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Police Block ‘Arab Jerusalem Day’ Events

by Gil Ronen

(IsraelNN.com) Police prevented Arabs from holding events in eastern Jerusalem on Saturday as part of an alternative Arab ‘Jerusalem Day’ festival. The Palestinian Authority sponsored the festival in which Jerusalem was touted as “the capital of Arab culture for 2009.”

The police closed down eight events in eastern Jerusalem and arrested 20 people who organized and participated in them. Police also prevented students from entering an ‘Al Quds University’ facility located near the Cotton Traders’ Gate and arrested university employees who were about to distribute T-shirts marking the festival.

Under orders from outgoing Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, police blocked hundreds of Arabs who attempted to carry out processions at Ras El-Amoud, Wadi Joz and Sheikh Jerah in eastern Jerusalem. Seven organizers were arrested.

On Shechem Road, police stopped Arabs from participating in a football game and at the Al-Hiala club, a PA-sponsored girls’ meeting was dispersed. A group of Arab school students tried to ascend to the Temple Mount with PLO flags but were blocked by police. Another event at Haroun El-Rashid Street was also stymied.

In Nazareth as well, a planned event was ordered cancelled by police.

According to a decree signed by Minister Dichter, the holding of any ceremonies by the PA inside Israel contradicts the interim accord between the PA and Israel.

The culture of hummous The Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency reported that “1,500 dignitaries, delegates, poets, officials and Palestinian bureaucrats” gathered in El-Khader, south of Bethlehem, for an event honoring the PA-sponsored day. It criticized the event as being for the “cultured only” and catering to “Arab, Palestinian and International elite[s]”

“Flat, single lens satellite casts from Lebanon and Gaza highlighted the distance between the scattered Palestinian populations rather than bringing a feeling of unity in tradition to the show,” the agency report claimed.

A speech by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was followed by “a video montage of hummus making, bustling markets, hookah pipes in the hands of wizened men on Old City streets and children playing beneath ancient arches” as well as IDF soldiers, it said.