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Opening U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem pours oil on flames in midst of turmoil

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On May 17th, the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester published a disturbing piece about Israel’s independence day and the violence in Gaza, in the Democrat and Chronicle. I am not going to link to it. I responded by debunking some of the inaccuracies, point by point. They did not publish. Will add below. However, they did publish an essay/response by Melanie Duguid-May, from Christians Witnessing for Palestine. Here it is.

My Response:

Activists in the Rochester community were stunned to read “A historic moment marred by violence,” a piece written by Rina Chessin and Meredith Dragon of Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester and published on May 17, 2018.

Without going into a detailed debunking of historical inaccuracies, here are some corrections that merit to see the light of day:

– May 15, 1948, 70 years ago, also marks the beginning of the Palestinian Nakba or Catastrophe whereby Palestinian villages were systematically ethnically cleansed and 700,000 Palestinian people were ejected from what became Israel. Many of those refugees are still ghettoized in the Gaza Strip.

– East Jerusalem is occupied territory and not part of Israel’s capital. According to B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, in 1967 “Israel unlawfully annexed East Jerusalem to its territory. Since then, and despite its incursion upon their home, it has treated the Palestinian residents of the city as unwanted immigrants and worked systematically to drive them out of the area.”

– Palestinian protests have nothing to do with Hamas or the embassy move. They started weeks earlier to demand an end to the Gaza blockade (described as the largest open-air prison in the world) and to reinstitute the right of people living in Gaza to free movement (guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and a return to their homes, hence the “Great Return March.”

– It’s the Israeli army that has been accused of using Palestinian civilians as human shields, most notably by the Goldstone Report, during incursions into Gaza. Israel has violently attacked a blockaded Gaza, which the Palestinian population cannot leave, 14 times since it “withdrew” in 2005. Hamas was created in 1988. Why has Israel been occupying Gaza since 1967?

– No border was being breached. It’s a fence with a massive buffer zone erected by Israel that concentrates Palestinians into a small, densely populated camp. Israel has never declared its borders, as the process of ethnic cleansing and grabbing more land is ongoing.

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