Because of our sins we were exiled from our land.
I never did appreciate the theological outlook of this prayer since it seemed to blame us for our own victimization. But I did think of it when I read Amira Hass’ latest report about the expulsion of four Hamas legislators from their Jerusalem homes for the crime of being an elected representative of their own Palestinian people in the PA. It seems that just as we Jews were expelled from our land by our enemies, we are now returning the favor to the Palestinians. These Palestinians have sinned by rebelling against their occupiers (“we have met the enemy and he is US”) and by golly we’ll make them suffer the same way we suffered.
Israel long ago annexed East Jerusalem and brought its residents under Israeli rule (though it did not offer them citizenship). They were offered Israeli identity documents which offered them status that was short of citizenship but more generous than any rights offered to Palestinians of the West Bank. Over the past years, Israel has begun to chip away at those rights by arbitrarily revoking residency for any Palestinian who leaves Israel for any length of time. For example, Iman Jilani, the sister of the murdered Palestinian Ziad Jilani, lost her Jerusalem residency because she has lived in the United States for a number of years.
But the latest expulsions are a new chapter since Israel has never before denied residency to Palestinians who continued to live in Jerusalem. The ostensible pretext? By joining the PA, the four legislators were disloyal to Israel. Hass notes the irony of punishing Jerusalemites for rebelling against their annexation and expressing a preference for Palestinian rule via the PA:
…The inhabitants of East Jerusalem did not decide to “come” to Israel; it is Israel that “came” to them.
One of the group of four, Mohammed Abu Tir, a former minister, has been rearrested for having the chutzpah to leave his ancestral home. The other three expellees retreated to the courtyard of the East Jerusalem Red Cross where they took up residence in protest. Unless Israel wishes to penetrate this neutral territory, we have a possible long-term standoff in the offing.