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Friday, December 21, 2012

Ashton apparently only has a problem with Jewish, but not Israeli Arab, "settlers"

EU High Representative Catherine Ashton made this statement earlier this week:

The approval of an additional 2610 housing units in the settlement of Givat Hamatos is extremely troubling, coming in addition to announcements made at the end of ovember and Monday’s approval of 1500 units in Ramat Shlomo. This plan for Givat Hamatos would cut the geographic continuity between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. I strongly oppose this unprecedented expansion of settlements around Jerusalem.

First of all, Ramat Shlomo and Givat Hamatos are in Jerusalem, not "around" Jerusalem.

But more interestingly is how there is one set of announced housing that Ashton did not mention, namely, the plan to add 688 units to the neighborhood of Beit Safafa.

Why would she mention some neighborhoods and not mention Beit Safafa? Because Beit Safafa is Arab.

But which side of the Green Line is Beit Safafa on? The answer is - both. The Green Line divided it into two. Before 1967, residents who were literally across the street from each other - even within the same family - were separated.

The ones in the north are Israeli citizens, the ones in the south generally are not (unless they choose to become citizens, as any Jerusalem Arabs have the right to do.)

Since 1967, Israeli Arabs have moved to Beit Safafa, including Christians from Jaffa and Nazareth, on both sides of the Green Line. The residents themselves are adamant that their neighborhood never be divided again, and certainly most of the Israeli citizens will refuse to become citizens of "Palestine."

Beit Safafa will never be divided and the Israeli Arabs who live there will not agree to change their citizenship.

So why does the EU not consider Israeli Arabs on the other side of the Green Line to be "settlers"? Why does Ashton not object to building in Beit Safafa?

Yaacov Lozowick looked at Beit Safafa in more detail and noted:
The odd thing is that in all the endless verbiage on the matter, no-one (NO ONE) ever calls the Israeli Arabs from Beit Safafa who moved in the same direction, settlers. Yet it can't be that Jewish Israeli citizens who crossed the Green Line to settle are illegally forbidden settlers, while the Arab Israeli citizens who did the exact same thing are not. That would make international law explicitly racist and antisemitic, and for all its silliness, it isn't those.

...In the decades since 1967 thousands of Israeli Arabs from elsewhere - Nazerath, Jaffa, Sachnin and so on - have moved to Jerusalem. It's a big city, it's got the country's largest university, it's got hospitals, government ministries, and all sorts of other things to encourage migration. Some of them have moved to Beit Hakerem or Rehavia, and that's all right. Others have moved to Beit Hanina, a wealthy area on the city's north side, so they're clearly legally forbidden settlers. Some have moved to Beit Safafa, because it's the one part of town that already had a community of Israeli Arabs and it felt hospitable. Of course, if they moved to the northern part of the neighborhood (it has long since ceased to be a separate village), no problem. If they moved to the southern part however, they're illegal settlers, as we've already seen. The thing is, when you walk through the neighborhood, there's no way of recognizing which it is, unless you happen to be old enough or savvy enough to remember where the long-defunct line ran. Most people aren't. Most people, that is, except for the teeming millions who know that Jerusalem must be divided.

..So now we've got the following situation. There are about 8,000 people in Beit Safafa. Some have been Israeli citizens since 1948, but they'll move or stay depending upon where they live now. Some have become Israeli citizens since 1967, but that's immaterial. If they're Arab (they are), and they live south of the Green Line (many do), they obviously yearn to live in a free Palestine, not Israel. No? Some are not Israeli citizens, merely permanent residents, but if they live north of the line, they can stay put, or move to Haifa, or move 25 feet to the south, and thus choose to live in whichever country they prefer. And then of course there are the non-Israeli citizens who moved in 1974, or 1983, or 1992, or 2001, or whenever it was, to Haifa or Kfar Kassem or elsewhere in Israel, and they won't be affected in any case, since they're inside the Green Line and thus impervious to the entire discussion. It's only Jews who are on the wrong side of the line who need to do any explaining or accommodating.
Ashton's omission of Beit Safafa is only a small part of the inherent discrimination that most of the world applies to Israeli Jews. Only Jews can be "illegal settlers," not Muslims or Christians.

I think there is a word for that.

(h/t David G)