One of my proudest pieces yet… My first ever #photo? essay in today's @TheStar_news: #Israel in celebration and awe. #Jerusalem #Ashkelon pic.twitter.com/sLWQEb8eEy
— Ilanit Chernick (@LanC_02) November 22, 2016
Journalist Ilanit Chernick's feature piece celebrating Sukkot in Israel is not innocuous, and is redolent of White South Africa's attempt to display scenic Cape Town, the glitter of Sun City or the enchanting Kruger Park game reserve to hide Apartheid's ugly face and its crimes against humanity.
Photos of the ancient seaport city of occupied Majdal, now called Ashkelon, was one of the 540 Palestinian villages and towns ethnically cleansed by Zionist brutality in 1948. In 1918, it became part of the British Occupied Enemy Territory Administration and in 1920 became part of Mandatory Palestine.
Majdal had 10,000 Palestinian inhabitants and in October 1948, the city accommodated thousands more refugees from nearby villages. They are now part of the 7 million Palestinian refugees and displaced people in the Palestinian diaspora who have been denied their basic human rights.
The picture of the Al-Buraq Plaza, or what some Jews call the Western Wall, is an integral part of the western boundary wall of the Al-Aqsa Sanctuary. After a two-year study, a League of Nations Commission reported in 1931 that Muslims would have the sole ownership of, and the sole propriety right to, the Western Wall as it forms an integral part of the Al-Aqsa Sanctuary. The commission also specified the pavement in front of the Wall and of the adjacent Maghribi Quarter opposite the Wall to be under Muslim control.
This was recently confirmed by UNESCO's Executive Board in Paris who adopted a resolution that called Israel "the occupying power" and demanded that Israel not restrict Muslim access to the Temple Mount, condemning Israel for "illegal measures against the freedom of worship" at the "Muslim holy site of worship." It also accused Israel of installing fake Jewish graves in other spaces of the Muslim cemeteries located in the Al-Aqsa area.
UNESCO vote: No link between Al-Aqsa and Judaism
The fate of Al-Quds, Jerusalem, and its holy sites cannot be understood separately from the fate of Palestine. The daily struggle of Palestinian Muslims and Christians in that city is a representation of the struggle of Palestinians everywhere. In 1980, Israel passed a law that explicitly annexed the illegally occupied city to become part of the State of Israel. Since then, Jerusalem has been a major point of strife, political conflict and controversy.
The Zionists have concentrated much of their efforts on the "Judaisation" of Jerusalem. They confiscated 86 per cent of the city and filled it with Jewish immigrants. In the area of East Jerusalem, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque is located, about 200,000 Jews were settled there after they had encircled it with a wall of settlements, isolating it from its Arab and Islamic surroundings.
Jerusalemite Palestinians feel the burden of Israeli discrimination on a daily basis. While they represent 37 per cent of the total population in the city, the poverty rate among them has reached 75 per cent, a third of their youth drops out before finishing high school and 39 per cent of their houses are built without permits. Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are not Israeli citizens, but rather possess permanent residency status that can be revoked at any time.
The ban on the Islamic call to prayer, the Athan, in a bid to silence the mosques, is but the latest in a succession of steps taken by all Israeli governments from the moment Israel occupied and annexed East Jerusalem, to Judaise the city in every respect.
Responding to the ban: Jerusalemites recite call to prayer from their rooftops
Palestinian MK Haneen Zoabi stated: "The issue is not about noise in their ears but about the noise in their minds. What disturbs them so much is the noise of the Palestinians' presence in their own homeland."
The Athan has been sounding over the city five times a day for the past millennium and a half, and this is an attempt to change the multi-confessional complexion of the holy city characterised by the mingling sounds of the Athan and church bells ringing.
Chernick's images are divorced from reality, with perhaps the exception of the poignant photo of the black Ethiopian beggar on the restaurant sidewalk. The pathetic plight of the Falashas languishing in slums on the outskirts of the cities; the grotesque wall that separates the Palestinians from their livelihood; the cages that choke non-Jews desperate for work or treatment at checkpoints; and the plight of the Africans confined in hovels awaiting expulsion are pictures waiting to be taken for Chernick's next assignment that will depict Israel's true reality.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.