Thursday, July 23, 2015

I see ISIS flags fly in Jerusalem (where Jerusalem light rail stops)

Inside the Pisgat Ze'ev shopping mall (from an earlier visit): Arabs eating in kosher Jewish restaurant
The Arab village Shuafat seen today from a friend's apartment in Pisgat Ze'ev. The security wall separating the areas can be clearly seen. The building in the middle was flying the ISIS flag.
Original post was October 2014, but has been updated 23 July 2015 following a BBC Panorama programme about the Jerusalem Light Rail. See update at end.

Pisgat Ze'ev is an area just 3 miles north of the centre of Jerusalem that in so many ways characterises the Israeli-Arab conflict and the widespread misunderstanding of it in the rest of the world. Pisgat Ze'ev was an area that played an important role in servicing the second Jewish Temple but was a deserted wasteland under the illegal Jordanian occupation between 1948 and 1967  (interestingly in 1930 much of the land had been bought by Jews).  However, Pisgat Ze'ev is now an important suburb of Jerusalem (and is almost a city in its own right), with over 50,000 residents (an increasing number of whom are Arabs). The new Jerusalem light railway starts from Pisgat Ze'ev. Despite all of this international anti-Semites 'experts' who have never been to Israel laughably classify Pisgat Ze'ev as "an Israeli settlement in occupied East Jerusalem".

Despite what the international anti-Semites 'experts' say, any eventual 'final borders' of Israel will include Pisgat Ze'ev as evidenced by the fact that the infamous security wall snakes around Pisgat Ze'ev separating it from the sprawling Muslim Arab village of Shuafat. Unlike "Jewish" Pisgat Ze'ev - where any additional housing plans draw the wrath of the international community - Shuafat continues to grow without the need for any planning permission; and unlike Pisgat Ze'ev  where Jews and Arabs have equal rights, no Jewish civilian can even safely step foot in Shuafat, despite it technically being under Israeli control.  Bizarrely, although Shuafat looks a lot like Pisgat Ze'ev in many respects (except the houses are actually larger and often more luxurious in Shuafat) it is officially classified as a 'Palestinian refugee camp' by the United Nations.

Even though many residents of Shuafat are employed in Jewish businesses in Jerusalem, during the 2000-2004 Intifada residents of Shuafat celebrated each suicide attack against Israeli civilians with wild celebrations and fireworks (something I can personally testify to seeing). The same happened this summer when residents celebrated Hamas rocket attacks against Israel even though some were targeted at Jerusalem. Occasionally residents of Shuafat enjoy shooting at residents of Pisgat Ze'ev. Despite all of this the Jerusalem municipality in its wisdom decided to route the Jerusalem light railway with a stop in Shuafat to show that it wanted to serve all residents of Jerusalem. Although many residents of Shuafat use the train, this act of faith has been 'rewarded' with constant attacks on the train at Shuafat resulting not just in frequent loss of service (and millions of shekels wasted on repairs) but in Jews being too afraid to travel in it. Also, during the summer gangs of young thugs from Shuafat came up to Pisgat Ze'ev armed with knives. Little of this anti-Semitic Arab violence and intimidation is reported in the Israeli media, let alone the international media.

After sunset security patrol comes to monitor what is happening in Shuafat from outside my friend's apartment
All of that provides the background to what I witnessed today. Sitting in a friend's apartment in Pisgat Ze'ev overlooking Shuafat we could see an ISIS flag flying on one of the buildings. Nobody was particularly surprised by this. Nor was anybody surprised when after sunset a border security jeep stopped outside the house with three IDF soldiers (two Jews and a Druse) who had come with night vision binoculars to monitor what was going on in Shuafat. After providing them with coffee and cake they told us they were aware of ISIS flags in the village (I understand they had already been in to have them taken down). I also learned that it was soldiers from this unit who had found - hiding in Shuafat - the commander of the Hamas brigade who had ordered the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers in June.

This was just an ordinary day in Pisgat Ze'ev.

In contrast, later the same evening in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square I was able to share in the joyous Simchat Torah celebrations (I hope to post more about that)
Simchat Torah celebrations in Tel Aviv this evening

Update: opposite the ISIS flag
Update: the current Intifada in Jerusalem

UPDATE 23 July 2015 Following the Panorama Programme on 20 July I posted the following self-explanatory complaint to the BBC:

This entire programme was a disgracefully biased and antisemitic piece of propaganda presented by an 'as a Jew' moron who failed to do the most basic research (see e.g. here). Not only was the programme promoting the idea that Jews living in the suburbs of Jerusalem had no right to travel into the centre of the city (a bit like arguing that HS2 would lead to Londoners colonising the North) but it also ignored the fact that the light rail actually services all the Arab villages along its route (which is actually only 6 miles total).

One of the stops is Shuafat, an Arab village which has provided more terrorists and suicide bombers than any other. The Jerusalem municipality, in its wisdom, decided to route the railway to stop in Shuafat to show that it wanted to serve all residents of Jerusalem. Although many residents of Shuafat use the train, this act of faith has been 'rewarded' with constant attacks on the train there resulting not just in frequent loss of service (and millions wasted on repairs) but in Jews being too afraid to travel in it. Many Jews who live in Pisgat Zeev (the next stop out) are no longer able to use the train because of the constant threat of violence against them and so have to travel to the city by other means. So, contrary to what the programme said it is actually Jews - and only Jews - who are stopped from using the train.
And here is the typically pathetic BBC response:
Thank you for contacting us about ‘The Train that Divided Jerusalem’, we have received a wide range of feedback about this programme. In order to use our TV licence fee resources efficiently, this response aims to answer the key concerns, but we apologise in advance if it doesn’t address your specific points in the manner you would prefer.

We raised your concerns with the programme makers, who responded as follows:

“Adam Wishart is an experienced filmmaker who was commissioned to make a programme about Jerusalem for Panorama, with the new light railway and its passengers at its heart.

The programme took care to explain Adam’s background; that he is a British Jew, his grandparents had campaigned for the state of Israel and that as a teenager he’d travelled to Jerusalem to take part in a Zionist education camp.

The film was largely observational in style with Adam spending time with two main contributors, Rivka Shimon and Baha Nabata. Throughout it he spent time with them at events, on the train and at their homes to try to get a deeper understanding of their opposing points of view and why they held the opinions and beliefs they did.

During the course of a thirty minute film it would have been impossible to cover every historical detail but the programme was careful to represent the views of both Israelis and Palestinians living in Jerusalem. Adam spoke to people from both communities and reported the impact of violence on both sides.

The programme took particular care when referring to holy sites; Temple Mount as the Holiest site in Judaism and the Al Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock as being one of the holiest sites in Islam.

Several translators worked on the programme to ensure that the Arabic and Hebrew sections were accurately and fairly translated and interpreted.

We believe the film was balanced and fair and provided its BBC One audience with an illuminating view of the ancient city of Jerusalem.”

We hope this goes some way in addressing your concerns, thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards
BBC Complaints

1 comment:

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Edgar, you are basically right. However, there are actually two Shu`afats. One is a neighborhood of northern Jerusalem due north of French Hill, northeast of Ramat Shafat, and southwest of Pisgat Ze'ev-West. The other Shu`afat is a refugee "camp" [with 10 storey apartment buildings] which is about two kilometers east of Shu`afat neighborhood and 1/2 kilometer south of Pisgat Ze'ev-East.

As to the tram line, it has three stops in Arab neighborhoods, Shu`afat & Beyt Hanina. See diagram of tram line at link: