Kung Fu Jew here, reporting quasi-live from Jerusalem: There has been considerable hubbub in the news about expelling Arab families from their houses in Silwan to make way for a King David-themed archeological park. The protests have captivated attention abroad in the past few months, on this blog and other online news.
So it was only fitting that when Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat came home today, none other than King David himself greeted him, complete with racous royal court and jesters. See the video for His Highnesses’ formal decree that it be Barkat’s house razed instead. (Photos here.)
Over 100 people attended over the hour and a half, nearly entirely Jerusalemites in their 20s and 30s, with a smattering of other generations as well. Signs and chants declared that Jews and Arabs would not be enemies, that Jerusalem would not become Hebron, and accusing the mayor of “pimpin’ the Bible” on the settlers’ behalf. Shalom Achshav organized the protest but according to my hosts, attendance was largely the crowd known for The protest was organized by the same who are planning and participating in the related Sheikh Jarrah protests.
The fight pits activists against not just the mayor’s plan, but the settlers and the city police. Just a day ago, prominent Israeli legal scholars issued a letter demanding the Attorney General investigate the targeting of the activists for “illegal and inequitable” treatement. Right-wing settlers harassing Palestinians are ignored, whereas the police have used unnecessary brutality, arrested civil rights leaders without cause, and lied in court.
The phenomenon is exciting — or at the least notable — for several factors related to the decline of the Israeli left. Firstly, that there are joint Jewish-Arab protests at all is notable. And though orginally started just with Sheikh Jarrah’s residents, the families of Silwan invited the joint organizers to come to their neighborhood also. That simple act speaks volumes about trust and partnership across a chasm unfilled since the failure of the Oslo peace process.
But much more importantly, the organizers are new faces, young activists not represented by the established (and diminished) left wing, such as Meretz and Shalom Achshav. The Knesset pro-peace vote has shrunk by half and typical pro-peace demonstrations are but a shadow of their past. New interest and renewed vigor is interesting to note, even hopeful. The presence of religious activists, including our own LastTrumpet, has stirred many more to sit up and take notice.
Tomorrow we’ll bring you an interview with some of them and ask the most interesting questions: if Palestinian dispossession is nothing new…why these families? And why now?
More videos to be posted tomorrow to our YouTube channel, stay tuned.