Nearly every discussion on Jerusalem in the Israeli media revolves strictly around stone throwing and Islamic extremism. Yet not a single word is said about the occupation.
Only in Israel can one speak about an intifada without mentioning the occupation. Only here can one change the IDF’s open-fire regulations without addressing what soldiers are doing on Palestinian land, with who sent them to walk around neighborhoods and cities, and for what purpose.
Stone throwing has made headlines once again this week, and the entire establishment went into a craze over the question of “how do we deal with this?” Facebook was filled with creative answers, such as punishing judges who refrain from sentencing teenager stone-throwers to life. Any judge who shows mercy will not be promoted. The only thing lacking from this proposal was how to forcefully deal with these kinds of judges who also happen to be Arab. I suggest establishing a new investigative committee to look into how on earth these judges were appointed in the first place.
On the first day of the Jewish New Year, the cabinet held an emergency session following the death of a man who crashed his car after Palestinians threw stones at it. This, of course, is a tragic story, and far be it from me to diminish its severity. But before someone repeats the mantra that you were taught by politicians — “You Arabs must condemn, decry, and swear that you are against this despicable act of violence…” — I will say that I refuse to give you even that moment of ease, just so I can talk about the issue. You will need to suck it up and wait until we properly discuss it.
Know from whence you came
I commend the Israeli media for covering the story with great sensitivity, without mentioning the occupation or actually showing what is happening inside Al-Aqsa Mosque.
I listened for hours to the news broadcasts and interviews on the topic of stone throwing. Not a single journalist mentioned the ongoing attacks or what Jews are doing to Palestinians. Not a single word on the settlements in occupied territory. In fact, they didn’t even use the word settlements: “We are five minutes from Pisgat Ze’ev, that is, Jerusalem,” said one of the interviewees on Israel Radio, “why do they throw stones?”
Yes, you are broadcasting from a settlement that is near a checkpoint or the separation wall. In case you forgot or didn’t know, I am here to remind you: you are living on land that was stolen from Palestinians by force. A place where Palestinians are still being murdered and imprisoned to this very day. You are living in a place that does not belong to you — where you will never, ever feel safe. This is the price of the occupation. Your secured homes and armored vehicles — at the expense of the tax payer — will not increase your feeling of security. And even if all the stone, egg, and tomato throwers rot in prison, this will not end until the occupation ends and you reach some kind of an agreement with your neighbors.
And as for all those who pride themselves on their closeness to Jerusalem as a reason to not be hit by stones: do you not live with us on this planet? Jerusalem is burning, the Old City is at war, Palestinians are being attacked there on a daily basis, and Al-Aqsa has turned into a battlefield.
An attack on the mosque
Israeli security forces accompany “a handful of extremists,” who have somehow become convinced that this mosque is the new nuclear threat that puts the Jewish state at risk. They enter the compound forcefully, accompanied by armed policemen and the full backing of this or that minister, who dreams of gaining the same fame as Ariel Sharon did just 15 years prior when he entered Al-Aqsa compound and sparked the Second Intifada.
The Jews who enter the mosque and wander around its gates are often those who start the violence. Not a single Palestinian has entered the Western Wall compound. Not a single member of the Murabitat or Murabitun (more on them later) has started violence for the sake of provocation, at least according to the videos and reports that do not make it to your television screens.
Do you remember the woman who yelled “Muhammad is a pig” at a group of Muslim women? She was detained for a few hours before being released. The following morning she was on one of Israel’s most popular morning talk shows, showing no signs of remorse. There are currently dozens of versions of that same woman — men and women alike — who were trained to harass, provoke, and hide behind policemen.
Fanning the flames in Jerusalem will lead to a particularly gruesome bloodbath, perhaps another Baruch Goldstein. The Israeli government is waiting for it to happen so that it can propose a partition of the compound, just like in Hebron.
‘They will come to miss the Murabitat’
The Palestinians — who can do little to protect their presence in Jerusalem aside from using their bodies and the Holy Quran — physically remain in the mosque to prevent it from being bombarded or burned. This is the definition of the word “Murabat” — someone who ties himself to the place. In Islam, remaining steadfast on one’s land is considered a decree. It is the minimum required to protect one’s home. Those who are experienced in these clashes have learned that if they leave a place, it will be taken by the Jews. Therefore they have decided to remain, at least until a new extremist comes and starts another inevitable round of clashes.
Al-Murabitun and Al-Murabitat are groups of Palestinian men and women — citizens of Israel and Jerusalemites — who volunteer to be present at Al-Aqsa Mosque, to pray, and guard the mosque from extremist Jews at all hours of the day.
The Israeli government, which does an excellent job at outlawing anything and anyone when it starts losing control, decided last week to ban the two groups.
Still unidentified extremists who burn down churches and homes with sleeping babies do not bother anyone in the government. On the other hand, the government continues to abuse hundreds of worshippers at Al-Aqsa.
This is how a diabetic, 50-year-old woman from Lydd who goes to Jerusalem on weekly basis to pray describes it: “Every time they want something else. They change the hours of entry, or they limit the age of entry. Sometimes they let my son in, other times I go alone. Lately they started taking our IDs. We gave them to the soldiers, who is going to argue with them? In the end they took the IDs to the Russian Compound jail, telling all the women to walk there in order to retrieve them. For no reason. We waited for three hours and then went home. They want to teach us a lesson so that we do not come back here.”
This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.