Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Fairfax hysteria

An hysterical, sensationalist article in "WA Today", August 4, 2009, entitled "Perth woman jailed for Palestinian eviction protest", by Fairfax journalist Chris Thomson, reports on the arrest of Perth "Friend of Palestine" Sarah Haynes, 36.

Thomson reports that Sarah was "thrown in a Jerusalem jail and forced to subsist on bread and water".

However Sarah seemed to regard her one-day stay in prison as quite an adventure, including a diet that included several Israeli foods. Sarah's own Blog reports:

...1-3pm – separated, interrogated, fingerprinted, waited, read my book, interrogated, advised of 24 hour arrest, paperwork...

...Fed at 5:30pm (bread, cream cheese, Israeli couscous) ...

...8am ... breakfast (white bread, boiled egg, weird jam, olives, triangle cheese) ...

...12:15 – 1pm – court case...

...1:30pm … I had a “shower” under the pipe from the wall. The pressure was good but I have some complaints about the temperature adjustment which got very hot. I did some yoga. We’re told we missed lunch because we were in court. Excuse us our foolish schedule! but we had bread remaining from breakfast – bread and water! prison! ... [my own emphasis added - this is apparently the "hardship" part that so horrified Chris Thompson - SL]

...5pm – THE END!

I tried to post the following comment on Sarah's Blog a few days ago. It's still "awaiting moderation" Actually, I'm also "awaiting moderation" from hysterical, misguided partisans like both Sarah and Chris...

Here's my (hitherto) unpublished comment:


If you are going to get involved in foreign disputes, please try to understand all sides of the issue. This excerpt from The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 27/7/09, by Nadav Shragai, pre-dates the current controversy surrounding evictions in the Sheik Jarrah neighbourhood, but is very relevant to them:

During Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, 78 doctors, nurses and other Jews were murdered on their way to Hadassah Hospital when their convoy was attacked by Arabs as it passed through Sheikh Jarrah. Mt. Scopus was cut off from western Jerusalem and remained a demilitarized Israeli enclave under UN aegis until it was returned to Israel in 1967. The area discussed here has for decades been a vital corridor to Mt. Scopus.

…Many observers incorrectly assume that Jerusalem is comprised of two ethnically homogenous halves: Jewish western Jerusalem and Arab eastern Jerusalem. Yet in some areas such as Sheikh Jarrah-Shimon HaTzadik, Jerusalem is a mosaic of peoples who are mixed and cannot be separated or divided according to the old 1949 armistice line.

In the eastern part of Jerusalem, i.e., north, south and east of the city’s 1967 borders, there are today some 200,000 Jews and 270,000 Arabs living in intertwined neighborhoods. In short, as certain parts of eastern Jerusalem have become ethnically diverse, it has become impossible to characterize it as a wholly Palestinian area that can easily be split off from the rest of Jerusalem.

… For hundreds of years the Jewish presence in the area centered around the tomb of Shimon HaTzadik (Simon the Righteous), one of the last members of the Great Assembly (HaKnesset HaGedolah), the governing body of the Jewish people during the Second Jewish Commonwealth, after the Babylonian Exile. His full name was Shimon ben Yohanan, the High Priest, who lived during the fourth century BCE, during the time of the Second Temple.

… Shimon HaTzadik and his pupils are buried in a cave near the road that goes from Sheikh Jarrah to Mt. Scopus. He appears as the author of one of the famous verses in Pirkei Avot (Sayings of the Fathers) which has been incorporated into the Jewish morning prayers…

For years Jews have made pilgrimages to his grave to light candles and pray, as documented in many reports by pilgrims and travelers. While the property was owned by Arabs for many years, in 1876 the cave and the nearby field were purchased by Jews, involving a plot of 18 dunams (about 4.5 acres) that included 80 ancient olive trees. The property was purchased for 15,000 francs and was transferred to the owner through the Majlis al-Idara, the seat of the Turkish Pasha and the chief justice. According to the contract, the buyers (the committee of the Sephardic community and the Ashkenazi Assembly of Israel) divided the area between them equally, including the cave on the edge of the plot.

Dozens of Jewish families built homes on the property. On the eve of the Arab Revolt in 1936 there were hundreds of Jews living there. When the disturbances began they fled, but returned a few months later and lived there until 1948. When the Jordanians captured the area, the Jews were evacuated and for nineteen years were barred from visiting either their former homes or the cave of Shimon HaTzadik….

Note that 15 judges in courts all the way to the High Court have been satisfied that the evicted people are illegal squatters.
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