Jerusalem, the ‘eternally’ unified city

Commentary. Benjamin Netanyahu’s idea of unification: turning Palestinian areas into ghettos controlled by the police and the army.

by Zvi Schuldiner
il manifesto, Oct. 21 2015

Benjamin Netanyahu © LaPresse — Reuters

The gal­lo­ping mad­ness of the Israeli lea­der­ship con­cer­ning Jeru­sa­lem reflects perhaps bet­ter than any­thing else the dismay and lack of per­spec­tive by a govern­ment that can only think in terms of the fun­da­men­ta­list ideo­logy of the extreme right. Netanyhau’s cabi­net is now announ­cing a series of steps “against ter­ror” that are basi­cally anti­the­ti­cal to the goals of the offi­cial Israeli policy regar­ding an “eter­nally uni­fied” city.

Late Sun­day after­noon, ano­ther attack was added to the long list in recent weeks. The thea­ter this time was the cen­tral bus sta­tion in Beer­sheba, in the south of the coun­try. The first reports from the scene spoke of ter­ro­rists. Because of this, the three natio­nal tele­vi­sion chan­nels brought on mili­tary “experts.” They sagely announ­ced that the attack marks the start of a new phase of orga­ni­za­tion and coor­di­na­tion, as well as the use of firearms. The expert kno­w­ledge see­med com­ple­tely rele­vant; I was impressed.

Like all Israe­lis, for days I was atta­ched to the tele­vi­sion. As more and more disco­ve­ries emer­ged, it became appa­rent that there wasn’t as much orga­ni­za­tion and coor­di­na­tion as it seemed.

One of the attac­kers — of Israeli Bedouin ori­gin — kil­led a sol­dier with a knife and a gun. He then sei­zed his rifle, with which he con­ti­nued to fire, woun­ding seve­ral peo­ple. The second “ter­ro­rist” was an Eri­trean or Suda­nese, to his misfor­tune: The color of his skin was fatal. He was gun­ned down by the very pre­cise shots of a police offi­cer; once on the ground, some fascist thugs, who never fail, beat him to death. It turns out he was just ano­ther one of the ter­ri­fied pas­sen­gers fleeing. He was not at all a terrorist.

But fear and hyste­ria remain, and the govern­ment must “do something.”

There are those who do under­stand that you don’t get any­where by fol­lo­wing the dic­ta­tes of right-wing anne­xa­tio­nist, who think Israel can occupy the Pale­sti­nian ter­ri­to­ries and that a herd of obe­dient Pale­sti­nians, without any of their rights reco­gni­zed, will hap­pily accept the situation.

In the past, when he was in the oppo­si­tion, the cur­rent Prime Mini­ster Ben­ja­min Neta­nyahu rushed to whe­re­ver there were attacks on Israe­lis. The blood­stains on the road, maybe a corpse mer­ci­fully cove­red, were the ideal set­ting for the great oppo­nent of the govern­ment. He sho­wed the full hor­ror of each tra­gedy, which was always the government’s fault: Rabin’s fault, Peres’s fault, for not being vio­lent enough or for having ini­tia­ted the Oslo accords.

Neta­nyahu won the 1996 elec­tion, basi­cally thanks to the slo­gan, “Peres will divide Jeru­sa­lem. Bibi is the best defen­der of the Jews.” He repea­ted it thou­sands of times. Bibi is the only one who can give us secu­rity and stave off our hated and ter­ri­ble enemies.

These days, Bibi does not often visit pla­ces of blood­shed. Instead, he and his accom­pli­ces repeat their new, tired story: “We’ve been ter­ro­ri­zed for 100 years now. Pale­sti­nians want to liqui­date us. They do not accept our exi­stence.” Et cetera. So, it seems, now the ter­ror is the Pale­sti­nians’ fault, and the solu­tion has to come from that side.

The eter­nally uni­fied city is going through a rapid pro­cess of phy­si­cal divi­sion, which makes the life of Pale­sti­nians increa­sin­gly dif­fi­cult. The Pale­sti­nians and the Israe­lis in Jeru­sa­lem or the occu­pied ter­ri­to­ries who have to tra­vel to go to work do so with great fear, or stay at home.

This is not the solu­tion that many have pro­po­sed since 1967: a divi­sion that reco­gni­zes the natio­nal rights of the two peo­ples, one city of shared sovereignty.

Instead, the Pale­sti­nian areas of the city have been con­ver­ted into ghet­tos con­trol­led by the police and the army. Fools’ experts create more hatred, more repres­sion, more despair. And the vicious cycle of unem­ploy­ment and insur­rec­tion reap more vic­tims. The “law enfor­ce­ment” of Israel are acting with inde­scri­ba­ble vio­lence, while the hor­des of the extreme right become more cruel.

Obviou­sly, there is always the Uni­ted Sta­tes. This week, Neta­nyahu will go to Ger­many, where he will pro­ba­bly meet with Secre­tary of State John Kerry. What would be the result? I’ll drop myself in the shoes of the expert: You can’t create change with empty words.

The hatred and fru­stra­tion of young peo­ple trea­ted like ani­mals will con­ti­nue to be fue­led by the cri­mi­nal pur­pose of Israeli fun­da­men­ta­lism that seeks to per­pe­tuate the cur­rent situa­tion: 4 mil­lion Pale­sti­nians oppres­sed and depri­ved of any rights.

The Italian version of this article has been published Oct. 21 2015 at il manifesto here:

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