The silence from the mainstream media in the UK until yesterday was deafening, particularly the BBC writes Joseph Healy. Huge riots were happening in Jerusalem and hundreds of Palestinians were being injured in the Al Aqsa mosque, the third most holy site for Islam at the peak of Ramadan, yet it passed almost without coverage. Where it was mentioned, Palestinian resistance was framed in Islamist terms, not as a logical response to the project of ethnic cleansing of the city.
This media silence is even more strange when you take into consideration that this is Israel moving into an even more dangerous phase of its long war with the Palestinians and the result of the Macchiavellian actions of Netanyahu and the Israeli Far Right.
For Zionism and even more so the Israeli Far Right, Jerusalem has always been regarded as the capital of Israel and as a Jewish city. The fact that East Jerusalem, captured in 1967, has a sizable Arab population has always been a thorn in the side for Zionists. When I visited the city in the early 90s, even at that stage Zionists were buying properties in the Arab Quarter and ostentatiously hanging Israeli flags outside. It has been the long-term aim of the Zionists to remove its Arab population entirely.
The agreement of the Trump administration, assisted by its global allies, including countries like Brazil, to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise it as the capital of Israel really lit a fuse for the Palestinian population there and in the West Bank and showed that the campaign to remove them from the city, which had already been underway with Jewish settlers in the farmland of the West Bank was now in earnest.
It has long been the aim of the Zionist Far Right to remove the Palestinians entirely from Israel and to annex as much territory as possible particularly in Jerusalem. For the Far Right Kahanists, whose programme is an Israel for Jews only, the aim is to forcibly remove Palestinian families from East Jerusalem and this battle has now focused on the area. Supported by police and security forces and egged on by the Kahanists, Palestinian families have started to be evicted from their homes. In scenes on social media where Palestinians had been hurt defending their homes the Kahanists taunting them that they should have been shot. The outright racism and hatred for the Palestinians has been in full view during these attacks.
These attacks became far worse when Palestinian protesters came to Jerusalem, many of them to celebrate Ramadan in the Al Aqsa mosque. They were violently attacked by Israeli police who fired stun grenades and tear gas into the mosque and violently attacked worshipers including many Palestinian women praying there. All of this is due to Netanyahu’s Faustian pact to form an alliance with the Far Right in order to stabilise his government. The price is more Palestinian land and the final exodus of Palestinians from Jerusalem.
In order to calm the situation the Israeli Supreme Court due to rule on the legality of the evictions has postponed the hearing of the case. Things were further aggravated by the threat of the Far Right to celebrate Jerusalem Day, an annual march dedicated to reclaiming the city for Jews only, by marching through the Damascus Gate and straight through the Muslim area of the city. This was avoided at the last minute by the police forcing the march to go through another gate of the old city instead.
A Sky News reporter in Jerusalem noted that Israeli police were attacking Palestinian youth in the Al Aqsa compound needlessly and pointed out that they always gather there after worship during Ramadan and that the police were using the excuse of “crowd control” but very clearly wanted to aggravate the situation during the height of Ramadan. The UN and the international community have protested over Israel’s actions and the manner in which both the Far Right and the security forces have been let off the leash by Netanyahu for clearly political purposes. The Palestinian people after years of expulsions from their lands by Israeli settlers have finally had enough and are prepared to draw the line over the defence of their holy city and their capital.
As the same Sky News journalist reported “There is a real danger now of a new fourth Intifada. It is not happening yet but is not far off.” Another conflagration in the Middle East threatens and all progressive forces need to stand full square behind the Palestinian people and against the forces of Zionist racism and oppression.
Joseph Healy is a member of the Anti*Capitalist Resistance and is on the national committee of Another Europe is Possible.