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Arab Jews in Palestine Before Israel

Arab Jews in Palestine Before There Was a State Called Israel

By Genevieve Cora Fraser

The news is full of stories about Jerusalem lately, focusing on Israeli encroachment on what remains of East Jerusalem, which is the designated capital of a future Palestinian state. It was recently uncovered that millions of dollars have been surreptitiously paid by foreign Jewish investors to buy two large properties from the Greek Orthodox Church in the Palestinian section of Jerusalem's Old City. And depending on which newspaper you read, the government of Israel has allocated somewhere between $1.2 million and $2 million to demolish somewhere between 20,000 and 26,000 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem. (Apparently the so-called cease-fire doesn't include home and life destroying, super-sized Caterpillar bulldozers.)

The Christian Aid Relief Web reports that Israel's plans for the route of the separation barrier around Jerusalem will cut East Jerusalem and the largest Israeli settlement in the West Bank off from the rest of the West Bank, and will divide Bethlehem. According to the report, "Christian Aid's Palestinian and Israeli partners say the route will jeopardize peace talks and argue that the decision amounts to a unilateral attempt to prejudge the borders of a final solution to the conflict."

And if that isn't enough to destroy any hope for peace, a clandestine meeting in Jerusalem's Old City of rabbis and far-left Jewish extremists, representing 30 groups, was caught on tape and broadcast on Israeli TV. The assembled were plotting to take over the Temple Mount, the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) to Muslims, in an attempt to thwart Israel's withdrawal from Gaza.

About the only glimmer of hope as Israel rushes to establish "facts on the ground" in Jerusalem, and elsewhere in the occupied territories, is the recently released Sasson Report. The report exposes criminal activity at the highest levels as Israel steals what little remains of Palestine from Palestinians. From government ministries to the nationally owned utilities, the Israel Defense Forces and the World Zionist Organization, the government of Israel provides the underpinnings for the illegal network of settlements and outposts, according to the report. But will anyone do anything about it? Even the United Nations now takes Israel's side - omitting references to the illegality of the occupation, settlements and the racist Apartheid Wall while expressing concerns about the safety of the illegal settlers who torment and kill Palestinians, destroy their olive and citrus trees and seize their farmlands and other assets on a daily basis.

But how did we get from Al Nakba in 1948 to what some believe in 2005 is the new beginning and others see as the beginning of the end for Palestinian hopes? Too often I have heard comments from otherwise reasonable and intelligent people saying with an air of resignation "but that's the way it's been between the Arabs and the Jews for thousands of years." These people fail to realize that for thousands of years, the Arabs were the Jews - with the Hebrew people migrating from out of Arabia to Southern Babylonia, Egypt, the Middle Euphrates, Palestine and Syria.

One all too frequently overlooked source of information on the documented real history of the region is the Jerusalem Quarterly, published by the Institute for Jerusalem Studies. The latest issue, which can be found on-line at, focuses on the status and tribulations of the native Jewish community in Palestine on the eve of Zionism.

Edited by Salim Tamari, who has contributed the article "When Native Jews Ceased to be Arabs" to the current issue, the publication is an English-language journal "aimed at identifying and tracing trends in the changing status of the city." Given the explosive nature of this spiritual home to Jews, Christians and Muslims perpetually in conflict with Israeli encroachments and Palestinian acts of peaceful and active resistance, matters covered by the publication of "zoning and land appropriation, the building of new settlements and the expansion of old ones, regulations affecting the status of Arab residency in Jerusalem, demographic trends, formal and informal Palestinian negotiating strategies on the final status of Jerusalem as well as the impact of these urban policies on local, everyday culture," are of monumental importance, with repercussions felt round the world. As an added bonus, the articles are often poignant and always intelligently written as well as informative.


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