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Greta Thunberg's 'Neutral' Stance on Israel-Palestine Conflict Leaves Twitter Fuming

Credits: Photo of Greta Thunberg from Reuters/Screenshots of tweets.

Credits: Photo of Greta Thunberg from Reuters/Screenshots of tweets.

Greta Thunberg's comments rang of empty words and absolute nothingness for most people on Twitter, who pointed out that she wasn't taking a stand in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has been very vocal about several issues so far - from melting glaciers to carbon regulatory policies of countries, and multiple other issues in different countries, and also taking on former US President Donald Trump several times on Twitter. Commenting on the recently Israel-Palestine tensions, Thunberg had a take which didn’t go down very well with Twitter. For weeks now, Palestinian protesters and Israeli police have clashed on a daily basis in and around Jerusalem’s Old City, home to major religious sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims and the emotional epicentre of the Middle East conflict. On Monday, stun grenades echoed across a holy hilltop compound, and hundreds of Palestinians were hurt in clashes between stone-throwing protesters and police firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Police were also injured.

Thunberg on Twitter wrote how “I am not “against” Israel or Palestine. Needless to say I’m against any form of violence or oppression from anyone or any part," while condoning the violence.

Her comments, however, rang of empty words and absolute nothingness for most people on Twitter, who pointed out that she wasn’t for starters, taking a stance, and while condoning violence was not mentioning how there was a power imbalance. Some even pointed out the quote “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor," by Bishop Desmond Tutu.

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Her phrasing of the comment also turned into an ironic take which people shared showing exact situations of the balance between off.

To understand Thunberg’s stance, here’s an explanation of why Jerusalem always seems to be on edge and what set off the latest round of violence.

Monday’s clashes took place in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City. The mosque is the third-holiest site in Islam and sits on a sprawling plateau that is also home to the iconic golden Dome of the Rock. Muslims refer to the compound as the Noble Sanctuary.

The walled plateau is also the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount, because it was the location of biblical temples. Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70 A.D., with only the Western Wall remaining. The mosques were built centuries later.

Neighboring Jordan serves as the custodian of the site, which is operated by an Islamic endowment known as the Waqf. The site is open to tourists during certain times but only Muslims are allowed to pray there. The Western Wall is the holiest site where Jews can pray.

In recent years, groups of religious and nationalist Jews escorted by police have been visiting the compound in greater numbers and holding prayers in defiance of rules established after 1967 by Israel, Jordan and Muslim religious authorities. The Palestinians view the frequent visits and attempted prayers by Jews as a provocation, and it often ignites scuffles or more serious violence.

Some Israelis say the site should be open to all worshippers. The Palestinians refuse, fearing that Israel will eventually take over the site or partition it. Israeli officials say they have no intention of changing the status quo. The recent nightly clashes began at the start of Ramadan, when Israeli police placed barriers outside the Old Citys Damascus Gate, a popular gathering place after the evening prayers during the holy month when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. They later removed the barriers, but then protests escalated over the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

The families have been embroiled in a long legal battle with ideological Jewish settlers who seek to acquire property in crowded Palestinian neighborhoods just outside the Old City. Israel portrays it as a private real-estate dispute, but the families’ plight has attracted global attention.

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first published:May 12, 2021, 10:28 IST