By Joharah Baker
The other day on my way home, I passed the three huge hotels just across the seam line between east and west Jerusalem, impinging menacingly on the Palestinian side of the city. The hotels – the Leonardo, Grand Court, and the Olive Tree – were reportedly built with funding from Jewish millionaires dedicated to settling in all of Jerusalem. The infamous Irving Moskowitz is said to be one, but even if he did not put his money into them, he would have rooted for their construction all the same.
Moskowitz is mostly known for his plans to build Jewish settlements in Palestinian Jerusalem – in Ras Al Amoud, Silwan and in Sheikh Jarrah, on a plot of land that belonged to Jerusalem’s late Mufti, Haj Amin Al Husseini. But settlement construction is not the actual focal point of this article. It is rather about the hell-bent dedication behind it.
Yesterday was the 45th anniversary of the June, 1967 war when the remainder of Palestine fell to enemy hands. Palestinians and Arabs call it “Al Naksa” or “The Setback” but this is a gross understatement. Perhaps at the time, the Arabs thought it was just a tiny blip in their overall battle to regain Palestine, but 45 years later, I am sure they have realized it is much more than that.
But back to the hotels and the determination that has made them possible; or more importantly the lack of this determination on the part of the Arabs and Palestinians. What kind of passion would urge an American Jew living in Miami Florida to work endlessly to plant Jewish settlements in the heart of what is clearly Palestinian territory? What drive pushes these people to believe in a cause so much they would sacrifice money, time, effort and legal obstacles to reach their goal of Jewish control over Jerusalem? It is a drive that has allowed the occupation which began in 1967 to continue, thrive and flourish. If it were not for this near-manic obsession with Israel as a Jewish state, (regardless of how faulty this premise is to the rest of the world) , the 1967 defeat may not have turned into the lifelong nightmare it is now.
Contrastingly, we Palestinians have a divided leadership, indifferent Arabs who pay lip service to the cause and a people who try to resist but who have been so worn down by life under this brutal occupation that they fight just to break even.
This is not to say that the fight is over. Looking out of my window in Jerusalem’s Old City I can see Israeli flags hanging from an old Arab window just meters away, scraping at my soul. I know how dedicated Israel is to take our land and keep it. Forty-five years ago Israel managed to capture the remainder of Palestine. Thanks to those so dedicated to its cause, Israel has ensured that Palestine will remain in its grips for many years to come. Nonetheless, Palestinians have endless reservoirs of endurance, resolve and love for their country. They just need the right powers to open the floodgates.
Joharah Baker is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at [email protected]