Jodi does Jerusalem (NYT Sept 17, 2014)

The NYT’s Jodi Rudoren was writing about East Jerusalem on Sept. 17th. There was some interesting and useful information buried down deep in the article. In particular, she described the Israelis’ use of “skunk water” against civilian areas in E. Jerusalem for her readers and included snippets from a couple of interesting interviews with community leaders from E. Jerusalem’s seriously embattled– and extremely vulnerable– Palestinian community.

But the value of the piece was very badly marred by the whole frame she gave it, particularly in its top half. Here are the details:

 LocationMs. Rudoren writesHC comments
1Headline and framing"Unrest by Palestinians Surges in a Jerusalem Neighborhood"OK, the headline is chosen by the editors, not the reporter. Still, it reflects the general framing of the piece which is focused on the "unrest", rather than its causes.
2Para 4 (the casualty count), pt. 1" Some 727 people have been arrested, 260 of them under 18, for throwing rocks and other actions in near-daily demonstrations that were met with increased force."727 "people", nationality unidentified, have been arrested for "throwing rocks and other actions" (also unidentified.) I suspect that many of these "other actions" were nonviolent ones. Also, of course, many people are arrested on the basis of no infraction of the law. But no, Jodi R just goes with the police claims that, if someone was arrested, then he or she must have been doing something wrong. Tarek Abu Khdeir, anyone? Also of note: during the 1st Intifada, the Israeli hasbarists made a point of always describing the geological fragments as "rocks" rather than "stones". Why does she follow this?
3Para 4 (the casualty count), pt. 2"More than 100 police officers have been injured and 15-year-old Mohamed Sinokrot was killed by what a Palestinian doctor determined in an autopsy was a sponge-covered police bullet that hit his head."Here, we have "more than 100" police officers having been injured-- seriousness of injury not defined-- apparently being placed there to "balance" the 15-year-old Palestinian who was killed by the police. But how about the numbers of Palestinians injured-- why no mention of them? Also, let's hear how seriously these 100 Israeli police were "injured"... Finally, what on earth is a "sponge-covered police bullet"? Tell us, please, *what is the material in the bullet that is covered by the "sponge"*? Frankly, I've never heard of a sponge-covered bullet before. I've heard many times of the "rubber-coated metal bullets" that the Israeli military use, as reported by all the human-rights organizations.
4Para 5 (political explanations begin)"“I see the third intifada started already,” said Jawad Siyam, director of the Wadi Eilweh Information Center, which tracks demonstrations and arrests, using the Arabic shorthand for the waves of violence that plagued Israel in the late 1980s and early 2000s. “We said from the very beginning: It will stop in Gaza but it will continue in East Jerusalem.”"Where to start with this? "Intifada" is not some sinister "Arabic shorthand for... waves of violence". Intifada is the Arabic word for an uprising (or, more literally, a "shaking-off".) The 1st intifada (1987-93) was almost wholly nonviolent from the Palestinian side-- and the 2nd intifada (2000-2002) started off that way. No, Ms. Rudoren, "intifada" is not "shorthand" for anything-- and certainly for "waves of violence."
5Para 6 (more politics)"East Jerusalem is as much a concept as it is a specific location. Palestinians claim it as their future capital. Israel captured it from Jordan, along with the West Bank, in 1967, and later annexed some 27 square miles that include about a dozen hilly Palestinian enclaves, and a similar number of Jewish areas that most of the world regards as illegal settlements."That first sentence is a classic evasion! It is also, quite simply, untrue. East Jerusalem is definitely recognizable as a specific location: It is the whole part of Jerusalem that came under Israel's military occupation in June 1967 and has been under occupation ever since. Of course, Ms. R hates to use the "O" word! Hence, when describing how E.Jerusalem came under Israeli control in 1967, she does not say-- as would be absolutely the case-- that the IDF "occupied" it in the course of the hostilities, but rather that the IDF "captured" it. (American children have a game called "capture the flag" that is energetic and a lot of good fun. I imagine her use of "capture" in this context is intended to convey the same kinds of feelings.)

No word from her, of course, that Israel's unilateral act of Anschluss of an expanded area of E. Jerusalem in 1968 was *completely illegal* under international law. The verbal contortions she uses to describe "hilly Palestinian enclaves" and "Jewish areas that most of the world [but not, apparently Ms. Rudoren or her bosses?] regards as illegal settlements" are amazing and notable...
6Para 7, meet the Jerusalem Palestinians..."More than 300,000 of Jerusalem’s 830,000 residents are Palestinians. They are not citizens, but get social-welfare benefits from Israel and travel fairly freely... "Oh, they are so lucky to "get" social-welfare benefits. (Irony alert.) Nothing about how they also have to pay into the social-welfare funds and pay extremely high Israeli taxes, including the arnona, in return for which the municipal services they receive are derisory.
7Para 7, more about those whiny Palestinians"they have complained for years about shortchanged services, including a severe lack of classrooms and slow garbage pickup."Come on, Jodi Don't just tell us that the whiny Jerusalem Palestinians *complain* about the disproportionately poor level of services they receive in return for their tax payments. Tell us the *facts*, as well documented by numerous Israeli and other organizations about the deeply institutionalized discrimination in terms of classroom size, spending per pupil, per-capita spending on trash services etc that exists as between Jerusalem's Palestinian and Jewish residents...
8Para 9"Yossi Klein Halevi, a skullcap-wearing Jew who lives in the area called French Hill, which overlooks Issawiya, said he noticed a woman in a Muslim head scarf eyeing him nervously during a recent evening walk. Then he realized that he himself tensed up as a car filled with young Palestinian men passed... "First of all, French Hill is not just "an area". It is an illegal settlement-- one of the first to be built in occupied E. Jerusalem. Please tell us this, Ms. Rudoren. Secondly, Yossi Klein Halevi is not just "a skullcap wearing Jew" who happens to live in French Hill. He is one of the numerous Israeli settlers in the occupied territories who was born in the United States and made a deliberate decision to become a settler. And he happens to be a Contributing Editor for The New Republic, a largely neocon American publication. It is the height of laziness for a journo to write about another journo (and another American journo, at that), as though said individual is just a random vox pop...

Reporting from Jerusalem, July 1995

With help from my dedicated Bryn Mawr College extern Danielle Ford, I have now completed the digitization of a series of five reports I wrote for Al-Hayat in July 1995 on the situation of the Palestinians of Jerusalem. (I could say “East Jerusalem”, which is of course occupied territory. But actually West Jerusalem was one of the urban areas within the area Israel controlled prior to 1967 that had been the most thoroughly “cleansed” of its Palestinian inhabitants in the fighting of 1948… So until this day, there are almost no ethnic Palestinians in West Jerusalem.)
I thought it would be pretty timely to publish this series now, in light of the latest Wikileaks revelations about the amazing depth of the concessions Abu Mazen and his negotiators have been prepared to make over Jerusalem (and other issues)… All of which were rejected by Israel, and also apparently Washington, as “still not enough.”
I think it’s also important to publish this piece of historic reportage because I learned during that visit– which came just a year after Arafat’s triumphant “return” to the occupied territories in the wake of the September 1993 conclusion of the Oslo “interim” agreement– how speedily the Israeli government had moved after Oslo to throw a ring of steel around East Jerusalem in an attempt to cut it off from the rest of the West Bank. Of which, of course, it had always been not only an organic part, but also the capital. As, under international law, it remains to this day, billions of cubic tonnes of the settlers’ illegal concrete-pouring notwithstanding.
Since 1993, successive Israeli governments of all political “colorings”, have continued their campaign to cut the living heart of East Jerusalem out of the body of the rest of the West Bank. Now, instead of makeshift stone barricades and razor wire, the ring of steel around E. Jerusalem consists nearly wholly of the 28-foot-high concrete Wall, punctuated by prison-camp-style watch-towers. But the origins of this policy, around Jerusalem, go back to the mid-1990s…
So here is Part I of that report. This is the English-language original as I wrote it then. The very good translators at Al-Hayat translated it into Arabic for their use of it.

Continue reading “Reporting from Jerusalem, July 1995”

‘Journey to Jerusalem, 1995’, Part 1

I’m happy to make available to JWN readers Part 1 of a seven-part series I wrote about Jerusalem for Al-Hayat, back in July 1995. It’s here.
Getting this series into uploadable– and also, potentially editable– form is part of an ongoing project to data-mine some of my own past writings (especially those that are not readily available, even to me.) This Jerusalem series from 1995, for example: I think I have it on a floppy disk, someplace. But I don’t have a floppy disk reader any more, and anyway I’ve shifted from a PC to a Mac… What I do have are two yellowing paper copies of the whole series, a scanner, and some new OCR software that I’m still assessing. (ReadIris… not too bad, but not great either. On the other hand, a lot more affordable that Adobe Acrobat.)
Actually, I got the series commercially scanned since my scanner doesn’t have a sheet-feed, and then started doing the OCR.
Working with this material has been interesting: poignant and also extremely depressing. I spent about three weeks in Jerusalem in the summer of 1995, doing the research and interviews for it… Oh my goodness, how much worse the situation of the city’s Palestinians has gotten since then!
Poignant: There was the material from interviews I conducted Faisal Husseini, who passed away in 2001 (RIP). There was Faisal’s great but already heavily threatened institution, Orient House, which Ariel Sharon shut down a few months after Faisal’s passing.
That latter Wikipedia page notes,

    Items confiscated by the Israeli government included personal belongings, confidential information relating to the Jerusalem issue, documents referring to the 1991 Madrid conference and the Arab Studies Society photography collection. Also the personal books and documents of the late Faisal al-Husseini were summarily impounded.

What hooligans the Israeli authories sometimes are…
One of my main aims in republishing the 1995 series on Jerusalem now is to underline a couple of things:

    1. The fact that the kinds of challenges the Jerusalem Palestinians face today are by no means new. They’ve been living in this situation of extreme threat for a long time already.
    2. The fact that the policies pursued by the Israeli authorities toward the Jerusalem Palestinians started to become significantly harsher right after the conclusion of the Oslo Accord in 1993. From the point of view of Faisal Husseini or other Palestinian Jerusalemites, Oslo was a crock of nonsense that radically undermined rather than increasing their security.

One last note. The OCR really isn’t that great. (Or maybe I need to use it more smartly.) So I’ll put up the pieces in this series one at a time, as I can.

So does Biden finally get it? Does Obama??

Shimon Shiffer, writing in Yediot Aharonot today (HT: Laura Rozen):

    While standing in front of the cameras, the U.S. vice president made an effort to smile at Binyamin Netanyahu even after having learned on Tuesday that the Interior Ministry had approved plans to build 1,600 housing units in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo. But in closed conversations, Joe Biden took an entirely different tone. …
    People who heard what Biden said were stunned. “This is starting to get dangerous for us,” Biden castigated his interlocutors. “What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace.”
    The vice president told his Israeli hosts that since many people in the Muslim world perceived a connection between Israel’s actions and US policy, any decision about construction that undermines Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem could have an impact on the personal safety of American troops fighting against Islamic terrorism.

Helena Cobban, writing in The Christian Science Monitor November 24, 2009:

    President Obama urgently needs to distance Washington from the provocative – and illegal – actions the Israeli government has been undertaking in Jerusalem.
    He needs to do this to save the two-state solution that he supports between Israelis and Palestinians. He needs to do it, too, because it will help protect US troops around the world. Jerusalem is a core concern for many of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, and with US forces now facing tense situations in several majority-Muslim countries, Washington has a stronger need than ever to keep the goodwill of the peoples of those lands

I also wrote there that Pres. Obama should take concrete action,

    by linking US aid to Israel to its compliance with international law in the city, by supporting action by the UN Security Council to uphold international standards there, and in other ways.

It is that concrete action that we have not yet seen. If we fail to see it, then sadly we’ll have to conclude that it is not just the government of Israel that is putting the lives of U.S. service-members at risk, but also Pres. Obama, through the extreme timidity he has shown in his dealings with the government of Israel.

The Biden factor: Iraq, Palestine– and Israel

Breaking news: late Wednesday evening in Cairo, Abu Mazen and his buddies at the Arab League decided there will be no ‘proximity talks’ between the PLO and Israel.
I’m kind of interested in the way Abu Mazen is getting Amr Moussa to front for him these days. It does indicate a serious lack of his own confidence in the depth of his support among Palestinians… But that matter is tangential to the main story here, which is–
The Amazingly Unsuccessful ‘Diplomatist’ Joe Biden!
Biden, lest we forget, is the man who in an interview with George Stephanopoulos last July, publicly gave Israel carte blanche to attack Iran whenever it wanted.
Biden was also, back in the pre-2003 day, one of Ahmed Chalabi’s main supporters in the U.S., and an enthusiastic backer of the idea of partitioning Iraq.
Since he became Vice-President, Biden has had a role “orchestrating” Washington’s Iraq policy on behalf of the president… Well, we’ve seen how that’s been going… To be fair, that is not as horrendously badly as it might have been going… But it hasn’t been going brilliantly, either– certainly not as brilliantly as most of the US MSM have been saying.
Biden has not done a particularly good job there, I think.
But he has really been bombing in Palestine.
Yes, of course we can and should lay the primary blame for what’s been happening in Jerusalem this past couple of days squarely on the Israeli government, the body that greeted Biden, on his first visit to Israel as vice-president, with not one but two announcements about the construction of new settler housing.
Notable that Yossi Sarid writes in Thursday’s Haaretz that,

    Don’t believe Benjamin Netanyahu for one moment when he says he “never knew” [about the 1,600 new settler housing units announced Tuesday.] The Jerusalem planning committee is only too aware of what the bosses want, and the government has decided to step up construction in greater Jerusalem. Dispossession and taking possession, kicking out and moving in – that’s what it’s all about.

Sarid also gave us these additional details about Biden’s time in Israel:

    This is one visit Joe Biden will not quickly forget. First he was compelled to sit through 25 minutes of an annoying speech in his honor by our president. Shimon Peres really believes that he is the destination for pilgrims from all over the world who drink in his musings and are intoxicated by his vision.
    Later, Biden was given a certificate memorializing his mother, but the glass broke. Once again, Bibi didn’t pay attention, leaned on it and shattered it. No fear, his speeches have always diverted attention from such mishaps. And finally, to add a finishing touch of infuriating disgrace, the Haredi neighborhood Ramat Shlomo was dumped on the vice-presidential head.
    Truth be told, the Obama administration just about asked for this slap. In Jerusalem, the lesson has been learned that the White House doesn’t fulfill its obligations – it just goes through the motions by issuing insincere rebukes.

Insincere rebukes, indeed.
Juan Cole and Pat Lang, two very seasoned analysts of Middle eastern dynamics, are just two of the people who say that, on hearing of the new settlement construction, Biden should simply have ordered up his plane and left Israel, rather than sitting there, going through the rest of the charade of the visit, while saying something on the record about how the Obama administration “condemns” the new construction.
I’m assuming Biden decided on this course of action after consultation with Washington. (He took 90 minutes to decide what to do.) Do he and his boss the Prez have no idea how disgusted most of the people in the world are with the fact that, though from time to time Washington might say something critical of Israel– meantime Washington never holds Israel to serious account, for anything, including “grave breaches of international humanitarian law” like implanting its settlers into occupied territories?
And the U.S. Congress continues to shovel money to Israel. U.S. diplomacy continues to get completely bent out of shape by defending Israel’s actions in every international forum, at every turn, and by zealously pursuing Israel-driven agendas throughout the entire Middle East, including with regard to Iraq and Iran.
And these actions by the administration and Congress put the lives of U.S. service-members deployed around the world, often in pursuit of Israel-driven agendas, in significant additional risk.
Regarding Biden, Pat Lang has this intriguing little vignette in his latest post:

    I was in Biden’s senate office on one occasion when Biden’s Zionism boiled over in a truly repulsive display of temper. I was there with my Arab employer to visit the senator… The Arab made some pro forma positive reference to the “peace process.” Biden flew into a rage, grew red in the face and shouted that this was an insincere lie and that his guest knew that it was only Arab stubbornness that prevented “little Israel’ from living in peace. His “guest” sat through this with what dignity he could manage. I would have walked out on him if I had been alone.

Assuming that the vignette’s true– and I tend to trust Lang on that– it reveals quite a few disturbing things about Biden. Not just the guy’s knee-jerk pro-Israelism, which is endemic just about everywhere in Congress, with a few notable exceptions. But also his evident lack of any diplomatic skills. I mean, why fly into a pro-Israeli rage like that if an Arab guest should happen to mention the “peace process”? What on earth good was he hoping to achieve by doing that? Nothing that I can think of– except to vent his own feelings.
… And meanwhile, George Mitchell, Mr. “Senior Peace Envoy”, has completely dropped off the map.
It is honestly not clear to me at all, right now, what it is that Obama and his people are hoping to achieve in the Arab-Israeli arena. Their entire “peace diplomacy” is in shambles. It’s as if Obama really doesn’t care any more about any of the lofty– but oh-so-important– goals he articulated back in the first days and weeks of his presidency. But he should realize that letting his “peace diplomacy” fall into disarray, as he has now done, is something that will have consequences far, far beyond Israel and Palestine. And quite possibly, more rapidly than anyone in Washington realizes.

Avraham Burg, a prophetic voice for Jerusalem

Go read the stirring op-ed that Avraham Burg, former Knesset speaker and former chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, published in Haaretz today.
The title is Once justice dwelled in Jerusalem, now settlers do.
Burg, who is an orthodox Jew (and the son of a key leader of the National religious Party), writes:

    Yes, the capital of the Jewish people – the people that always swore not to do to others what it would not have done to it – has become a harlot. Morally wanton, emotionally sealed-off. It is manipulated by its shepherds for their benefit and is full of law – everyone is suing everyone else, hiding behind the laws of injustice. And the judges – as though forced – issue rulings in accordance with discriminatory laws, unique to the “chosen people.” Once justice dwelled here. Now the settlers do, murderers of the nation’s soul.
    And no one utters a word, but for a few patriots. People of truth and morals who refuse to stand idly by while the state of Jewish refugees repeatedly throws Palestinian families into the street and hands their miserable homes over to bearded, blaspheming thugs.
    These people of integrity are the leftists of Jerusalem… They know only too well the city’s ugly truth, its terrible teens, and will no longer look the other way. They are committed to stopping with their body the torch-bearing brutes who seek to set it on fire.
    No one leads the city now, nor will salvation for it come from the country’s elected leader. Sheikh Jarrah is beyond the cognizance of Mayor Nir Barkat and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as though the commotion has nothing to do with them, as though it is happening in Sudan or Tehran. And in the absence of leadership of the state, and the peace bloc, our children have taken on the responsibility, shaken off indifference and despair and brought us here. The circle is expanding and it is full of life, rage and hope. Israeli humanism has been reborn in East Jerusalem. We are there in the summer heat and the winter rains, shouting and calling on others to gather round, seeking both Shabbat and peace. We will not recoil from violent police officers or hotheaded harassers. We stand and pledge: We shall not be silent when Ahmad and Aysha are sleeping in the street outside their home, which has become the settlers’ domain. Is that justice? Not ours! Is that law? No, it is iniquity.
    … How long, Mr. Prime Minister and Mr. Mayor? And why do you, judges of Israel, cooperate with the evil that threatens to destroy us? Come with us, return to the Judaism of “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not murder.” Leave Sheikh Jarrah now!

Wow. An amazingly powerful piece.

New life for Israel’s anti-occupation left?

Didi Remez has a great post today about the gradually snowballing effect of the weekly anti-occupation demonstration’s in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah district.
He writes,

    Thousands of demonstrators, Jewish and Palestinian, from a wide range of backgrounds and with diverse political views came out in a show of force to protest injustice. Writing about “Sheikh Jarrah and the birth of a coalition,” Jerry Haber at Magnes Zionist captures the unique stripes of this emerging movement…

Remez’s post and Haber’s are both really worth reading. They seem to indicate that a new, more focused of anti-occupation activists is growing up in Israel– which is highly welcome, given the demoralization, decimation, and general political failure of the older generation of “peace” activists.
Note that difference, between Israelis who struggled for an amorphous form of “peace” with their Palestinians and the new generation that is more focused on ending the injustice of Israel’s nearly 43-year-old military occupation of Palestinian (and Syrian) land.
This reminds me of something I heard the older-generation French-Israeli activist Sylvain Cypel say in Washington a couple of years ago. He recalled that back when he was a social activist in France in the 1950s,

    we were all very concerned about the situation in Algeria, and called for many years for ‘peace between France and Algeria’. But our movement never got any real traction until we switched from calling for ‘peace’ with Algeria to calling clearly for an end to France’s illegal and repressive rule over Algeria. That was when we started to have an effect on the political system inside France.

That advice certainly resonated with me, from my years growing up in an end-of-empire Britain. “Peace” with India, or Kenya, or Botswana, or whatever??? Heck no! What Britain needed to do in those colonial situations was quite evidently Just Get Out.
Same with Israel in the OPTs today. There, a whole industry has grown up around the loosey-goosey theories that thousands of outsiders have about “peacemaking”, “confidence building”, etc etc etc. That can come! I’m not against it for a moment. But what people need to focus on, surely, is the structural issue of military occupation, and how to end it, pronto.
Otherwise this “peace-processing” business can just go on and on and on– as we have seen already!– for decades! (While the colonists continue to enjoy and consolidate their illegal gains.)
… I see from that Wikipedia page that Cypel is supposed to be working for Le Monde in New York these days. I wonder if I could contact him there. Any ideas?

What’s been happening in Shu’afat Refugee Camp?

Shu’afat Refugee Camp has the dubious privilege of being the only UN-run Palestinian refugee camp that lies within the boundaries that the Israeli occupation authorities unilaterally drew inside the West Bank, in 1968, for an expanded Municipality of Jerusalem. It is home to some 22,000 Palestinians.
Over the past two weeks, the camp has been the scene of repeated raids by the Israeli security forces, who over this period have reportedly arrested some 92 camp residents.
Maan News has a good round-up of the situation in Shu’afat RC, here.
Israeli officials claim endlessly that under their rule, Jerusalem is “united” and a wonderful place for all its residents. But as the Maan reporter notes,

    The camp is not connected to a public sewage system. The pot-holed streets and the state of general disrepair indicate a lack of municipal services….

This piece of reportage gives some strong indications that camp residents have a pretty well-organized “committee against the wall and settlements”, led by someone identified only as “Al-Munasiq” (the co-ordinator).
Regarding the Wall, just look at the red (Wall) line on this map from Ir Amim, to see how the Wall’s designers pushed a huge bulge in the Wall spreading west, so that though Shu’afat camp is part of the Jerusalem Municipality (the blue line), still they have been pushed outside the Apartheid Wall.
Ir Amim also notes here that, Shu’afat camp,

    has the distinction of being the only location where the three main issues at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian overlap: refugees, security, and Jerusalem.

Well, they should add to that, borders, as well!
Also of significance from the Maan report:

    All of the camp’s approximately 22,000 residents hold Israeli IDs [the ones that were given to all Jerusalem residents, though they do not confer citizenship], but the wall’s boundaries have “killed daily life,” [Al-Munasiq] said. The camp lacks schools, has no hospitals. Employment is scarce and poverty is on the rise. UNWRA says overcrowding in the camp is a significant issue.
    “We can’t even bury our people here,” Al-Munasiq said. “They wanted to teach us a lesson but, thankfully, that lesson has not been learned.”

Jerusalem between two states and one

In the event of a two-state solution to the Palestine-Israel dispute, what are the options for governing Jerusalem? This was the question I started to explore in the presentation I gave at the U.N. conference in Malta last Friday. I have now edited the paper I presented there sufficiently that I can publish a preliminary version of it here. (This is not a final version. If anyone wants to cite it, please contact me, and I’ll let you know how you can refer to it.)
My basic argument is that if you want to have a two-state solution then that will require either redividing Jerusalem– and there really seem to be few good options for doing that– or else, if you want to keep Jerusalem whole, then that will require revisiting some new version of the old “Corpus separatum” model for the city.
And whichever of those options you choose, it will require having a high level of coordination between the governments of the two states. Indeed, the level of coordination between the two states will need to be so high that it may well seem either a short step from there– or even, perhaps, easier altogether– not to bother about having two separate states but rather to move straight to some form of unitary state system for the whole of Israel/Palestine.
From this point of view, grappling with the question of how to share control of Jerusalem can be seen as a productive way to ease into a conversation about how to share control of the whole area of Mandate Palestine.

Continue reading “Jerusalem between two states and one”

In Malta, discussing Jerusalem

Well, on Thursday I was finally able to get out of Washington… I had a long layover in Munich yesterday and got here to Malta, to the U.N. conference on Palestine, about an hour after the start of the session I was scheduled to speak in… No matter, they were running hopelessly behind schedule, so the session started around 20 minutes after I appeared. I didn’t have time to print out my presentation but delivered it by read it on my laptop. Not ideal, but not too bad, I felt.
Wow. I’m really impressed with the U.N. information system. They already have a press release out about the session I took part in, and you can read there the words I would have delivered in dulcet tones had I not been rushing a little through the end of my presentation on Jerusalem. (I gave them the text on a thumbstick. Must get it back.)
Working on the paper, which I did Wednesday and in the Munich transit lounge yesterday, really helped me think through several things about the Jerusalem Question that have been rattling around inside my head for a while now. I argued there that thinking seriously about how to establish a fair and sustainable governance system in Jerusalem could actually help everyone perform the same task regarding the whole of the area of Mandate Palestine… And numerous people– going back to early work that Naomi Chazan, Rashid Khalidi, and others did ways back in the 1980s, and continuing until today– have done some good, often very fair-minded and visionary work on Jerusalem issues.
Within a two-state model for the whole of Mandate Palestine, Jerusalem could be either divided or shared under some form of a corpus separatum model, and I explored in the paper how we might design a CS 2.0 for Jerusalem that would not have the imperialistic overtones of CS 1.0. Dividing it between the two states would almost certainly be a horrendous process, and could lead to the prolongation of many of the gross inequities of the existing, settler-dominated order things there. (See, for example, the Geneva Initiative’s proposal for how to divide Jerusalem.)
It also would still require a huge amount of coordination between the governments of the two states– something that Mick Dumper underlined in this important recent essay.
Wouldn’t it be better, therefore, to go back to the old CS model and explore how that could work in the two-state context– which was, after all, the context in which the CS idea was first presented, during the Partition Plan of 1947, which remains the UN’s last definitive word on territory and governance issues in the whole of Mandate Palestine.
I note, too, that the EU has recently, slightly tentatively, revived its interest in the CS idea.
So you could look at how to devise a fair, sustainable CS model for Greater Jerusalem in the context of a two state solution… and each of the two states could indeed have its national capital well within the city.
My idea of this is laid out a bit more in my paper. As soon as I’ve cleaned it up a bit, I’ll upload it here for you all to see.
Alternatively, once you’ve done all that work on how to govern Jerusalem, why bother with preserving those other territorial units within Mandate Palestine (the rest of the independent states of Israel and Palestine)? Why not just expand the concept of the shared Jerusalem to the whole area and have one state in it that is equitably shared, accountably governed, and to which everyone with a legitimate claim on the land could return?
… Anyway, those were some of my ideas. I also underlined the perilous, extremely oppressive situation in which Jerusalem’s 260,000 Palestinians are currently forced to live and the hair-trigger nature of the situation in the city, which must be of great concern to the whole world community.