On June 5, right-wing extremists will march through Palestinian neighborhoods in and around Jerusalem’s Old City as part of the Jerusalem Day “Flag Parade.” Spitting, shoving, vandalism, and racist chants — including “death to Arabs” and “the mosque will burn” — have characterized the event in the last several years, and the parade frequently results in clashes.
This year the date of the event of particular concern because it may coincide with the opening day of Ramadan. The exact date of the start of Ramadan is set according to the sighting of the moon, which means the first night could be the same day as the parade if it falls on the night of Sunday June 5th. Every year, tens of thousands of worshipers visit the Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif for the opening prayer. Because of this, there is an all too real possibility of serious and violent clashes.
In an effort to prevent violence and further deterioration of already fragile relations, NIF grantees Ir Amim and Tag Meir are campaigning for the Parade to be rerouted. The two organizations wrote a joint letter to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Commander of the Jerusalem District Police, Maj.-Gen. Yoram Halevy, and Mayor Nir Barkat in an effort to change the route.
An Ir Amim representative said: “The closure imposed on the Palestinian residents of the Muslim Quarter during the parade is a violent and aggressive act, which has the dangerous potential for a renewed flare-up in Jerusalem. The proximity of the parade this year to Ramadan makes the harm [caused to residents] even more severe, as the Muslim residents of the Quarter will be barred from preparing freely for their most important holiday.”
According to a poll carried out by Smith Consulting on behalf of Ir Amim, 47% of Jewish residents of the city said the parade should not pass through the Muslim Quarter, while 43% said that it should. When informed that Jerusalem Day would coincide with the first night of Ramadan and the holiday’s opening prayer, the number of people opposed to the parade passing through the Muslim Quarter increased to 61%, while the number of supporters dropped to 33% (6% did not hold a view).
At press time, Ir Amim was notified that although the Parade timing will be changed to earlier in the day, the route through the Muslim Quarter will be unchanged.
Photo Credit: Flickr user Emmanuel DYAN