Target: Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat
Goal: Stop the construction of the East Jerusalem military academy
Israel’s Interior Minister has approved the construction of a military academy on land in the Mount of Olives in occupied East Jerusalem. The land is “one of the most sensitive areas under dispute,” according to an Israeli peace activist, though the Interior Ministry claims the location was chosen due to its proximity to the nearby Hebrew University.
Originally private Palestinian land, the Israeli Lands Authority seized it in 1969 initially to use as the site for the country’s Supreme Court. Now that construction plans have been approved, the public has 60 days to appeal the plan before it can be formally approved.
Activists as well as some municipal workers argue the plan constitutes a provocation that could exacerbate tensions and hurt the chances of Israel engaging in a dialogue with Palestinians in the occupied East Jerusalem. While Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat claims the academy is meant to attract young working people to Jerusalem, the college seems to represent an Israeli endeavor on behalf of the conservative government to stand strong against anti-expansionist pressure.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already stated that there will be no restrictions on expansion and construction in Jerusalem. A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry has also denied that the land is disputed territory, despite calls from foreign governments denouncing the plan as unwise.
The construction of a military academy on contested land is a hostile message to the Palestinian people who already endure a harsh occupation. Plans to expand a militaristic presence in the region, along with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s refusal to halt settlement expansion, does not represent the kind of message Israel should be sending to a weary, resentful Palestinian population. Tell Mayor Barkat to stop the construction of the East Jerusalem military academy.
Dear Mayor Barkat,
As mayor of a territory of great cultural and religious significance, it should not surprise you that the plans to construct a military academy in the Mount of Olives have caused outrage to many. In particular, these plans are insensitive and provocative towards the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem. Everyday they live under occupation and the establishment of a military college in this area is a signal that there is no interest in peace from Israel’s end.
You have claimed that this college will attract young, working people to Jerusalem. But a councilperson of your own government poses a simple question: Why not build a school instead? If attracting young people is the key focus of this planned construction, why not procede with an academy that does not stand to stir tensions and offend an entire group of people living in the area?
A military academy in East Jerusalem will not make Israel safer and will simply exacerbate feelings of resentment and disconnect between the Israeli and Palestinian people. Please consider building this academy somewhere other than East Jerusalem.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: gm2j.com