Fair Policy, Fair Discussion

December 20, 2009

For Jerusalem Palestinian children: Not even one ‘Drop of Milk’

Filed under: Israeli politics,Jerusalem — Helena Cobban @ 12:52 pm

Remember how the pro-Israeli propagandists have been telling us forever that Jerusalem is now “unified”, and that adherents of all religions have “equal rights” and “equal access” there?

These claims are deeply mendacious.  Jerusalem has been “unified” since 1967 only in the sense that that was the year that the Israeli military occupied the eastern portion of the city and brought it, like West Jerusalem, under the de facto control of the Israeli national and municipal authorities.

No other government in the world recognizes the legitimacy of the unilateral Anschluss (annexation) of East Jerusalem that the Israeli Knesset enacted that year.  From the international-law point of view, Jerusalem is not in any sense “unified”.

And it is not “unified” in any socioeconomic sense, either.  For 42 years now,  municipal and other social services have been offered to the city’s residents in a way that has discriminated very deeply, and on a systematic basis, against those 30% of them who are Palestinians, whether Muslim or  Christian.

And so, today, we come to an article in Haaretz that tells us:

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Thursday rejected municipal recommendations and cut funding for a toddler health-care center in East Jerusalem, while approving aid to a similar center in a Jewish neighborhood.

The funds would have gone to opening a branch of the “Drop of Milk” (Tipat Halav) program, which provides prenatal and toddler health-care services in Silwan, an Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

Last year, authorities from the Jerusalem municipal offices recommended to the mayor to open the aid center in Silwan, which would service around 100,000 residents.

Authorities also recommended opening a similar center in a Jewish neighborhood that is home to around 7,000 residents.

During discussions on the 2010 budget, Barkat decided to cut the aid that would open the center in Silwan while simultaneously approving the aid to open the same center in a Jewish neighborhood.



November 28, 2009

Is Alex Trebek putting U.S. interests in ‘Jeopardy!’?

Filed under: Discourse in America,Jerusalem,West Bank — Carlton Cobb @ 11:35 am

As a fan of all things trivial, I make an effort to tune into the nightly TV game show “Jeopardy!” This week, I was intrigued to see that one of the Double Jeopardy categories was “A Journey Through Israel” (scroll down to “Double Jeopardy” and see the last column on the right). Alex Trebek and his Clue Crew entourage frequently generate video clues — remember that the questions and answers are reversed on “Jeopardy!,” so prompts are called clues and responses are in the form of questions — from famous historical or tourist destinations around the world.

But Israel is not a typical tourist destination. The history is ongoing. Almost any site that the show might visit is suffused with current political meaning — something that the producers obviously recognized, since they had Trebek introduce the category as “reliving history thousands of years old or just a few decades old.” (more…)

November 25, 2009

Netanyahu’s ‘freeze’ excludes Jerusalem!

Filed under: Israeli settlements,Jerusalem,Netanyahu government's policy — Helena Cobban @ 4:49 pm

Israeli PM Netanyahu is reported by Haaretz to be about to announce a very partial halt– actually, far from a total freeze– on the construction of new housing in those portions of the West Bank that are not part of the large chunk of it that Israel has  gobbled up into what it defines as “Metropolitan Jerusalem.”

This news comes just nine days after he gave the go-ahead to the building of some 900 new housing units in Gilo,which is in the southern portion of occupied Greater East Jerusalem.

Ramallah-based Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad is reported by Maan as describing Netanyahu’s refusal to bring settlement construction to a complete halt, including in Greater East Jerusalem, as “the central reason for the stall in peace talks.”

Jerusalem is, as I noted in my latest CSM piece, a matter of great concern not just to Palestinians, but to Arabs and Muslims everywhere.

Here, by the way, are two other good pieces of news analysis on Israel’s construction program in Greater East Jerusalem:

  • Lara Friedman, writing for Americans for Peace Now on Nov. 17, and
  • Nir Hasson, writing recently in Haaretz, under the title “Israel building Jewish homes with one hand, destroying Arab homes with the other”.


Piece in the CSM on Jerusalem tinderbox

The online edition of The Christian Science Monitor is today publishing my opinion piece Can Obama Stand Up to Israel?, which focuses on the extremely precarious situation our delegation found during its time in Jerusalem.

The piece is also archived here.

The core of the argument is contained here:

Today, Jerusalem is a tinderbox. If it ignites, American interests will be at risk, because Washington is seen as acquiescing in Israel’s harmful actions there.

In decades past, when policy differences arose between Israel and the United States, many of Israel’s supporters argued that it was on the front line against terrorism, so Americans should not second-guess its judgments or policies.

That was never a wholly convincing argument. But now, the situation has turned quite around. Today, it is American men and women who are on the front lines and it is their – and our – interests that are most at risk.

By not holding Israel to account, Washington is needlessly – and recklessly – offending hundreds of millions of Muslims on whose goodwill our troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere depend.

While in Jerusalem, we saw Israel’s destructive policies firsthand. The Jewish state is:

• Expanding the large Israeli-only settlements that ring the city to the east, north, and south.

• Supporting smaller settler “outposts” in the heart of Jerusalem’s remaining Palestinian enclaves.

• Completing the 24-foot-high Separation Wall that encloses many Palestinian portions of the city and slices through the center of others.

• Delegating responsibility for archaeological excavations in sensitive areas to settler organizations that have worked feverishly – and quite unscientifically – to push tunnels right under the historic “Muslim Quarter” of the walled Old City.

•Making it almost impossible for the city’s Palestinians to expand their housing stock, and conducting regular demolitions of Palestinian housing it deems “illegal.”

All these Israeli actions are themselves illegal under international law, since Israel controls East Jerusalem and the surrounding West Bank only as a military occupying power, not a rightful sovereign government…

Anyway, please go and read the whole piece and then post comments either here or on the CSM’s website.

(I already received one hysterically angry response from someone called Mark Austen, who wrote:  “Your anti Jewish propaganda is enough to make Joseph Goebbels proud. Palestinians indigenous to Jerusalem? Are you kidding me? As a Christian that is insulting to me….But then again, I am writing to someone that Hitler would be proud of.”  … I have no idea how who Mr. Austen thinks  the world’s first Christians were.  But by every account I’ve ever read– including the New Testament– they were people indigenous to Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine, many of whom were Jewish until their conversion.  Maybe he has another explanation of how Jesus’s word took root and spread?? Has he even been there and seen some of those very ancient Christian holy sites?? Ah well, there’s nowt so strange as folk…)


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