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WATCH: Racism-filled march curbs Palestinian movement in Jerusalem

High Court dismisses petition to re-route the ‘Jerusalem Day’ march away from the Muslim Quarter, but tells police it expects them to act against the type of racist incitement for which the ‘March of the Flags’ is notorious.

Israeli settlers march into the Old City of Jerusalem during the 'Jerusalem Day' march, East Jerusalem, May 8, 2013. Earlier that day, police forces ordered Palestinian shops and stands inside the Old City to close at 15:00. In previous years, Israeli settlers had vandalized and destroyed many Palestinian shops that remained open during the march. (Photo by: Yotam Ronen/ Activestills.org)

Israeli settlers march into the Old City of Jerusalem during the ‘Jerusalem Day’ march, East Jerusalem, May 8, 2013. (Photo by: Yotam Ronen/ Activestills.org)

Two Jerusalem-based NGOs on Monday lost a legal battle to keep Israel’s hyper-nationalist, racist and often violent “March of the Flags” Jerusalem Day procession from passing through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City later this week.

The High Court, while dismissing a petition by Ir Amim and Tag Meir, did tell police that it expects them to arrest and press charges against participants who make racist and inciting chants, like “death to Arabs,” which have become a staple of the annual march.

“Anyone who says ‘death to Arabs,’ we are of the opinion that he must be punished, and the police needs to have the same understanding,” Justice Rubinstein said in the hearing on Monday. “This is not freedom of speech but the freedom to incite.”

The NGOs launched a campaign earlier this month to try and stop the march from passing through the Muslim Quarter. Each year, while permitting the nationalist march to proceed, police ban Palestinian residents from their own streets outside their homes and businesses — ostensibly in order to protect them from “March of the Flags” participants.

In a letter sent to Israeli authorities, the NGOs noted that public events like marathons and cycle races limit freedom of movement throughout the city all year long. The difference between those events, however, is that on Jerusalem Day freedom of movement is decided by one’s ethnicity and nationality, not participation in a marathon or bicycle race.

Palestinian shopkeepers are told to shutter their stalls and stores ahead of the march

“Restricting freedom of movement solely on an ethnic-national basis is not acceptable in a democratic state,” Attorney Eitay Mack wrote on behalf of the organizations.

A Palestinian shopkeeper locks his store to prevent it from being attacked, shortly before Israeli nationalists enter the area in the “March of the Flags", Damascus Gate, East Jerusalem, May 20, 2012. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian shopkeeper locks his store to prevent it from being attacked, shortly before Israeli nationalists enter the area in the “March of the Flags”, Damascus Gate, East Jerusalem, May 20, 2012. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Most of the arrests on Jerusalem Day in recent years have been of Palestinians protesting the march, and police have assaulted and detained Israeli and Palestinian journalists covering those events. This year, activists are planning to film the march with an aim at documenting whether police heed the High Court’s warning and arrest Jews making racist and inciting chants.

Jerusalem Day is billed as a celebration of the city’s “reunification” in 1967. In practice, it is a day for Israeli nationalists, draped in flags, dancing in circles, singing and chanting “death to Arabs” as they march through East Jerusalem and the Old City. Many of the Jewish demonstrators are bused in from right-wing yeshivas in Israel and the West Bank.

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.

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.

Additionally, as Israel has built its concrete separation barrier in the Jerusalem area, it deliberately left Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem on the West Bank side of the wall. Those neighborhoods have systematically been denied basic social and municipal services, ranging from trash collection, policing and mail delivery to, in the most extreme cases, running water.

In recent years, Jewish settlers have intensified their push into Palestinian neighborhoods, with a renewed push taking place in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.

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    1. Ben

      Information: These videotapes testimonies taken by Breaking the Silence of soldiers (their voices altered, face blurred to protect identity) will put to rest any nonsense about these accounts possibly being “fiction.” It makes me realize that the extremists here claiming a few days ago that the “anonymity” renders these accounts not credible were simply engaging in a mass distraction attack–belaboring a nonissue. These reports are amazingly credible and they are damning. You have to view them to understand that. Once you hear these soldiers speak you will get it. What you’ll also realize is that these soldiers giving these testimonies are Israel’s finest.


      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        And I strongly recommend you listen to Yehuda Shaul of Breaking the Silence speak:


        It’s worth the whole hour and 38 minutes. If you want the quick take home message go to minute 21:00. Watch 21:00-25:00. Israel tells itself and others it’s playing defense but it’s really playing offense. It always says it’s on the way out but it’s really always on the way in. Before 21:00 he describes BtS’s purpose: to show Israelis: “This is what we in the military really do in your name.” From 25:00 on he describes what he means by “offense.” He describes how the idea of “prevention,” for example, expands to include every offensive (in both meanings of the term) action you can think of. And the idea of “separation” and how it becomes ruthlessly limitless. And on and on. If you start watching him speak you will want to listen to the end. Watch this video! It will open your eyes. It will open your eyes to the hollowness of every argument you hear about why the occupation can’t end.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Yahuda Shaul by the way grew up Orthodox Jewish (and still is religious) in Jerusalem in a right wing family and environment. He speaks fluent American-accented English because his parents were American. He served his three years in the IDF ending as a company commander and was deployed in Hebron and several other places. He is roughly similar in background and experience to Naftali Bennet. When you watch this talk by Yahuda Shaul you’ll see, however, that in terms of the content of their character there is a vast difference between the two men. Yahuda Shaul will make you see Naftali Bennett in a whole new light, and Shaul gives the lie to so many of the excuses of the right wing posters hereabouts. Watch all 98 minutes!

          Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          One of the practices Yehuda Shaul describes is Mock Arrest. It’s widespread. Every soldier knows about it. New units need practice. So you go in to a sleeping village at 2:00 AM. You pick a random house that is totally innocent. You in fact check with the security services ahead of time to make sure the man and his family inside are totally innocent so you know you’re not interfering with some secret operation or intelligence gathering. Then you invade the house, terrorize the family, drag the guy out, throw him in a jeep, drive a bit out of the village, then let him go. It’s just practice. The man and his family are guinea pigs you practice on. Nice huh? This is what the IDF does in your name, Israelis.

          The soldiers are indoctrinated to see their attacking any and every form of protest gathering, no matter how peaceful, as “fighting terror.” Because its all about total control. If you let 25 people gather peacefully you’ve lost total control. The aim is to shut down any protest whatsoever. Never give it a chance. No matter how peaceful. Watch Yehuda Shaul speak!

          Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          [Publisher’s description]

          Our Harsh Logic

          Israeli soldiers speak out for the first time about the truth of the Palestinian occupation, in “one of the most important books on Israel/Palestine in this generation” ( The New York Review of Books ) The very name of the Israel Defense Forces–which many Israelis speak of as “the most moral army in the world”–suggests that its primary mission is the defense of the country’s territory. Indeed, both internationally and within Israel, support for the occupation of Palestinian territory rests on the belief that the army’s actions and presence in the West Bank and Gaza are essentially defensive and responsive, aimed at protecting the country from terror.

          But Israeli soldiers themselves tell a profoundly different story. In this landmark work, which includes hundreds of soldiers’ testimonies collected over a decade, what emerges is a broad policy that is anything but defensive. In their own words, the soldiers reveal in human and vivid detail how the key planks of the army’s ostensibly protective program—”prevention of terror,” “separation of populations,” “preservation of the fabric of life,” and “law enforcement”—have in fact served to accelerate acquisition of Palestinian land, cripple all normal political and social life, and ultimately thwart the possibility of independence.

          The many soldiers who have spoken out have taken aim at a silence of complicity, both within Israel and in the wider world, that perpetuates the justification for occupation. In the process, they have created a gripping and immediate record of oppression. Powerful and incontrovertible, Our Harsh Logic is a supremely significant contribution to one of the world’s most vexed conflicts.

          Reply to Comment
    2. Uri Cohen

      Here is a YouTube video of a very powerful testimonial regarding the treatment of Palestinians by the IDF.
      The talk by Eran Efrati was filmed in Denver, Colorado on March 3, 2014 as part of The Soldier and the Refusenik U.S. tour with Maya Wind. Eran talks about his experiences in the IDF and then more broadly discusses Israel, its relationship to the U.S. and the global expansion of militarism.
      ■ An Israeli Soldier’s Story – Eran Efrati [VIDEO, 40:05] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93hqlmrZKd8

      Reply to Comment