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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/20/21

Picnic Video Exposes Both Faces of Israeli Apartheid

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Detained Palestinian, West Bank
Detained Palestinian, West Bank
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A short video taken by a family as they picnicked in the West Bank this month may be the best field guide yet to Israel's complex apartheid system of state-sponsored Jewish supremacy.

In the clip posted to Facebook, armed Jewish settlers arrive unexpectedly to break up the picnic of a Palestinian family - including grandparents and two babies - at a scenic public space on a hillside north of Ramallah.

In the occupied West Bank, the settlers are the lords of the land and used to getting their own way. They assume that this is just another group of Palestinians to be terrorized away so that the illegal Jewish settlement they live in, one of many dozens, can further expand its jurisdiction on to Palestinian land.

For the settlers, this is all in day's improvised ethnic cleansing.

Not as it appears

But they are in for a surprise. The scene is not exactly as it appears and things don't go to plan.

Some distance from their homes, Palestinians would usually pack up in a hurry at the first sight of menacing armed settlers. But these Palestinians stand their ground and argue back in fluent Hebrew.

When the settlers cite the Bible as their title deeds to the land, and start grabbing the family's things to evict the group, the grandmother shouts indignantly: "We are Israelis just like you and we're allowed to be here."

She is partly right. They are indeed Israelis. The family are from Nazareth, the largest and most privileged Palestinian community inside Israel. They belong to a minority formally known as "Israel's Arabs". But the grandmother's claim that her family is "just like you" is an error - or more likely a bluff.

A settler corrects her: "You're not Israelis, you're Arabs, we did you a favor when we let you stay."

Historical anomaly

In Israeli public discourse, "Israel's Arabs" - or "Israeli Arabs" as the term is usually transcribed into English to make it seem less offensive - have been stripped of their real identity to sever their connection to the larger Palestinian people.

Nonetheless, they are descended from exactly the same Palestinian population that today lives either under occupation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, or as refugees exiled from their homeland by Israel's mass ethnic cleansing campaign in 1948, known by Palestinians as the Nakba, or Catastrophe.

"Israel's Arabs" are marked out from other Palestinians only by an historical anomaly: a small number managed to avoid the ethnic cleansing operations of 1948 and remained on their land in what was about to become Israel.

Eventually, and very reluctantly under international pressure, Israel conferred a very degraded citizenship on these "Arabs". Today, after decades of higher birth rates than Israeli Jews, "Israel's Arabs" are a fifth of the population.

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Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)
 

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