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Israeli cops assault American Jewish activists in Jerusalem Day protest

Israeli police forcefully dispersed American Jewish anti-occupation activists, who had gathered in the Old City to protest Jerusalem Day and the March of the Flags.

An activist with IfNotNow is carried away by Israeli police during a Jerusalem Day protest, Jerusalem, May 24, 2017. (JC/Activestills.org)

An activist with IfNotNow is carried away by Israeli police during a Jerusalem Day protest, Jerusalem, May 24, 2017. (JC/Activestills.org)

Israeli police broke the arm of an American Jewish activist and injured several other anti-occupation demonstrators while forcefully dispersing a Jerusalem Day protest in the Old City on Wednesday.

The demonstration, held at Damascus Gate by American and Israeli Jewish activists with IfNotNow, Free Jerusalem and All That’s Left, took place during the March of the Flags, an annual right-wing parade that habitually results in violence against Palestinians from both its participants and the Israeli police units escorting them. The march is heavily funded by the Jerusalem Municipality.

The parade passes through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, and Palestinian traders along the route are ordered by police to close their shops during the march. IfNotNow organizer Yonah Lieberman told +972 Magazine that Wednesday’s protest was aimed at trying to block the police from clearing out the Muslim Quarter, forcing them to reroute the march.

Israelis take part in the "March of the Flags," an annual event on Jerusalem Day held to mark what the Israeli Right sees as the 'unification' of the city, May 24, 2017. (JC/Activestills.org)

Israelis take part in the “March of the Flags,” an annual event on Jerusalem Day held to mark what the Israeli Right sees as the ‘unification’ of the city, May 24, 2017. (JC/Activestills.org)

“[We] decided that it was important to confront the violence of Jerusalem Day head-on,” Lieberman said. “Specifically, [it was] important for us to do all that we could to demonstrate the way that Israeli state violence is used against Palestinians in order to protect right-wing Jewish extremists.”

Around two dozen activists linked arms in front of Damascus Gate, Lieberman explained. He noted that while the group tried to avoid direct confrontation with the march participants, they were “charged at” by right-wing Israelis, before being ordered to move by Israeli police.

Video footage from the protest, shot by Naomi Dann, an activist on the scene, shows police dragging protesters out by their arms and by the neck. Lieberman, who was filmed being carried away in a headlock, can be heard saying, “I can’t breathe” to the police holding onto him.

The activist whose arm was broken, Sarah Brammer-Shlay was evacuated in a Palestinian ambulance — whose operators, in support of the protest, waived the fee for the ride — to the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. Numerous other protesters were suffering from bruises and the after-effects of being choked.

Neither the Jerusalem Police nor the Border Police responded immediately to a request for comment. Should a response be received, it will be included below.

A protester is dragged away by Israeli riot police during a Jerusalem Day protest, Jerusalem, May 24, 2017. (JC/Activestills.org)

A protester is dragged away by Israeli riot police during a Jerusalem Day protest, Jerusalem, May 24, 2017. (JC/Activestills.org)

Many of the participants in the protest had traveled from the West Bank, where they had been participating in the Sumud Freedom Camp — a joint initiative by a coalition of Palestinian, Israeli and diaspora Jewish anti-occupation groups. On Saturday night, Israeli soldiers dismantled the camp and stole its generator, although the activists remained onsite.

For the organizers, Wednesday’s protest in Jerusalem was just the latest step in a burgeoning anti-occupation movement among diaspora Jews.

“Never before has such a coalition come together to put together this kind of action on Jerusalem Day,” Lieberman said. “This was a deeply significant action, demonstrating the growing Jewish anti-occupation movement across the world.

“This is a significant moment for us. Our generation is rejecting the occupation. In [its] 50th year, it felt deeply significant for us to come together and put our bodies on the line.”

Update 25 May, 2017: Israel Police Spokesperson Mickey Rosenfeld responded to a request for comment on Brammer-Shlay’s arm being broken by police:

“A resident of East Jerusalem arrived at Damascus Gate and hoisted a Palestinian flag, while calling out towards them [the response does not clarify who ‘they’ are — n.r.]. Clashes broke out between the two sides and police forces separated them. At the same time, police were attacked by the suspect and an additional suspect who didn’t follow police orders and even attacked police. A police officer was evacuated after being hit on the head by an object. When the suspects were arrested left-wing activists started gathering at the scene and sat on the parade route, and were evacuated.”

This is an odd and disingenuous response. Not only does it not deny that the police broke Brammer-Shlay’s arm, it fails to answer the question at all — and makes the disturbing insinuation that alleging clashes between Palestinians and police is a suitable justification for brutalizing nonviolent demonstrators.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      Most of the inhabitants of Jerusalem thank their police. Who are these foreigners who try to ruin the anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem? I hope that our authorities have checked their ID and that these thugs will be banned from our country. Fortunately I have seen today in Jerusalem hundreds of Americans celebrating the anniversary by singing and dancing.

      Reply to Comment
        • Itshak Gordin Halevy

          Btselem is politically little reliable.

          Reply to Comment
      • Most of them are real Jews.

        Reply to Comment
      • Joshua Fisher

        American Jews a welcomed as long as their thug-life consist of landstealing and building illegal viallges in Palestine, right Hasbara-halevy?I hope Palestine Authorities check their ID and bann them from their country.

        Reply to Comment
        • Itshak Gordin Halevy

          Everybody is welcomed if he respects the law (like everywhere in the world). As you know Palestine is a name given by the Romans when they occupied the Judea Samaria. So Palestine does not exist as well as the so-called “Palestinian” people. Yes we are developing our towns and villages in our Jewish Judea and Samaria. You will be happy to know that our birth rate is much higher than the Arab one.

          Reply to Comment
          • Joshua Fisher

            You can put your judea made up history jewishness mumbu jumobo where the sun never shines. nobody belives this JSOL nonsense in the real world outside your rightwing bubble.
            losers lost their land 2000 years ago and mean while others lived there. palestinians. get used to it.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Firentis

      They sat down and blocked one of the gates of Jerusalem which happens to be on the route of the march. The police dragged them away while they squealed their snow flake squeals. The police deposited them a few meters away. This is what would have happened anywhere else in the world. I am disappointed that these foreigners were not arrested and deported. It is pretty absurd that foreigners are allowed to come here, disturb the peace and then just do it again the next day. If they want to sit out on the lawns of their prestigious American universities and chant their kumbayas they are welcome to do that. They are not welcome here.

      Reply to Comment
      • no one in this irremediably troubled world gets to determine where the truth is ‘welcome,’ or not welcome…

        we are all cut from the same bolt of cloth, one Creator, kept in our awareness (present) by moral *conscience*…

        if, for example, a Jew in Tel Aviv is horrified by the rampant killing of blacks in American ghettos, and not only speaks out about the heinous act, but demonstrates (again: to raise awareness) with like-minded Jews of conscience…this is right.

        if evil (wrongdoing) is the way of the world, and raising awareness of it is ‘making trouble,’ then make trouble…if raising awareness of wrongdoing makes us uncomfortable, then jettison ease…

        Reply to Comment
        • Firentis

          But we as citizens of Israel do get to determine who gets to come into our country. These people should be arrested and deported. Let them go protest back in their countries. They are not welcome in mine.

          Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Well, as Comrade Halevy, says, they’re “politically little reliable” but they remind me of Jewish civil rights activists in the 1960s in America. They too got a few arms broken and some of them died. As you know. And the Southerners of the time highly resented these “outsiders” coming in and stirring things up. The thing is, some of these activists are Israeli citizens anyway, they’re not all foreigners. So seizing on “foreigners” is a kind of distraction. But how does this work? Israel is “the nation state of the Jewish people” but some Jewish people are more equal than others?

        Reply to Comment
        • Itshak Gordin Halevy

          They may express their view freely by going to the ballot boxes and not by bothering the passers-by. When you are a foreigner (even in Israel) you must respect the laws.

          Reply to Comment
        • Firentis

          Citizens can protest. The foreigners’ presence here is conditional on good behavior. Blocking marches, clashing with police and creating disturbances is not good behavior.

          They are welcome to make aliyah if they want to live here. Somehow I doubt they will. Jews that live, serve, and work here are more “equal” than foreign Jews those that choose to fly in for their holidays to have a temper tantrum.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            The stop arrogating the right to call yourself ‘The Nation State of the Jewish People’ and lording it over Jews everywhere and Arabs in Jerusalem. You are not. You are the actual self-styled ‘nation state of the Jewish Israelis and not the Arab Israelis’. Both in fact and in your own mind.

            Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people in their homeland. Jewish people around the world form a diaspora with the right to immigrate to Israel. Jewish people in the diaspora are technically and practically foreigners in Israel until they choose to do so. This isn’t that hard Ben.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            ‘”Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, where the civil rights of all citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike, are guaranteed,” is how Netanyahu detailed his demand in his speech to AIPAC last week. “The land of Israel is the place where the identity of the Jewish people was forged. It was in Hebron that Abraham blocked the cave of the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs. It was in Beit El that Jacob dreamed his dreams. It was in Jerusalem that David ruled his kingdom. We never forget that, but it’s time the Palestinians stopped denying history.”
            The Palestinians, of course, flatly deny that the Bible stories are history or that they give Israel a claim over the Holy Land. They deny that modern-day Israel is the real-estate successor of Biblical Israel.
            But so do some Jews. They love Israel and are loyal and devoted to it not because its present leader or previous Zionist leaders declared it to be “the nation-state of the Jewish people,” but rather as the strongly and determinedly defended haven for all Jews everywhere in the wake of the Holocaust, and as the one state where the Jewish religion and Jewish culture are central components of the national ethos.
            That makes them Zionist, but with no allegiance to Netanyahu’s imperious version of Zionism, nor to his effort to force it down Palestinian throats….
            Regarding the present Israeli-Palestinian impasse, many Israelis and Palestinians believe that Netanyahu’s broaching of the “Jewish state” issue was intended deliberately to slow the negotiations or thwart an agreement. He must surely have known that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would spurn his demand on the grounds that the definition “Jewish state” could imply an abandonment of the rights and claims of Israeli Arabs and of the Palestinian refugees.
            So is today’s Israel “the nation-state of the Jewish people?” A lot of Jewish people, the center of whose lives is abroad, clearly do not think so. Many Israelis, too, have problems with Netanyahu’s domineering view of Israel’s past and present – but most especially with his insistence on the Palestinians, hopefully our partners in peace and pragmatism, becoming members of the Zionist executive.’
            -David Landau
            http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.578905

            Reply to Comment
          • Firentis

            Abbas rejects the principle of two states for two peoples because he rejects the idea of Jewish self-determination. In practice the Palestinians and Arabs in general reject the idea that Jews constitute a people so they reject the idea that the Jews a priori can have the right to self-determination. Additionally the Palestinians do not accept the idea that there would be a permanent settlement which leaves a Jewish state as a permanent part of the Middle East. The most the “pragmatists” are willing to accept is that they would get their own country and figure out how to deal with Israel later so they can’t ideologically accept a principle that permanently undermines such a possibility. In practice they want a cease-fire, not peace. And when you hear someone talking about how Israel is so much stronger than the Palestinians and so such trivialities shouldn’t matter, what they are actually doing is accepting the premise that it is in fact a cease-fire rather than a peace agreement.

            Israel isn’t going to accept surrendering massive strategic assets in return for a brittle cease-fire knowing full well that the other side will simply collect the assets and use them to prepare for the next round of hostilities. Those that nonetheless want to make a deal with the Palestinians care more about the Palestinians than about Israeli security and so they have no chance at winning over the majority in Israel regardless of how many justifications they come up with.

            Reply to Comment
    3. i_like_ike52

      Oh, goody, our “conflict tourists” get to go home and show their authentic bruises and “heroic poses standing up to the IDF” photos to their friends and get official recognition as “SJW’s”-Social Justice Warriors. I just wonder what they would say if the shoe was on the other foot and Jewish protesters decided to block Muslim access to the Temple Mount during one of their mass prayer assemblies, like they will have in the upcoming Ramadan month.

      The whole headline of this is false…the police didn’t “assault” them, they were clearing an illegal, dangerously provocative demonstration. Also the whole spewing out of favorite “progressive” epithets against the Jewish Jerusalem Day marchers as being “racist, violent, extremist”, etc. This is simply propaganda designed to activate extreme emotions in their readers.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        My vision of the average conflict tourist is a young male blue and white pom pom waver who will brag to his friends back home about how cool it felt to rampage through frightened neighborhoods chanting “Death to Arabs!”–among the few Hebrew words he learned–and bemoan how boring modern life doesn’t afford that kind of “real man” primitive thrill.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Ariel hakimi

      I was there when this happend. They where blocking the gate around 3:00. The parade wasn’t happening until 6:00. It was simply stupid they sat down in front of the gate and wouldn’t let people come in and out no Jews no muslims no christians…. nobody. Simply very stupid protest and they started yelling the whole world is watching. Yup watching you make fake news. Ps shops were still open. An Arab garbage man had to wait 30 min to get his tractor in side.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Jon Gale

      No one likes the occupation. It is, however, only one part of the issue. Try working for a peace that addresses all legitimate concerns.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      No, everybody is welcomed if he respects the law. It is the same everywhere in the world. As Israeli I will have problems if I do not respect the law in Israel or outside Israel.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        It’s called civil disobedience, Halevy. Or the theory of non-violent resistance. Discover what Henry David Thoreau wrote on this subject. And in turn, how Thoreau influenced Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Martin Buber:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Disobedience_(Thoreau)

        Others influenced: Tolstoy, Proust, Hemingway, Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis, William Butler Yeats, John F. Kennedy, William O. Douglas…

        Buber

        Reply to Comment
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