By Mike Abel and John Lindner
Last October, before President Trump’s announcement to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, we were in Jerusalem and the West Bank where we heard both Palestinian and Israeli’s use the same phrase: “We are in uncharted territory”. They were especially worried about proposals before the Knesset such as the “Greater Jerusalem Act” that would annex Palestinian territories to the south and to the east of Jerusalem. It would expand the Jerusalem municipality to include large settlements such as Ma’ale Adumim.
Annexation of territories to include settlement blocks that border Jerusalem is just one of the several ways that right wing political forces in Israel are attempting the “Judaization” of Jerusalem. “Judaization” is a term used to describe the Israeli political goal seeking to transform the physical and demographic landscape of Jerusalem to enhance its Jewish character at the expense of its Muslim and Christian ones.
Actions to marginalize and destroy the Palestinian character of the city include home demolitions; settlers taking over Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah, and in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City; and the denial of municipal services and building permits in Palestinian neighborhoods.
President Trump’s announcement has emboldened the extreme political forces in Israel escalating the movement toward the “Judaization” of Jerusalem. By contrast, actions by previous US Presidents have attempted to limit or deter actions that would undermine “final status” issues such as Jerusalem.
With the President now openly acting to “punish the Palestinians”, the future of Jerusalem as an inclusive city for two peoples and three faiths is at risk. Please join us for the Jerusalem Conference so to amplify voices in the US that remain committed to an inclusive Jerusalem. Register today.
Mike Abel is a Palestinian-American who has worked in healthcare for most of her professional life. She is currently on the board for Delaware Churches for Middle East Peace.She is the co-founder of Delawareans for Palestinian Human Rights and the recipient of the 2014 Peacemakers Among Us Award from Pacem In Terris. Through her advocacy work, she presents to a wide range of audiences on the current environment in Palestine and Israel. Most recently she has returned from Palestine and Israel where she co-lead an ecumenical leadership.
John Lindner is retired as Associate Dean for External Relations, Yale Divinity School. He spent over a quarter century providing leadership for international, ecumenical/ interfaith programs for the PCUSA, the National Council of Churches (NCCUSA) and the World Council of Churches (WCC). He served as writer for the task force that produced the NCCUSA’s Middle East Policy (1980). He first traveled to the Middle East in March 1974 and was an intern in Beirut with the Mid-dle East Council of Churches in 1975. Over the years, he has traveled many times to the Middle East; served on the Leadership Council of CMEP. Currently, he volunteers with Bright Stars of Bethlehem as co-coordinator of the annual Leadership Program; as a coordinator for this conference and helped to launch the blog: “Peace Doers… building a future in Palestine.”