Jerusalem Occupied or Unified?

Yonathan Mizrachi: UNESCO vs. Israeli Policy in Jerusalem
Ronnie Barkan: Microcosm of Apartheid

Facilitator: Jonathan Stein

Jerusalem is one of the main keys to peace in the Middle East, but just everyday reality in one half of this ancient city is far from peaceful. Israel does not like to be called an occupying power, but that is the term international law has for Israel’s control of East Jerusalem and the rest of the Palestinian territories.


1. Yonathan Mizrachi, is an archeologist and executive director of Emek Shaveh, an Israeli NGO working to prevent the political use of archaeology in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Emek Shaveh believe that Jerusalem’s ancient sites are public assets that belong to members of all communities, faiths and peoples and are deeply concerned by how these sites have become highly politicized and placed in the frontline of the attempt to prevent a political compromise for Jerusalem.

2. Ronnie Barkan, is a math teacher and longtime Jewish Israeli activist, co-founder of Boycott from Within. Boycott from Within members are as they say “Palestinians, Jews, citizens of Israel, who join the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS)”, a movement that “works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law”. The BDS campaign is inspired by the campaign that helped to end apartheid in South Africa.

The Boycott from Within supported a Czech initiative protesting the Days of Jerusalem in Prague for its political agenda promoting Jerusalem as “unified”.

Jonathan Stein is a journalist and Managing Editor at Project Syndicate

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has just pledged his support for the so-called Greater Jerusalem bill, which would annex a large swath of Palestinian land deep inside the occupied West Bank’s Jerusalem district. The Israeli right is discussing annexing the whole of West Bank with nearly half of Israelis supporting ethnic cleansing, showed a Pew Research Centre study.

Israel presents its self as “the only democracy in the Middle East”, but there are many people, including Palestinians and even some Israelis, who fundamentally challenge the notion of Israeli democracy. The human rights discourse concerning the situation in Israel-Palestine, a discourse that demands full equality for all the people of this land, is gaining more and more attention these days. This demand for equality also places in question the very legal system in Israel, which includes dozens of discriminatory laws against the non-Jewish citizens of the state. This discrimination is especially visible in East Jerusalem, which Ronnie Barkan argues is currently undergoing a process of “Hebronization”, in other words a process of Judaization – confining the native Palestinian neighborhoods in strictly controlled ghettos while harming every aspect of life of the residents there, for the sake of maintaining control and privilege by the Jewish settlers of that area. These means shall be the focus of Barkan’s talk.

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