Archive | June 6, 2010

From Silwan to the City of David

From Silwan to the City of David

By Hwaa Irfan

Ahdaf Soueif in her piece entitled “The Dig Dividing Jerusalem, wrote so prosaically, about group of tourists descending their tour bus, and preparing to discover their next adventure. The trouble is that these elderly people have been led to believe that they are going to visit the City of David! They are completely unaware of the lie they have been told, just as most of us today are completely unaware that the Wailing Wall is product of the imagination. You see, it was in 1929, that Rabbi Baruch Kaplan of Hebron recalled that…

    “…the Zionists had a slogan arguing that the Western Wall in Jerusalem was a Jewish “national symbol.” Of course, the Arabs disagreed with this idea, considering that they had control of the location for over 1,100 years. However, the Zionist mobs were yelling that “The Wall is ours!” It’s hard to understand why they felt that way considering they have no connection to the Jewish holy places whatsoever. An argument erupted in the Jewish newspapers about establishing a permanent prayer area for Jews at the Wall. This provoked the Arabs, and the rabbi of Jerusalem at the time, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld begged them to stop and to be appreciative to the Arabs for allowing Jews to pray at the Wall for so many centuries undisturbed. However, the Zionists wanted a permanent setup under their control.”

And once again, as they did with the Wailing Wall, so it is with the village of Silwan just like elsewhere. The Jerusalem municipality asked the villagers to evacuate their homes for demolition As the quiet village heats up to the changing of the name of its streets, and imposed tours without their consent, the support for the villagers wanes.

– MAY 15th, Al Nakhba/the Catastrophe when Palestine became Israel, was the day of focus for troublesome settlers, who demonstrated provocative behavior by stomping through Silwan from April 2010.

– May 27th clashes between the villagers

– May 27th settlers started shooting at children:

– May 29th 2010 saw the fight become physical between the villagers, the settlers and the police. However, in the Israeli press, it is the villagers who are being made to look more than unreasonable.

    “The settlers are shooting at these children, who are throwing stones. Settlers often try to play the role of the victim and the policeman at the same time,” Issam Dana told Silwan Information Center.

    Israeli forces/ settler guards were using rubber-coated steel bullets and sound grenades.

    Zuhair Rajabi was shot in her arm, and her 6 children were wounded by the attacking settler guards. This followed residents trying to repair the water pipes of the Al Rajabi home damaged by the settlers who occupied the “House of Honey” next door.

    June 02nd The clashes are becoming more violent as the settler guards increase the pressure. The armed guards of the Elad (City of David) Settlement Association (backed by their government), try to arrest the young men of Silwan.

    The Village that Time Forgot

    In February 2009, the group known as the Architect and Planners for Justice in Palestine, a U.K-based initiative, re-launched their petition against Israel’s settlements on the Palestinian land. One of the areas under Judaization is the village of Silwan, in East Jerusalem, where there is an intention to demolish 88 Palestinian homes.

    Silwan is an Arabic word which in English means tranquility, stability and comfort. Unfortunately, stability and comfort ended with the occupation of a land owned by other people. Silwan, with a population of 50,000 Arabs sits on the south-eastern slopes of the old city of Jerusalem. Seized by Israel in 1967, Silwan comes under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem governorate, the citizens of which pay taxes to Jerusalem, have Jerusalem ID’s, but are not allowed to vote, as they are not considered to be citizens of Jerusalem.

    Increasing Israeli activity around the village of Silwan, is tantamount to Blackops. Tourism to Silwan, is used as a means to spread the belief that Silwan is the original city of King David, where they believe his tomb lies. Attacks by settlers on the people of Silwan are frequent, as they attempt to move in on the Arab village. The tactic of archaeological digs is to lay claim to the area and put it under the auspices of the settlers’ organization “Elad” (acronym for City of David), which has a Judaization agenda. Evacuation, occupation, and depriving the natives of their land, is an Elad method which also employs illegal and secret ‘archaeological digs’ to support their claim. Acting on behalf of the State, in 2005 Elad had a revenue of NIS 41 million. With a private army, and sometimes acting on behalf of the state, Elad has carried out this role for over 20 years.

    A Silwan resident, Jawad explained using a brochure produced by the Jerusalem governorate:

      “You see this, Hashiloah Road?” All these years, it was called Ein Silwan Street.
      ‘Ma’alot Ir David’ Street? That was Wadi Helwa Street. The street next to it, ‘Malkitzedek,’ used to be Al-Mistar Street.”

    Now the Elad version of Silwan is presented through it’s education program for tourists to the village, having established settlers within the village, settler watchtowers, armed guards run the ‘national park’ in Silwan, a tourist center from which they ‘educate’ tourists with their version of Shiloh/Siloam/Silwan. While these tours are taking place, roads are blocked off, and the non-Jewish residents of Silwan have to approach their homes through their neighbors’ gardens. No longer free to live as they once did, one resident had to build a room on top of his small home due to the expansion of his family. The authorities found out, and he had to go to court. This caused the owner to pay a fine, which he could only pay by installments out of his social security money. Social security could not cover this and he fell behind payments, and for this the courts sentenced him to 85 years in prison.

      The Natives

    Built on the original city of Jerusalem (Yabous); the homes of Silwan rest on a cliff. The Natives were known as Jebusites. If religious texts that have gone through much editing, translation from a poor translation (Greek) from a dead language, and unfamiliarity with their original meanings can be taken as historical proofs, then Biblically, Silwan pre-dated King David:

    Now after the death of Joshua it, came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, ‘Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?'” (Judges 1:1).

    Now the children of Judah, had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it, ands smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire. And afterwards the children of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites, that dwelt in the mountain, and in the south, and in the valley” (Judges 1: 8-9).

    So clearly the children of Judah (one of 12 Israeli tribes), were not Canaanites, and were not from Jerusalem. Then further on in the Book of Judges it is stated:

    And the children of Benjamin [one of 12 Israeli tribes ] did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day” (Judges 1: 21).

    And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus; where the Jebusites were the inhabitants of the land” (I Chronicles 11: 4)

    So clearly the Jebusites were inhabitants of Jerusalem before war was waged upon them by the Israeli tribes. Entering by force, King David set up his fort in the city of the Jebusites, Jerusalem, and referred to it as the ‘City of David’ (Samuel II 5: 9). Not only that, from amongst the Jebusites King David had five sons, one of whom was to be Prophet Solomon. So the children of Israel, a people without land, went to live amongst a people with a homeland:

    And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hitvites, and Jebusites” (Judges II 3: 5).

    Christian theologian, David Wenkel states:

      “Historical mention of Jerusalem predates the city’s appearance in Jewish history. Ancient texts such as the Egyptian execration texts (2000-1900 B.C.E.) refer to the city as Rushalimum. The word Jerusalem becomes more recognizable in a series of letters from around 1400 B.C.E. attributed to scribes acting on behalf of King Abdi-Hepa of Urusalim”.

    So who are the Jebusites today? Clearly they are not Jewish, or Israeli, just as clearly Jerusalem existed before the children of Israel. The people of Silwan, like so many others Palestinian villages stand in the face of eradication by their occupiers. Silwan resident, Fatima Qara’in, who was expelled by Elad she knows no other home:

      “This house belonged to my father. My grandmother and I lived there where we grew up. I mean in the house that is up there, in Wadi Helweh –my house, the one which we were born in, and grew up in, my brothers sisters, and I in that house up there. I stayed here, my father left for Amman – he, my mother, brothers and sisters. I stayed with my grandmother who brought me up.

      “When my cousin came to betroth me, he asked my grandmother her for my hand because I was living with her. When we were about to get married, my father said, ‘I don’t want that. I want to sell the house’. My grandmother said, ‘There’s no one more entitled to buy the house than Fatimah. Let Fatima buy the house’. I bought the house from him With the help of grandmother. I had a lot of gold because my grandmother was always buying me gold. She used to collect Ottoman pounds for me. All these things my grandmother collected for me. My mother died and left me money and gold, and my uncle’s family helped me to buy the house from my father rather than leave the house to a stranger…”

    Sources:
    Silwan Banat. The Village of Silwan. Silwan Banat. http://www.silwanbanat.net/Default.aspx?tabid=284

    Adam Horowtiz. The Story of Israeli Colonization of Silwan Will Not Go Away. Phillip Weiss. http://www.philipweiss.org/mondoweiss/2009/04/story-of-silwan-will-not-go-away.html

    Al Wa’ad Association. The Village of Silwan. Al Wa’ad. http://www.al-waad.org/silwan_en.html

    Architect and Planners for Justice in Palestine. Petition Against the E1 (A1) Plan. APJP. http://apjp.org/the-e1-lifta-silwan-petition

    Bronner, Y. Archaelogists for Hire. Gaurdian.co.uk http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/may/01/archaeologistsforhire

    Palestine Solidarity Project. Victory for Joint Non-Violent Resistance in Silwan. PSP. http://palestinesolidarityproject.org/2008/03/18/victory-for-joint-non-violent-resistance-in-silwan/

    Al Mashriq. Fatima Qara’in. Al Mashriq. http://almashriq.hiof.no/palestine/300/301/voices/Jerusalem/sarah_odeh.html
    Rabbis for Human Rights. RHR-Israel Defends Citizens of Silwan. RHR. http://www.rhr-na.org/news/rhr-israel-defends-citizens-silwan

    Rapoport, M. Group Judaizing East Jerusalem Accused of With-holding Donation Sources Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/926322.html

    Silwan Information Center. Wadi Hilweh Information Center – Silwan

    Soueif, A. “The Dig Dividing Jerusalem”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/26/jerusalem-city-of-david-palestinians-archaeology

    Wenkel, D. Palestinians, Jebusites and Evangelicals Middle East Quarterly. http://www.meforum.org/1713/palestinians-jebusites-and-evangelicals

    Xinhua Three Palestinians Wounded in West Bank Clashes with Israeli Army
    http://world.globaltimes.cn/mid-east/2010-05/536739.html

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