Sunday, July 25, 2010

Israeli Author David Grossman Condemns Settlement Of East Jerusalem

The eviction of Palestinians in favor of Israeli settlers in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah has prompted weekly demonstrations on the part of Israeli peace activists and Palestinians:

The circumstances of the Palestinians’ removal and the old ghosts it stirred have managed to arouse even Israel’s long-dormant peace camp. About 2,500 Israelis and Palestinians attended a demonstration here on Saturday night. Young Israeli and foreign activists have rallied around the cause. Increasingly, veteran members of Israel’s leftist establishment are also appearing at the weekly vigils held in Sheikh Jarrah every Friday afternoon.

“We are here to shout,” said David Grossman, a prominent Israeli author and peace advocate, while attending a vigil near the disputed houses on a recent Friday in the pouring rain. The settlers, he said, are doing everything they can to preclude any future deal for a Palestinian state.

Grossman, who lost his son Uri in the second Lebanon war, famously refused to shake then prime minister Ehud Olmert's hand upon receiving a literary award. Among his works are "The Yellow Wind" and "Death as a Way of Life," searing essays on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Grossman spoke about the situation in Sheikh Jarrah and the corrosive effects of occupation, which he termed "...a kind of carnivorous plant that is slowly devouring us":

The following video shows one demonstration at the beginning of the year that started in West Jerusalem and ended in Sheikh Jarrah:

Critics of the settlement of East Jerusalem state that it places Israel in a tenuous position:

...reclaiming properties owned by Jews before 1948 in these areas, critics argue, invites counterclaims from Palestinian refugees who lost property in what is now Israel and undermines Israel’s rejection of their demand for a right of return.

...[Professor of Jewish law and philosophy Moshe] Halbertal said he supported Israel’s policy against the right of return for Palestinian refugees — a position meant to ensure a Jewish majority in the Israeli state. But when it comes to Sheikh Jarrah, he added, Israel cannot have it both ways.

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