It’s only since recently that I’ve asked myself about the phrase "Arab Israelis". Many Arab Israelis (I only use the term to distinguish them from Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza) identify themselves by that title. Recently, however, I’ve become aware that many of them prefer the term "Palestinian". Had I become aware of this sooner, I’d be rather confused as to why citizens of Israel name themselves by the name of "the enemy", and does that mean that they identify more with "them" than "us". Seeing as my interest in Israeli Arabs was low to none-existent, I was spared this confusion, by sheer ignorance of their identity crisis.
A matter of Linguistics
Today, it would seem that I can’t not see Israeli Arabs/Palestinians. I also developed an acute sensitivity to the language used in Israel. Far from political correctness, I’d like to be able to address the identity of the person I’m speaking with. Specifically because this identity has been victim to obliteration and separatism. Realizing that Israeli Arabs and Palestinians are, in fact, the same people and that you can’t call an Israeli Arab a traitor for identifying with his Palestinian wife and kids.
The term "Israeli Arab" is in effect disrespectful to their core identity, as the word "Israel" is distinctly rooted in Jewish and Hebrew culture. Today, the fact that the Israeli Arabs are willing to accept even the name of Israel as the name of their own country, is truly a source of wonder for me.
Cultural Genocide on Basis of "Security"
A highly organized act of repression was the dispersion of the Palestinian Culture Festival. It was so organized, Ha’arez actually published an article about the police’s plan to prevent the festival (More about this later). Ha’aretz reported the following chain of command:
"The head of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, Nachi Eyal, on Wednesday urged Dichter and Police Commissioner David Cohen to thwart the staging of the event. "To the best of my understanding, this is an attempt to demonstrate Palestinian sovereignty in Jerusalem in an illegal manner," said Eyal. "The law…obligates the Palestinian Authority to respect the sovereignty of Israel within the boundaries of the State of Israel, including East Jerusalem.""
"Public Security Minister Avi Dichter had instructed police to act forcefully against any attempts by the Palestinian Authority to stage events in Jerusalem or other parts of Israel. "
"The police said that they were determined to enforce the law, whereby any event organized and funded by the PA is prohibited within Jerusalem’s municipal jurisdiction."
Here’s the list of police offenses (they were obviously unwarranted as Ha’aretz writes that "Despite the confrontations, no violence or injuries were reported."), as listed in Ha’aretz:
- 8 events were shut down.
- 20 people arrested.
- Soccer game affiliated with the culture festival, was broken up.
- A gathering of young girls at the al-Hiyala club was dispersed.
- A group of students bearing PLO flags were blocked from reaching the Temple Mount. (Prevented a similar event on Haroun el-Rashid road.)
- In the neighborhood of Ral al-Amud, police confiscated a torch, brought in from Syria, which was to have been lit at an inauguration rally at sundown.
- Police also dispersed crowds on Salah al-Din Street and in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz.
For more specific and humanizing details head on to Al-Jazeera.
Let’s talk linguistics again for a moment: The article in Ha’aretz plants doubt in the reader’s mind right in the first paragraph:
"Jerusalem Police on Saturday dispersed a number of small events staged as part of the Palestinian Culture Festival, meant to declare the city "the capital of Arabic culture for 2009.""
Note that the event- that’s suppose to assert Palestinian identity- is magically marginalized into "a number of small events". These events are obviously suspect as they are "staged as part of the Palestinian Culture Festival", which is a scary event, because it’s purpose is "to declare the city "the capital of Arabic culture for 2009"" – the wettest nightmare of any Israeli Jew.
Quostionable Media Ethics
The second incident, directly related to the first, is bizarre in an Orwellian fashion. The original article, reporting the police’s plan, "Jerusalem Police set to prevent ‘Palestinian Culture Festival’" (dated 14:03 20/03/2009), has been replaced with "Police disperse ‘Palestinian Culture Festival’ events" (dated 17:50 21/03/2009). Luckily, I was paranoid enough to take a screen shot of the original, which doesn’t exist in the archives anymore:
"Last update – 14:03 20/03/2009
Jerusalem Police set to prevent ‘Palestinian Culture Festival’
By Jonathan Lis, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service
Tags: Palestinian Authority
Jerusalem Police announced on Friday they would prevent the so-called Palestinian Culture Festival the Palestinian Authority plans to organize in the city on Saturday.
The PA is planning to fly a glider plane painted in the colors of the Palestinian national flag over the walls of the Old City as part of the festival, which is meant to declare the city to be "the capital of Arabic culture for 2009."
The police said that they were determined to enforce the law, whereby any event organized and funded by the PA is prohibited within Jerusalem’s municipal jurisdiction.
The head of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, Nachi Eyal, on Wednesday urged Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Police Commissioner David Cohen to thwart the staging of the event.
"To the best of my understanding, this is an attempt to demonstrate Palestinian sovereignty in Jerusalem in an illegal manner," said Eyal.
"The law…obligates the Palestinian Authority to respect the sovereignty of Israel within the boundaries of the State of Israel, including East Jerusalem."
Since early Friday morning, large police forces, including Border Police, have arrived at the city and are slated to deploy to East Jerusalem and the surrounding Arab villages on Saturday.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, is slated to kick off the celebrations from his headquarters in Ramallah. Events are also due to be held in Gaza, Lebanon, Nazareth and Bethlehem."
I also took the liberty to examine the differences, in efforts to find the motives behind these shoddy journalistic ethics (even bloggers have the decency to make updates visible and not evaporate evidence). Basically, there’s not much difference, except for the additional information after the fact. In this article, the opening paragraph has the same delegitimizing purposes as the first paragraph in the new article:
- "So-called Palestinian Culture Festival" – obviously this is a pathetic attempt to thinly veil acts of disloyalty (= "terrorism").
- Emphasizing that the event is organized by the PA is kind of like telling Americans that Al-Quaida will be having an Afghanistan Culture Festival in Washington.
- The Palestinian flag glider is an emotional inciter, and as for the declaration of Jerusalem to be "the capital of Arabic culture for 2009"- Is Jerusalem not declared, by Israel itself, to be the spiritual capital of the three monotheistic faiths?
Usually, when Ha’aretz posts a bulletin and then later obtains more information, they create a new post. Since the differences between the articles are only the addition of information, it seems the only goal of not creating a new post was to keep it from reappearing in the front page headlines. A glimpse at the comment section will show that public opinion goes both ways, in this case, and that’s good reason not to highlight an article, as well.