Inside Israel and the Palestinian Territories
In Jerusalem, where political tensions often run high, passions are flaring over the eviction of two Palestinian families in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Jewish settlers moved into the homes, inside territory Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed.
An Israeli settler group said it was reclaiming an area that was previously Jewish-owned (read more here), a position backed by an Israeli court that issued the eviction orders. Palestinians dispute the claim and note that Israeli authorities do not allow them to return to homes from which they fled or were forced to flee in the 1948 MIddle East war.
The evicted families, according to our recent article, “are descendants of refugees who came to the area in 1956, according to the Israeli organisation Ir Amim, which monitors and opposes Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem.”
Israel considers all of its Jerusalem its eternal and united capital, a position that has not won international recognition. Palestinians want to make East Jerusalem the capital of the state they aspire to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“Skunk”, the Israeli Army calls it. Good name.
It had been a month or so since I was last in Bilin, a village in the West Bank, north of Ramallah. Regular protests occur here every Friday over the controversial Israeli barrier fence. Palestinian, Israeli and international protesters and activists gather near the fence to protest and sometimes throw stones at the Israeli security forces standing guard on the other side who fire teargas at the protesters. Sometimes the amount of teargas the security forces fires can be overwhelming because they are firing into open fields rather than narrow streets or houses. The gas is usually enough to turn all but the hardcore protesters back along the path from which they came.
I knew beforehand the Israeli security forces had recently introduced a new sort of smelly chemical spray, called Skunk, fired from a police water cannon. I was told by Fadi Arouri, our Ramallah photographer, how horrible it was after he experienced the lasting stink it left with him the week before. He politely offered to stay back last Friday, a few hundred meters away, to get a long shot of the tear gas being fired.
Our TV cameramen and stills photographers prefer to shoot anywhere except in the West Bank village of Bilin. That’s where Palestinians, foreign supporters and Israeli left-wing activists hold weekly protests against the barrier Israel is building in the occupied West Bank.
Seeking to quell protests in Bilin, Israeli security forces spray a foul-smelling substance that sticks — for a long time — to skin, clothes and cameras. Staying their ground, protesters have been trying a counter-measure: yellow plastic suits and masks.
Much ink has been spilled about the riots of Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews in Jerusalem over the past several weeks (See our article on that here). Among some sources, there’s a note of disdain for this sector of Jewish population, seen as being contemptuous of the state of Israel while making up the largest portion of the country’s welfare recipients.
So I was a bit surprised to see one group rise to defend the Haredim this week –left-leaning bloggers. A few critiques were posted about Israel’s Jerusalem municipality’s reaction to Haredi riots. Philip Weiss, in his blog Mondoweiss, calls the police treatment of Haredim “bigotry.” And Jerry Haber, of the Magnes Zionist blog, began his latest entry saying, “I tend to distrust news reports about Haredim the same way I distrust news reports about Palestinians; both are hated sectors in Israeli society (though the haredim that participate in the state are much more privileged.)”
The protests in Tehran have resonated deeply among Palestinian and Israeli bloggers, who are not only looking outward at the events, but inward as well. The protests are seen not only as a wild card in their potential impact in the wider region, but also by some as a touchstone for reassessing how Palestinians and Israelis understand their own conflict.
Some Israeli peace activists see themselves in the Iranian struggle. Blogger and anti-occupation activist Joseph Dana writes on the blog Mondoweiss that despite the many differences between the Iranian and Israeli governments, “both countries’ national characters stress the bond between religion and state and are ideologically driven”, which leads to “oppressive” forms of governance: “The struggle that many young people are taking up against the current Iranian government regarding the election has never taken place in Israel.”
from Global News Journal:
Who remembers the Google Wars website that was doing the viral rounds a few years back – a mildly amusing, non-scientific snapshot of the search-driven, internet world we live in?
It lives on at www.googlebattle.com where you can enter two search terms, say ‘Lennon vs. McCartney’ or ‘Left vs. Right’, and let the internet pick a winner by the number of search hits each word gets.