Several days ago a friend brought to my attention a December 2 article from something called “The National,” with the headline “How Palestinians in Jerusalem are being targeted in a campaign of ethnic cleansing.” If you haven’t heard of it, The National bills itself as “the Middle East’s leading English-language news service,” and is produced in the UAE.
Now, “ethnic cleansing” is a rather charged term. I first heard that term used in the 1990s in the context of efforts by the Serbian army to remove Muslims and Croats from certain areas of Bosnia. Here is a description of what that “ethnic cleansing” consisted of from Wikipedia:
The ethnic cleansing campaign that took place throughout areas controlled by the Bosnian Serbs targeted Muslim Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats. The ethnic cleansing campaign included unlawful confinement, murder, rape, sexual assault, torture, beating, robbery, and inhumane treatment of civilians; the targeting of political leaders, intellectuals, and professionals; the unlawful deportation and transfer of civilians; the unlawful shelling of civilians; the unlawful appropriation and plunder of real and personal property; the destruction of homes and businesses; and the destruction of places of worship.
The worst single event in the Bosnian ethnic cleansing occurred in and around the town of Srebrenica in 1995. From the same Wikipedia article:
The events in Srebrenica in 1995 included the killing of more than 8,000 Bosniak("Bosnian Muslim") men and boys, as well as the mass expulsion of another 25,000–30,000 Bosniak civilians, in and around the town of Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina,
I have also seen the term “ethnic cleansing” used in connection with the events in Rwanda, also in the mid-1990s, that included the 1994 killing of an estimated 500,000 to 1 million members of the Tutsi tribe by members of the Hutu tribe. The term “genocide” is also frequently used to describe these events.Now, is it remotely accurate to describe current events in Israel using this highly charged term “ethnic cleansing”? The article from the National particularly focuses on developments in a neighborhood of East Jerusalem known to Palestinians as Silwan, located in a steep valley immediately south of the walled Old City of Jerusalem. In recent decades the area has been inhabited mainly by Palestinians. Jews often refer to the same area, or at least part of it, as the “City of David,” based on a belief that this was the location where King David first established the city and built his palace back around 1000 BC. Apparently there is substantial archeological evidence to support this belief, but I have not personally evaluated that. When I visited Israel in 2017, there was a large archeological dig going on in some of this area, which you could look into from the adjacent higher ground; and there are plans to turn the archeological site into a visitors’ center. Clearly, if there had previously been homes on this spot, they had been removed.
So how have Jews or Jewish organizations obtained control of this area to conduct their archeological dig? . . .Read More