Al-Ahram Weekly Online   22 - 28 April 2010
Issue No. 995
Focus
 
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Azmi Bishara

A brief note on Jerusalem

Palestinian and Arab religious, national and resistance discourse should not narrowly focus on Jerusalem but rather see through Jerusalem the problem of the whole of Palestine, writes Azmi Bishara

Historiography, when it claims to be scientific, seeks to refute myth through the search for its origins and functions. It simultaneously aims to replace myth with a record of events composed with the proclaimed intent to learn the truth "as it really was" and in accordance with a method that strives to be scientific. This "scientism" has gradually become more and more aware of its rhetorical and ideological facets. Ideology, inclusive of its political ends, perspectives and motives, inevitably influences the historical narrative and, before this, the process of selectivity (whether deliberate or unconscious) that affects the choice of historical incidents and the relative emphasis given to them. At a broader level, ideology affects how historical time is divided into eras and how these eras are characterised and weighed. In fact, chronological taxonomy and appraisal is ultimately an ideological process. Historiography and historians, therefore, need to be subjected to close and constant scrutiny and criticism, and for this process academic freedom is indispensable in order to ensure an open interchange between scholars that is unrestrained by pieties and taboos.

Click to view caption
Palestinians fight back against Israeli expansion in East Jerusalem. Opposite page: a youth is arrested by occupation forces. Clockwise from top left: a Palestinian enjoys a historic alley in his Holy City before it is too late; youth unfurl their national flag in a neighbourhood the Zionists plan to occupy; a defiant David against the Israeli Goliath; Hasidim asserting their presence near Al-Aqsa Mosque

Revising historiographical processes from time to time is not only needed in order to unearth new facts and re- examine old ones, and to test new methods of criticism, research, deconstruction and synthesis. It is also valuable when a prevailing political discourse begins to crumble, whether as a result of critical assault or because of its own inconsistencies, or when it is no longer of use to its author (the state, for example). Let's assume, for example, that a certain discourse shaped the writing of history from its ideological standpoint, setting the beginning, the golden age and the era of decline accordingly. Then suppose we learned that the beginning was not really a beginning, that the age of decline turned out to be an age of enlightenment or progress in many respects, and that a host of other facts did not fit into the old schema. We could only conclude that the order of discourse had taken certain events and ignored others, construed its selected events in a certain way, and, instead of dismantling myth created and fed on one, and built history around it. We would have to conclude, further, that history and the act of writing history were bent into the service of the political objectives of national or religious movements, or of a state or ruling regime.

Official histories are being exposed all the time for their ideological biases. Often they are written from the standpoint of the contemporary borders of a state. To read them one might think the entire area encompassed within those borders shared a single history that set it apart from other areas over the ages and that the inhabitants of that area were similarly distinct from other peoples by virtue of their shared history. More importantly, as far as the topic here is concerned, history, when written in an ideological frame of mind, is trim. It is retrospectively deterministic, discarding everything that might be regarded as accidental or inconsequential to what was meant to be -- the existing political boundaries, the role of this or that religious or ethnic minority or majority, the rise of a particular ruling elite, for example -- or to what ought not to be -- the current foundations of a democratic majority, for example. Nevertheless, because of its pretence to being history it still operates within a cognitive framework that permits for verification, refutation, argumentation and debate. As such, it is distinct from myth and from sacred history, which are concerned with "the story of things" and "their meaning" and not necessarily their history.

The mythical story lends meaning and sense to human societies. It defines their origins, their reason for existence, their mission on earth, or their "historical right". Every myth is a creation myth, a story of origins. When incorporated into a religion it becomes an article of faith and beyond question or, at least, difficult to broach. But here I would like to differentiate between two orders of faith: faith in what we might term simple or lesser truths, and faith in God. The former type of truth can be disproven; the latter can be neither proven nor disproven. If an alternative coherent historical narrative conflicts with a historical narrative of a creed it might shake one's faith in certain notions that had been taken as given out of ignorance or tradition, but not, for example, in divine omnipotence, which is of an order beyond logical or empirical refutation.

When sacred history is integral to a religion and Holy Scriptures are treated as history books in which divine purpose is presented and explained in the form of historical events, it is difficult to subject it to scholastic criticism and discussion. Naturally, the confrontational stance is not the best approach. More appropriate would be to attempt to separate the events, symbols, holy places, miracles and marvels of sacred history from mundane history. The latter, being within the grasp of the finite human mind, can be explored by means of historical documents (such as records, memoirs, transmitted testimonies), archaeological evidence and, above all, an open and rational mind that refuses to submit to superstition and myth as though they were concrete facts. Meanwhile, scriptural history will continue to impart its meanings and mysteries and to provide a source for drawing morals and lessons. But politics, which is the interplay between social forces and interests and, hence, a mundane activity of the first order, rejects such a separation. It utilises myth and sacred history in order to explain and justify ends and means, to shape awareness, to build support and mobilise action, and to win legitimacy. In every national rhetoric (not to mention every national conflict), sacred history and mundane history are inextricably intertwined. Sacred history provides the calendar of the days and years, the battles and the places to commemorate, and these intersect with the events that political consciousness sets as the historical landmarks it needs to shape public awareness, underpin legitimacy and justify actions.

Nowhere are sacred and mundane (so as not to use profane) histories so intimately intertwined as they are in Jerusalem. The sources of sacred history, here, are divine scriptures that relate a story about this city, and these have contributed to shaping the awareness of entire peoples on the forces that have fought and are fighting over it, on good and evil, and on their own identities, regardless of how remote the peoples are from the site itself. Jerusalem occupies a central place in their conception of history as they were brought up to understand it. This body of stories had a profound impact on whole generations of Western historians and Orientalists who were nurtured on them at home, at school and through their literature and arts and who, in their professional lives, came to treat the Torah or the Old Testament as though it were a history textbook or a biography of a people. These scholars began to excavate in the ground, digging ever wider and deeper in the search for evidence to substantiate Biblical persons, places and events that their religious education had made as familiar to them as the names of their hometowns. It was a kind of circular logic at work, the fallacy of a premise that sustains itself on tenuous, although seemingly concrete, scientific evidence. It was an almost blatantly crude ideological product, and it was a political enterprise par excellence on the part of individuals and groups who regarded the present-day inhabitants of Palestine as transients in their sacred history and in their constructed history of the world.

International relations and law are founded upon the people's right to the country in which they were born and in which their fathers and their fathers' fathers lived, whose soil they tilled and watered with their sweat, about which they wrote their poems and epics, and upon which they built and inherited their cultures and civilisations. Imagine what the world would be like if the inhabitants of every country were treated as though incidental or extraneous to that country's ancient, true and sacred history, and that this history were championed by outsiders -- voyagers, adventurers and "discoverers" -- who saw indigenous inhabitants as an anarchic human heap, or mere background decoration, or, at best, an excavating tool. What if we decided that this sacred history is what confers title to any country? Surely we would find it difficult to imagine this "right" being used to displace people who had been living in a country for only a few hundred years. We would even find it unacceptable to apply it to a people who can be proven with concrete evidence to have originated elsewhere several generations ago, let alone to a people who have lived in a country for thousands of years. Would we not?

PALESTINE AND SACRED HISTORY: Yet this is precisely what is happening to and in Palestine. This is the ideological strategy being used to expropriate Palestine from its people. A "sacred" historical right of another people has been given precedence over the right of the indigenous populace to their land, a right acquired by virtue of their continued presence on it for hundreds and thousands of years. The Palestinians today are the product of centuries of the intermixing, interacting and intermingling of people on the ground from the age of Canaan to the age of a prevailing Arab Islamic culture. That lived history of uninterrupted demographic and cultural fusion on the ground is now being supplanted by another history, one that in the eyes of its proponents is true and sacred and, hence, justifies the destruction of an existing society and the creation of a new one on its ruins. This other history is being used to produce an ideological rhetoric that is being put to the service of an expansionist colonialist project.

That long and concerted drive, from the arrival of the first civilian delegates and zealous evangelists to the Ottoman Porte and the Levant through the rise of Zionist leaders to the journalists who are filing reports from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem today, should have stimulated a critical academic response. So far there is little sign of one. The sacred history that proclaims the Jews' right to Palestine almost overwhelmingly dominates the political rhetoric and intellectual discourse in the media and in universities, not just in Israel but also throughout the West. And in this rhetoric and discourse, modern and modernised Zionism represents that hypothetical history. Refuting that discourse through scientific historical methods and rational argument is a natural response that should be encouraged, especially in the face of scholars from university departments of history and archaeology that were founded for the pursuit of a sacred history that pretend this version of history is universal history, and that are quite adept at turning historical scholasticism toward political ends, such as promoting the occupation of a country and expelling its indigenous inhabitants.

However, there is another natural response. It comes from the oppressed who are being driven off their land and surrounded by settlers; whose homes, streets and villages are being besieged by myths and fictions, and are being demolished to make way for settlers and the construction of streets and villages bearing Old Testaments names; and who have been transformed into a minority in their own land and literally labelled migrants and guests in Israel, in blatant contradiction to the palpably obvious fact that they are the native inhabitants who have been overrun by immigrants and guests (anyone who can so blatantly forge the history of the present can hardly be trusted with the history of the past). The natural response of the oppressed is to fight and to resist. Resistance derives its legitimacy from extended inhabitation in a land combined with the rejection of colonialism as an act of aggression and armed robbery. It is an inalienable human right that predates international law and that is not founded upon sacred history. Yet resistance nevertheless requires a national and religious discourse to stand up against the rhetoric and sacred history of the invaders, or, perhaps, an alternative reading of that sacred history and its places. It needs to invest the legacy, history and religion of the people in the resistance process.

Now the problem is that the more Arab countries have proved incapable of or unwilling to confront or resist Israel (a worldly power built upon military and colonialist conquest, political and colonialist engineering, and nation- and government-building, all of which are consummately mundane activities), the more the role of a sacred history opposed to the Zionist sacred history grew in prominence and the more instrumental the element of faith has become in mobilising and militarising the masses in those countries whose governments failed to do their duty. Since Jerusalem lies at the core of Zionist sacred history (in contrast to its living history in Budapest, Vienna, Paris, Warsaw and, later, Tel Aviv, the Kubbutzim, the Moshavim and the IDF, which are all very secular in nature), Zionist mobilisation, especially since 1967, has centred on Jerusalem. The Zionist and Israel's national religious rhetoric converged on Jerusalem in such an absolutist way that everything called Jerusalem in that rhetoric is held sacred and, hence, non-negotiable. Accordingly, Jerusalem must be expanded and in this process Zionism and the government of Israel have taken the place of the divine. Suddenly, places located dozens of kilometres away are now called Jerusalem or a part of Jerusalem, making them part of the eternal and indivisible capital of Israel.

The Islamist mobilisation is centred on Haram Al-Sharif, the first Muslim qibla (direction of prayer) and the third holiest sanctuary in Islam, and around Israel's declared and secret plans for that area. Undoubtedly, the occupied people, in general, needed Jerusalem as a symbol. This applies to the Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem in particular for whom the sacred site has become a focal point of life and identity. Their city has been torn apart and severed from the West Bank, while they have been reduced to a handful of impoverished ghettos in a Judaicised city, deprived of national institutions in the city, and effectively placed under economic blockade by cutting them off from their natural environment in the West Bank. Haram Al-Sharif is the only centre left for them to rally around, and they move as one whenever they feel that it is at risk. Unfortunately, at the larger Arab and Islamic levels there are huge gaps. By reducing Palestine to Jerusalem the discourse ignores the rest of Palestine, and by reducing Jerusalem to Haram Al-Sharif, it ignores what is happening to the rest of Jerusalem under the policies of Israelification and Judaicisation. This reductionism plays into the hands of Israel as a material, earthly project. Zionism has Israelified the whole of Palestine and Jerusalem, apart from Haram Al-Sharif, beneath which there are excavations telling the story of a virtual city that is being constructed for tourists mostly out of special electronic effects and that has more in common with Disneyland than it does with the history of Jerusalem.

As I see it, a religious discourse that converges with the Palestinian and Arab resistance discourse should proceed in entirely the reverse direction. The whole of Jerusalem should be Haram Al-Sharif and all of Palestine should be Jerusalem. Accordingly, it becomes a national, Arab national and religious duty to fight aggression against Palestine. The Quran speaks of the Prophet Mohammed's night flight to Al-Aqsa Mosque, "the vicinity of which We have blessed." I urge greater focus on the meaning of "vicinity" here. I suggest we drop the discussion about whether it was Solomon, David or Malaki Sadeq who built the Temple Mount, or whether it was in Jerusalem or in Mecca that Abraham tested the loyalty of his son. Rather than detracting from the legitimacy of Jewish sacred history, this type of debate affirms it, albeit as an antithesis and a current adversary. It affirms it by speaking in the same logic, even if we were to call the temple that allegedly stood on that spot a mosque, as do the interpreters of the Quran. This is why I urge focusing on what is happening in Jerusalem today. Sacred history and myth are not Israel's only tools. Indeed, more active are military force, the bulldozer and the crane, architects and urban planners, construction workers and steamrollers, all of which are being put to work to change realities on the ground in order to achieve concrete ends that are ostensibly justified by myth and sacred history.

Jerusalem has changed radically in a few decades. Someone born there in 1967 would return today to find it completely different. This is the political reality that affirms that it is unrealistic to restore Jerusalem to how it stood before 1967. It underpins Bush's letter of guarantee to Sharon in 2004 and it is what recently inspired the Europeans -- under US-Israeli pressure -- to revise a Swedish proposal calling for the division of Jerusalem so as to read "a capital for two states". It is why the "two sides" have agreed to make modifications and changes to the pre-June 1967 borders.

WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW IN JERUSALEM: Israel has used the following stratagems and procedures to Judaicise Jerusalem:

- It invented the notion that Jerusalem is non-negotiable by converting a religious notion ("sacred Jerusalem") into a political concept.

- It projected the Old Testament narrative onto every neighbourhood, hill and cave in Jerusalem, renamed them accordingly and targeted them for Jewish settlement, and transformed the original inhabitants into "guests" preparatory to squeezing them out and expelling them.

- It expanded the borders of Jerusalem in order to extend the non-negotiable Israeli monopoly on the city's sanctity over the greatest possible area of land.

- It expropriated Arab land and property and built settlements.

- It reduced the number of Arab inhabitants through various forms of intimidation and administrative methods. Notably, it changed their status to "immigrants" and confiscated "identity cards" (as Israel calls their permit for permanent residence in the city) under the Law and Regulations of Entrance into Israel.

- It severed the city from the West Bank by altering its legal status, distinguishing the status of its inhabitants from that of other inhabitants of the West Bank, building a cordon of settlements around the city and, most recently, constructing a separating wall referred to in Hebrew as the "wrapping of Jerusalem".

In Palestine under the British mandate, the British high commissioner designated the area to the west of Jerusalem for growth and development and the area outside of the walls to the east of Jerusalem for limited construction. He prohibited construction in the old municipality altogether. However, the high commissioner annexed Jewish settlements to Jerusalem, which is to say that the idea of expanding the city to include larger numbers of Jewish inhabitants while shrinking the area for Arab inhabitants dates to the mandate era. In 1947, the high commissioner annexed the Hakirim and Ramat Rahil settlements -- located four kilometres way from the Old City -- to Jerusalem, while he kept Arab villages right next to the walls of the Old City, such as Salwan, Al-Tur and Sur Baher, outside of the city's zone.

Those were early days yet. Since then, Israel has expanded the city to reach the outskirts of Bethlehem in the south and Ramallah in the north and equated Jerusalem to the structural map of the city or the areas administered by the Jerusalem municipality. All this was blended with the status of Jerusalem in Old Testament creed, as epitomised by the prayer that ends, "If I forget thee Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill." It is uncertain whether the Jerusalem in that prayer referred to a heavenly city that would conjoin with earth on the Day of Judgement or to a physical city of uncertain location. But it certainly did not refer to the area that falls under the municipality of Jerusalem as defined and governed by the successive coalition governments that have ruled Israel since the occupation.

No sooner had the 1967 war ended than Prime Minister Levi Ashkol declared the unification of the two parts of Jerusalem. But the declaration was far from as bold as the proud trumpeting of "one Jerusalem" that we hear nowadays. At that time, Israel feared the international repercussions of its annexation, which was also opposed by four ministers representing the Labour contingent in the ruling coalition on the grounds that it formed an obstacle to peace. Menachem Begin, who was also a minister in the national unity government at the time, wanted to broadcast the unification of Jerusalem loud and clear, but he was voted down by those who were reluctant to needlessly provoke Arab, Muslim and Christian sensitivities after the 1967 defeat. The resultant resolution was a masterpiece of the Israeli art of couching their actions in wordings that appear dry, routine, neutral and harmless. Adopted in its session of 27 June 1967, the resolution to annex East Jerusalem to Israel, in flagrant contravention of international law that prohibits the annexation of territories won by force of arms, reads: "The area of the Land of Israel which will be identified in the annex are to become areas subject to the provisions of law, justice and administration in effect in the state." Naturally, you won't find Jerusalem explicitly mentioned in the text and the maps in the annex only show small coloured patches indicating the areas to be placed under the jurisdiction of Israeli law. Nor did the then Israeli minister of justice utter the word Jerusalem in the statement he delivered to the Knesset justifying this decree. Israeli intransigence and conceit on the matter of Jerusalem had not yet come to fruition. That would come in time, in inverse proportion to the Arabs' ability and willingness to act and in direct proportion with the hypocrisy and duplicity of what is ideologically termed the international community.

The Knesset ratified the government's annexation act and amended the Law and Administration Ordinance Law (Article 11) and the Municipalities Law accordingly. In those days, Israel was tight- lipped. But it planned and worked and expropriated land and built settlements. In tandem it tossed the indigenous Arab inhabitants into the mills and mazes of Israeli law and justice. The actions made the news. The outcome, which inevitably affirmed the confiscator's right, was not newsworthy because it did not substantiate Israel's democracy. The temporary injunction issued by the court to halt the confiscation until the minister pleads the case to the court is newsworthy.

The occupation power confiscates land and property in accordance with the law. After all, it made the laws in accordance with which it seizes land, demolishes homes, and alters the terrain and changes the demography. In the absence of any Arab action or long-range strategy to counter Israel's long-range planning strategy, the Arabs of Jerusalem will remain victim of the laws created by the confiscators.

On 30 July 1980 the Knesset passed the Basic Law (the equivalent of a constitutional article) declaring Jerusalem, "complete and united", as the eternal capital of Israel. Begin, who was now prime minister, had been pressing for such a law since the annexation. Now the opportunity for it was ripe, for he had just signed the first peace agreement with an Arab country, the largest Arab country. As a consequence of this law, the Jerusalem municipality expanded from 5.6 to 71 square kilometres. In 1993, the municipality was expanded again to 130 square kilometres. In 2005, the government's plans for Jerusalem until 2020 will increase the municipal area by another 40 per cent.

Meanwhile, East Jerusalem has turned into scattered neighbourhoods, separated from each other by settlements and surrounded by dozens of other settlements. Contributing to the Israeli government and the Jerusalem municipality's expansionist drive were international Jewish organisations and funds that financed the purchase of land and homes that were too difficult to expropriate, and Jewish societies that infiltrated Arab neighbourhoods house by house by keeping track of the deaths of their owners and their descendants abroad, forging documents and dangling financial enticements. The Arab inhabitants of Jerusalem, who had no viable institutions of their own to protect them, were up against a powerful, wealthy, and very patient network of Jewish and Zionist institutions. In the face of this concerted encroachment, the Jerusalem Committee, created by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference in the wake of the assault on Al-Aqsa Mosque, issued a stream of speeches and statements, and even these have dwindled recently.

From 1948 to 1967, Israel expropriated properties of Arabs in West Jerusalem equivalent to about 40 per cent of the area of that part of the city. These lands were confiscated under the Absentees' Property Law, which was framed in such a way to apply to every Palestinian who had left his usual place of residence. Such "absentees" were abundant, of course, as they were in fact Palestinians who had been "absented" by having been turned into refugees and dispossessed. After 1967, Israel began to expropriate lands in East Jerusalem. It is still doing so at a feverish pace in order to build settlements. The Arab quarters of East Jerusalem were soon dissected by such settlements as Ramat Eshkol, Givat Tsarfatit, Har Hotzvim, Nevi Yacoub, Gilo and others. In the next wave, lands were seized in order to build the settlements encircling East Jerusalem. They include Basgat Zaif, Mitsodat Zaif, Har Homa, Maali Adomim and Atrut. These simultaneously form the settlement cordon that also cuts East Jerusalem off from the West Bank, which, in turn, has been cut into two parts -- north and south -- between which communications are difficult. This latter wave of confiscations was conducted in accordance with the Land Acquisition Law of 1967, which legalises expropriations for the public welfare. The cordon is now being completed in the area called Zone E, which connects Maali Adomim to the northeast with Basgat Zaif and Nevi Yacoub to the northwest.

In Zionist ideology, building settlements is in the public welfare and, hence, justifies seizing land from those who are not meant to benefit from the settlements and upon the ruins of whose homes and welfare the settlements are built. This is a little lesson on how, in Israel, the law codifies ideology and serves political aims and interests. Even if lawyers and judges behaved as though they were purely professional and apolitical, they are political by virtue of just doing their jobs. When you have a corpus of law tailored for political ends, interpreting the law, pleading on the basis of it, and passing judgments under it are political activities, regardless of how objectively or impartially one might go about them. When the Israeli Supreme Court approves these laws and issues rulings on the basis of them it is not acting impartially. How could it? It is the supreme court of the Israeli occupation machine and its chief instrument in the business of justifying, disguising and executing the process of Israelification and Judaicisation and eliminating the obstacles to the occupation and settlement expansion.

Since 1967, Israel has taken over 85 per cent of the land of East Jerusalem, using the Absentees' Property Law, the Land Acquisition Law and other devices. Since the de facto annexation of Jerusalem, Israeli law and courts colluded in one of the most nefarious and cruel legal scams in history. The moment the Israeli Supreme Court gave its stamp of approval to the annexation, the Arabs in that city -- its indigenous inhabitants generation after generation and the original owners of the homes and properties in it -- were cast as immigrants into Israel. The date of their entry was the date of annexation and, now that their property had just become part of Israel, by the whisk of Israel's magic wand, from one day to the next they were made alien residents in their own homes. Accordingly, in the case of Mubarak Awad, the court ruled that being born in Jerusalem does not necessarily confer upon the Arab citizen the right to live there or safeguard him from expulsion by having his residence permit (so-called identity card) withdrawn.

Under Entry Into Israel Law, immigrants are granted residence, but in the event an alien resident obtains residence in another country or another passport, or remains abroad for the major portion of a several year period, he loses his right to reside in Israel. And thus the law has joined forces with the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem. In 2008, alone, 4,577 Arab residents of Jerusalem had their residence cards confiscated. To further facilitate the process, in 2006, the Supreme Court approved a law that started off as an ordinance to be renewed annually. Under this new law, inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza married to Israeli citizens are no longer eligible for residence and citizenship in Israeli (and Jerusalem) on family reunification grounds. If an Arab resident of Jerusalem or an Arab citizen of Israel is married to a Palestinian in the West Bank or Gaza, he or she will have to leave Jerusalem in order to live with his/her spouse and children.

The decision to build the 88 kilometre-long annexation barrier was taken by the Ministerial Committee for Jerusalem Affairs on 11 May 2002. In addition to cutting between houses of the same village, literally separating one side of the street from the other, abolishing ancient roads such as the Jerusalem-Ramallah road, and turning entire neighbourhoods and villages into islands, the wall cast out of Jerusalem between 80,000-90,000 Arabs who held Jerusalem or Israeli identity cards. More recently, on 11 May 2008, the Israeli government moved to register Palestinian properties in the tabu (land registration office) in the name of Jews who took over these properties in the area of Harat Al-Sharaf. The area is adjacent to the Wailing Wall and Haram Al-Sharif. The original inhabitants were expelled from the area in order to make place for a square for prayer in front of the Wailing Wall and to revive the "Jewish Quarter" as this part of the Old City within the walls has come to be named. The area itself has been doubled and tripled several times. However, the registration of expropriated properties in the name of private Jewish individuals marked a precedent that is now being repeated routinely. The Absentees' Property Law and Land Acquisition Law have been privatised in the areas occupied in 1948. Israel is even eliminating the questions of the refugees and Jerusalem from a formalistic standpoint, by dispersing them into thousands of private ownership cases, whereas previously these lands were regarded as public property and let out to Jewish citizens, even if with 49 or 99 year leases. This privatisation, naturally, is sponsored, planned and protected by the state. It is part of the greater project to eliminate pending final status issues concerning the Palestinians and Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Arab regimes are engaged in a different kind of privatisation process as far as all this is concerned. That process goes by the name, "leave the Palestinian question to the Palestinians." For the Palestinian Authority, it is leave Jerusalem to the Jerusalemites. In practical terms, this form of privatisation means leaving the Palestinians/Jerusalemites stranded. Which is why, again, I urge the adoption of the formula: the whole of Jerusalem equals Haram Al-Sharif and the whole of Palestine equals Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem and Palestine will be reinstated as core concerns of the entire Arab nation and not just the Palestinians alone. Only then will the impending demolition of a Palestinian home in Jerusalem be taken up as a cause of all Jerusalemites, Palestinians and Arabs. We do not leave poverty to the poor, illness to the ill or education to the uneducated. Society assumes such burdens and this is how societies develop and nations are built. The reverse approach -- allowing the Palestinians and Jerusalemites to fend for themselves, which is equivalent to the logic of letting the poor, ill and uneducated fend for themselves -- opens the question of Jerusalem to a completely different type of symbolism.

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