Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Jerusalem Day"

Tomorrow is the anniversary (in the Jewish calendar) of the Six Day War, when Jerusalem was reunited under Israeli rule (it was divided from 1949-1967, with west Jerusalem Israeli and east Jerusalem Jordanian). There's an Israeli march every year to celebrate the victory, going from the center of west Jerusalem into the Old City. I've never been to it, and I'm not planning to go tomorrow.

Haaretz writes about last year's march:
In recent years, the procession has become a show of defiance against Palestinians and residents of East Jerusalem. Last year, tensions came to a head as 24 youths, both Jewish and Palestinian, were arrested in conjunction with violent clashes.

Tensions over last year's march reached their zenith, however, as hundreds of youth shouted slogans like “death to Arabs,” and “Mohammed is dead,” along with other racist slogans, while marching through the narrow Muslim Quarter streets. The event’s organizers renounced and condemned the phenomenon, stating that the slogans and songs were the actions of only a handful of participants.
As a result of the disgusting racism and violence of last year, the Israel Police were originally not going to permit the marchers to go through Sheikh Jarrakh (in east Jerusalem), the Damascus Gate, and the Muslim Quarter. As a result of political pressure upon the police, they agreed to let the march go through the Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter, which runs the risk of more trouble this year.

In addition to a healthy dose of nationalist triumphalism and racism, once the marchers reach the Old City, they will also be separated by sex. "According to the approved route, the group of girls will march from the city center to the Jaffa Gate, while the boy’s group will march through the Damascus Gate."

A group known as the "Tag Meir Forum" is protesting this route. "Tag Meir" is a response to right-wing attack on Arabs that are called "Tag Mechir" (Price Tag). The Tag Mechir attacks are made against Palestinian targets, usually in the West Bank, after the Israeli Army has acted in some way to curb violent settlers, protect Palestinians, or destroy illegal Jewish settlements.
“We think that to march through an Arab neighborhood while singing songs of vengeance is no worse than ‘price tag’ attacks, we’re worried about the procession in the Muslim Quarter, and hope everyone behaves responsibly,” said a representative of the organization.

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