All entries for Monday 30 January 2006

January 30, 2006

On Israeli Hasbarah הסברה: Part 2

H4. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel

This is perhaps one of the more subtle and subliminal aspects of Israeli Hasbera. Jerusalem – and when I say Jerusalem here I am referring to Al-Quds/Historic Jerusalem/"East Jerusalem" inclusive of the Mount – is not and never has been the capital of Israel. Tel Aviv is the Capital of Israel. Jerusalem, in the aforementioned definition, is part of the occupied territories with absolutely no final status.

There have been attempts over the many years to change the status of Jerusalem.

1) Settlement The primary attempt has been, of course, Illegal Israeli settlement and annexation. In creating so-called "West Jerusalem" (ie incorporation and expanding towns and villages within the municipal borders), Israel attempted to fundamentally change Jerusalem's demography. This form of ethnic upheaval coincides with policies aiming to limit Palestinian growth within Jerusalem. The Jewish mayors of Jerusalem have consistently failed to provide qually for its Arab residents in terms of growth, education, health, public safety etc. In addition to that, Israeli law, both within Israel and its occupation laws forbid Palestinian expansion. By use of the term expansion, I don't mean the Israeli sense of the word whereby you expel Palestinians from their homes and villages and then construct your own, but natural population growth requiring more buildings to accommodate the greater number of families.

2) Refusal to negotiate Jerusalem's status You will find, contrary to popular myth, that the Palestinians have been willing to negotiate Jerusalem, with Yassir Arafat almost destructively doing so with Ehud Barak (on the verge of accepting Abu Dis and a few other villages relabelled as "Al-Quds"). The Israeli official line has always been to never negotiate on Jerusalem. To effectively cement its occupation by taking it off the table. To repeat ad infinitum the fundamentally racist mantra that Jerusalem is Jewish Land and always will be and hope that it will eventually be forsaken by the international community. To an extent this has worked. Jerusalem has, effectively, come to be seen as a city which has been part of Israel since 1948. Many who should know better, including journalists, politicians and intellectuals, do not know that Jerusalem was occupied in 1967.

This attitude is paraphrased most succinctly by Menachem Begin:
"Jerusalem was and will for ever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And for Ever." Subsequent Israeli PMs haven continued to maintain this line. Its effect will be mentioned in the next point.

3) Using the international media to create "Jerusalem: Capital of Israel"

I was just now watching a roundtable discussion on Palestine featuring Dr. Finkelstein (The Holocaust Industry) and Wolf Blitzer of CNN fame. In responding to one of Dr. Finkelstein's points, Blitzer says "What they're shouting… you don't have to understand Arabic to understand what they're saying. They're not saying Hebron, nablus, ramallah.. what they're clearly saying is Haifa, Jaffa, the gallilee, Al-Quds… Al-quds is Jerusalem[...] The liberation of not just the occupied West Bank and Gaza, but the liberation of the rest of Palestine" and Jerusalem.

Mr Blitzer's blunders aside (You would need to understand Arabic as Hebron is derived from the Hebrew word for the City, which in Arabic is Al-Khaleel – you could probably guess that Palestinians were talking about the Galilee through use of the Arabic word Al-Jalil), he is describing a Palestinian desire to liberate parts of Palestinian aside from the West Bank and Gaza area. Now, I'm not going to get into the debate about Palestinians wanting this and that. The fact is, the Israelis have (as historically tragic as this fact may be) irreversably altered the ethnic distribution of the indiginous Palestinians in such a way as to make a return to pre-1948 in areas such as Haifa and Yaffa an impossibility. They are now part of the state of Israel. In adding Al-Quds to Haifa and Yaffa (it is interesting to note that one of the only actual Jewish cities – one created by Jews – Tel Aviv, which palestinians distinguish from Yaffa, is not mentioned) and deliberately distinguishing those cities from those which he apparently believes should compose Palestine (ie Al-Khaleel, Ramallah et al.), he is subtly making Al-Quds part of the State of Israel.

This kind of misunderstanding/misstatement is rife within Western media and is actively encouraged by Israeli embassies and other groups which angrily reprimand news agencies who dare to refer to Israel's actual capital: Tel Aviv. Or at least those who question Jerusalem's status.

So what is the intended outcome of this specific hasbarah?

In essence, it is to preempt negotiations on Jerusalem. It is to cement in the Western mind the concept of Jerusalem as "The eternal capital of Israel" and a place which has always been part of Israel. It therefore leads to making the Palestinians look like they're reaching for something that is not theirs within Jerusalem ("We're making such painful concessions – how dare those extremists ask us to give up our very capital!?") and it also creates greater sympathy for Israel when she demands no mention of Jerusalem within negotiations, despite Al-Quds being of vital interest to the Palestinian people.


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