I arrived in Jerusalem last night and as always during the weeks between mid-May and mid-June the media is full of romanticized memories. Within these weeks are the two most siginicfant dates in modern Palestinian history: May 1948 when Palestine was conquered and renamed Israel, and June, 1967 when the Israeli army completed the conquest of Palestine by taking East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. For Palestinians these dates bring back bitter memories, but for Israelis the memories are sweet – those were the days when we were young and brave and innocent. Vintage photos of soldiers at the newly conquered Western Wall, generals announcing “the Temple Mount is in our hands,” and teary-eyed old Jews praying with devotion are everywhere. The horrors that make up the Palestinian memories, the piles of dead bodies, civilians panicking as they are forcibly exiled, children lost in the mayhem and ancient villages and communities bulldozed only to be rebuilt for Jews are rarely shown or discussed.
To add to all that, Donald Trump is expected to arrive in Jerusalem and this gives the press and the official state PR machine an even greater opportunity to deal with the two things they love best: smoke screens and trivia. Gaza? never even heard of it! Fifteen hundred innocent political prisoners on a hunger strike for over a month? Nobody cares! But check this out: apparently Trump will fly directly from Saudi Arabia to Tel-Aviv and this is the first direct flight between the two countries; the King David Hotel in Jerusalem is preparing for Trump’s visit and a drone was spotted in the hotel parking lot! And the ongoing burning question, will the great deal maker be able to close the Israeli-Palestinian peace Deal? All smoke screens and trivia which are the staples of tabloids – a category into which most Israeli media outlets fit perfectly – though in their defense one must admit that there is no point in dealing with substance because Trump’s visit will offer none.
Here are a few items that are sure not to be on Trump’s agenda: Two million people in Gaza have no access to clean water, proper nutrition or medicine. They have been victims of devastating attacks for seven decades and before they can recover from one assault there is another one pending. The Israeli water authority allocates only 3% of the water to Palestinians even though they make up more than 50% of the overall population. More than 55% of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship live below the poverty line, and even though they rate one of the highest in the world in literacy, there is massive unemployment among Palestinians. Palestinians in the West Bank live under a brutal military regime governed by Israeli commanders who impose inhumane laws and prevent people from enjoying the basic most human rights. Seven thousand political prisoners sit in Israeli jails in violation of international law, over fifteen hundred of them on a hunger strike for over a month.
Trump may also visit Ramallah, and there too these topics are not likely to come up. Though there are attempts to prop the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority, it is on life support and barely surviving. Municipal elections to West Bank cities were a failure – marked by boycotts of major political parties and a lack of voter interest. Mahmoud Abbas, the so-called president of the Palestinian Authority is old and tired and can no longer mask his disinterest in the fate of his people. Hamas has made some changes to its charter and the newly elected head of Hamas’ political bureau is the Gaza resident, Gaza born Ismail Haniya, who is also the democratically elected Prime Minister of the now defunct Palestinian Authority. The Authority has no real authority and neither party is relevant anymore.
The question of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem is also dead at this point although for political reasons Netanyahu will pretend it is a priority. Both Trump and Netanyahu know that Jerusalem is a red line that even two reckless politicians such as them will not dare cross. Trump will not risk a multi billion dollar weapons deal with Saudi Arabia, and Netanyahu won’t risk an uprising for a symbolic gesture for which no country in the world can give its support. The international community has never recognized Jerusalem as part of Israel, and international recognition of Israel’s jurisdiction is out of the question. So while Israeli politicians may try to create headlines over this topic, it is nothing but a smoke screen.
The terror under which Palestinians live – be it in their own country or in refugee camps around it, is part of the daily bread of Palestinian existence. The causes for this existence, the wars of 1948 and 1967 are commemorated each year during the weeks between mid-May and mid-June. The horror of the Palestinian reality is magnified when compared to the dishonest, romanticized narrative presented by Jews during that time: An Israel that is eternally young and brave and facing constant danger, yet winning and succeeding. Judging by Trump’s entourage, which includes David Friedman the new US ambassador to Israel and Jared Kushner, the famous Jewish son in law, Israel’s narrative of lies will dominate the agenda, while trivia and smoke screens will dominate the news.
Thanks Miko, excellent read as always.
I am a bit disappointed with your comments on the ethnicity of Jared Kushner though. His religio/ethnic group doesn’t mean a thing does it?
Similarly, I didn’t like your comment that ‘Jews’ present a romanticized narrative about the creation of Israel. ‘Some Jewish people’ would have been more accurate. There are many Jewish people Worldwide, and within Israel, who are appalled by the actions of the Israeli right.
Hope you don’t mind me pulling you up on casual racism!
Any time Steve! But who attacked Pearl Harbor? Who invaded Poland in WW2?
Some Japanese people and some German people 😉
Exactly! And if anyone thinks the son-in-law being Jewish isn’t relevant to Trumps
Policy on Israel they are seriously mistaken. He is a huge supporter of Friends of IDF and WB settlements.
Keep up the reporting Miko. I’m forwarding this to friends.
I agree with Miko Paled on your comments, Steve Murray.
The fact that Jared Kushner is Jewish is entirely relevant politically, given his known support for the state of Israel, and it would certainly be correct to say that Japan (the government) attacked Pearl Harbor and Germany (the government) invaded Poland in WW2. In fact, to say that “some Japanese people” attacked Pearl Harbor” would be erroneous.
It goes without saying that not all the people living in those countries supported their governments’ actions.
Thank you, Miko, for your tireless reiteration of historical facts. I’m horrified that my government through my tax dollars supports merciless, relentless oppression of Palestinians. Most of the best educated people I know (friends and family too) don’t seem to realize what’s going on there or are afraid it’s anti Semitic to talk about these human rights violations. Easier to accept one player as terrorist (Hamas/Arabs/Islam) and one as victim (Jews), I guess. It blows my mind because Israel with our support is in violation of just about every principle the free world was built on, every freedom we–my friends, family enjoy. I asked my Jewish in-laws if they believe in God. They don’t, but they send money to Israel. They identify with the importance of a Jewish community. Fine. But Israel’s claims to the region are biblically based. ??? Another Jewish client of mine says he, like myself, believes in separation of church and state, yet he funds Israel. I seem to be missing something. What does it mean to be Jewish without religion? I was raised Catholic before I had a choice but don’t identify with it now. I can’t imagine purposely and exclusively funding an exclusively Catholic state. Women as a group have been more persecuted than any other on the planet and I would not advocate for a state exclusively for women… Is what I’m encountering with these people a sense of entitlement plain and simple? Or is there more to it?
Good points you made… and I would highly recommend you read The Invention of The Jewish People by Shlomo Sand. Excellent book… and drop it by your in-laws as well.
If only we the people can get rid of corrupt governments the world would be a better place for all
Thank you for this and many other examples of great courage and righteousness shown by you and your family. I have linked to this on Richard Falk’s blog:
Melissa, religions can also be part of ethnicity as well as faith. Off the top of my head, think of Roman Catholics in the North of Ireland. They are ethnically Irish as opposed to the ethnically British Protestants. Hence some people have no problem with being atheist and considering themselves Jewish, ie descended from people who were driven from the Biblical lands 2 000 years ago.
It is nonsense to me, population movements and inter breeding over the last two millennia make it likely that the current people who claim descent from the inhabitants of Palestine 2 000 years ago have, in actual fact, little to do with them. There is a theory that the Jewish people of Eastern Europe are actually descended from an ethnic group called The Khazars who converted to Judaism around the 800s CE, so their claim to an ethnic link with Palestine is very tenuous.
But it is important to know how Judaism is perceived as an ethnicity as well as a faith, both by Zionists and by anti-Semites.
Mr.Peled, As well done an article as I may expect from a good human being. Mr. Murray has his qibbles which have their merits but, I as a Jew understand your observations as correct and not “racism”. It’s all wound up with stuff we learned at our mothers knee and in schule, at summer camps, action and reaction while finding our individual selves in and out of “community”. To really get it one has to grow up in it. For you to communicate it would take a Library of books and the mind to grasp conflicting subtleties. I grew up with a mother for whom the illusion died in 1967 when as she said she picked up the newspaper and saw her childrens faces staring in misery at her. I was taught critical thinking with a renewed vigor, that loving is not- cannot be a Carte blanche, we-I am wonderful and precious while I recognize and care for other wonderful, precious people. Yet (?) in 71 in canadian primary school I was a bookish, artsy, nerdy Jew in a gentile society-world and I saw pictures from israel of, to my childs eyes, heroic cool guys who could make bullies pee their pants. I knew that war was terrible and colonialism so wrong but..? But..? And it is always there, in me. I am very with you in estimation and expectation of the situation, what needs to be rectified to save two peoples and more but..But !?!
Some thinker wrote ”my country,” (people) “right or wrong is like my Father drunk or sober.”..I get it but..he is my dad..you see?
Just viewed the vid of the Nabi Saleh protest on MW. Heroic stuff Miko. Anxious to hear the result of your arrest. Hope all is well.
Miko, I am probably one of the few that agrees that annexing the West Bank would have been better than two states. But destroying Israel is a shameful proposition that modern civilization will not accept. You are not the only person with history and experience in this conflict. Your views have some valid criticisms but cannot be fully engaged because of your extreme bigotry. Perhaps you and your sister suffer PTSD from being embroiled in all this trauma? You have become irrational, perhaps psychotic, and only fueling hatred instead of bringing peace. And I love Arabs, for what it’s worth. They are the brothers to the ethnicity of people you call Jews.