An invitation to Israel’s thought police: Haul me in

A Palestinian man from East Jerusalem is summoned by Israeli police for a Facebook status describing his city as occupied.

A Palestinian child sitting in front of a section of the Separation Wall in the refugee camp of Shuafat, East Jerusalem, December 27, 2011. (Photo: Anne Paq/
A Palestinian child sitting in front of a section of the separation wall that surrounds the Shuafat Refugee Camp, which was annexed to Jerusalem in 1967, Occupied East Jerusalem, December 27, 2011. (Photo: Anne Paq/

It has been a month since I last visited Occupied Jerusalem. By writing those words, I may be hastening my return to the city, albeit involuntarily.

This week, a Palestinian resident of Occupied East Jerusalem was summoned by Israeli police for describing the city’s mayor, Nir Barkat, as the “mayor of the occupation,” Haaretz reported.

East Jerusalem was occupied by Israeli forces on June 7, 1967. Later that month, some 70 square kilometers of Palestinian East Jerusalem and the West Bank were annexed by Israel and handed over to the Jerusalem Municipality, a move that no country in the world has ever recognized.

In 1980, Israel passed a basic law, which carries the weight of a constitutional amendment, officially declaring occupied East Jerusalem as part of its capital. In response, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution declaring the law “null and void” and called on member states to move their diplomatic missions out of Jerusalem. Since then, no country has established or maintained an embassy in the city.

So why was Ameer Abd Rabbo summoned by police for describing reality? Well, because he’s Palestinian.

I am willing to predict that I, a Jew, will not be summoned for writing the same words in solidarity here – but I’ll give it a shot.

“Nir Barkat, mayor of the occupation.”

Abd Rabbo’s case is far from being the first of its kind.

Late last year, +972 reported on of Razi Nabulsi, a Palestinian citizen of Israel who was arrested for Facebook statuses discussing the occupation and racist laws affecting Arab citizens of Israel. The offensive status read: “One day the nightmare will be over.”

A few weeks later, police rounded up 25 Palestinian social media activists in East Jerusalem.

Of course, such restrictions on expression and political opposition to the occupation are nothing new, within and beyond Israel’s recognized 1949 borders. The IDF military government that ruled over most of Israel’s Palestinian citizens until 1966 exercised almost absolute control over political organization and media.

In recent years, the Israeli army has shut down a number of Palestinian television stations operating from occupied territory it controls.

Freedom of information is one of the central values that +972 Magazine and its writers stand behind and which is a driving force in our coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian political arena. In that spirit, and in the spirit of equal treatment under the law, I invite the Israeli Police to summon me too, for describing Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat as “the mayor of the occupation.”

Don’t hold your breath, but I’ll update if the Thought Police take me up on my offer.

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