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Wednesday 22 October 2014

Is not the night restless for them?


Kofr Qadom, West Bank. A Palestinian boy throws stones at an armoured wheel loader of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) during clashes following a protest against the nearby Jewish settlement of Qadomem: photo by Abed Omar Qusini / Reuters via The Guardian, 17 October 2014

It is for you to be, or not to be,
It is for you to create, or not to create.
All existential questions, behind your shadow, are a farce,
And the universe is your small notebook, and you are its creator.
So write in it the paradise of genesis,
Or do not write it,
You, you are the question.
What do you want?
As you march from a legend, to a legend?
A flag?
What good have flags ever done?
Have they ever protected a city from the shrapnel of a bomb?
What do you want?
A newspaper?
Would the papers ever hatch a bird, or weave a grain?
What do you want?
Do the police know where the small earth will get impregnated from the coming winds?
What do you want?
Sovereignty over ashes?
While you are the master of our soul; the master of our ever-changing existence?
So leave,
For the place is not yours, nor are the garbage thrones.
You are the freedom of creation,
You are the creator of the roads,
And you are the anti-thesis of this era.
And leave,
Poor, like a prayer,
Barefoot, like a river in the path of rocks,
And delayed, like a clove.
You, you are the question.

So leave to yourself,
For you are larger than people’s countries,
Larger than the space of the guillotine.
So leave to yourself,
Resigned to the wisdom of your heart,
Shrugging off the big cities, and the drawn sky,
And building an earth under your hand’s palm — a tent, an idea, or a grain.
So head to Golgotha,
And climb with me,
To return to the homeless soul its beginning.
What do you want?
For you are the master of our soul,
The master of our ever-changing existence.
You are the master of the ember,
The master of the flame.
How large the revolution,
How narrow the journey,
How grand the idea,
How small the state!

Mahmoud Darwish: from Madeeh al-Thill al-‘Aaly (In Praise of the High Shadow), 1982, translation via Saifedean Ammous, The Electronic Intifada, 12 August 2008

Jerusalem. A Palestinian woman blocked from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque holds a Qu’ran at a protest against Jews entering the compound for the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot: photo by Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images via the Guardian, 13 October 2014

Night Chorus

Is not the night restless for them?
Smoke detectors and burglar alarms go off without reason
The taped voice unwinds in the widow's backyard
No one bothers to look up from his work

Elijah will return, the Jews believe
The Anti-Christ condemn
The Messiah judge
The dead, the wicked and the good will be distinguished

Elijah will return, the Jews believe
Please God and be saved
I am afraid for myself
Elijah will return, the Jews believe

The Anti-Christ --
Even he rejoices and is in his element

Night Chorus, from the end of Act One of the opera The Death of Klinghoffer: libretto by Alice Goodman, 1991

Settlers take over 2 buildings in East Jerusalem's Silwan

Settlers take over two buildings in East Jerusalem's Silwan : photo via The Alternative Information Center, 20 October 2014

Settlers take over two buildings in East Jerusalem's Silwan: Elizabeth Austwick, The Alternative Information Center, 20 October 2014
A group of armed settlers invaded two buildings in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan at 2 a.m Monday morning, thus doubling the number of Israeli settlers now living in the centre of the neighbourhood. This morning's invasion comes just twenty days after he settlers took over 23 additional apartments in Silwan. Local residents fear a process of 'Hebronisation', in which a small number of settlers scattered across Silwan and protected by the police and security forces could begin to control the movement, services and freedoms in the neighbourhood, leading to high levels of tension, violence and further Palestinian displacement.

The apartments in the two buildings were empty except for one, where the resident refused to leave his home and remains there.

The Silwan-based news agency Silwanic reports that the owners of the buildings, Salah Rajabi and Omran al-Qawasmi, sold their properties to Shams ed-Deen Qawasmi, who is belived to be involved in underground deals with settler groups.

Silwanic notes that settlement groups, in cooperation with the Israeli government, are trying to fully control all buildings in Silwan's centre using claims such as “state land” and the Absentee Property Law, while a few individuals have sold their residences to settlers.

However, even if the houses were obtained through monetary purchase, this transaction and following occupation are illegal given East Jerusalem's current status. The new settlements in Silwan, as well as all Israeli settlements within the territories occupied by Israel during the 1967 Middle East war, are illegal and blatantly violate Chapter 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, regardless of the way the properties were acquired. 

These recent developments are part of an Israeli policy to judaize East Jerusalem and further displace the indigenous Palestinian population.

Ateret Cohanim, the organization said to be behind the recent purchase of the two buildings in Silwan, openly expresses its wish to create a Jewish majority in East Jerusalem.

Whilst Israeli President Reuven Rivlin stated that “It is our right to insist on building around Jerusalem, but it is our obligation to make sure that the decision is made by the authorities. Our capital city cannot be built ​​by stealth apartments in the dead of night”, he said, thus condemning the covertness of the settlers' actions but not the act itself.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, some 200,000 Israeli settlers now reside in settlements in East Jerusalem, partly fueling recent unrest in the city.

Daud Abdul Razzaq Siyam, a resident of Silwan, states that the settlement and attendant armed security in the centre of the neighbourhood will likely cause clashes and unrest. Further to this it could also lead to restrictions on public space and freedom of movement.

Silwan residents are angry and have held several meetings to discuss how to challenge the recent occupations. Yet with Israeli government complicity and active support of the settlers actions, as well as continued Israeli impunity in the international sphere, Israel's cleansing of the Palestinian population from East Jerusalem continues.

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Palestinian property taken over by settlers in East Jerusalem's Silwan: photo via The Alternative Information Center, 20 October 2014

More Jewish Settlers move Into East Jerusalem Neighborhood: Isabel Kershner, New York Times, 21 October 2014

JERUSALEM — Jewish settlers moved under armed guard into two buildings in the predominantly Palestinian East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan early Monday, weeks after the Obama administration denounced an earlier influx of settlers to the area as “provocative.”

The latest acquisitions were facilitated by Ateret Cohanim, a nongovernmental organization that establishes educational institutions and settles Jews in predominantly Arab areas in and around the Old City of Jerusalem. Its goal is to prevent any future political division of the territory, which Israel conquered from Jordan in 1967 then annexed in a move that was never internationally recognized.

Adnan Husseini, the Palestinian Authority governor of the Jerusalem district, described the overnight entry of settlers as “shocking,” and said the deal to purchase the properties was being investigated.

Silwan, where several hundred Jews now live among about 50,000 Palestinians, has been a target for Jewish settler organizations since the late 1980s. Located on the slopes just south of the Old City walls, it sits in the shadow of the Al Aksa Mosque, revered by Muslims, and is also the site of the ruins of what is believed to be the City of David, an ancient Jewish landmark. Most of the world considers the area illegally occupied by Israel, and the Palestinians covet it as part of the capital of a future state.

Daniel Luria, the executive director of Ateret Cohanim, said a company registered overseas called Kudram purchased the two buildings with funds from “a group of Jewish investors from Israel and around the world,” while Ateret Cohanim provided guidance and help taking possession of the sites.

“They paid more than appropriate money,” Mr. Luria said.

Mr. Luria noted that the buildings were in an area of Silwan that was once home to a community of Yemenite Jews from the 1880s until the 1930s. For the time being, the two buildings are primarily occupied by guards, yeshiva students and workmen, but Mr. Luria said the plan was for nine families to move in.

In late September, another settler organization, Elad, facilitated the acquisition of 25 apartments in six locations around the City of David archaeological site, which it also runs. It said those homes were purchased by another overseas company, Kendall Finance. Elad said in a statement that it had nothing to do with the acquisition of the latest two buildings. Kendall Finance and Kudram are represented by the same Jerusalem lawyer, Avi Segal.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center, run by grass-roots Palestinian activists in Silwan, said the two Palestinian families who previously lived in the buildings had vacated them four months ago and appeared to have sold the properties to a Palestinian man who acted as a broker for the settler organization.

The entry of settlers in late September set off an open row between the White House and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who said he was “baffled” by the notion that Jews should be barred from living wherever they wanted in Jerusalem.

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Palestinian property taken over by settlers in East Jerusalem's Silwan: photo via The Alternative Information Center, 20 October 2014
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Palestinian property taken over by settlers in East Jerusalem's Silwan: photo via The Alternative Information Center, 20 October 2014
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Palestinian property taken over by settlers in East Jerusalem's Silwan: photo via The Alternative Information Center, 20 October 2014

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Palestinian property taken over by settlers in East Jerusalem's Silwan: photo via The Alternative Information Center, 20 October 2014

After the performance of John Adams' opera The Death of Klinghoffer, a protester was restrained by police for yelling at opera goers
: photo by
Hiroko Masuike / The New York Times, 20 October 2014

@NYDailyNews : #Klinghoffer opera "an apologia for terrorism set to music": image via JCRC of New York @JCRC, 20 October 2014

Librettist Alice Goodman on the writing -- and aftermath -- of The Death of Klinghoffer

"It was made more difficult, if you like, because my parents were still alive -– very strong people with strong opinions. My family is observant and I had a proper Jewish upbringing and education.

"The Judaism I was raised in was strongly Zionist. It had two foci almost –- the Shoah and the State of Israel, and they were related in the same way the crucifixion is related to the resurrection in Christianity. Even when I was a child, I didn't totally buy that. I didn't buy the State of Israel being the recompense for the murder of European Jewry, recompense not being quite the right word, of course. The word one wants would be more like apotheosis or elevation.

"I remember a film of a little man who'd been put in a vacuum chamber with a window so scientists could observe what would happen to him when the air was withdrawn. The whole film was shown to us as children and the look on his face is something I will never forget. Our very traumatised junior rabbi quoted afterwards the song that begins, 'Cast out your wrath upon the nations that know ye not.' In Hebrew it is, 'Cast out your wrath upon the goyim,' which is what he said. My infantile brain thought, 'No, that's not the right answer.' That thought is the thing that's brought me here. And it has to do with Klinghoffer as well.

"I mean into holy orders, into the rectory in Fulbourn. It had nothing to do with writing Klinghoffer really, but I was converted about halfway through writing it. It was really difficult. If you're Jewish, Christianity is an apostasy. If my family had been more traditional, they would have said a kaddish over me. But they didn't.

"I couldn't get work after Klinghoffer. I was uncommissionable."
Alice Goodman, quoted in Stuart Jeffries: Alice Goodman: The furore that finished me, The Guardian, 29 January 2012

The front page of today's NY Times arts section. #Klinghoffer: image via Sean Panikkar @seanpannikar, 19 October 2014

Protestors in rental wheelchairs demonstrating against the performance of The Death of Klinghoffer: photo by Hiroko Masuike / The New York Times, 20 October 2014

Wheelchair protestors in front of @LincolnCenter score @metopera #klinghoffer opening night #superconductor: image via Paul Pelkonen @ppelkonen, 20 October 2014

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#Klinghoffer protest. This is as close as security would allow me to get: image via Zerbinetta @ZerbinettasBlog, 20 October 2014

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani joined protesters outside the opera house on Monday. The opera The Death of Klinghoffer, he said, presented “a distorted view of history”: photo by Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times, 20 October 2014

Rudy, sporting Rick Perry glasses, speaking out against the Met Opra #Klinghoffer outside the Lincoln Center: image via Jacob Kornbluh @jacobkornbluh, 20 October 2014

The Death of Klinghoffer, considered a masterpiece by many, is a target of criticism by detractors who maintain that, by giving voice to the grievances of the hijackers, it justifies or celebrates their actions. Some also say that the opera is anti-Semitic: photo by Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times, 20 October 2014