Thursday, August 14, 2008

Touring East Jerusalem with ICAHD

East Jerusalem is part of the West Bank, inside the Green Line, the boundary separating Palestinian and Israeli areas when the U.N. partitioned Palestine in 1947, the legal basis for the creation of the state of Israel. Although a formal peace agreement has never been adopted, many people view this boundary as a starting place for negotiating boundaries if there is to be a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

When we were in East Jerusalem, we took a tour with Angela, from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. Angela took our tour bus around East Jerusalem and showed us the places where Israelis are destroying Palestinian homes because they do not have building permits, while at the same building new apartment blocks and settlements for Israelis. She showed us the rubble of Palestinian homes within view of the new Israeli police station recently constructed in East Jerusalem. She showed us the new condominium development, Nof Zion, being built in the Silwan neighborhood, where Palestinian families have lived for hundreds of years. She told us this development is being marketed to American Jews because Israeli Jews would never want to live in the middle of this Arab neighborhood. Angela showed us where the Wall has cut off Palestinian East Jerusalem from the road to Jericho, a neighboring town now under the authority of the Palestinian Authority.

Angela also told us she was planning a civil action—breaching the blockade Israel has imposed on Gaza. This week Angela and other Israelis, Palestinians and internationals—human rights observers, aid workers and journalists—are taking a flotilla of boats to Gaza to draw the attention of the rest of the world to the impossible situation of the people living in Gaza, cut off from food, fuel and any way of making a living. Look for news of their action: or on the Palestine News Network:

The boat flotilla is one action marking the 60th anniversary of the “Nakba” the “catastrophe,” as Arabs describe the 1947-48 removal of Arabs from their villages, the destruction of those villages and the building of towns for Jewish migrants from around the world on those lands. Today, more than five million refuges still wait to return to these homes, a right guaranteed to them by international law, a right which has never been addressed in peace negotiations. But still, today, Arab homes are being demolished—one four-story apartment building in East Jerusalem on July 28.

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