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The Unholy City

By       Message Uri Avnery       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink

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Reprinted from Gush Shalom

From flickr.com/photos/36988361@N08/4422831301/: Panorama of Jerusalem
Panorama of Jerusalem
(Image by Center for Jewish History, NYC)
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IN ITS long and checkered history, Jerusalem has been occupied by dozens of conquerors.

Babylonians and Persians, Greeks and Romans, Mamluks and Turks, Britons and Jordanians -- to mention just a few.

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The latest occupier is Israel, which conquered and annexed Jerusalem in 1967.

(I could have written "East Jerusalem" -- but all of historical Jerusalem is in today's East Jerusalem. All the other parts were built in the last 200 years by Zionist settlers, or are surrounding Arab villages which were arbitrarily joined to the huge area that is now called Jerusalem after its occupation.)

This week, Jerusalem was in flames -- again. Two youngsters from Jabel Mukaber, one of the Arab villages annexed to Jerusalem, entered a synagogue in the west of the city during morning prayers and killed four devout Jews, before themselves being killed by police.

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Jerusalem is called "the City of Peace." This is a linguistic mistake. True, in antiquity it was called Salem, which sounds like peace, but Salem was in fact the name of the local deity.

It is also a historical mistake. No city in the world has seen as many wars, massacres and as much bloodshed as this one.

All in the name of some God or other.

JERUSALEM WAS annexed (or "liberated," or "unified") immediately after the Six-day War of 1967.

That war was Israel's greatest military triumph. It was also Israel's greatest disaster. The divine blessings of the incredible victory turned into divine punishments. Jerusalem was one of them.

The annexation was presented to us (I was a member of the Knesset at the time) as a unification of the city, which had been cruelly rent asunder in the Israeli-Palestinian war of 1948. Everybody cited the Biblical sentence: "Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together." This translation of Psalm 122 is rather odd. The Hebrew original says simply "a city that is joined together."

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In fact, what happened in 1967 was anything but unification.

If the intent had really been unification, it would have looked very different.

Full Israeli citizenship would have been automatically conferred on all inhabitants. All the lost Arab properties in West Jerusalem, which had been expropriated in 1948, would have been restored to their rightful owners who had fled to East Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem municipality would have been expanded to include Arabs from the East, even without a specific request. And so on.

The opposite happened. No property was restored, nor any compensation paid. The municipality remained exclusively Jewish.

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Uri Avnery is a longtime Israeli peace activist. Since 1948 has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In 1974, Uri Avnery was the first Israeli to establish contact with PLO leadership. In 1982 he was the first Israeli ever to meet Yassir Arafat, after crossing the lines in besieged Beirut. He served three terms in the (more...)
 

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