Wednesday, August 19, 2015

PCG: Brad MacDonald's Vilification of the Palestinians of Silwan in East Jerusalem (2009)

Since 2006 PCG has been associated with the archaeological excavations in east Jerusalem led by Dr. Eilat Mazar. PCG has boasted about this trying to gain fame for themselves to impress PCG members into thinking that God is with PCG and PCG alone.

PCG is based mainly in America. These excavations are far away. Could it be possible that PCG's leaders do not fully understand what they have gotten themselves into?

Alas, the Holy Land has long been afflicted by the long running Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many people have been killed in recent times.
  • From 2000 till 2005 the second intifada raged and led to the deaths of over 5000 Palestinians and over 1000 Israelis. 
  • In 2007 a brief civil war erupted between the two main Palestinian parties, Fatah and Hamas, which killed about 150 people. 
  • In December 2008 - January 2009 the State of Israel bombarded Gaza leading to the deaths of about 1400 people, almost all of them Palestinians. 
  • In 2014 the State of Israel again bombarded Gaza leading to the deaths of 2200 people including over 70 Israelis. 
No doubt practically everyone in the Holy Land have been personally affected by this tragic and bitter violence, whether Palestinian or Israeli.

But in that time the United States has been spared war in its own lands. Although the brave men and women serving in the armed forces have fought and died in wars outside of America's borders, in the United Sates itself there has been no war. PCG's leaders and members do not serve in the armed forces following HWA's order to not serve in the military. Because of this many of PCG's leaders have little personal experience with war and what it does to societies.

They won't know that one of the terrible things about war is the insidious way it taints all life within the conflict zone. In a war everything in the affected societies are tainted. The politics of the society is pushed to extremes. The ability to find middle ground between opposing positions becomes very difficult and practically impossible.

Considering the tragic mass loss of life in the Holy Land in recent times it should be little surprise to note that archaeological excavations are also caught up in the heated politics surrounding this tragic and bitter conflict. Should PCG really get involved in this?

With that thought in mind it seems very irresponsible for PCG to sponsor these excavations in East Jerusalem. How does this promote peace? What do the people who live there think about these archaeological excavations? How do the Palestinians who live in Jerusalem view these archaeological excavations?

These excavations are located near Silwan, a suburb of East Jerusalem. Silwan is mainly inhabited by Palestinians. These Palestinians are the majority population of that particular suburb.

And how do PCG view the Palestinians of Silwan who live there? Part of the answer may be seen in a 2009 article by Brad MacDonald in which he condemns protests by Palestinians in Silwan against plans to demolish over 80 Palestinians homes "an archaeology park."

Note the denigrating manner that MacDonald describes the Palestinians of Silwan.
Fakhri Abu Diab is one of 40,000 Palestinians crammed into Silwan, a dilapidated, over-populated village in East Jerusalem. Diab is irate. His home, together with more than 80 others, is slated to be demolished by the Jerusalem Municipality, which plans to develop the space into an archaeological park. (Brad MacDonald, Who Put These Poor Palestinians in Harm’s Way?, May 28, 2009.)
MacDonald then says there is nothing to worry about because this situation is the Palestinians of Silwan's fault for building dwellings illegally. It's their fault, MacDonald says to us.
Legally, the case against Diab and the others is straightforward. These homes were not only constructed illegally, making their demolition entirely legal and justified, but Mayor Nir Barkat of Jerusalem is even working to relocate or compensate the inhabitants of the homes. But few things are straightforward in Jerusalem. Palestinian frustration, amplified by shallow and biased reporting by the anti-Israel media, combined with mounting pressure on Israel from the international community, has made Silwan a tense flashpoint in Israel-Palestinian relations. 
Note the disdainful and contemptuous way MacDonald describes the Palestinians living in Silwan. As will be seen later MacDonald accuses the Palestinians themselves of creating these conditions to spite the State of Israel as part of a plot to take it out of Israeli control.
For years Silwan has existed as a run-down, over-built, over-crowded neighborhood with narrow, trash-filled alleys. Some parts have no running water or electricity. Silwan’s children have no playgrounds or sports fields, and have to play on the dirty streets. Their parents are poor and often unemployed. (Brad MacDonald, Who Put These Poor Palestinians in Harm’s Way?, May 28, 2009.)
It is strange how PCG sends members to Jerusalem to aid in these archaeological excavations and one of PCG's leaders should denigrate the Palestinians who live in Silwan, a suburb of Jerusalem. PCG says they love Jerusalem but MacDonald seems unable to express such love to people who live there.
The message that some would like Silwan to send is clear: that the Israeli government is responsible for these conditions, and now it wants to demolish 88 homes, displacing over a thousand Arabs. That innocent Palestinians are being persecuted and purged by angry and cruel Jews. That Israel is the uncompromising enemy of the Palestinians and the primary stumbling block to peace.

Deceived by the torrent of such misinformation, few recognize the central cause of the Silwan crisis: that it was created intentionally by Palestinian leaders to hurt Israel’s stature in the international community and ultimately to help establish Arab control of a region that is intrinsically JEWISH IN NATURE! (Brad MacDonald, Who Put These Poor Palestinians in Harm’s Way?, May 28, 2009.)
So people who happen to be poor and live in a less than ideal situation are viewed by MacDonald as a conspiracy to conquer Israeli territory. This is ridiculous. This is unbelievable.

Apparently we are expected to believe that all these Palestinians of Silwan deliberately keep themselves poor and hamper their own children's opportunities to advance themselves as some conspiracy to wrest territory from the State of Israel. What poppycock.

What a fable. Imagine that. Poor people keeping themselves poor to overthrow the government? That is not how these things work. One cannot overthrow a government by just staying at home.

So apparently these Palestinians leaders are trying "to hurt Israel’s stature in the international community" by simply staying in their homes? Who knew that hurting Israel's statue could be done so easily? To say such a thing actually insults Israel.

MacDonald then talks about Jewish archaeological discoveries in the area (as though that could possibly justify a present day decision to demolish 88 Palestinian homes).
A survey of Silwan reveals its inherent Jewishness. The famous Gihon Spring, situated in the Kidron Valley, is first referenced in Genesis 2, and was the primary water source for early Israelites settled in the City of David. In the 10th century B.C., David’s son Solomon was anointed king of Israel near the Gihon Spring. Then there’s Hezekiah’s tunnel, a 1,700-foot tunnel that tourists can walk through today, cut out of bedrock by the residents of the City of David to bring water inside the walls of Jerusalem in anticipation of an Assyrian siege (2 Chronicles 32). Even the name Silwan is derived from Siloam, the water pool discovered in 2004 in the southern part of the City of David, referred to by Christ in John 9 when He instructed a blind man to wash in the “pool of Siloam.”

It’s a historic reality that long before Silwan became home to 40,000 Arabs, it encompassed the City of David—the ancient site of the original city of Jerusalem, named after the legendary Jewish king responsible for transforming Jerusalem into the capital city of the ancient Israelites.

The City of David, situated in the heart of Silwan, is the essence of JEWISH CHARACTER! (Brad MacDonald, Who Put These Poor Palestinians in Harm’s Way?, May 28, 2009.)
Whatever happened back then in the time of David or Jesus does not justify the demolition of 88 Palestinian households. This is a false equivalence. Even if we assume this demolition of 88 Palestinian homes is worthy of support this is still a bad argument.

Using this sort of facile reasoning what is there to prevent some Native Americans claiming ownership over the grounds of PCG headquarters in Edmond in order to demolish PCG headquarters and build an archaeological park of their own?

It is unfortunate that MacDonald has chosen to add his voice to support the demolition of 88 Palestinian homes. How is it that MacDonald fails to see that anyone would be upset and would protest against a plan to demolish their home to build an archaeology park?

Their homes were scheduled to be demolished. The Palestinians who lived in those homes did not want their homes demolished. They protested. And it is astonishing that MacDonald fails to understand that they are people trying to protect their homes.

Instead these Palestinians are vilified as some sort of conspiracy by Arabs and Iran to somehow seize territory from the State of Israel in order to deny and minimize that these Palestinians of Silwan, many of whom are not well off financially speaking, are scared people trying to protect their homes.

How would MacDonald feel if some government official ordered his home to be demolished to created some archaeological park? I suspect he would not approve.

It is chilling to see how MacDonald has no sympathy for people worried they will soon lose their homes.

The Other Side of The Story

Often it's a good idea to listen to the other side of the story. Who is Fakhri Abu Diab mentioned in MacDonald's article? What does he have to say about these things?
"They may be building heaven, but I am living in hell," Fakhri Abu-Diab says in response to the Israeli government's proposed plan to erect a Jewish tourist site in King David's garden.

Abu-Diab, 48, a resident of the Al-Bustan neighborhood in the Silwan quarter of East Jerusalem, is in danger of having his house demolished to make room for the historical destination, which is believed to be the place where King David wrote many of the biblical psalms. But Abu-Diab is less concerned with events 2,000 years ago, than the drama currently unfolding in his neighborhood. In a makeshift tent, which serves as a community center, he presides over a local effort to stop the development, and the bulldozers that threaten his home, too.

 "The bulldozers come with a host of soldiers like they are conquering the land, and we can't stand in front of them and stop them," Abu-Diab says with a hint of anger in his voice. "All we can do is use the legal system, call on the international community to pressure Israel and wait for our day." (Source.)
MacDonald says these dwellings were constructed illegally so there is nothing unjust about this demolition.  What does Fakhri Abu Diab say about that?
"I went to the Municipalities to gain a permit, and for three years, they refused to let us build," he complains. "And now they're making us into 'outlaws' by alleging that we're illegally building on the property. I had no choice but to build without a permit."

There are nearly 10,000 Palestinian homes on the verge of collapse in the Silwan valley because the municipal authorities of Jerusalem refuse to issue the necessary permits to repair them, Abu-Diab explains.

"But Jewish settlers have built houses right next door to me," he adds. "And the authorities don't give them fines or problems." (Source.)
It is also worth noting that despite this stressful situation Fakhri Abu Diab believes in non-violence.
The first demolition order arrived at Abu-Diab's doorstep in 2005. Since then, he lives in fear, which his children sense.

"They ask me how I can speak to the Israelis when they only want to demolish our homes," Abu-Diab says with a pained look on his face. "These problems are pushing young Palestinians to radicalism and extremism."

Despite this, Abu-Diab promotes non-violent means of protest.

"I fear that if we respond with violence, I will not only lose my house, I will lose my people," he says while shaking his head. (Source.)
Is it really such a strange thing for a man, whether he is a Palestinian or any from any other people, to try and protect his home from being demolished?

Why is it MacDonald doesn't seem to see such a simple thing?

No comments:

Post a Comment