Viewpoint - May 17, 2018
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Palestinians protest opening of US embassy in Jerusalem
by: Tamara Nassar
Palestinians in several cities in the occupied West Bank and inside present-day Israel protested the US embassy's official opening in Jerusalem on Monday.
At the same time of the ceremony - which was held on the eve of the Nakba commemoration, marking the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians in 1948 - Israeli forces massacred 58 Palestinians in Gaza, including children, and injured thousands.
Although overwhelmingly opposed by world opinion, Donald Trump insisted on making the embassy move to satisfy the demands of Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire and financier of anti-Palestinian causes who was the US president's biggest campaign donor.
Anti-Semites lead prayers at embassy ceremony
The Trump administration chose Christian extremist pastors Robert Jeffress and John Hagee to lead prayers at the embassy ceremony.
The anti-Semitic Jeffress has previously preached that Jews and Mormons will be eternally damned and that Islam is "a heresy from the pit of hell."
Hagee, also an anti-Semite, is the founder of Christians United for Israel. He once said that Adolf Hitler was sent by God to send the Jewish people back to Israel, and that Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana was sent by God to punish the city for planning a Gay Pride parade.
Christian Zionist fundamentalists, although hostile to Jews, are big supporters of the embassy move. They see support for Israel as a way to hasten what they hope will be the second coming of Jesus and the end of the world.
In another measure of the extremism surrounding the event, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president's daughter and son-in-law, received a blessing on their arrival in Jerusalem from Israeli chief rabbi Yitzhak Yosef.
Earlier this year Yosef, whose salary is paid by the government, called Black people "monkeys" and urged the expulsion of non-Jews from Israel.
Calls for military embargo
Amnesty International condemned the embassy move and called for an arms embargo on Israel.
"The United States has chosen to reward the illegal annexation of occupied territory by moving its embassy and recognizing unified Jerusalem as Israel's capital," Amnesty stated.
Although this move is portrayed as "simply hauling desks from one building to another," in reality it "intentionally undermines Palestinian rights and in effect condones decades of violations by Israel," Amnesty added.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee - which coordinates campaigns for boycott, divestment and sanctions - also stated that a military embargo is a key Palestinian demand. Such an embargo was "imposed on apartheid South Africa to end its egregious violations of human rights," the committee stated.
"In Jerusalem, Israel has long destroyed Palestinian homes, revoked the right of the indigenous Palestinians to live in their city, and encouraged illegal Israeli settlers to evict Palestinian families and openly steal their homes," stated Omar Barghouti, a founder of the BDS movement, in the same statement.
"The Trump administration is now not just an enabler, but also a full partner in Israel's accelerating ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Jerusalem and beyond."
The South African and Turkish governments both pulled their ambassadors from Israel following the move and in light of Israel's massacre in Gaza.
Protesting the embassy move
Palestinians protested the US embassy move across cities in the West Bank and present-day Israel.
In Jerusalem, Israeli police cracked down on protesters with force.
The Institute for Middle East Understanding reported that Israeli forces had been "physically assaulting protesters." The protesters included Palestinian members of Israel's parliament, the Knesset.
Israel used tear gas canisters and sound bombs against protesters at the Qalandiya checkpoint and in the city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.
Demonstrators took to the streets of Nablus to march towards the Huwwara checkpoint near Jerusalem. Protests were held, too, in Haifa - a city in present-day Israel - in solidarity with the dozens of marchers in Gaza massacred by Israeli snipers.
Dozens of protests are also taking place in neighboring countries and all over the world this week in solidarity with marchers in Gaza, in commemoration of the Nakba and against the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.
Protesters demonstrated in front of the US embassy in Amman, Jordan, in Rabat, Morocco, and in Istanbul, Turkey.
Violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem
Tens of thousands of Israeli settlers participated in the annual "flag march" on Sunday, during which right-wing Israelis celebrate the anniversary of the 1967 occupation of East Jerusalem.
Usually flooded with Israeli flags and ultra-nationalist symbols, this year's march also included many US flags in light of the embassy move.
In recent flag marches, settlers chanted "death to the Arabs" and other racist, genocidal slogans, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Meanwhile, 26 Palestinian cars and nearby walls in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat were vandalized with racist graffiti, according to Haaretz.
A firebomb was also thrown into a Jewish home, and a police officer at the scene was injured.
Although Palestinians make up approximately 40 percent of Jerusalem's population, Israel seeks to erase Palestinian roots and presence in the city.
One example is Israel's plan to build a national park atop one of the oldest graveyards in Palestine, Bab al-Rahma cemetery in occupied Jerusalem.
Israel's so-called Nature and Parks Authority demarcated part of the cemetery's land last week. The cemetery is adjacent to al-Aqsa mosque.
This plan fits into the broader agenda promoted by many senior Israeli politicians and clerics who advocate the construction of a Jewish temple in the place where the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock have stood for more than 1,000 years, effectively erasing Islamic history in the city.
Palestinians tried to protest the demarcation last week and were met with aggression from Israeli occupation forces.
Haaretz has reported - citing Israel's secret police, the Shin Bet, that "the number of violent incidents targeting Palestinians this year is higher than what it was throughout all of last year."
Original Article: Palestinians protest opening of US embassy in Jerusalem
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