Gentrification in Jerusalem: Enclaves for Palestinians, “urbanized” streets and settlements for the colonizers
Al-Quds and its indigenous inhabitants, Palestinians, are being fought by a capitalist colonial system. The occupied Palestinian capital is becoming more Israelized and “urbanized” day by day while Israel tries to hide its tracks.
Palestinians have been witnessing the theft of their land by the Zionist colonial project for decades now, and the tactics might have become a little less clear to the world but not to Palestinians who are facing ethnic cleansing and gentrification. This article intends to explain how gentrification under settler colonialism works and while gentrification is acknowledged as a process of “urbanizing” poor areas and displacing its original inhabitants, it’s more complicated in Al-Quds.
To understand gentrification in that context, one must analyze the tactics Zionism uses and look back at the philosophy of Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, in which he proclaimed: “Private land in areas allocated to us must be seized from its owners. Poor inhabitants are to be quickly evacuated across the border after having secured jobs for them in the countries of their destination. They are to be denied employment in our country; as for large-property owners, they will ultimately join us.”
Having been set more than a century ago, this strategy is the official plan "Israel" has been working on at the expense of Palestinians, the indigenous residents, in the lands the Israeli occupation has no control over yet.
Simply, an illegitimate expansionist settler-colonial state operates by bringing Palestinian capitalists on its side to keep the Palestinian labor force and revolutionaries under their wing. This way, both become partners in the scene of gentrification, making it both ideological and economical. Ideological in the sense that "Israel" uses the politicized religious narrative to gain control over the Palestinian lands, and economical in the sense that it designs a capitalist system specially made for Palestinians, upheld by the “National Bourgeoise” and supported by “Israel.”
While it’s acknowledged that every occupied Palestinian city went through this process before, the tactics have been different in “East Jerusalem” due to the tensity of the situation of al-Quds and its religious significance, as a result more delicate cloaked tactics are needed. But before beginning to analyze the Zionist tactics practiced in “East Jerusalem”, one must remember that the stance of the Israeli “Left-wing” camp on the political, Ideological and economical gentrification taking place in al-Quds is an irrelevant point to be discussed, as they deliberately deny the fact that all historical Palestine went through the same process including the stolen houses where they currently live in different parts of occupied Palestine.
To understand the tactics in practice, one must look at the occupied city of al-Quds and the tools the Israeli government has been using, especially post-Oslo since al-Quds’s fate was left “unknown”, meanwhile reality proves it’s been decided long ago.
Jerusalem has been undergoing gentrification and urbanization plans that were established by the Israeli Occupation beforehand, and the first plan that targets Al-Quds and its original inhabitants to Israelize our capital was announced 18 years ago by “The Mayor of Jerusalem”. This plan was just the tip of the iceberg and ahead of that more considerable expansionist plans are to keep Israelizing and “urbanizing” Al-Quds.
On the other end of those plans, Palestinians in al-Quds have been struggling with colonial Israeli courts facilitating and ruling for Zionist organizations, which for a matter of fact is an Israeli tactic to represent the issue of ethnic cleansing in Al-Quds as if it was carried out by “Israeli extremists” backed by some Zionist organizations like Nahalat Shimon. This kind of alienation in the narrative is a tactic that’s used to protect “The Democratic state of Israel” from criticism by placing the blame on some “extremists”. Which is the case with most neighborhoods facing ethnic cleansing like Al-Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, and Beit Safafa.
Subsequently, the previous tactic puts the Israeli occupation in a position to find other ways to get its hands on more Palestinian land “legally” and that’s usually done by the theft of land and property, and the next step is to justify that kind of theft by presenting it as an expropriation for public interest by founding laws in Israeli colonial courts to conceal the real intentions. This tactic is used to build schools for Palestinians to try and inject them with the Israeli educational system, which is clearly "Israel’s" way of hitting more than one bird with one stone.
Hence, it’s crystal clear that The Municipality of the Israeli occupation in al-Quds has been looting more Palestinian land every day using colonial laws, alongside the lawfully protected excuses previously mentioned, to whitewash itself while attempting to gain control over al-Quds and to ethnically cleanse Palestinians. While on the surface it might seem to the Western media that “The Only Democracy in the Middle East” is building schools, hospitals, and parks what’s really been happening is more Israelizing of our capital by controlling more Palestinian property.
The issue of Israelizing and urbanizing Palestinian cities isn’t new as every single Palestinian city went through the same catastrophic colonial process, and since this process isn’t exactly unprecedented one must realize how dangerous it is in Al-Quds due to the tensity of the situation and how "Israel" hides its tracks especially that the “Left-wing cult” criticize their “Israeli government” for such acts in “East Jerusalem”.
What’s also problematic is how the gentrification in Al-Quds is mostly discussed by the Israeli “Left-wing camp” or Western scholars while their takes and arguments are used to intentionally obscure the Palestinian studies concerning the issue. For the allegedly called Israeli leftists, they view it as a simple gentrification of Jerusalem that enables the rich to dominate regardless of the Palestinian class struggle against capitalism and settler colonialism, as they Isolate “East Jerusalem”. The arguments of “The Israeli Left-wingers” should be discredited because what’s underlying is much more harmful than what these arguments appear to be.
Ghassan Kanafani’s study on the 1936 revolution discussed the link between Capitalism and the Zionist project by explaining how the revolution was usurped and fought by the Palestinian feudal system and the Zionist movement using Zionist labor parties to overshadow the Palestinian communist revolution at that time. 47 years later, Kanafani’s study can still explain why.
To recast, for the Israeli settler-colonial project to thrive, the Palestinians’ revolution against colonial oppression and its capitalist tools had to be undermined and replaced by “Israeli Labor forces” and “Israeli rebellious communists”. Once the Palestinian’s revolution against colonial forces along with their capitalist arms is buried, the Israeli mockery of “Labor Parties” were expected to dominate. The next step was to keep the Palestinians breadcrumbed which is done by backing a minority of national bourgeoise for "Israel" to stay in power. That maneuver was set long ago as explained by Kanafani in his book and is still being used to our day, which is precisely why those arguments of the so-called Israeli left-wing on gentrification and class struggle are incredibly destructive.
As for the idea of gentrification being driven on Ideological motives entirely, Jerome Krase and Judith N. DeSena in their book “Gentrification Around the World, Volume I: Gentrifiers and the Displaced” discuss the whole process from that perspective. Some claims made in that study like “The land can be sacred, hold significant national symbolism, or be linked to security narratives.
Moreover, the same ideological narratives dictate how each group understands itself and others in general and in the context of the process.” (268) don’t only discard the correlation between the Palestinian struggle against settler colonialism with their class struggle but it also leaves room for interpretations that serve the Zionist agenda. In other words, it becomes justifiable to gentrify, urbanize, and Israelize Al-Quds when it’s been claimed that the motives are solely ideological.
Basing an argument whether the gentrification of Al-Quds is economic or ideological conceals how settler colonialism work. Going back to Herzl’s philosophy explains why; the plan is to seize lands for settlers at the expense of Palestinians who are to become displaced and to be moved to enclaves, and to get the National bourgeoise, as Fanon calls them, on the side of the Zionists, which has been becoming clearer in Jerusalem and other Palestinian cities.
The expected result of the plans that were designed for Al-Quds is to have a modernized urbanized city with some culturally appropriated sites to become the destination for tourists, and an Israelized version of Jerusalem to fit the Zionist narrative. On the other side of that Al-Quds, some enclaves designed for Palestinians with some facilities and projects that most Palestinians can’t even afford to go to. An equation of prosperity for the Israeli settler-colonial project and those who benefit from that, and impoverishment and more struggle for the Palestinians.
By far, some parts of the plans are done as the new image implanted of Al-Quds is that of a Train bypassing all the Israeli settlements and isolating what’s left of the Palestinian towns and neighborhoods. This train also passes by culturally appropriated old residences to add culture to the urbanized city. The Israeli occupation has been rewriting a Zionist history to fit our capital with catchy urbanized views and fancy appropriated homes.