The Jerusalem Day march, marking the ‘reunification’ of the city under Israeli sovereignty, has more to do with domination over Palestinians than celebration.
Photos by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org
Text by +972 Magazine Staff
Jerusalem Day is billed as a celebration of the city’s “reunification” in 1967, when Israeli forces captured the Old City along with the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights.
In practice, Jerusalem Day is an opportunity for Jewish-Israeli nationalists, draped in flags, dancing in circles, singing and chanting “death to Arabs” as they march through East Jerusalem and the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. Most of the Jewish participants are bused in from right-wing and nationalist yeshivas throughout Israel and the West Bank.
Ahead of the march Police order Palestinian shopkeepers to shutter their stalls and stores and Palestinians are cleared from the streets in order to prevent the ultra-nationalist participants from attacking them. Jewish participants have been known to vandalize shuttered stores, bang on the doors of homes, chant racist and violent slogans against Muslims and Palestinians, and even use physical violence against Palestinian passersby.
This year, following two consecutive years in which the High Court of Justice ordered police to reign in Jewish participants verbal and physical violence against Palestinian residents, police kept closer reigns on the march. It was limited in time and although individual provocative acts still took place, police and ushers were reportedly more vigilant about maintaining order. A police spokesperson said officers arrested two Jewish minors for shouting racist slogans.
The international community does not recognize Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, including the Old City. And although Israel annexed the territory and included it in the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, its residents were not granted citizenship; they hold permanent residency, which can be revoked for any number of reasons, often at the discretion of the Israeli interior minister.
A growing number of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have been applying for Israeli citizenship in recent years, but Israel has been granting fewer and fewer of those applications. Whereas the Israeli Interior Ministry approved 36.8 percent of applications over the past decade, The Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday, in 2014 that rate dropped to a measly 5 percent and in 2015 plummeted to 2.9 percent.
Israel has revoked the residency 14,416 East Jerusalem Palestinians since it seized control of the territory in the 1967 Six Day War, which rights groups have termed a policy of quiet deportation. In 2014, it revoked the residency of 107 East Jerusalem Palestinians, including 56 women and 12 minors, according to information provided to and published by Hamoked — Center for Defence of the Individual.
Whereas the revocation of residency status could be considered a silent or quiet mass deportation, some high-profile participants in Sunday’s nationalist parade were openly lobbying for population transfer. Well-known right-wing activist and former spokesperson of the Kach terrorist organization Baruch Marzel was spotted by +972’s Orly Noy handing out stickers reading: “There is no coexistence with them; Transfer now”.
Activist Moriel Rothman-Zecher spotted one of the stickers on a young participant: