Well… This blog post has been a long time coming. I starting compiling articles to link and use for this post over a week ago, and I’ve been trying to continue to keep up with them ever since, but it’s been a challenge.
I wanted to write some of my thoughts on the whole U.S./Israel “dispute,” and the commentary and articles written on the subject just kept on coming! However, in looking at all my articles, I realized that this “spat” has overshadowed and not really included an event that happened a few weeks before the U.S./Israel “issue” began and which has caused much more concern for Palestinians but not such a”sexy” news story for Americans — thus, the reason you’ve likely not heard of it!
On 21 February 2010, Benjamin Netanyahu issued a list of Israeli national heritage sites that included two West Bank sites of importance to Palestinians (Muslims in particular, though they’re significant for Jews, Christians, and Muslims). As the NY Times said,
“[Mr. Netanyahu] said he intended to include the Cave of the Patriarchs, also known as Ibrahimi Mosque, the Hebron shrine revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians as the burial place of Abraham, on the list of about 150 sites. In 1994, a Jewish settler, Baruch Goldstein, fatally shot 29 Palestinian Muslim worshipers inside the shrine.
“Mr. Netanyahu said he also planned to include Rachel’s Tomb, a shrine just inside the West Bank city of Bethlehem.”
(The full article is titled “Israel’s Plans for 2 Sites Stir Unrest in West Bank.” — I actually couldn’t find an article solely about the announcement, only was an article written once the “unrest” began… interesting.)
Oh, and did I mention that this announcement came the very same week as the anniversary of the Goldstein rampage mentioned?
Which leads to this: Israel Seals Off West Bank
“JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel has sealed off the West Bank for 48 hours, preventing Palestinians from entering Israel because of fears of unrest.
“There have been clashes after Friday prayers at mosques in Jerusalem and elsewhere in recent weeks, sparked by deadlock in peace talks and Israel’s inclusion of two West Bank shrines on a list of national heritage sites.
“Several Palestinians have been badly wounded and dozens of protesters and Israeli policemen have suffered light injuries.
“Police say only men over 50 will be allowed to pray Friday at the shrine at the center of the disturbances — the Jerusalem compound Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. There are no limitations on women.
“The closure began at midnight Thursday and will end at midnight Saturday.”
Right, so Israel basically makes an announcement that they’re going to continue to impose themselves in the West Bank, it riles up Palestinians (and shouldn’t it?) for a few weeks (likely a bit more than those summer health care town hall meetings, I’d think), and then Israel, out of “safety concerns,” shuts down the West Bank for the weekend (for men under 50).
Oh, and then, days later, the big U.S./Israel spat begins, and the world forgets about this issue — but the Palestinians don’t.
Now for my opining: That seems to be how things work in the Middle East. There’s a lot of slight of hand, “Quick, look over there!” happening on and it just leads us to forget about what really happening — Israel is slowly making the “facts on the ground” such that removal of Israel and Israelis from the West Bank will simply be unfeasible, and then what? Either it’s an Israeli/Palestinian joint state (rights of all TBD) or Palestinians are somehow forced out. Either way, this “two-state solution” everyone seems to think is the way to go isn’t the outcome.
I’m convinced there’s more than one way to peace in the Middle East, just as there’s more than one way to crack an egg (a nice non-violent alternative to that “other” euphemism). But if the U.S. and the rest of the world continue to turn a blind eye to the oppression and injustice occurring in the West Bank, the bigger the challenge will become.
Have the events of the past 2-ish weeks shown that maybe the U.S. is taking notice to Israel’s slow infiltration of the West Bank? Come back for pt. 2 of the Palestine/Israel show late Sunday — it only get’s better! (And now with a part 3!)
(And if/while you’re waiting, read some comments to the NY Times article about restricted access to Muslim holy sites.)