Colonial Realities: From Sheikh Jarrah to Lydda – by Nimer Sultany, Mondoweiss

Escalating violence against Palestinians has spilled beyond Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip and extended to cities across Israel such as Bat Yam, Lydda/Lod, Acre/Akka, Tiberius and Jaffa.  Hundreds of Israeli extremists led by Kahanists and the Lahava organizations attacked Palestinian citizens of Israel on Wednesday, and in Lydda/Lod, Palestinian citizens responded to these provocations with violence. These events followed on from demonstrations in Jerusalem late last month when members of both organisations openly wished death on Arabs.

Sheikh Jarrah, the East Jerusalem neighbourhood where Palestinian residents face the threat of imminent expulsion, clearly illustrates and underlines the apartheid reality that prevails in the oPt. However, it is infrequently recognised that Palestinian citizens of Israel who live in Acre/Akka, Jaffa, Lydda/Lod and Ramleh, similarly experience apartheid in their day-to-day lives. In these cities, Palestinians live in neglected ghettos while their Jewish neighbours live in wealthy serviced neighbourhoods. Meanwhile in Lydda/Lod and Ramleh, these vivid economic and social divides are reinforced by a physical divide, in the form of walls that separate Jewish and Palestinian neighbourhoods.

In Lydda/Lod a Jewish-only settlement was built in 2004 and was subsequently occupied by religious Jewish settlers who relocated from the West Bank with, as Haaretz observed, the clear intention of preventing ‘Arab control’.  Here the far-right mayor, who the local media openly label as a Kahanist, has furthered the segregationist cause by freezing building permits for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

These efforts to suppress and diminish the presence of Palestinian citizens of Israel in their native cities attest to an apartheid policy and crimes that extend back across decades. Palestinians continue to resist these systematic discriminatory policies, which have developed over 73 years.

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