the Palestinians were being beaten up, Israelis with Jerusalem syndrome were holding forth to reporters about God giving the land to the Jews.” This has been done before of course, in another country, to another people.–american-man-american-history.jpg

    It’d be even more frightening if we weren’t already seeing the damage tRUMP has done to the united states and, of course, that little thing known as the rest of the world. But the truth of the matter is, the united states has a lion’s share of blame WRT the plight of the palestinian people and now, more than ever, the united states has left their bloody fingerprints everywhere. Did anyone catch the Nikki Haley clusterfuck at the u.n.? Danny D. must have exploded with joy at her performance.

    • Maghlawatan on May 16, 2018, 2:59 am

      Haley will say anything to curry favor with Trump
      She basically parroted Danon in this interview

      Imagine if Singapore turned on its Hindu citizens and treated them like Israel treats palestinians. I’d love to see Haley’s reaction.
      She reminds me of the BJP in India, the Hindu nationalist party

      • Marnie on May 16, 2018, 12:40 pm

        She is despicable. And Nikki, if you read Mondoweiss, you actually do get confused and are very confused WRT ‘israel’. What have the zionists got on you?

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