When the Wall is emptied from its real meaning: Mjadara leaves more than a bitter taste for Palestinians Ghettoized under Apartheid
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When the Wall is emptied from its real meaning: Mjadara leaves more than a bitter taste for Palestinians Ghettoized under Apartheid

On the 16th of February 2005, a supplement in a Jerusalem NewsPaper featuring the Apartheid Wall, was published under the joint co-operation between the Palestinian Red Crescent, Medicins du Monde and the Israeli Physicians for Human Rights. The supplement, in Arabic and Hebrew, asked readers to cut out a series of pictures, and to create their own montages of the Palestinian “reality”. It contained statistics on the health impacts of the Wall on the Palestinian population through artistic posters. To emphasize the natural “co-existance” of those affected by the Wall, the supplement traced the meaning of the word ‘Wall’. The roots of the word in Arabic was given as ‘Geder’ – the same as in Hebrew. According to the article the word in both languages could then be sourced to the popular food dish ‘Mjadara’. The Apartheid Wall was turned into nothing more than an absurd game of language history to emphasize the co-existence of both languages and cultures under the Wall.

Underlying to this was that the Palestinians should somehow conceal their anger and resistance against the racist Wall. As if one could become optimistic regarding the tragedy of the Wall, through perceiving its lighter side, the supplement served to undermine the very real and devastating impact it has upon Palestinian land and life.

The light and hope that flickered in the article was like that of a candle on the graves of the Palestinian people. As the ancient proverb notes – the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

What became increasingly alarming in the supplement was its neglect of any political analysis of the Apartheid Wall, and the messages buried beneath its conciliatory text.

The first thing that wasn’t mentioned and the most fundamental position to be taken in
regard to the Apartheid Wall, was its illegality as declared by the ICJ’s decision for the dismantling of the Wall, and afterwards, adequate compensation. Even if the supplement was about health issues, which are extremely significant, then this should have been seen as arising from the context of the illegality of the Wall. The ICJ decision, since it was announced, has become part of international law that supports our struggle against the Apartheid Wall project and for freedom. We cannot just transcend this position as if the decision didn’t exist. The Palestinian struggle against the Wall, before and after The Hague, is a struggle against the whole colonial, Zionist settlement project in Palestine. If there are health implications from the Apartheid Wall then they come from this overall project. Such a truth cannot be swept under the carpet as if it didn’t exist. It forms the starting point for any analysis, discussion and criticism against the wall – beginning from the grassroots.

It is hard therefore to understand the various justifications given in the supplement, which act to normalize and legitimize the Apartheid Wall, and that they are somehow “apolitical”. Any objective analysis must be grounded in an understanding that the Wall is illegal.
It is an intrinsically political, but also moral and ethical basis, from which to start.

Dealing with the wall as illegal, and insisting on its dismantlement as according to the ICJ decision, should be the basis for any “joint” activities. Otherwise it is pertinent to ask – what are the goals of such “joint” activities.

The supplement paints the Apartheid Wall as a “humanitarian” problem that can be solved through the generosity of the Occupation’s High Court that called for consideration of the Wall’s effects upon the Palestinian people, while building it. Then emerges the possibility for bringing funds in for additional health services – do the problems created by the Apartheid Wall disappear with the opening of a clinic in Azzun Atmeh village? Ignoring the political nature of the Wall serves only to reinforce the Occupation goals to reduce the Palestinian cause to merely a humanitarian issue to be dealt with through funds and compensation. To the contrary, we have to deal with the problems created by the Apartheid Wall on the basis of its illegality and the call for its dismantlement. Anything else is empty rhetoric, ignorant of the political context of the existence of the Wall itself.

The maps printed in the supplement fail to include settlements (except for Beit Eil) as if the Wall has nothing to do with the annexation of over 200 settlements into Israel. The Wall is the bulldozer and catalyst for the Zionist colonial project in Palestine. To talk about the Apartheid Wall without talking about the settlements and the Jewish only bypass-road and security systems that support it – confiscating 47% of the West Bank – conceals the fact that at the heart of the Palestinian struggle is resistance to the colonial settlement expansion. Even before the Wall’s construction there was still the finger of the Ariel bloc and Judaization of Jerusalem through Gush Atzion and Ma’ele Adumim…

The supplement further deals with the lands isolated between the Wall and the Green Line, as if both Palestinians and colonial settlers were equal. This is dangerous in two ways. It suggests both groups are “affected” by the Wall. It gives the illusion that the Wall and the land confiscation and bypass road networks, and army camps, monitoring spots and checkpoints, and the whole of this apartheid system that is being expanded by Israel on the West Bank, was not there to benefit and serve the settlers.

The settlers in the West Bank are featured in the supplement as “Israelis”, giving the impression that they were just another kind of “resident”, concealing the colonial nature of the Zionist project that threatens the existence of Palestinian life.

Finally, the supplement failed to consider Jerusalem as an occupied city. When it talked about the number of settlers, it totally ignored the settlers of Jerusalem, just as it ignored the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, giving up Jerusalem to be the Israeli capital. Are these also good intentions? Or does the supplement seek to fulfill the agenda of normalizing and institutionalizing this Apartheid Wall into the Palestinian consciousness?