OMAR: Uncovering Occupied Palestine

4 Feb

 

            OMAR is the second film directed by Hany Abu-Assad to be a finalist among foreign language films nominated to receive an Oscar at the 2014 Academy Awards ceremony on March 2nd. The earlier film, PARADISE NOW (2005), brought to life the preoccupation at the time with suicide bombing as the principle tactic of Palestinian resistance by exposing the deep inner conflicts of those who partake, the tragic effects of such terror on its Israeli targets, and the hardened manipulative mentality of the leaders who prepare the perpetrators. Abu-Assad born in 1961 in Nazareth, emigrated to the Netherlands in 1980, writes the screen plays for his movies as well as directs. He has a profound gift for story telling that keeps an audience engaged with the human drama affecting the principal Palestinian characters while illuminating broader issues of profound moral and political concern without stooping to didactic means of conveying ‘the message.’ So understood, Abu-Assad’s achievement is artistic in the primary sense, yet attunes us to the dilemmas of oppression and servitude.

 

            In these respects OMAR is superior even to PARADISE NOW, telling the story of what life under Israeli occupation means for the way Palestinian lives are lived, the normalcy’s of romantic attraction contrasting with the abnormalities of humiliating lives lived behind prison walls. The film opens with Omar climbing the high domineering security wall to overcome the separation of Arab families living on either side, being detected by the Israeli guards who sound sirens and fire a shot. Omar manages to clamor back down and leap to safety. Israeli police on foot and in cars pursue Omar through the alleyways and streets of an impoverished Palestinian neighborhood. The underlying poignancy of Omar’s situation is to be at once ‘a freedom fighter’ and a sensitive young man deeply in love with Nadia, the younger sister of Tarek, his militia commander. In an unspoken realism, Omar is unconditionally bound to both causes, jeopardizing his chance to live a shadow life of acquiescence to the realities of occupation by his choice to dedicate himself at great risk and little hope to the liberation of the Palestinian people and their land.

 

            The wall reinforced by the Israeli security forces, portrayed as cunning and unscrupulous, with an occupiers’ fear and loathing for those who cower under the rigors of occupation, provides an unforgettable visual metaphor that captures the daily ordeal of the Palestinian people. In a subtle touch, the rope used by Omar throughout the film to avoid the checkpoints and overcome the separation of his home from that of Tarek and Nadia also conveys an understanding that the wall is much more about humiliation and land than it is about security. The rope remains untouched during the entirety of the film, although its presence and illegal use must have been obvious to the Israeli occupation forces that never bother to remove it.

 

            What emerges most vividly as the story unfolds is the dehumanizing effects of prolonged occupation. Omar and Nadia have charm and humor to give their love for another an unforgettable credibility that is brought to life by their awareness of what it means to live without the right to travel beyond the wall. They talk in the language of fantasy about where to go on their honeymoon: he proposes Mozambique, she counters with Bangla Desh, and then more truly, admits that Paris is her dream, while they both fully realize that they will never get the opportunity to get beyond the dingy confines of the West Bank. Nadia’s biggest trip outside of her immediate neighborhood was a visit to Hebron, the tensest, most humiliated city in occupied Palestine, notorious for daily settler violence against the large residentPalestinian community.

 

            The film conveys better than any book the interactive intimacies of occupier and occupied. The Israeli lead security agent, Rami, calls his mother to ask her to pick up his daughter from school, and when she asks why he can’t do it, he responds “I am stuck in the middle of the fucking West Bank.” Yet the most abiding realization is the horrible dehumanizing effects of this mixture of fear and hatred in contexts of unspeakable inequality, with total control seemingly on one side, and complete vulnerability on the other side. The torture scenes, like the wall, are both horrible in their own enactment, but also metaphors of what it means to live your entire life within master/slave structures of relationship.

 

            The reality of Palestinian violent resistance has two important consequences even though it seems currently futile from the perspective of challenging the occupation in any way that promises to liberation: it gives dignity to Palestinians who seem united in their will to live-unto-death despite their defenselessness and it makes Israelis vulnerable despite their seeming total control of the situation as a result of their weaponry, police, surveillance technology, and arrogant sense of racial superiority. In effect, the desperate slave when life is deprived of all personal meaning can sacrifice himself in a symbolic act of vengeance, and inflict pain and loss on the master. Seen from an Israeli perspective, there is no way to achieve total security (this side of total genocide) no matter how clever, sophisticated, and oppressive the systems of control put in place. Technology is incapable of doing the whole job, and for this reason, human fallibility always produces some sort of payback from the incompletely vanquished subjugated population.

 

            For this reason, from the Palestinian side, nothing is worse that becoming a collaborator, and yet only a hero among heroes, would have the super-human capacity to avoid such a fate given the brutality used by Israelis to acquire the information they need to enforce their will on a hostile population. For the occupier recruiting collaborators is a vital part of improving security; for the occupied, it is the final humiliation, making the fate of the traitor far worse than that of the slave. Omar is portrayed in a fascinating manner because he succumbs, and yet in the end he doesn’t succumb. Amjad, his friend collaborates with the Israelis to steal Omar away from Nadia, with the biopolitical insight that romantic longings may take lethal precedence over political loyalty and lifelong friendship. In this respect, the power of love is greater than the power of power. The film also is faithful to the traditional social norms that bind Palestinians to family relations in ways that also enslave, including the total disempowerment of women. Nadia is portrayed as strong in her dual attachments to love and resistance, and yet is deprived by Palestinian norms of freedom in relation to her body and choice of partner. In this sense, Nadia is doubly occupied.

 

            OMAR makes no effort to depict the larger issues of resistance tactics, to portray some vision of a realizable peace, or to bring into play the behavior of politicians, the UN, the international community. Such considerations are ignored, and seem irrelevant to the forces that impact daily on Palestinian lives. It takes the present as a seemingly permanent given, in effect, a society of prisoners sentenced for life with no hope for parole or escape. So understood, the actual Israeli prison that is depicted in the film is a prison within a prison, that is, a walled enclave that exists within a walled country.

 

            The great achievement of Hany Abu-Assad in this film is to make you feel and think, and maybe hopefully act. I left the theater with the overriding sense that the continuation of this occupation is intolerable for both sides, that it dehumanizes Israelis as much as it does Palestinians, two peoples caught in a vicious circle of subjugation and resistance. But not equally so caught as the masters live life in more satisfying ways than the slaves, at least for now, at least until the walls come tumbling down.

 

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17 Responses to “OMAR: Uncovering Occupied Palestine”

  1. truthaholics February 4, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    Reblogged this on | truthaholics.

  2. Francis Oeser February 4, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    Richard,
    I found your comments on the film OMAR riveting. Recently I saw a play in a small north London theatre by a UK (Palestinian) resident called OMAR el-Khairy. Sitting in the front row of the very small auditorium it felt I was actually IN an Israeli jail – it was very disturbing. The play is backgrounded by the oranizational cruelty of everyday life for guards and prisoners (the same cruelty that trapped both jailer-soldiers and convicts in early Australia in 19th century).
    But in the play, “The Keepers of Infinite Space”, another, stronger subject was presented: HOW the “slaves” (as you call them in your film review) manage both to survive and to reinforce hope for a brighter future – some of the bits of humanity which our war-technology can’t overcome (as you rightly point out).
    I was left with a strange feeling of almost joy, infected by that cruel jail and its lively prisoners, that the impossible (a unified Palestine) is possible and will emerge from the chaos and repression in spite of Irsraeli plans. In spite of the careless world, in spite of my lack of ‘action’ (even yours!) because the almost superhuman tenacity of the
    Palestinians will prevail.
    BRAVO! both Omars,

    Francis

    • Fred Skolnik February 23, 2014 at 6:56 am #

      A film depicting the Allied occupation of Germany could very easily be built around a German Omar who is hounded and harassed for his Nazi connections and in love with a fetching German mädchen. Such a film would of course neglect to mention the fact that Germany was occupied because it started and lost a war and that Nazis were pursued because of their brutal crimes. This is the film that Hany Alu-Assad has made and this is the idea of the Arab-Israel conflict that Prof. Falk and an assortment of Israel haters eagerly buy into and try to sell. The “total control seemingly on one side, and complete vulnerability on the other side,” that Falk bewails is precisely what you get when you start and lose a war. The winning side is in control and the losing side is controlled. What exactly does Falk expect? I will not go on and on about this because I have commented here often enough about the shameless fictions that Israel haters are propagating. I will only add, marginally, as someone who served on active reserve duty in the Israeli army for nearly 20 years, patrolled Arab streets, pursued Arab terrorists, searched Arab homes and arrested Arab suspects, that the experience of occupation has in no way “dehumanized” Israel and Israelis. That may seem to be a logical conclusion for someone who thinks like Prof. Falk, but he is of course not equipped to test it, being ignorant of the Hebrew language and the Israeli experience, just as he is not equipped to turn out Gaza reports as he periodically does, also being ignorant of the Arabic language and how Hamas really operates in Gaza. But Prof. Falk is not interested in getting at the truth of anything, he is only interested in vilifying Israel; and I suspect too that he is not interested in the Palestinians as victims either but only in Israel (and America) as culprits. Remove them from the equation and I think his ceaseless “advocacy” will vanish too, just as it is nowhere to be seen in dozens of conflicts around the world where populations are being oppressed and even massacred every other day. I will state this quite clearly: If Israel was not Jewish, it wouldn’t be hated. If Israel was an Arab country and the Palestinians were non-Muslim Sudanese, let us say, and you had the same conflict and the same occupation and the same “ethnic cleansing,” barely an eyebrow would be raised and certainly Prof. Falk would not be churning out dozens of blogs vilifying Sudan and attracting comments from an army of worshipful admirers.

      • Richard Falk February 23, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

        Mr. Skolnik:

        You continue to mingle your substantive comments with personal insults that include many
        misleading assessments of my motivations and the range of my work. I consider myself to be
        a witness to the truth as best I can grasp it, and I have written on many other instances of
        wrongdoing over the past three years, including Syria, Libya, Egypt..

        If you want to insult me further there are other venues for this, but I wish to maintain this
        website for those who are prepared to engage in political discourse in the spirit of civility.

      • Kata Fisher February 23, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

        Fred Skolnik:

        I feel the wrath of God concerning you just resting with me.

        You are misrepresenting Professor Falk by misapplication of his work that is filled with God’s Spirit.

        You are misapplying his work to your interpretation!

        No one is “vilifying Israel” or the people of the Holy Land! Something else is taking place (that is YOUR interpretation and perception/DECEPTION)!

        I know the spirit that works in you; just by Spirit of God I know that sprit!

        You are getting best description what is taking place in Holy Land – but not to your attention!

        HERE I am speaking into the realm of the spirit:

        WHAT DO YOU WANT? WHO DO YOU SERVE? I submit you to the power and authority of Church Charismatic Chatolic that is in prophetical anointing and in God’s Sprit. In submission to God of David, and his Kingdom in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth I place you under his feet, he shall deal with you evil Satan, evil one – may God of David rebuke you. In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, I pray to God of our Father Abraham and God of David to cut the snake of in His Holy presence.
        Fred Skolnik:

        BE strongheld by God’s Sprit!

        You are confused in facts, and in your way you are confused! IN FACT – you are a confused person in your mind and your spirit! You take pleasure in unrighteousness and are sinning against the presence of God’s Sprit. I saw a lot of this when I was @ Liberty University while reading their confusion of Theology!

        Further, I can direct you in a valid way that may – or may not clear up in your head! Note this: Take a vacation, and go to Vatican – or nearest to you apostolic nuncio’s location, and ask for baptism in God’s Sprit!

        Remember:
        By the Spirit of God we can condemn the wicked / wickedness of the Law by the Law of God’s Sprit we condemn! We do condemn it, in fact and give over to Satan. It is good to be in ecclesiastical care when you are given over to Satan.

        DO NOT CONDEMN THE WORK that is filled with God’s Spirit.

        I was moved to write this by Spirit…

      • Fred Skolnik February 23, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

        Dear Professor Falk

        You are creating your own standards by maintaining a website that welcomes the most vicious expressions of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel feeling from a host of contributors using the vocabulary and images popularized through the ages by the Church and other Jew haters. You need only take a quick look at the remarks just below yours of Kata Fisher, whom you continue to cultivate, no doubt as a charming and harmless eccentric, as well as the fulminations of Walker Percy whose presence you seem to miss, and a great many others, I must say, who are engaging in anything but civilized discourse.

        As for you, the biases you reveal as a UN official are intolerable and the fact that you have not disqualified yourself as an objective observer speaks directly to the issue of your integrity. I would not think of engaging in such a dialogue with a Finkelstein or Pappe because they are representing themselves but you are in an official position that should preclude the kind of rhetoric that you engage in. Because so much of what you say is demonstrably false and reveals these biases, it is you yourself who becomes the issue. I can only repeat what I have said before: “If Israel was not Jewish, it wouldn’t be hated. If Israel was an Arab country and the Palestinians were non-Muslim Sudanese, let us say, and you had the same conflict and the same occupation and the same “ethnic cleansing,” barely an eyebrow would be raised and certainly Prof. Falk would not be churning out dozens of blogs vilifying Sudan and attracting comments from an army of worshipful admirers.” I think this is a perfectly accurate substantive statement.

      • Kata Fisher February 23, 2014 at 10:47 pm #

        Fred Skolnik:

        I may be that girl from ancestors that your ancestors sold into harlotry — just to get a intoxicating drink! Say the HARLOT IS BACK HERE and is upun us –as an ancestors sin!?

        Why should our Beloved Professor Falk even worry about you!?

        Let the women at the wicked – boys have things to do!

        You breathe in the spirit -realm that is one in work with Satan! Children of devil and his works can be one in that spirit! :(

        This is nothing Anti-Semitic! Welcome to the Church age and the realm of God’s Sprit – WHO WAS ALWAYS HATED BY THE WICKED! I love those who hate me: I TELL THEM THE TRUTH in my all authority! “He, he, he- he, he” (I mock you).

        You are obnoxious and you have spiritual essence of the wicked.
        You reject God’s Spirit that was always rejected by the wicked.

        In US – we have freedom of the Church – for this reason! – To say whatever we will by Spirit toward the wicked.

        What will you do about that? Shoot the girl down? Take her to your wicked courts of justice invalid?

        ARE you trying to submit our Beloved Professor Falk into the same Lawlessness THAT YOU PRACTICE (of the WICKED ONE) – lawlessness that you practice in your SPIRIT AND YOUR MIND?

        Alas!

        Wicked are one in spirit (Jews wicked or non-Jews wicked is just wicked). The wicked remain in the earth and are not cut off!

        This what wicked would do to the prophets: Shoot the girl/boy down? Take her/him to your wicked courts of justice invalid?

        This happened before why not now? In the name of God of false Jews – or in the name of Jesus-false of the false Church! (Now this pushes History on PATH: Anti-Semitism of CHURCH-FALSE & Antichurch works by JEWS–FALSE???). They killed saints and servants of God.

        YOU MAY SAY in your interpretation: “ANTI – SEMITIC!!!!!!!!! HE-HE-HE—HE-HE! “
        A MAN BEWITCHED!

        All those who have blood of servants of God and saints on their hands! The Haven is full of martyrs by the IDEOLOGY that you promote and WORSHIP!

        Go to the POPE (either one) and annul this private association of Church Roman-Catholic- Charismatic, if you can!?

        Pope cannot annul work of the Church Charismatic without a conclave – not under this same circumstances that surround me! How about that? What do I mean?

        Prophets put Church leadership into submission to God’s Sprit and you think we can give one over to Satan! Yes, we can.
        Ask Pope if he will RESTRICT AND ANULL my work to himself? Ask him if he can?

        Who are you – and think that you can?

        OBNOXIOUSNESS! Wickedness.

        I have some rights here as a Church immature and having a lot of fun? I do not laugh.

        Be restricted to yourself when wicked.

        That is how it is.

      • Fred Skolnik February 24, 2014 at 12:49 am #

        I hope you understand, Professor Falk, that tying a person’s “wickedness” to his Jewishness is antisemitism (“They killed saints and servants of God,” as your admirer writes), so I hope you will respond to this in some way as a sign that you mean what you say when you talk about not countenancing anti-Jewish statements.

      • Kata Fisher February 24, 2014 at 6:35 am #

        Fred Skolnik:

        The hopes of the wicked are in vain! The Sprit of God deals with you: DO NOT KILL/DO NOT HATE YOUR BROTHER!
        “What do you want? Who do you serve?”

        You can attach your “false-Jewfishes” to your interpretation of “anti-Semitism” in your bewitchment as much as you want. It does not serve you, nor can it. Occasional I have compassion for the wicked…

        THE TRUTH:

        You live a LIE! You are in vile of devil and that offspring of him, and the Scripture is witness to that!

        I can tell you that while under the Law of God’s Sprit!

        Stop threatening our Beloved Professor Falk.

  3. Gene Schulman February 5, 2014 at 4:40 am #

    Just waiting for a Jericho to blow his horn, then we can all watch the walls come tumbling down.

    Thanks, Richard, You’re as good a film critic as you are a writer.

    See you in March in Geneva

    Gene

    • Gene Schulman February 5, 2014 at 5:06 am #

      BTW: I have now finished Scheffler’s “Death and the Afterlife”. Although I found many faults with the book, I do buy into his thesis of the “collective afterlife”, and still believe that it applies to your ongoing work. I am awaiting your own comments that you said you wanted to make when you asked for my email address.

      Best regards, Gene

      • Dan Livni February 20, 2014 at 7:39 am #

        http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/02/18/palestinian-arabs-the-people-who-always-refuse-a-state/

        Palestinian Arabs – The People Who Always Refuse a State
        Lee S. Bender and Jerome R. Verlin
        FEBRUARY 18, 2014

        There are many peoples on this planet that would do anything for their independence, sovereignty, and a state of their own if it was offered to them. Just ask the Kurds, Tibetans, Basques, and Chechens. ‎

        Yet there is one singular group that continues to spurn offers of statehood, missing and wasting numerous opportunities, and blaming others for its “victimhood”- and then commits horrendous acts of terrorism and violence when offered almost all of what it wants. We are referring, of course, to the Palestinian Arabs – a people who, unlike the Kurds, do not have their own religion, language, or culture that’s different in essence from their Arab brethren in neighboring ‎Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The Palestinian Arabs have answered every peace offer for their own “Palestinian” state with one unequivocal word, “no,” and then initiated a wave of hatred, violence, and terrorism. The reason? Because it would also mean recognition of and co-existence with a non-Arab people, the Jews.

        Actually, there has been a Palestinian Arab state in the region since 1921, located in the eastern 78 percent of the Palestine Mandate designated for a Jewish National Home: ‎Jordan. Even today, more than two-thirds of the people of Jordan are Palestinian Arabs. The offers of another Palestinian Arab state (which would be the 23rd Arab state) in the remaining western portion of the Palestine Mandate date back to the 1937 Peel Commission. That began a consistent pattern of rejected offers through to the present: 1947 UN Partition Plan, 1967 at Khartoum, 2000 at Camp David, 2001 at Taba, the 2008 Olmert Plan. The current Kerry-led negotiations also appear to be heading in that direction. Yet the Palestinian Arabs still adamantly reject the “two state solution” of an “Arab State” and “Jewish State” referenced in the 1947 UN partition resolution.

        So it is instructive to ask, what do the Palestinian Arabs really want? If we would only listen to what they persistently say and read their charters, we would understand: the eradication of ‎Israel through armed struggle, replacing the Jewish state with a Palestinian Arab state. Just read the charters of the Palestinian Authority, PLO, Fatah, and Hamas, and it is laid out in straightforward unambiguous terms. It really is no wonder they say “no” to a state if it also means that they have to recognize the tiny Jewish state alongside it. There are already 22 Arab states with a population of 400 million and land mass 625 times that of Israel, versus 6.2 million Jews in a sliver of land the size of New Jersey.

        We have seen a preview of what their state will be like: ‎Gaza, which has become a terrorist launching pad for tens of thousands of rockets and missiles into Israel since Israel left and uprooted 8,000 citizens from their homes in 2005. It is a failed entity ruled by the corrupt, genocidal, terrorist entity Hamas, which steadfastly refuses to recognize Israel. A Palestinian Arab state in the West Bank/Judea-Samaria, the cradle of Jewish civilization, on the high ground overlooking the heart of Israel’s population centers from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, will only pose a more lethal danger to the safety and security of Israel. And the Jewish claim does not rest just on security, but on a continuous three-millennia presence in the land.

        The pathology of the Palestinian Arab movement, which is actually a part of the larger Arab war on Israel, is violent rejection. It is partly fueled by Islamic beliefs that any Jewish presence on the land is a crime against the Islamic “natural order of things,” the crime of a ‎dhimmi people, the Jews, having sovereignty in their midst.

        Yet Westerners fantasize and delude themselves that the Palestinian Arabs actually want to live in peace alongside ‎Israel. This was recently epitomized by Israel’s chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, who told Knesset members that they should “expect to be surprised” regarding Palestinian Authority willingness to recognize Israel as a Jewish State. But her fairy-tale beliefs defy reality, and the bubble was burst immediately when PA negotiator Saeb Erekat reiterated yet again that the Palestinian Arabs would never accept Israel as a Jewish State.

        Sheikh Jabari, the strongman of ‎Hebron, put it concisely: “We can never recognize the Jewish state. I can’t. It goes against the Koran. Tel Aviv is Waqf [Muslim] holy land. I can’t recognize you de jure, but I also recognize that you’re not going anywhere. You’re here to stay.”

        Western intervention only makes things worse, and leads the PA to believe that it can maintain a culture of victimhood and pay no price for its maximalist, uncompromising beliefs. Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Arab culture of incitement, terrorism, and resort to lawfare has only increased, in absolute violation of their commitments to teach and preach peace, dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, confiscate weapons, and arrest terrorists. The PA has not kept those international commitments; so what gives ‎Israel and Western diplomats confidence that any future accords – which will presumably involve Israel relinquishing vital land areas necessary for its security – will be honored? In Arab-Muslim culture, agreements tend to be broken when one side gains the strength to overcome the other, i.e. hudna. In the Middle East, the current status is what peace actually looks like: no paper agreements. At best, a détente, where only force and power prevail and are respected. That is what has enabled Israel to miraculously survive as an oasis of hope, democracy, and freedom in the midst of Arab-Muslim dominated totalitarian states, military dictatorships, and theocracies.‎

        Israel ‎‎has no reliable “peace partner” in the Western sense, no matter how the mainstream media, EU, diplomats, and elites want to spin it. These apologists will always somehow find a way to rationalize and justify the Palestinian Arabs’ predictable resort to violence and in turn seek to delegitimize Israel for not making further concessions – regardless of whether it puts the Jewish State in deadly danger. The diplomatic process is not working. There must be far more onus on the PA to make true peace and prepare its own people for it. If and when Palestinian Arabs are ready, willing and able to say “yes,” Israel will be there – but not any sooner.

      • Dan Livni February 20, 2014 at 7:40 am #

        WOW can you imagine the outcry if a foreign leader was delayed because a bodyguard was muslim??

        http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/176595#.Uv9xOvldXox

        Waqf Blocked Harper ‘because of Jewish Bodyguards’
        The Muslim Waqf reportedly vetoed Canadian PM’s planned tour of the Temple Mount, because some of his guards are Jews.
        Gil Ronen
        1/22/2014

        Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper planned to tour the Temple Mount after visiting the Western Wall (Kotel) Tuesday, but the visit was torpedoed at the last minute by the Muslim Waqf, which said it would not allow Harper’s security detail onto the Mount, since some of the bodyguards are Jewish, leading Temple activist Yehuda Glick told Arutz Sheva in an exclusive interview. Bnei Brith Canada confirmed the story.

        There are also alternative versions of the events, however, and it cannot yet be said with complete certainty which is the correct one.

        Members of Harper’s entourage had made a preliminary tour of the Mount Sunday morning. The Waqf’s announcement that it would not allow the Jewish bodyguards in was made at the last moment, supposedly because the Waqf did not know earlier that some of the guards were Jewish.

        Harper would not enter the Mount without the bodyguards and the visit was cancelled, according to a press statement by B’nai Brith Canada.

        “It is a shame that the Prime Minister’s visit to the Kotel was marred after he learned that his security detail would not be allowed in to the Dome of the Rock because they are Jewish,” said Frank Dimant, CEO, B’nai Brith Canada. “B’nai Brith delegations have also faced moments of discrimination and harassment on previous missions. We have raised this issue with Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom. Equal access must be given to Jewish worshipers wishing to ascend the Temple Mount. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the religious discrimination going on at the hands of the Islamic Waqf responsible for administering the site.”

        Version 2
        However, the Huffington Post has a different version of what happened.

        “Planning and logistics required on a trip like this can be complicated and unfortunately we weren’t able to make it work in a manner that satisfied the security organizations involved,” Harper spokesman Jason MacDonald said of the decision to cancel the visit, according to the publication.

        “Specifically,” he is cited as saying, “Shin Bet (the Israel Security Agency) would not guarantee that they would not enter the mosque.”

        While the Huffington Post quote is ambiguous, MacDonald was apparently saying that the Shin Bet refused to promise that if disturbances occur, its men would refrain from entering the Al Aqsa Mosque. It is not clear whether the people demanding this commitment were the Waqf or the Canadians.

        Version 3
        Arutz Sheva spoke to sources in the Foreign Ministry who confirmed that the Waqf had cancelled Harper’s visit. However, their version was that the Waqf simply refused to allow Canadian security men into the Temple Mount.

        Glick, a prominent Temple activist and LIBA project coordinator, told Arutz Sheva Wednesday that he spoke to sources within Harper’s entourage who confirmed that the Waqf refused to allow Jewish bodyguards into the Mount.

        On Sunday, Glick accompanied a former Canadian minister on a tour of the Temple Mount. Stockwell Day, who served as Canada’s Minister of Public Safety between 2006 and 2008, visited the Temple Mount following a coincidental meeting with a resident of Jerusalem, Yosef Rabin, who regularly visits the Temple Mount compound.

        An accompanying video shows Arabs – apparently fom the Waqf – shouting and employing a threatening tone as Glick and the Canadian group conducted the preliminary tour on Sunday.

        Rabin said that his meeting with Day took place over Shabbat, when he visited friends for a Shabbat meal also attended by Day.

        During the meal, Rabin told Arutz Sheva, he told the former Canadian minister about the situation on the Temple Mount where police, in an attempt to appease the Muslim Waqf which was left in charge of the compound after the 1967 Six Day War, ban Jews from praying or performing any other form of worship. Police sometimes close the Mount to Jews altogether in response to Muslim riots – for days or weeks at a time – despite evidence that such violence is usually planned in advance for the specific purpose of forcing Jews out.

        “When I told Day about the situation on the Temple Mount, it pegged his interest and he asked me to arrange a visit for him,” said Rabin.

        “This trip has been an amazing experience with the visit to the Kotel being one of the most touching,” said Eric Bissell, national president, B’nai Brith Canada. “As Prime Minister Harper approached the Western Wall, I could not help but think about how the Jewish people struggled for thousands of years for the freedom to pray at our holiest site. As a child survivor on the run during the nightmare of the Holocaust, this moment is more than I could ever have imagined or hoped to have been part of. To witness such support is a true miracle.”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. OMAR: Uncovering Occupied Palestine |  SHOAH - February 6, 2014

    […] NOVANEWS […]

  2. Richard Falk: Uncovering Occupied Palestine - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics - February 7, 2014

    […] By Richard Falk By arrangement with Richard Falk […]

  3. TRANSCEND MEDIA SERVICE » OMAR: Uncovering Occupied Palestine - February 10, 2014

    […] Go to Original – richardfalk.com […]

  4. Omar | Arun with a View - March 16, 2014

    […] on his blog last month, the très engagé Richard Falk—UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur for the Occupied […]

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