Mamilla cemetery

In my (almost) daily watching of Mosaic TV, I saw some familiar street views yesterday morning–a street corner I was on just a couple of weeks ago. The controversy over the Mamilla Cemetery has flared again, as described in the JPost:

Despite what city officials have called “clear and indisputable evidence” of some 300 fraudulent tombstones that were discovered – and subsequently demolished – inside an ancient Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem in recent weeks, a handful of demonstrators arrived at the burial site on Wednesday morning to protest what they labeled the city’s “desecration” of the cemetery.

However, the news item I saw this morning did not indicate that there was any question over whether the demolished “graves” were real graves in the actual Mamilla Cemetery. The news item was from Al Jazeera Arabic (dubbed into English). It took it at face value that the Jerusalem authorities were destroying historic graves.

At the conclusion of the report, the narrator referred to the “occupation of the city in 1948.” The Mamilla Cemetery is not in East Jerusalem (which indeed has been occupied by Israel since 1967). It is located west of the “Green Line,” which defined the de-facto border of Israel after the First Israel-Arab War of 1948. That is, on the Israeli side of the lines that are supposed to be the basis of the final borders to be negotiated with the Palestinian Authority, if the currently talked-about talks somehow ever lead anywhere. So one can only conclude that Al Jazeera’s reference to “occupation” refers to all of Israel, or at least to all of Jerusalem.

Before I started watching Mosaic some years ago, I did not really understand the claims by some of the more outspoken Zionists of media bias against Israel. But one need not watch a lot of Mosaic to get it, by seeing what is reported to the Middle East itself.* And, as always, there is nothing like having set foot in the contested land and surveyed it with one’s own eyes (and endeavoring to keep the eyes and mind as open as possible) to crystallize one’s understanding.

I only wish I had realized just where I was standing–and wherever one is in Jerusalem, one is standing somewhere significant–when I looked across the disputed site. While I was aware of the controversy (google “Jerusalem Museum of Tolerance” for a somewhat ironic introductory lesson), I wish I had taken the time to tour the site itself. Next time…

* I still think claims of bias in the Western English-language media, such as BBC, are much exaggerated, but that is a topic for another day.

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