Our third day in Jenin - one suicide bomber arrested, and a few other planners. When I think of the terrible gas the Russians used on the Chechnians, i wonder if there isn't a way to make nice gas, like soma, just something temporary to take away agressive tendencies - good for hostages and terrorists alike. even if it is a terrible thought, it is better than the wanton killing. all right, in an ideal world we would not make people unhappy enough to kill each other, but but but just think of a happy gas in the theatre in chechnia that makes the women suicide bombers remember the good times, and gives them hope and ideas for a peaceful solution.
Maybe it's just the fever of the flu talking here - i seem to be under the influence of an exhausting gas..
Ariel is 20 miles away from my bed - where i am trying to sleep off what looks like a flu. the terrorist got stopped at the entrance to the town - got blown up and took 3 people with him who were trying to save the others. if he hadn't been spotted, he probably would have made it to the cafe where all the soldiers take their break in the neighborhood. but we're more alert - for every terrorist attack that takes place, at least 20 are averted.
But this is Ariel - the territories - and i wonder whether someone is saying - well its legitimate. after all it is clearly part of the land occupied after the war in 1967 -
But then again the terrorist bombings are part of the war of the past 2 years - the war against the conclusion of the occupation. Israel was ready to make peace and at the last minute arafat pulled out. so this terrible attack cannnot be seen as 'legitimate' because it is behind the 'green line' because we had been trying to move the border.
October 28, 2002
Yes, I would like to get out of Ariel. Yes I would much prefer it if we could exist without a wall. Yes I would like to return the territories and get on with my own life. Yes I would like the Palestinians to be able to make their own life too and prosper. The only problem is that there are enough Palestinians around whose only interest seems to be destroying me. That makes it difficult for us to negotiate borders, peace, normalization, the possibility of a binational state, or the possibility of two states. Possible, but difficult. I realize there is a basis for their hatred of us - but it would be so much easier to decide on borders if both sides could at least talk. The wall that is being built today is totally determined by the Israelis. Would it have been possible to determine the position of this wall - or even permeable borders - together with the Palestinians, the whole thing would have been much more humane for the Palestinians. But there were no negotiations.
If only the terrible terror attacks were to diminish in the coming months it might be possible to get a peace candidate here elected. But if every time the border opens up a tiny bit there is a bomb that kills a dozen people it is almost impossible to imagine electing someone who wants to make permeable borders.
I have been thinking a lot about the terrorist who blew up yesterday, the fact that he was a university student. I'm always fascinated by these terrorist bombers because i think nothing would ever induce me to kill other people except immediate self defense.
The big news today is the labor party's decision to leave the government - at last. The excuse was that they wanted to government to demand budget cuts in the monies given to the settlements, but anything would have done. It's pretty clear that most of the members of the Labor Party have been very uncomfortable about dealing with Arik Sharon - and the primaries draw near. The problem, as Linda points out, is that now the government will become even more right wing because it will bring the extreme right parties into it. Shaul Mofaz will be Minister of Defense and Arik himself will take over the Froeign Ministry from Shimon Peres. Let us hope this will bring early elections and a more peace-oriented party in the majority.
Among the other news items are two separate but parallel items - one is about the medical crisis in the Palestinian people - medicines not getting to people, people not being able to get to hospitals, a large percentage of malnutrition among children. A group of Israeli doctors have been visiting Palestinian towns every week and collecting information and helping out, but the situation is very bad - infant mortality at childbirth has increased 500% since the Israelis have made it difficult to pass checkpoints (fearing pregnant women are carrying bombs - like the woman who blew up in Jerusalem - and ambulances are carrying ammunition and explosives - proven a number of times). Another report today was on the subject of poverty in Israel - and the problems of medicines, malnutrition, access to medical facilities, etc, were also delineated. So the children are suffering - and why - because we can't trust each other.
I know that the levels are different - that they are suffering absolutely more than we are - and that our baselines were very different. We here have lowered our standard of living by a great deal - and they have as well. On the other hand, we were very much responsible for RAISING their standard of living by a great deal, and if there were cooperation it could continue for both of us.
Alan Mumford sent me an article and an email from Sandra Olewine, a Presbyterian minister, about the wall. I get emails and articles about the wall all the time - about how bad it is. ----- Original Message -----
As Israeli settlements (colonies) continue to grow, as Israeli bypass roads continue to be built, as separation walls, trenches and barbed-wire fences are constructed, the possibility of a 2-state solution for a just peace becomes improbable, if not actually impossible. Under the current conditions, the Palestinians will not be the ones responsible for destroying the ‘Jewish state’ (for many, this means at least a 70% Jewish majority in Israel).
There will be no way left to create viable borders between two sovereign and independent countries. What will be is an apartheid state which sends the Palestinian population home to their prisons each day (when it lets them out on day-passes), a reality that will mean that the population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea will be 55% Jewish and 45% Palestinian (Muslim and Christian). Some may call the numerous prisons, “the state of Palestine” but such would only be an illusion. And illusions won’t go a long way towards bringing security, justice or peace to Palestinians or Israelis.
Within such a reality, a one bi-national state solution seems to be the only hope for a just and durable peace. Certainly this would require some major shifts in people’s thinking - having to live together in a democratic state that truly grants equal rights to all of its citizens regardless of ethnic or religious identities. The demographics in this small piece of land will be the same whether 2 states, an apartheid state or a bi-national state exist here. If Israel remains committed to these colonialist policies, then the best hope for justice will be one state for all!
Rev. Sandra Olewine
United Methodist Liaison
What is interesting here is that there are some valid points - just as the article she follows it with has valid interviews and points out true problems - but it is an argument out of context. The only reason for the wall is continuing terrorism -there is not a day when a serious suicide attack is foiled, when the lives of over a dozen people are threatened. And where there is a wall, there are no suicide bombers. My children narrowly escape being murdered or maimed every day - how can i not want to protect myself?
A wall can be torn down, but a life cannot be recreated.
and yet, and yet, i may go to the following:
THE EVIL FENCE = PALESTINIAN GHETTO + ISRAELI DISASTER
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2002
18:00 RABIN SQUARE, TEL AVIV
Our group will assemble near the the stairs on the west side of the stage.
Organized by: BAT SHALOM, WOMEN'S PEACE COALITION, KVISA SCHORA, GUSH SHALOM
As you may remember from the Robert Frost poem I quoted months ago - "Before I built a wall I'd like to know what i was walling in and walling out" - i want a wall, but a good wall."
And now elections are pretty close - and not only the wall but all of israel's policies can be changed.
Liz calls from NY and says - my fantasy of the elections is that Ran Cohen becomes prime minister and the first thing he does is make peace with Iraq.
the first thing that has to happen is that everyone has to come back to vote in the elections -
Tonight part of the film, "Jenin, Jenin," by Mohammed Bahkri was screened on Channel 1 of Israel television and discussed. Bahkri (of which much has been said in these pages ) had to face the mother of a soldier who was killed in Jenin. She protested the filming of this in the Cinemateque a place supported by public funds because as she said, it is anti-Israel. Gila Almagor defends the film, the mother attacks again, claims the presentation of this film demoralized the country as it demeans the death of her son. Bahkri addresses the poor mother and tells he he has made the film so that no more children in either side are killed. I am proud that the discussion is taking place here - prime time - Israel television - I wonder if it is possible anywhere else...
The discussion over the fence continues as well. I still believe in it - but am gradually becoming convinced that the wall as it is being built is unjust.
I don't have enough information - but the information i'm getting is bad.
The whole point of the wall should be to help facilitate the peace process, to calm down the rage, to keep murderers on both sides apart so that governments can talk coolly and calmly. that has to happen.
Let's get these elections over.
Ah, I know the Labor has a small chance, but i think it has a better chance than it has now - and if people vote this time, especially the Arabs, and the yuppies, maybe we can get something done...
October 31, 2002
The wall is still unclear to me - how it can work - how it can be a tool rathr than a prison - but the need to protect the Palestinian people's olive harvest is unquestionable. Last night on the news it was a joy to see Amos Oz, Meir Shalev, and other writers being interviewed as they participated in the olive harvest, protecting the harvest from the shooting of the settlers. Just a few days ago Uri Avneri wrote of a similar experience:
Naboth had a Vineyard
Uri Avnery, 26.10.02
Had they been there last Saturday at sunset, most Israelis would not have believed their eyes.
In the middle of Havarah, a small village south of Nablus, 63 Israelis, men and women, young and old, were standing together with dozens of Palestinian villagers. Jews and Arabs talked together, drank juice offered by the hosts, exchanged addresses and phone numbers. The local children were wearing stickers brought by the guests, showing the flags of Israel and Palestine. Nobody bore arms. All of them looked happy, and with reason: they had just finished a hard day’s work at olive picking. They had been together under the trees. They were together when the settlers opened fire.
All this happened deep inside Palestinian territory, after two years of violent confrontation. A feast of Israeli-Palestinian fraternization in the middle of the bloody attacks. A human experience. A political act. A symbolic event.
Since biblical times the olive tree has been the symbol of this country. It has sustained the peasants for many generations – Canaanites, Israelites, Arabs. Throughout the year, the peasant works in the grove that has been handed down from father to son, treats the trees, cleans the ground. During the few weeks of harvest, the whole family picks the olives – men and women, old people and children. The olives must be picked in time and brought to the olive press, where the golden liquid is extracted – olive oil. These are days of rejoicing.
A whole family can live now on ten olive trees. Without them, they cannot exist. The harsher the occupation becomes, the more it prevents movement and denies livelihood, the more the villagers become dependent on the olive trees. Therefore the actions of the settlers are so dastardly. They try to prevent the harvesting, to steal the fruit or to burn the groves. Their actions remind one of one of the wickedest deeds described in the Bible, for eternal shame: the story of Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21.):
“Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house, and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it, or, if it seems good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee…” The rest of the story is well known: Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, produced false witnesses, Naboth was stoned to death, Ahab got the vineyard. In the end, the dogs licked the blood of both Ahab and Jezebel.
But compared to today’s settlers, the wicked Jezebel was a model of righteousness. The settlers take possession of the villagers’ olive groves without even offering payment or alternatives. They just shoot. One Palestinian boy was shot and killed by them while picking olives, hundreds of others were driven out.
Almost every Palestinian village has olive groves that border on some settlement or “outpost”, and that is now controlled by the settlers. When the owners approach to clean the ground or pick the olives, the settlers shoot at them “in coordination with the army”. The simple pretext: when the villagers pick olives near a settlement, they can see what happens there and threaten it.
A monstrous perversion, indeed: putting a settlement in the middle of a dense population of Palestinians and forbidding them to work their land, because it is close to the settlement.
In some cases the settlers were not satisfied with shooting, but invaded the groves physically, drove away the villagers and stole the olives they had picked. The prophets of Israel would have been shocked. Daylight robbery. And the army keeps silent.
The intentions of the settlers are more evil than those of Ahab and Jezebel. They want to turn the life of the villagers into hell, in order to force them to leave. That is what’s called “voluntary transfer”, or, in simple language, ethnic cleansing.
For decent Israelis, the conclusion is clear: they get up to help the villagers to pick the olives, before they rot on the trees or are stolen. They form a “human shield” against the settlers. During the last few weeks, hundreds of Israelis have done just that.
Last Saturday, 260 Israelis answered the calls of the various peace organizations (Gush Shalom, Ta’ayush, The Women’s Coalition, a sector of Peace Now and others.) They were divided between the villages that were in the greatest danger.
My lot was to come to Havarah, a village lying in a valley between two high mountains. Its olive groves are dispersed on the steep slopes of the mountains, which are covered with rocks and stinging bushes. It was quite an effort just to get there. Here and there somebody fell down and was scratched. But all arrived.
Around dozens of trees, groups of pickers, Israelis and Palestinians, started to work. The owners of the trees took advantage of the presence of the Israelis and worked quickly. Going against accepted practice, they hit the branches with sticks in order to get the fruit to fall on the green plastic sheets that were spread on the ground. Bad for the tree, but much quicker. Time was short.
Everybody was working feverishly, holding the fruit-laden branches and filling buckets and sacks or gathering from the ground. Each olive was precious. Sportsmen and sportswomen climbed into the trees, filling hats and bags.
The groups that reached the top of the mountain found themselves opposite the settlers of Yitzhar, a well-known nest of fanatics, dressed in their Sabbath clothes – black trousers, white shirts – and holding their guns. They threatened the pickers, shot into the air and at the ground (one of the Israeli pickers was hit by a clump of earth). The shots echoed between the mountains. Forty minutes later the soldiers appeared, and, after hugging the settlers, demanded that the pickers leave the area. They explained that the settlers were right when they opened fire, because the pickers were endangering the settlement. The pickers continued their work obstinately, defended by the Israeli “human shield”. But gradually they were pushed down the slope, closely followed by the settlers, with the soldiers in between.
In the other groves, the work continued without interruption. While it was going on, cigarettes were exchanged, conversations started, first haltingly, than more vividly, in spite of language difficulties. Some of the villagers spoke Hebrew and told about the places in Tel-Aviv where they had worked.
Before darkness fell, the sheets were gathered and folded, people put the heavy, full sacks on their shoulders or on donkeys, and started the descent from the steep slopes, from terrace to terrace. The local boys leapt easily, the elderly and the guests moved more cautiously, holding on to bushes and supporting each other. Many happy people were there. Those who had faced down the hooligans were happy because they had not fled. The Israeli pickers were happy because they had combined a political demonstration with a useful act. The Palestinians were happy because they had saved at least part of their harvest. They were carrying the heavy bags on their shoulders. At the foot of the mountain, the sacks were put on donkeys and ancient cars that looked as if they were about to fall apart at any moment. In the end, an emotional farewell: hundreds of Palestinians, men, women and children, waved enthusiastically at the departing Israelis, in the village square, the alleys and from the windows - a whole village. The happy earnings of a day’s work.
I edited the paragraphs - because i did a cut-and-paste from email - so some of them may be lost - i would have edited the style a little - because i don't like the transference of the biblical language - 'evil' settlers (the word evil should be erased from our lexicon)- and the 'happy end' sentiment (as if we created the heppy ending). But, hell, he was there. he was working. i'm sitting home kvetching about his style.
what he's doing is the least we should be doing -
- following the teachings of Maimonides in enabling people to maintain their livelihoods. (Highest form of charity and all that).
Just when i thought there was one issue there was no arguing about, this news comes at me:
Terrorist disguised as olive picker dies as attacks jeep on road
Aaron Lerner Date: 31 October 2002
Israel Radio correspondent Guy Kotev reported this afternoon that a terrorist who disguised himself as an olive harvester in an olive grove on the side of the road between Ofra and Beit El came out from between the trees to attack a passing army jeep. A soldier in the jeep was wounded in his hand (he is now in the hospital) and the deputy battalion commander who was also in the jeep (that was not an armored vehicle) chased the terrorist and killed him. The terrorist had a fragmentation grenade. The deputy battalion commander's description of the event was broadcast as part of the report - including his observation that the terrorist had disguised as an olive picker.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis) (mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
This item came to me from Naomi Regan.
It's like the ambulances with the bombbelts hiding under the patients - you get so you can't trust anyone. and then you get blamed for being paranoid.
Karen Alkalay-Gut Home