Jerusalem’s sickness runs deeper than the occupation

Amjad Iraqi writes: This past week, my fellow writers on +972 have correctly highlighted that the recent escalations in Jerusalem – of Palestinians throwing stones, the Israeli authorities encouraging live fire against them, and the clashes on the Haram al-Sharif – are neither new nor unexpected. They are inevitable outcomes of Israel’s occupation and the resistance and discontent that naturally generates against it.

To this day, many observers are not comprehending the extent to which the occupation has mutated the city to produce what the writer Teju Cole accurately described as “cold violence…a suffocating viciousness” to erode Palestinian presence in the city. Jerusalem has become a sick city as a result of this cold violence, and is getting sicker with every passing year.

But the source of this sickness is deeper than the occupation alone. The real problem – of which even the occupation is a symptom – is the nationalist and religious fervors emanating from many among both Israelis and Palestinians, which foment the greed, competitiveness, obsession, insecurity, and desire for control (if not domination) of the city’s space and its narrative.

We see this from the rhetoric of political leaders, to the symbols and slogans displayed in the public sphere, to the physical and at times deadly violence waged on the ground. It exists in the massive Jewish settlements and infrastructures cutting across occupied lands and neighborhoods, and it exists in the photos of killed Palestinian militants cropped in front of the Sakhra and Aqsa. [Continue reading…]

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