Headline after headline shot across social media and the news earlier this week about Ramat Trump – Trump Heights. This apparently new town was announced and celebrated by Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. Only, there is no new town.
Firstly, the Golan Heights is not internationally recognised as a part of Israel – it was annexed from Syria many years ago – so technically, even if there was a town there, is it Israeli? Can leave that for others to discuss. But that is entirely besides the point as Ramat Trump is not, at this stage, real.
According to Haaretz, an Israeli media organisation, the current government does not legally have the power to make such a decision. Israel has an election coming up later this year after Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition in the April election, and as such (because the Knesset has been dissolved) they are kind of in ‘caretaker mode’.
If Netanyahu’s party is re-elected (whenever these elections are to be held) then they will have to figure out whether to move ahead with the plans to make the Trump Heights community a real thing. It could be argued, however, that nothing needs to be done. Trump has already tweeted about it, the news made headlines and sparked celebration and outrage, US-Israeli relations remain friendly. Following through and actually building it would just seem like a hassle.
But while building in annexed territory might be a hassle, demolitions in an Occupied Territory most certainly aren’t. Keeping true to the Jewish majority plan, a very real community of about 550 Palestinians received news this week that their homes are set for demolition. B’Tselem has said that all the families face the “threat of expulsion”
The UN has called for Israel to stop with the demolitions in East Jerusalem (not that the UN has been particularly useful in holding Israel accountable for their war crimes), but it has not deterred them from pushing forward on their plans. Israeli planning and policy have always alienated and disrespected the rights of Palestinians, both within Israel and in the Occupied Territories, and this is another blatant and brutal case of it in action.
Which of these two events are more important? A town that currently does not exist and potentially won’t, or a town the does currently exist but likely won’t some time soon? According the media, it’s the first one. Every (Western) media outlet I’ve checked – by no means all, I may have missed a reference somewhere – has reported on the Trump Heights story, some (like the Guardian) not mentioning that legally there is no basis for it at the moment. A small but relevant fact, one would imagine.
But not a single one has mentioned the East Jerusalem community of Wadi Yasul. Only Middle Eastern news sites, mostly those sympathetic to the Palestinian plight, and human rights organisations like B’Tselem or the UN have brought attention to it. Am I saying that the Western media needs to report on Middle Eastern news like the planned demolitions?
They’re under no obligation to do so I suppose, but it seems an injustice that Israeli crimes and abuses of power and ignored while pointless shows of false extravagance are given coverage instead. Rather than being mad about a non-existent city just because of its ‘symbolic’ naming, try being mad on behalf of the families that may lose their homes in the same area.
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