Lia Tarachansky: Every Friday, for a year, protesters have been demonstrating in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. They are demanding the end of settler takeovers of Palestinian homes. In recent years, settlers won court cases that led to the evictions of Palestinian families from this neighborhood. Settlers see the land as theirs based on documents showing the Jews owned the land during the Ottoman Empire more than a hundred years ago. Most of the residents of the neighborhood are Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war. They cannot claim the land they lost in 1948 because the Israeli law prevents non-Jewish refugees from returning. . . . Several months ago, the municipal police started preventing the protests, which are organized by a broad coalition of Israelis and Palestinians from entering the neighborhood. While the protesters are prevented from protesting outside the evicted homes, settlers often do. . . .
Saleh Abu Diab, Resident and Activist, Sheikh Jarrah: Recently, every Friday, roughly 50-60 settlers have been coming. They stand here and start dancing, and the police protects them. They start chanting, “Death to Arabs!” and “This is our country. We will expel you.” If any one of us speaks up, the police arrests him right away. I organized for people to come and just sit and witness what is happening here, and the police gave me a 1,000 shekel ($360 USD) fine . . . for disturbing the neighbors [settlers].
Lia Tarachansky: The settlers, however, don’t see the difference between the takeover of Palestinian homes beyond the Green Line, such as in East Jerusalem, and inside it, such as in Israel proper. Baruch Marzel, a right-wing politician and settler from Hebron, held a counter-protest several weeks ago. He told The Real News that the Jewish demonstrators are hypocritical because many live on land confiscated from Palestinians in 1948 rather than ’67.
Baruch Marzel, Leader, Jewish National Front Party: [The Jewish activists] live in Kibbutzim on lands from which Palestinians were expelled in 1948. I’m not saying we should return the lands, but at least be quiet, because, if we don’t have the right to live in the middle of Jerusalem, in central Jerusalem, on Jewish land, we don’t have a right to anything in Israel. . . .
Lia Tarachansky: Many of the Palestinian activists in the neighborhood have been repeatedly arrested and given bail conditions that prohibit them from attending protests.
Lia Tarachansky is a video journalist based in Canada and Israel/Palestine. This video was released by The Real News on 2 April 2010. The text above is an edited partial transcript of the video.