Fair Policy, Fair Discussion

November 10, 2009

Settlers, settlers, settlers

Filed under: Helena's travels,Israeli settlements,West Bank — Helena Cobban @ 9:24 pm

Our group of CNI “political pilgrims” is in Jerusalem now. Yesterday we drove down to Hebron, where we received a warm welcome from Dr. Nabil Ali Jaabari, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Hebron University, and many other leading members of the university’s faculty. We had good discussions with them– and also with some of the very articulate English-language and English-lit students at the university. Then, some folks from the university helped organize a trip to downtown Hebron for us.

We wandered through the maze of small, stone-paved streets of the historic center of this important Palestinian city. Many of the stores there were shuttered tight shut in the middle of the day: they have been abandoned by  their owners, on a longer- or shorter-term basis, because of the harassment they’ve faced from the hundreds of Israeli settlers who have moved into the heart of the town. In some streets, only one or two stores were still open, doing a very lack-luster amount of business, while around them tens of stores stood closed, a few with some hate-graffiti on them in Hebrew.

There’s one section of the  souk where the settlers have moved into apartments directly overlooking the market-lanes and for some years now have periodically tossed trash and various other noxious substances down into the market. There, the store-owners long ago rigged up netting above the market-lanes to protect their customers from the trash.  Today, the nets sag down, heavy with garbage items including old clothes, rags, bottles, stones, and so one.

While in Hebron, we went into the two separate portions of the historic old stone worship space, long used as a mosque, but now with a portion of it reserved for Jewish worship.  At the entrances to both sides, there is a very heavy Israeli military presence, with young, machine-gun-toting soldiers presiding over multiple security checks. In the Muslim worship space, you can still see the bullet holes from where the (deranged?) American-Jewish settler Dr. Baruch Goldstein ran amok with his army-issued machine-gun in 1994, killing more than two dozen Muslims who were praying there.

Oh, what a pity that PM Rabin didn’t take advantage of that incident to evacuate all the settlers who had started to move into the heart of downtown Hebron.  Their numbers have grown greatly in the 15 years since then, and their provocations against the city’s Palestinians have continued. And then, of course, it has taken a non-trivial part of the Israeli military to be there to protect them.

As we drove the 25 miles to Hebron and back (along a mainly “settler” road), the speed and extent of the land-grabbing the Israelis have been involved in, in recent years, throughout the southern West Bank were only too obvious. Har Homa is now a massive urban area– and nearly all of it has been built since 2000. Efrata, Kiryat Arba, and various other very large settlements were all too evident from the road.

Those extensive land grabs have clawed great chunks of West Bank land out of the Palestinians’ hands and have led to the dicing up of the Palestinian areas by means of the road networks and wall/barrier systems constructed for the benefit of the settlers.  These circumstances of loss of resources and progressive loss of the possibility of self-governance have led to a dull but deep anger among many of the Palestinians we’ve met so far.  But the activities of the settlers who have thrust their outposts into the heart of heavily populated Palestinian cities seem to me to be the ones that continually threaten to explode the whole situation here.

In that respect, the actions of the two very ideological settler organizations Ateret Cohanim and Elad that are at work in Jerusalem seem particularly dangerous.

This afternoon, we took a tour of many of the southern and eastern parts of the present “Jerusalem” with Sarah Kreimer, deputy director of the Israeli NGO Ir Amim.  She did a great job showing us where the settlers have been building numerous, extremely provocative outposts right inside historically Palestinian neighborhoods over the past ten or so years– in Ras al-Amoud, Silwan, Nof Zion, etc.

In many of the places Sarah took us, you could see the wall/fence system snaking around the hills and valleys.  In some places, as she noted, it divides Jewish Israeli “communities” (i.e., settlements) from Palestinian communities.  But in a large portion of east Jerusalem, it divides Palestinians from Palestinians.

She gave us all copies of this map at the start of the tour, which was really helpful. But Ir Amim has many other helpful maps available at their website, here.

We’ve also had some other really informative experiences and discussions since we got into Jerusalem 48 hours ago. But I am way too tired to write anything more about them.

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8 Comments »

  1. We hear all the time by Israelis about Hamas constitution and all the that talk.

    Now we got this no one from same Israeli megaphone say any thing, we may hear different story about it but this week the rabbis Yeshiva Od Yosef Chai “, whose leader published a book that permits to kill gentiles,

    Comment by Salah — November 11, 2009 @ 7:18 am | Reply

  2. Yes, Salah, I’m sure Howard will like that one.

    Here’s an English translation: Settler Rabbi publishes “The complete guide to killing non-Jews”.

    Funny how the language is more extreme and genocidal than what Hamas is accused of (and that only by inaccurate translations).

    Comment by Alexno — November 11, 2009 @ 10:21 am | Reply

  3. Yes, and when this Rabbi becomes head of Israel and this guide becomes official Israeli policy we can compare the moral equalivance of the two. Until then this guide is no different than some charter of a neo-nazi group in Germany or the charter of the Klu Klux Klan here in the states. It belongs to a fringe group. The Hamas charter is, let’s remember, the charter of the group that is the democratically elected government and runs Gaza.

    Comment by David — November 11, 2009 @ 2:20 pm | Reply

  4. The reason of course, David, that the two texts are so similar is that they’re written by the same people. The translation of the Hamas charter bears little resemblance to the Arabic original, as you should know. (or maybe you don’t read Arabic, David).

    Comment by alexno — November 11, 2009 @ 2:30 pm | Reply

  5. David, as usual …..

    Israel: “Ordinary Racism”

    Comment by Salah — November 12, 2009 @ 3:05 am | Reply

  6. Yes, and when this Rabbi becomes head of Israel and this guide becomes official Israeli policy we can compare the moral equalivance of the two. Until then this guide is no different than some charter of a neo-nazi group

    Btw, David, why not?

    How many Israelis lead gangster just like Klu Klux Klan were made their way for top position as official Israeli policy maker?

    Do you like to remind you of their names? Go do your homework David.

    Comment by Salah — November 12, 2009 @ 3:13 am | Reply

  7. Again I’ll repeat you are trying to draw a moral equalivance where none exists.

    I would also add that lots of people don’t speak Arabic. If the English translations of Hamas’ Charter are missing all the beautiful peace loving declarations of the Arabic verision, it is in your interests to make a more accurate verision available.

    Comment by David — November 12, 2009 @ 11:52 am | Reply

  8. The reason of course, David, that the two texts are so similar is that they’re written by the same people. The translation of the Hamas charter bears little resemblance to the Arabic original, as you should know.

    The translations have been rendered by HAMAS spokesmen and other native speakers of Arabic (which you’re probably not but you’re welcome to correct the impression.)

    http://www.nefafoundation.org/miscellaneous/FeaturedDocs/HamasCharterIAPtransl.pdf

    this one is by mohammed maqsi on behalf of HAMAS itself. Are you saying mohammed maqsi doesn’t speak arabic as well as you do? That maybe you know HAMAS better than its own spokesmen?

    Comment by Issa — November 19, 2009 @ 7:40 am | Reply


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