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What Palestinian media is saying about the Jerusalem violence

From the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir to unrelenting settlement expansion and police harassment, the sources of anger in East Jerusalem are many. But the aspirations and provocations of right-wing Israeli Jews to change the status quo in the Aqsa Mosque compound seems to the driving force. A survey of major Palestinian newspapers.

By Henriette Chacar

Many Palestinians are calling it the “Car Intifada.” In the span of just a couple of weeks, three Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem made their vehicles into weapons and ran over pedestrians, killing four Israelis and wounding dozens more. This is hardly a new terror tactic, but the proximity of the attacks on top of intensifying tensions in Jerusalem all contributed to it its name — to it even being given a name.

So what’s going on in Jerusalem? Why is this happening now? And what is the Palestinian media’s narrative of the latest events in Jerusalem?

Since Israel seized control of Jerusalem’s Old City in 1967, during the Six Day War, Israel has vowed to maintain the status quo at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. That arrangement stipulates that non-Muslim visitors may visit but may not pray at the site. Over the years Israeli authorities have largely enforced those rules, although a series of recent events has made Palestinians increasingly suspicious of Israel’s intentions.

Photos of the month: The holy city nears its boiling point

Palestinian media was reporting perceived Israeli challenges toward the status quo on the Noble Sanctuary since early June, even before the war in Gaza broke about. The June 3rd headline in Palestine’s most widely read broadsheet, Al-Quds, read: “Israel bans Muslims, allows Jews to enter al-Aqsa Mosque.” Citing local sources, the news item mentioned that, “more than 60 extremist settlers stormed the mosque courtyards on Tuesday and performed Talmudic rituals under police protection. Meanwhile, Palestinian worshipers were prohibited from entering al-Aqsa Mosque to pray.”

Multiplying layers of anger

By June 13th, Al-Quds reported on tightening restrictions and worsening measures being taken towards Muslim worshippers, including “crackdowns, arrests and [issuing] orders banning entry to al-Aqsa for periods reaching several weeks, not to mention the confiscation of worshippers’ ID cards and the difficulties in regaining them.” It also criticizes the absence of Arab and Islamic pressure on Israel in the case of al-Aqsa.

The perceived al-Aqsa takeover was joined by yet another layer of anger in...

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Channeling loss to stimulate change: 71 days of dialogue in Tel Aviv

The forum of bereaved families rests on the belief that the only way to end violence between Israelis and Palestinians is by recognizing the humanity of ‘the enemy’ through open and honest dialogue. That goal, however, appears to be as far away as ever.

By Henriette Chacar

It’s hard to imagine how one might begin solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by leading by example. The hundreds of members of the Parents Circle forum of bereaved Palestinian and Israeli families aren’t naïve, but they insist on trying.

The Parents Circle Families Forum, a grassroots organization of over 600 Israeli and Palestinian families bereaved as a result of Israeli-Palestinian hostilities, channel their loss to stimulate change. They pose an alternative to animosity and revenge by actively promoting reconciliation. So just before this summer’s Gaza war broke out, the Forum erected a “dialogue tent” outside one of the most  prominent symbols of Tel Aviv’s culture – yet inside its bubble. Sitting outside the Cinemateque, rotating shifts of bereaved Israelis – and a few Palestinians – have been inviting the public to listen to their stories – and hoping to help them replace the need for vengeance with a process of dialogue and understanding.

Many of the Forum’s members joined the organization after a journey, at the end of which they realized that violence only begets more violence. For Yuval Rot, joining the Forum wasn’t an obvious or intuitive decision. Yuval’s brother, Udi, was on reserve duty a month after the Oslo Accord was signed in 1993. While hitchhiking back home to Kibbutz Hatserim, Udi was killed by three Hamas activists who disguised themselves as settlers.

To Yuval, participation in the Forum was contingent upon finding answers to a few burning, and personal questions: “Is it legitimate to use my personal grief as a tool? Do I want to expose my pain and share it with the public?” But believing in the ability of the Forum’s activities to save lives outweighed his hesitations. While his experience in the Forum hasn’t changed his political views, it amplified the sense of urgency and responsibility. There was no time to spare; in order for the cycle of violence to end, something had to be done.

Yuval found the Parents Circle Families Forum to be the best framework through which he could influence reality and do something effective and efficient on the ground. It was his interaction with...

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