Update at 3:20 pm, Jerusalem. Sources inform me that thirty have been arrested so far.
I haven't posted a long time because of professional and familial obligations (a.k.a. end-of-semester crunch, followed by travel back home to Israel). But I couldn't go long without some short takes before Shabbat. So here they are:
Sheikh Jarrah. Please forward to anybody you know the following letter from Dr. Amos Goldberg and Prof. David Shulman concerning the ongoing brutality of the "settlers" in the Sheikh Jarrah houses. As you recall, these are houses owned by Palestinians, who have been evicted twice by the Israelis, once from their homes in West Jerusalem and now from their homes in East Jerusalem – in order to make way for hoolingans with tzizis.
As many of you know from our recent reports, rather terrible things are happening in Jerusalem. The Israeli government is pursuing a policy of forcing Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem and handing over their properties to Jewish settlers. The guiding idea is to plant colonies of fanatical Jewish settlers in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods. Israeli courts have recently sanctioned such a move in Sheikh Jarrah, where three Palestinian families have now been evicted from their homes; another 28 homes are under a real threat. Needless to say, only Jews are allowed to reclaim property from before 1948 (in the case of Sheikh Jarrah, from Ottoman times, over a hundred years ago); Palestinians have no hope of reclaiming any of the hundreds of homes in West Jerusalem that once belonged to them.
[We recommend the following videos showing the evictions (activate by Ctrl + left click) including the excellent report by Reuters (the third below).]
Last Friday, December 11, the police violently broke up a peaceful, non-violent protest by Israeli and Palestinian activists and ordinary citizens against what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah. The police were exceptionally brutal, as described in some detail in our report. Twenty-four activists were arrested and held for 36 hours.
(See report in Haaretz http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1134512.html)
The police asked that several of them be remanded in custody until the end of the legal procedures against them (possibly a matter of weeks), and they also attempted to evict three international volunteers who had been arrested in Sheikh Jarrah. Fortunately, the court did not grant either of these requests, and all those arrested have now been released under various restraining conditions, including forbidding them to enter Sheikh Jarrah in the near future. Many will likely be charged, entirely falsely, with assaulting a policeman. We do not believe that any such charges will hold up in court—there is excellent video footage disproving them—but the ongoing harassment of key civil rights activists does exact a price.
To watch video footage from the demonstration (CTRL + left click) go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ICzXbjBm5o&feature=related
It is very clear that the government wishes to silence democratic protest against its policies of theft and eviction and that it is determined to use the considerable means at its disposal to achieve this goal. The only significant check on their power is pressure from abroad.
If you would like to help, please consider sending an email or fax (the latter is said to be more effective in winning attention) to one of the Israeli diplomatic representatives close to your place of residence (see list below) or to the Mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Nir Barakat, (firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: 972-2-6296014) protesting Israel's policy in East Jerusalem. Even a note of a few short lines can make a difference. You might ask them: Why are discriminatory policies the norm in Jerusalem? Why are only Jews allowed to reclaim their pre-1948 property? Why is the right to protest being suppressed in Jerusalem? Is Israel still a democratic state?
In the past, such protest from abroad has been effective where all other measures failed.
For further information please write to: email@example.com
Israeli Committee against House Demolitions http://www.icahd.org/eng/
Rabbis for Human Rights http://www.rhr.org.il/index.php?language=en
The Sheikh Jarrah website http://www.sheikhjarrah.com/
With thanks to all of you for your support,
Dr. Amos Goldberg and Prof. David Shulman
Israeli diplomatic representatives:
fax: 43 1 47646555
fax: 33 1 40765555
fax: 49 30 89045309
For other embassies which are not listed here: http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/About+the+Ministry/Diplomatic+missions/