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Activist group opposes cultural events in City of David

While I am not a member of the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement, I have been active with them and decided to post their appeal as I think it is an important cause and call to action

By Silan Dallal and Ella Elbaz-Nir

Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement protesting concert at City of David, August 18, 2011 (Photo: Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity)

Under the misleading title “Israeli Culture at Heritage Sites” a series of musical performances sponsored by Israel’s Ministry of Culture commenced on August 11 at The City of David, a controversial “archeological site,” located in the heart of the Palestinian village of Silwan in East Jerusalem. These concerts are but another ploy in a long line of actions on behalf of the extreme-right private organization ELAD, which assumed control of the sites’ administration from the National Antiquities Authority, after the state decided to outsource it. ELAD, which has been establishing Jewish settlement within the Palestinian village, strategically obfuscates the deep political conflict that is behind the “Judaization” of East Jerusalem by marketing their activities as cultural and touristic.

It is no wonder then that ELAD is enjoying the services of Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, who repeatedly expressed her support for using cultural events as means for political ends. An outstanding example of this practice can be seen in Livnat’s threats on performers who have refused to perform in the cultural center in the settlement of Ariel. The performances in The City of David, financially supported and validated by the government, are explicitly meant to depoliticize one of the most politicized sites and pose a real threat to the future of Jerusalem.

Behind the sterile and pastoral façade of The City of David are facts that seriously undermine the legitimacy of this institution’s actions, unless one ignores the consequences it bears on the lives of the estimated 60,000 Palestinian residents residing in the vicinity of the archeological site:  The plan to build “The King’s Garden”, approved  in spite of internal municipal criticism claiming that the plan does not stand up to juridical standards, will result in the eviction of approximately 100 civilians out of 22 houses; the presence of ELAD in Silwan and its control over The City of David entail the constant presence of Israeli security forces and private security staff, who prevent Palestinian civilians from the possibility of maintaining normal and peaceful lives. These security forces were involved time and again in creating life-threatening situations for the Palestinian community, and in some cases, have also led to severe physical harm and even death.

Every person or artist, by refusing to acknowledge the political implications of his or her choice to perform or participate in a cultural event in a settlement in the very heart of East Jerusalem, is bluntly ignoring the surrounding reality. The concerts in The City of David are an unequivocal political statement and taking part in them is tantamount to outright support for the settlement enterprise in general and the violent and discriminatory policies in Silwan specifically. In face of these and other performances, which are held at the expense of the local population’s well being, the necessary reaction is loud and clear opposition.

Come and protest with us in Silwan, in front of The City of David during the last concert! Take a stand against the silent normalization of the settlers’ presence!

Thursday, 25/08, 20:30.
Sign up for transportation:

Tel-Aviv, 18:45: 0544993267
Jerusalem, 19:45: 0543329454

Ella Elbaz-Nir is a student in the Department for General and Comparative Literature at the Hebrew University and a Solidarity activist. Silan Dallal is a photographer and a Solidarity activist.

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    1. joseph

      to call anything in Jerusalem a settlement is to deny the chance of ever having or living in peace
      deplorable as Elad may be life must go on and maybe instead of protesting finding a way to make alternative cultural events at the same site?

      Reply to Comment
    2. Ben Israel

      This sounds similar to another archaeological site in the country which has cultural events tied to it. However, instead of having 60,000 Palestinians living in it like Silwan, the one I am talking about USED to have 60,000 Palestinians living around it, but they were “Nakbaed” out. I am talking about the archaeological garden in JAFFA. There is an artists colony right next to it, inhabited by many “progressives” with cultural activities.. Thus, I suggest instead of worrying about the Palestinians in Silwan, who are still there, the “progressives” in JAFFA work to bring back the original Arab popoulation of JAFFA and give them their homes back. This is a much more effective way of showing Israeli “progressives”s concern about the Palestinians than standing around holding some signs. Jaffa “Progressives”….put your money where your mouth is….track down the Palestinian refugees and give them their houses back!

      Reply to Comment
    3. yuyu

      Ben, wow, i completely agree with most of what you say. The so-called artists in Jaffa’s old city aren’t all that leftist, but the right of Jaffa’s Palestinian refugees to return to their Bride of the Sea (Arous elBahar as Jaffa’s known in Arabic) is a good and necessary idea for real peace

      Reply to Comment