East Jerusalem and what’s happening in Sheikh Jarrah

When Israel was founded, the Arabs who managed to say within Israel’s borders became citizens. When Israel annexed the West Bank, Gaza, and the Sinai Peninsula (since returned to Egypt in exchange for peaceful relations) in the 1967 war, those areas were considered occupied territories and not part of Israel proper, so the Arabs there were not given Israeli citizenship.

East Jerusalem is considered by most of the world to be occupied territory. On the face of it I find this a bit odd because East Jerusalem is where the Jewish Quarter was for at least a thousand years. It was Jewish for in excess of a millenium and it was not Jewish for nineteen years – 1948-1967 – and somehow those nineteen years outweigh a thousand

But

Israel is claiming East Jerusalem as not occupied territory but has not extended citizenship to its Arab residents. Right now there is rioting while they evict Arabs in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood for Jewish settlements and there have even been violent clashes at Al Aqsa Mosque.

If Israel wants East Jerusalem to be considered other than occupied territory, it is incumbent on the Israeli government to treat the Arab population there like they are treated within Israel’s borders and not like they are treated in occupied territories. Israel is helping to define East Jerusalem as occupied by their own actions.

I don’t agree with the term Ethnic Cleansing being applied here (which it is) because when that term was first used by Milosevic in Bosnia it was a reference to murdering the indigenous population and that is certainly not what is happening in East Jerusalem. However, ethnic cleansing or not, it’s certainly oppression.

This action is both immoral and stupid. Why it is immoral I’ve already stated. Why it’s stupid is a different question, with several answers:

  • It delegitimizes East Jerusalem as part of Israel rather than as occupied territory
  • Put another way, it throws away an opportunity to cement East Jerusalem as Israeli
  • It endangers new relationships with Arab states
  • It strengthens BDS, particularly on American campuses
  • It strengthens Iran’s hand
    • Internationally with other governments
    • Quite possibly with the Biden administration
    • On American campuses
    • On the Arab street, meaning Arab governments friendly to Israel have to
      watch their backs at home

This piece doesn’t mean I’m not a Zionist. What this action means is that being an American Zionist is pointlessly becoming more difficult. Israel is still rather middle of the road or better when it comes to international state-sponsored human rights behavior.

But this is still wrong and it’s still stupid.

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