The unity of Jerusalemites must be respected, not tokenised

The unity of Jerusalemites must be respected, not tokenised
Blog: Palestinians continue to resist Israeli occupation, but their struggle must not be hijacked by supporters to perpetuate their own ideological discourse, says Diana Alghoul.
3 min read
21 Jul, 2017
Palestinians rose up in a 'day of rage' against Israeli actions at al-Aqsa [Anadolu]
A tensions again flare in Jerusalem, all eyes are on Palestinians participating in the "day of rage" called to protest against Israel's heightened security measures at the al-Aqsa Mosque.

Messages of solidarity and support from across the world are being sent to Palestinians as they face the Israeli occupation head-on.

Many are condemning Israel for its collective punishment after gunmen killed two Israeli police officers around the al-Aqsa compound. The mosque was closed soon after, and only reopened after heightened security measures were installed; a move which Palestinians rejected.

Palestinian men under the age of 50 are banned from entering the mosque complex. They reacted by packing Salahaldin Street in their thousands to perform Friday prayers, despite police violence. According to the Palestinian health ministry, three Palestinians were killed in the clashes with more than a hundred injured. The death toll may yet climb during the night.

Videos and photos are circulating worldwide from the holy city of Jerusalem, sacred to all three Abrahamic religions. Muslims in particular are watching the updates, anxious about the future of Islam's third-holiest site. The staunch Pan-Arabist will also be watching in anticipation, as Jerusalem's liberation represents the pinnacle of the Arab dream.

For Palestinians, however, Jerusalem is more than a religious or cultural right, it is home.

What is happening in Jerusalem right now is not only for the defence of Islam, or the Arab identity, it is a symbol of resistance against an occupation that has for long been threatening the lives of Palestinians.

Among the Muslim worshippers, a Christian man was spotted praying, as a gesture of unity and solidarity.

Despite many reacting in awe at this, this is nothing new for Palestinians. Unity between Muslims and Christians is a staple of Palestinian culture. It's a pillar of Palestinian identity which is enacted as a form of cultural preservation and resistance against the Israeli occupation.

The move is political, but it is not a political move to be hijacked by supporters to perpetuate their own ideological discourse. It is a political move by a Palestinian for Palestinians as a show of unity against occupation and a reminder of cultural values embedded in Palestine's social core.

Jerusalem is not exclusively a Pan-Arab cause, and the protests in Malaysia and Indonesia - while the Arab world is largely silent - with some governments even having secret links with Israel is proof of this.

Jerusalem is neither an exclusively Islamic cause, with the countless times Christian and Muslim Palestinians have united for the sake of both religions being proof.

Jerusalem is home to sentiments, which is something we Jerusalemites undoubtedly embrace. However, when facing a tide of uncertainty as Jerusalemites risk their life for basic rights and liberation, romanticising the cause to fit an observer's self-centred ontology in a way that erases Jerusalem's plurality and Palestinian cultural unity is selfish and unhelpful.

Follow Diana Alghoul on Twitter: @superknafeh