“Jerusalem Day” is celebration for Israel and tragedy for everyone else

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“Jerusalem Day” is celebration for Israel and tragedy for everyone else

By Ray Hanania — Israelis celebrate Jerusalem Day today, declaring that when East Jerusalem was captured during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, it suddenly became an open city. Of course, that is more Israeli fiction. They’re so good at it.

In the course of capturing Jerusalem and making it open for Jews and Israelis, the Israeli military closed Jerusalem to more than 95 percent of the Arab World.

East Jerusalem was “closed” by Jordan between 1948 and 1967 to pro-Israel activists and any Jewish visitor who carried a stamp in their passport from Israel, but it was open for everyone else.

Of course, the Israelis, wanting to make their point, insisted that the city was closed to “Jews” because of anti-Semitism, anti-Jewish hatred, anti-Israeli hatred and anti-Israel politics.

Well, there was a conflict taking place. And Jordan had every right to prevent Jews from Israel and pro-Israel activists from entering East Jerusalem. They were merely replicating the very policy that Israel implemented in 1948 to ban non-Jews from entering West Jerusalem.

Oh yes, people forget. Israel also captured West Jerusalem in 1947, a year before the state was established. Jerusalem was supposed to be an International City, but Israel refused to accept the partition plan the way it was laid out. Their propaganda was good, though, and they argued they supported the partition, all the while fighting to take as much of the land as possible.

In addition tot aking West Jerusalem in 1948, Israel also took 10 major cities that were supposedly to be located in the phony United Nation’s Partition Plan, a plan that served only to be the front for Israel’s army’s goal of capturing as much of Palestine as possible.

But Israelis are master propagandists and they never spoke about how West Jerusalem was cleansed of Palestinian homeowners. In fact, go through West Jerusalem today and Israelis who live there openly speak about how they live in an “old Arab home.”

Oh yea, more fiction. The Arabs simply left West Jerusalem believing they would be marching back in with the victorious Arab armies, which by the way, never tried to enter the conflict until Israel was declared a state unilaterally on May 14, 1948, a year later.

So West Jerusalem has been a closed city ever since by Israel to 95 percent of visitors from the Arab World, and to Christians and Muslims or Arab and especially Palestinian heritage.

Israel allows some Palestinians to enter West Jerusalem, as long as they have either an accepted foreign passport from outside of the Arab World and second are not pro-Arab activists. Anyone who had a passport with a stamp from Egypt, Jordan and Syria were also specifically banned from entering not only West Jerusalem but Israel.

Imagine. That’s exactly what Jordan did. Jordan implemented the exact same policy and prevented anyone with an Israeli passport or a stamp on their passport from Israel or who was identified as being a pro-Israel activist from entering East Jerusalem.

And then in June 1967, Israel captured East Jerusalem and the name was changed to “east Jerusalem” with a lower case “E” so as not to designate that part of the city to be anything different from the “west Jerusalem” which was captured by military force in 1947, 21 years before.

Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, are routinely banned from entering Jerusalem under Israeli control. They ban travelers who have certain stamps from certain countries in their passports. They ban activists identified as pro-Palestinian or pro-Arab. They ban almost every Arab from entering Jerusalem.

When I performed comedy with the Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour in 2007, Palestinian journalists were not permitted by the Israeli government to enter Jerusalem to see my show. In fact, I was allowed to enter because I had an American passport and because I was not considered an anti-Israel Palestinian activist. I was still humiliated a few times at the border. But Israelis, you know how funny they are? They just shrug their shoulders and blame it on “those tough border guards who have to be tough to protect us from those Arab terrorists.”

So while Israel celebrates Jerusalem Day this week, don’t for one minute believe that Jerusalem is an open city just because Israelis who have placed blinders on their faces so they don’t see the ugly truth insist it is so.

One of the key components of a lasting peace is that both sides recognize what they have and are doing to the other. And until Israelis learn to share the blame, there won’t be much peace at all. Just more conflict.

Jerusalem is a closed city. Christians and Muslims who are Arab and especially Palestinian are banned from entering Jerusalem. The only ones you will see there are those who lived there and haven’t been evicted yet by Israel’s extremist government.

But then, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu is working on that little loop hole, isn’t he?

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and writer. He can be reached at www.YallaPeace.com.)

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com