The small struggle for the rights of the Palestinian residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem is quickly turning into a veritable social movement. Each Friday, hundreds of protesters from all over Israel congregate in the small neighborhood, standing shoulder to shoulder with the local Palestinians. On March 6th, more than 4,000 people descended on the neighborhood for one of the largest and most inspiring Israeli-Palestinian rallies in recent history. Due to the growing momentum of these protests, Israelis can no longer turn a blind eye to their government’s irrational and immoral policy of “Judaizing” East Jerusalem, and the international community, led by the White House, is finally taking a resolute stance on this key issue. Many commentators in Israel and around the world view what came to be known as the Sheikh Jarrah Movement as the new promise for the Israeli peace camp (examples here, here, here, here, and here).
Unsurprisingly, Israeli authorities have not remained silent in the face of this burgeoning movement. More than a hundred activists have been arrested since December 2009 and the Jerusalem Police is now beginning to press charges against dozens of them on the pretext of “illegal assembly”. The crackdown had recently escalated when policemen arrived at the doorstep of one of the activists during the Shabbat dinner, taking the activist into custody without legal warrant.
Even though the legality of the Sheikh Jarrah protests had been repeatedly reaffirmed by all three instances of the Israeli court, the police are unyielding in their attempt to crush them. And, while we are confident that the court will continue to uphold our right to protest against the intolerable injustice of the occupation, the Jerusalem Police’s politically motivated war of legal attrition against the Sheikh Jarrah movement is taking its toll on the activists.
Legal costs are mounting. The much appreciated voluntary work of a few dedicated lawyers is no longer sufficient to counter the upcoming wave of indictments or to enable the activists to appeal against Police persecution. And so, while we have been able to launch and maintain this struggle without funds or institutional support, we must turn to you for help at this crucial moment. We are in desperate need of a legal fund in order to defray the costs of supplying more than 100 activists with the appropriate legal defense, and to continue our string of legal victories against an overly politicized Police.
Donations to the Sheikh Jarrah movement are processed by the New Mexico based Taos Peace House, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and maintained by Grassroots Jerusalem a registered Israeli nonprofit organization.
Please visit the donate page on our website to make your contribution today.