Thursday, December 23, 2010

ethnic cleansing for a theme park and settlement in East Jerusalem

The Silwan Protest Tent

The picture above shows the tent erected by Palestinians in their neighborhood of Al-Bustan in the Silwan area of East Jerusalem. It was set up in 2008 to bring attention to the evictions taking place in the area to make way for Jewish settlers (East Jerusalem is part of the West Bank, the occupied territories) and a biblical theme park for tourists. This is a project to be expected of a country intent on turning biblical mythology into fact while erasing the people who live there. Jimmy Carter has visited the tent in support of the human rights effort it represents.

the vision: a theme park and settlement to replace Palestinians
(biblical theme park for tourists at left, City of David settlement at right)

Needless to say, the tent is a serious threat to Israel's project because it strips away the clean urban planning theme to show the ugly truth. Adnan Gheith is a central character in this account because he was one of those who planned the tent and is a leader in the weekly protests that occur there. He is a marked man, just like Adib abu Rahma, and for exactly the same reason - he is a leader of effective non-violent resistence for which Israel's weaponry is useless.

To illustrate the uselessness of law for the protection of individual rights, consider this list of arrests for Adnan Gheith:
  1. Israeli security force arrives at Gheith's home at 3AM, takes Gheith away for questioning. He is told that stone throwing and the tent must go. After a few hours he is released.

  2. Israeli security force in ski masks arrives at 3AM, takes Gheith away for questioning. This time there is shouting by the interrogator with a death threat. Gheith is in custody for 6 days, the last 4 in solitary confinement.

  3. Israeli security calls Gheith in and more threats are made, but he is free to go.

  4. A hearing is held about demolishing the protest tent. At 5AM the next day police come looking for Gheith at home, don't find him and call him in. More shouting and threats, this time including hints that his family will be harmed. The police want 20 days of house arrest but the court allows "only" three.

  5. Police call Gheith in to again shout at and threaten him over the protest tent and stone throwing but he is allowed to leave.

  6. Police call Gheith in to serve him notice that he will be expelled from East Jerusalem
That last item was on November 28, 2010. Now, a man who has done nothing wrong awaits eviction from not just his home but his home town. Where is the law in all this? There isn't any when one is subject to military justice. Americans, comfortable in our homes, support this injustice with every dollar we send to Israel and with every pro-Israel resolution passed by our Congress.

There are too many Americans who are under the mistaken belief that in the Middle East there are two sides equally to blame for an unsolvable mess. Nothing could be further from the truth but such a view allows people to do nothing while injustice occurs. Israel is grateful for this view held by many Americans because it permits that state to continue to force a native people off their land.

Let Adnan Gheith speak for himself (starts 1:20 in). He needs our help, will we give it? Jewish Voice for Peace provides a way you can protest.

UPDATE: Adnan Gheith must leave East Jerusalem for four months. According to the article in Haaretz, "Jith (Gheith) was never issued with an indictment, nor did the authorities produce any evidence against him." He has two weeks to appeal.

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