kuttab54_Paula BronsteinGetty Images_separation wall Paula BronsteinGetty Images

Something Is Rotten in Jerusalem

The Israeli government's discriminatory policies are stoking tensions in Jerusalem and fueling violent clashes across the Israeli-occupied territories. While the international community's attention is directed elsewhere, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has entered a dangerous phase.

AMMAN – Anyone interested in understanding the root of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict need only visit East Jerusalem. There you can see all the major flashpoints. After four years of meticulous, exhaustive study, Amnesty International recently published a report showing that in all areas under Israeli control, two very different systems exist: one that honors rights, equality, and freedom for Israeli Jews; and one that denies rights, equality, and freedom for Palestinian Arabs.

This racial discrimination is clear to see in Sheikh Jarrah. After the 1948 war, Palestinian refugees in this East Jerusalem neighborhood lived in squalid tents until the United Nations, cooperating with the Jordanian government, agreed to build homes for them. But since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in June 1967, it has honored undocumented claims by Jews who say that a particular plot of land belonged to their nineteenth-century ancestors, while denying Palestinians’ claims to homes and lands that their parents and grandparents were forced to flee during the heat of the war.

Making matters worse, Jewish settlers who have appointed themselves caretakers have increasingly succeeded in forcing Palestinian families from their homes, so that they can be turned over to Jewish families. These evictions, carried out with the help of the Israeli army, are clear violations of international law. When the Geneva Convention IV (on civilians) was drafted after World War II, its express purpose was to forbid precisely this kind of ethnic cleansing.