Friday, March 25, 2005
Ghetto, Prison, Reservation... call it what you want
posted by: salam max at 1:29 PM
Often, people comment on articles that I write about the ghettoization of Bethlehem. The argument goes something like 1) the wall is for security 2) Israel is 'withdrawing' from the major cities, including Bethlehem, so what are you complaining about?

It's easy to dismiss both these arguments; below Khaled Amayreh, in Al-Ahram shows why it's false to believe in the Israeli 'withdrawals':
While much of the world community is harbouring a modicum of hope for reviving peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians, especially following Palestinian Authority (PA) success in getting resistance factions to agree to a unilateral cease-fire, the Israeli government and extremist Jewish circles have stepped up efforts to corrode all possible conditions for genuine peace in the region.

This week, Israel announced plans for the construction of as many as 3,500 settler units around East Jerusalem. The massive settlement expansion is aimed at creating a "territorial and demographic Jewish continuity" between the settlement of Maali Adomim, five kilometres east of Jerusalem, and other Jewish settlements on the northeastern outskirts of the occupied city.

In other words, the new settlement, dubbed by Israeli officials as reflective of "natural growth", would nearly completely strangle, even ghettoise, Arab East Jerusalem and eliminate remaining Arab demographic gaps between the city and the West Bank.

Earlier, Israeli officials said the gigantic "separation wall" Israel is building deep into the West Bank would flank Maali Adomim, thus cutting off the central and northern parts of the West Bank from the Bethlehem and Hebron regions.

The implication here is very clear. It means that any prospective Palestinian political state, whether to be called a state or go by any other name, will be composed of hapless and disconnected enclaves that look more like "great prisons" or "reservations" than elements of a viable and genuine political entity.
Full article can be read here.

When we discussed this website, we had a debate about the use of terms to describe Bethlehem; 'open-air prison', 'ghetto', 'reservation', or even 'bantustan' could all characterise the situation being created here. All of them are good descriptions of the reality in Occupied Palestine. But Palestine is also a unique place, resembling South African Apartheid, the US Indian reservations, and the Warsaw Ghetto, but not exactly. The Wall is not the same as the Chinese or the Berlin Walls. There are parallels and there are similarities, but no two situations are ever the same.

We agreed, in the end, to use the term Ghetto. If you don't believe it's really like this, no amount of well written newspaper articles will convince you; come and see for yourself.
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