Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

Daphna Golan: Everyone can drum

23 December 2009

By Daphna Golan, Haaretz – 23 Dec 2009

During the first and last days of Hanukkah, the Jerusalem police arrested drummers and clowns who believe in nonviolence, coexistence and equality between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem.

As we sang, I thought that perhaps the education minister would tell the children the story of Musrara, the neighborhood in which his office is situated, and where until 1948, Arabs lived in the beautiful homes that Jews now inhabit. We were on our way to Sheikh Jarrah, to the homes where Palestinian families were evicted onto the street.

At noon on the last day of Hanukkah we marched, about 20 people, down Hanevi’im Street. The atmosphere was so relaxed that near the old stone building that houses the Ministry of Education, I thought about the civics classes the education minister had promised would be taught in schools. Perhaps he would begin the lessons with the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, a quarter million strong, who are not Israeli citizens, who live in an occupied territory annexed by the State of Israel contrary to international law.

They have Israeli identity cards, but they are considered only permanent residents. And even that is a temporary status: Those who travel abroad to study or are stuck on the other side of the wall (like tens of thousands of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem) lose their right to live in the city.

The court authorized Jewish families to come live in those homes instead, since before 1948, the homes belonged to a Jewish organization. How will the education minister explain that Arabs are forbidden to claim the homes they abandoned in 1948 – in Musrara, Talbieh, Katamon and all the beautiful neighborhoods where only Jews live today – but Jews are allowed to claim their former homes?

We sang to a samba beat; the drums set the beat and made us merry. And then, dozens of police arrived in huge vehicles, along with others riding horses, and forcibly dragged away my son and his drummer friends. The police did not explain; they refused to identify themselves; they gave us no reason for the arrest. Two hours later, at Sheikh Jarrah, police attacked the clowns and the drummers and arrested 20 of the Israelis who sat down and said “no more” to racism in Jerusalem.

Altogether, 50 were arrested over the course of a day and a half. In custody, they sang Hanukkah songs and peace songs, and after being released, they continued to drum and sing in the square outside the court. Their drums are still being held.

The Israel Police arrests drums and drummers in order to keep order. And order in Jerusalem means that Jews are by law more equal than Arabs. The Jerusalem Municipality awards the third of its citizens who are Palestinian less than 14 percent of its budget, and its declared policy is segregation and discrimination: the construction of Jewish neighborhoods on land expropriated from Palestinians, the razing of Palestinian homes that were built without a permit, the building of Jewish but not Palestinian schools, the creation of Jewish settlements, protected by security guards and police, in the middle of Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

The policy of “preserving a demographic majority” means as few Palestinians in Jerusalem as possible, and as many Jews as possible.

This is the crux of Israel’s entire policy. And the police arrest drummers so that the voices challenging this racist order are silenced.

Everyone has a pot that can be used as a drum. Sometimes, it is deep in the cupboard. Sometimes, it seems impossible to reach it.

But everyone can drum – drum in order to wake us all up and suggest that we can do things differently. Drum for Jews and Arabs to have a shared life in Jerusalem.

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