NIF is Wrong for Opposing the Flag March through the Muslim Quarter

The New Israel Fund (NIF) is funding organizations which seek to prevent the annual Jerusalem Day flag march from going through the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Why? You may ask. What could be wrong with Israeli youth celebrating the reunification of their capital? One would think enthusiastic patriotism in a country’s youth should be celebrated.

Well, in the NIF’s words:

Every year on Jerusalem Day, thousands of far-right, religious extremists attend the annual “flag march” through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. The march causes a threatening and sometimes violent atmosphere for Arab residents living there.

Now there are literally thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of revelers who take part in the Jerusalem Day flag march. And the participants are often spirited. And yes, some have crossed the line into criminal behavior.

And it is also true that some of the marchers are “far-right religious extremists,” but being a “far-right religious extremist” is not a crime. Far-right religious extremists are entitled to the same freedom of movement as everyone else. Denying them this basic right runs counter to core liberal values.

Protesting in front of the Supreme Court and appealing to Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion to change the route of the march is not the humanistic, progressive approach. The NIF, as an organization which “works to protect the human rights of all people living under Israel’s control,” should lobby the police department for greater protection from violence rather than engaging in efforts to curb any population’s freedom of movement, Jewish or Muslim.

Clearly the NIF is deeply disturbed by limits to Muslim freedoms. So why would the NIF find it acceptable to curb Jewish freedoms?

About the Author
Long-time Jerusalemite tired of influential foreign voices beating down on Israel. Come on you guys -- you know better!