Home' Greymouth Star : August 6th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
declare I will be a loyal
citizen of the State of
Israel,” reads the oath
that must be sworn by
all naturalised Israeli
they are words being
uttered by Palestinians.
In East Jerusalem, which Israel captured
from Jordan during the 1967 Middle
East war and later annexed, a move
not recognised internationally, issues
of Palestinian identity are layered with
While Israel regards the east of the city
as part of Israel, the estimated 300,000
Palestinians that live there do not. They
are not Israeli citizens, instead holding
Israeli-issued blue IDs that grant them
permanent resident status.
While they can seek citizenship if
they wish, the vast majority reject it, not
wanting to renounce their own history
or be seen to buy into Israel’s 48-year
And yet over the past decade, an
increasing number of East Jerusalem
Palestinians have gone through the
lengthy process of becoming Israeli
citizens, researchers and lawyers say.
In part it reflects a loss of hope that an
independent Palestinian state will ever
emerge. But it also reflects a hard-headed
pragmatism — an acknowledgement that
having Israeli citizenship will make it
easier to get or change jobs, buy or move
house, travel abroad and receive access to
Israeli officials are reluctant to confirm
figures, but data obtained by the Jerusalem
Institute for Israel Studies indicates a
jump over the past decade, rising from
114 applications in 2003 to between 800
and 1000 a year now, around half of which
are successful. On top of that, hundreds
have made inquiries before the formal
application process begins.
Interior Ministry figures obtained show
there were 1434 applications in 2012-13,
of which 189 were approved, 1061 are still
being processed and 169 were rejected. The
remainder are in limbo.
Palestinians who have applied do not
like to talk about it. The loyalty oath is not
an easy thing for them to sign up to and
becoming a naturalised Israeli — joining
the enemy — is taboo.
“It felt bad, really bad,” a 46-year-old
Palestinian teacher who took
the oath a year ago said.
Despite her reser vations, she
knew it was right for stability
and career prospects.
“ We just want to live our
lives,” she said. “At the end
of the day, politics gets you
For many East
Jerusalemites, part of the fear
is that Israel could revoke
their blue ID at any time
since retaining it depends
on maintaining a “centre
of life” in Jerusalem. Spend
too much time abroad or
working elsewhere and the
ID could go. That is not
the case when it comes to
“I wanted to strengthen
myself in Jerusalem,” the
teacher said, explaining her
reasoning. “It’s my homeland.
I was born here, I live here
and I want to stay here.”
Others echoed that sense
of a transition that on
the one hand feels like a
renunciation, but on the
other strengthens their
ability to keep firm roots in
“It felt really wrong, I was a
bit ashamed because it feels
like you’re giving up your
identity,” said a 26-year-old
Palestinian ballet dancer, who
began the application in June.
“But if I get an Israeli passport I won’t
be so weak, especially living in East
Jerusalem — it’s so easy for us to get
The ballet dancer told her immediate
family who initially reacted with surprise
but later accepted her choice. However,
some other Palestinians fear their
community’s reaction to breaking the
taboo, so keep their decision even from
family and friends.
For many Palestinians, East Jerusalem
feel likes a twilight zone. They pay Israeli
municipal taxes and receive healthcare and
insurance benefits, but are often neglected
when it comes to basic city ser vices —
from trash collection to new playgrounds
and resources in schools and clinics.
The situation is particularly bad in
places like Shuafat, a refugee camp a few
minutes away from the Old City. Shuafat
lies beyond the concrete barrier built by
Israel in the mid-2000s, after a wave of
Palestinian suicide bombings.
To reach the rest of Jerusalem, Shuafat
residents must queue to get through
a caged-iron walkway that crosses the
barrier. About 100,000 Palestinians
live beyond the barrier but are still
“The wall brought panic,” said Adi
Lustigman, a lawyer who represents
Palestinians in citizenship applications.
“ People were afraid that after their homes
were put behind it that their residency will
be stripped and rights taken away.”
Citizenship is seen as a block against
that, said Lustigman, who confirmed that
applications have shot up in recent years.
The fraught decisions over identity come
at a time when political and religious
tensions are high in Jerusalem, and yet
integration has to an extent been rising.
The most visible sign of that is the city’s
light-rail system which allows passengers
— a mix of ultra-Orthodox Jews, secular
Israelis, Palestinians and tourists — quick
access to west Jerusalem shopping centres,
markets and parks. More Palestinians,
albeit in small numbers, have also been
moving into predominantly Jewish
neighbourhoods and even settlements on
Khalil Tafakji, a map expert and former
member of the Palestinian negotiating
team, said political deadlock — the sense
that years of striving for an independent
Palestinian state were going nowhere —
was driving numbers up.
“ If this continues, what will the
Palestinians negotiate about? They want
to negotiate on the land — they have
already lost the land,” he said. “ They want
to negotiate for the population and the
population is being lost. ”
Israel was trying to strengthen its hold
on Jerusalem demographically, a process
helped by Palestinians taking up Israeli
citizenship. Since 1967, around 24,000
Palestinians had made the switch, he
said, equivalent to almost 10% of the
East Jerusalem Palestinian population.
The demographic impact is even wider
when one considers that the children of
those who become Israeli citizens are born
Israeli Interior Minister Silvan Shalom
rejected the demographic argument.
“This will not affect negotiations with the
Palestinians, which encompass far greater
and wider issues,” said Shalom, whose
portfolio includes Palestinian affairs.
4 - Thursday, August 6, 2015
We appreciate the value of the Letters to the Editor
column as a public forum for West Coasters and
welcome your opinion and suggestions.
Letters may be submitted by post, fax or e-mail and
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Post to PO Box 3, Greymouth, fax to 768 6205 or
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uLetters to the editor
1876 - Two Australian constables accidentally
shoot the Rev William Healy, mistaking him for
1888 - The woman thought to have been Jack
the Ripper’s first victim, 35-year-old prostitute
Martha Turner, is stabbed to death in
Whitechapel in London’s East End.
1890 - Convicted murderer
William Kemmler becomes the first
human put to death in an electric
chair at Auburn Prison, New York.
1915 - In World War One, fresh
Allied landings of 25,000 men on
Suvla Bay on the Gallipoli Peninsula fail.
1926 - The first movies with sound premiere
in New York; American Gertrude Ederle
becomes the first woman to swim the English
1945 - In the first use of a nuclear weapon
in warfare, US plane drops atomic bomb on
Hiroshima, Japan, near end of World War Two,
killing at least 117,000 people.
1962 - Jamaica achieves independence after
300 years of British rule.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Daniel O’Connell, Irish leader (1775-
1847); Lord Alfred Tennyson, English poet
(1809-1892); Sir Alexander Fleming, British
discoverer of penicillin (1881-1955); Lucille
Ball, US actress-comedienne
(1911-1989); Robert Mitchum,
US actor (1917-1997); Sir Freddie
Laker, British entrepreneur
(1922-2006); Andy Warhol, US
artist (1928-1987); Peter Bonerz,
US actor-director (1938-); Geri
Halliwell, British singer (1972-);
Stuart O’Grady, Australian cyclist (1973-).
“There are philosophies which are
unendurable not because men are cowards, but
because they are men.” — Ludwig Lewisohn,
German-born novelist-critic (1883-1955).
“For which of you, intending to build a tower,
does not first sit down and estimate the cost,
to see whether he has enough to complete it?”
has been forced to
take a step to alleviate
the log shortage
at its Gladstone factory which would have
been scoffed at when the plant opened — it
is importing timber to the West Coast. Last
Thursday the first supply of imported pinus
logs from the Golden Downs State forest in
Nelson began trickling in to the plant. By
yesterday the consignment had reached 18,000
Plant manager Mr A McGregor said this
morning that the importation of logs was a
direct upshot of the shortage of rimu here.
Such a step had not been envisged when the
factory opened. The factory will continue to
import logs from Nelson as long as the current
Which way to Moana? Travelling motorists
who are strangers to the district could have
difficulty in determining this question — even
if they were within the little township itself.
last night ’s meeting of the West Coast branch
of the Automobile Association (Canterbury)
learned of this from Mr J Whitmore.
Mr Whitmore described the finger sign
which was intended to point to Moana, as
something of a windmill. “It all depends
which way the wind is blowing,” he said, in
advocating that the sign be fixed to remain
more stable. “Strangers would get lost
following its direction at times.”
Hokitika’s population increased this week
when former parishioners of St Mary’s
returned to celebrate the church’s centennial.
The Bishop of Christchurch, the Most Rev B
P Ashby, was guest of honour at a garden party
on Saturday afternoon.
uFood for thought
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A journalist friend of mine once told
me that most politicians’ credibility was
inversely proportional to their proximity.
Which was just her fancy way of saying
“familiarity breeds contempt”. Which is
about the best reason I can come up with
for the Parliamentary Press Gallery’s
ongoing, undisguised and frequently ill-
judged contempt for Winston Peters and
New Zealand First.
New Zealand ’s leading political
journalists appear to operate a roster
when it comes to disparaging Peters and
his party. This week it was the turn of
veteran New Zealand Herald journalist
John Armstrong to put the boot in.
In addition to being “unfashionable
— a nd deliberately so”, Peters followers
were also, in Armstrong’s expert opinion,
“politically dazed and confused ”.
With their vision of the future “based
on nostalgia for the relatively recent
past ”, Armstrong described NZ First ’s
supporters as being “marooned in a time
bubble”. That time would be? The New
Zealand of the prosperous 1950s. With
Peters’ small-conser vatives revelling in
“the suffocating social conformity of that
Entertaining writing, to be sure, but it
has little, if anything, to do with Peters
or the NZ First Party. Indeed, it is the
sort of condescending tosh meted out
(with only a name change or two) to any
politician or political party which dares
to defy the neo-liberal orthodoxy of our
own era. The purpose of the insults is
to encourage the reader to identify with
the writer, and not the subjects, of the
commentary. Who in their right mind
would admit to being “unfashionable”,
“dazed and confused ”, living in a “time
bubble” or revelling in “suffocating social
In reality, of course, NZ First
supporters are none of these things.
Far from being “dazed and confused ”,
they are considerably more focused on
what is happening in New Zealand
— e specially rural and provincial New
Zealand — than the great majority of
the conventionally-wise metropolitans
to whom Armstrong is, presumably,
appealing. What Armstrong condemns
as “suffocating social conformity ” and
the “myth of a better past ”, they recall
as a period of strong communities and
mass participation, when there were jobs
and homes for everyone, and an entire
household could live comfortably on a
That Armstrong goes to such lengths to
ridicule the historical memory of the NZ
First voter is actually highly instructive.
History is Kryptonite to neo-liberalism.
Like Pol Pot ’s genocidal Maoism, it
needs to erase the memory of everything
that existed before the revolution —
“ Year Zero”. Only those who know
nothing of the child and family-centred
social policies of the 1950s and 1960s
could possibly accept Armstrong’s
“suffocating social conformity” as an
adequate characterisation of the New
Zealand of 50 years ago. There was a time
when journalists aspired to do more than
promote historical amnesia. But, like so
much else, that was before 1984 — our
own “Year Zero”.
Armstrong comforts his readers with
the thought that NZ First ’s prime
electoral demographic — the so-called
“RSA Generation” born in the 1920s
— is a wasting asset. He argues that the
party ’s refusal to confront the “myth of a
better past ” condemns it to a slow death:
“as those who lived through those times
and who gain comforting reassurance
from Winston Peters’ pronouncements
Had Armstrong but looked around
him at NZ First ’s Rotorua conference,
he would have realised the inadequacy
of that analysis. In 1993, when NZ First
was born, the RSA Generation was much
in evidence. Twenty-two years later,
however, a roll-call of delegates would
reveal a preponderance of Baby-Boomers.
Armstrong appears to have forgotten
that the New Zealanders born between
1946 and 1966 all have direct experience
of what New Zealand was like before
Rogernomics. O ver the inter vening 30
years, a great many of them have reached
the conclusion that there are much worse
things in this world than mediocre coffee
and Rob Muldoon. RSA Generation
voters, alone, did not take the Northland
seat off National.
Armstrong would have done better to
analyse Peters’ Rotorua appeal for more
party members and a bigger war-chest.
Standing atop his mountain of Northland
ballots, he has seen a nation struggling
to keep its head above water. Old,
middle-aged and young New Zealanders
are desperate to hear that “help is on
its way ”. A NZ First that offers up the
achievements of the past as proof that
the future can be better, will not lack for
Chris Trotter is a left-wing
Reports of NZ First’s death greatly exaggerated
Palestinians queue outside Israel’s Interior Ministr y office in East Jerusalem.
Eating spicy food, especially fresh
chilli, has been linked to a lower risk of
death in a Chinese study.
But researchers say it is too early to
draw a final conclusion on the potential
benefits of fiery fare.
The study, published in The BMJ,
collected dietary data from almost
490,000 people, aged 30 to 79, in
They were enrolled between 2004 and
2008, and their health monitored for an
average of seven years. Just over 20,000
participants died in the period.
“Compared with participants who ate
spicy foods less than once a week, those
who consumed spicy foods one or two
days a week were at a 10% reduced risk
of death,” said a statement from The
And those who ate spicy foods almost
every day, “had a relative 14% lower
risk of death compared to those who
consumed spicy foods less than once a
The association was similar in men
and women, and stronger in those who
did not consume alcohol.
Fresh and dried chilli peppers were
the most commonly used spices — and
the association was higher with the
fresh variety, according to the team led
by researchers at the Chinese Academy
of Medical Sciences.
The answer may be found in an
ingredient of spices — capsaicin,
which has previously been suggested
to possess anti-obesity, anti-oxidant,
anti-inflammation and anti-cancer
properties. — New Zealand Herald
Spicy food could save your life — study
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