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The Other Israel - Nr. 4 - Tel Aviv 21.11.98
Unterdrücke nicht und bedränge nicht!

After having exhausted all possible delaying tactics, Prime Minister Netanyahu had no choice but to carry out the first installment of the obligations which he took in the Wye River Memorandum, and hand over a sizable slice of the northern West Bank - an area where tens of thousands of Palestinians live in thirty-four towns and villages. Until last Thursday, the Israeli army was able to enter these villages at any time, day or night, imposing curfews, knock on the door and arrest whoever they wanted. As of Friday morning, such a visitation by the Israeli military would be an act of war. Yet the whole area remains an enclave, surrounded on all sides by still-occupied territory...

On the morning of Thursday, November 18 - one day before this internationally-hailed withdrawal - Israeli peace activist Salim Abbas happened to visit a more remote and obscure part of the West Bank, the Jiftlic area of the Jordan Vally. He had come to visit the Da'is extended Beduin family, living with the owner's consent on a plot of privately-owned Palestinian land - and arrived just in time to witness a massive raid by the army and the semi-military Border Guards, who went on a rampage of destruction: demolishing the Beduins' tents and confiscating them as well as the inhabitants' meager belongings; ruining the cattle-pen and confiscating the goats; confiscating also the Beduins' single truck; and to cap it all, destroying the water tank and spilling its contents into the sands. Sixty people - men,  women and children - were left under the open sky, with literally nothing left to them.

On the same day, Prime Minister Netanyahu arrived at a spot not far from there, to address a gathering of the Jordan Valley settlers and assure them that the region "will remain Israel's forever". In pursuit of that purpose, it seems that an effort is being made to "cleanse" the Jordan Valley of Arab presence...

The honeymoon which never really began is definitely over. Netanyahu reluctantly resigned himself to the Wye Agreement, whose full implementation will leave the Palestinians with about 40% of the West Bank - but he seems all the more determined to hold on at any cost to the other 60%. "Move, run and grab as many hilltops as you can. What we take now will stay ours, what we don't grab will go to them" was Foreign Minister Sharon's exhortation to the settlers.

In a backhanded way, the same speech also acknowleged that a Palestinian state is inevitable - but according to Sharon, such a state will consist of no more than than these 40%, a series of disconnected enclaves, and will be denied any share of Jerusalem. The Palestinian position about such a "solution" was clearly expressed in Arafat's "Rifle Speech": faced with this possibility, the Palestinians will have no choice but to use their guns.

Arafat's speech, as well as Sharon's, reverberated throughout the country and the world - until Big Brother intervened from Washington, to restore a temporary calm. And so the process continues - but in an atmosphere of utter distrust. Netanyahu's reluctant piecemeal handing over of territory fails to build any confidence among the Palestinians. And Arafat's issuing of decrees "against incitement" and for "the confiscation of illegal weapons" - which he is obliged to do according to Wye - does not arouse a strong feeling of trust on the Israeli side.

Peace organizations in Israel are nowadays virtually flooded with reports and requests for help from Palestinians targeted in one way or another.

At the beginning of this week, activists of the Committee Against House Demolitions rushed to the village of El-Khader, where military bulldozers destroyed hundreds of olive trees in creating a new "by-pass road" for settler use and provoked a major confrontation in which tear gas and "rubber bullets" were fired at the villagers. At the moment, work at El-Khader was halted by an appeal to the Supreme Court lodged by LAW, the Palestinian Human Rights Association - but judging by past precedent, this would be a stricktly temporary halt (Details

The twelve "by-pass roads" planned to be constructed in the near future throughout the West Bank are a direct threat to many villages, especially since military law and practice requires a "sterile corridor" of 350 metres, all along the road - which means not only that Palestinians would not be allowed to build there, but even existing houses, built long before anybody planned a road there, may get demolished.

An ever-present "hot spot" is East Jerusalem. Today, (Sunday, Nov.22), is the deadline set to the family of Riad Gozlan at Silwan Village, just south of the Old City Wall, to vacate their home; the enlightened courts of the state of Israel had awarded ownership of the house to the KKL (Jewish National Fund) on the basis of a title-deed from the 1920's (of course, Arab title-deeds from before 1948 are considered invalid by the same courts); for its part, the KKL intends to appoint the religious-nationalist settler association "Elad", which for years covets the Gozlan home, as "caretakers" on its behalf.

The Gozlan Family is determined to hold on to their home. Peace Now activists intend to hold a solidarity demonstration at the spot this very afternoon (rendezvous at 4.00 PM at the parking lot opposite the Dung Gate). After the demonstration , people who are interested will be welcomed to stay at the Rozlan's house.

This afternoon,  some fifty Peace Now protesters, together with many Palestinians headed by Feisal Huisseini, held a demonstration in front of  the threatened house. So far, no settler or police arrived to carry out the eviction order and the Gozlan Family - ten adults and eighteen children - are determined to resist. Other inhabitants of Silwan are ready  to rush to the scene instantly at need, as are Israeli and Palestinian activists from further afield. (American Friends of Peace Now - - have launched a call upon donors to avoid giving to the Jewish National Fund  because of its involvement in the affair.)

A further Peace Now protest is scheduled for   Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 11.00 - when government officials are to show building contractors around the confiscated Palestinian land at Har Homa/Jebl Abu Ghneim, in preparation for construction of a "Jews only" neighborhood there. (Info 02-5660648, 050-331726,

Meanwhile, a group of young people in Jerualem and Tel-Aviv started collecting cloths and toys for the AL-Atrash family, which is living - father, mother and ten children - in a tent ercted on the ruins of their house south of Hebron, which was declared "illegally built" and demolished for three consecutive times (Details: Moran, 02-6222790,

For all that Netayahu promises and allows the settlers, an increasing number of them come to see that they have no future on the West Bank; that implementation of Wye will make their settlements into enclaves at the end of long and narrow corridors (Israeli enclaves within Palestinian enclaves, but that is no consolation to either side...). Formidable fortifications would be erected around each settlement (anti-tank trenches, electric fences, guard towers and projectors were just a few of the items mentioned by the army as indispensable). Moreover, though Netanyahu promises that  Wye will be "the very last concession", many settlers who were quoted in the press last week don't believe him - and would rather go away right now, provided they could get enough compensations to let them get started anew inside Israel. Labor Knesset Member Yossi Katz tabled again this week his "Compensation for Voluntarily Evacuating Settlers" bill; it was greeted by howls of anger from the settler leaders - but perhaps not from all of their followers...

In fact, most settlers have not come to live there for ideological reasons, but simply because of the government-subsidised housing which they could not get elsewhere. The present circumstances make such housing less and less atrractive - which could lead to a rift among the settlers, eventually isolating the religious-nationalist hardcore.

The curious and alarming theology/ideology motivating this group was deeply explored by Sefi Rechlevski in his controversial book "Messiah's Donkey" (named for Rabbi Kook's doctrine that the "sinner" secular Israelis have the God-given task of building up a state which will then be taken over by the Elect and be transformed into a pure theocratic-nationalist polity). Rechlevski will expound his theories in person at a meeting organised by Gush Shalom, to take place this Tuesday (Nov. 24) at 8.30 PM, in Tel-Aviv's Tzavta Hall (details 03-5221732,

At the moment, the settlements seem doomed to remain for still a long time a source of endless friction, confrontation and bloodshed - until an Israeli government with real vision and courage will dismantle them or until circumstances force this step upon the Israeli side. The same seems true also for the entirely futile Israeli occupation of South Lebanon and the endless guerrilla war, which gets attention only when Israeli soldiers get killed. This grim cycle repeated itself once again last week. The death of three more young soldiers aroused protests by soldiers' parents, ranging from politically articulated statements and demonstrations by organised groups such as the Four Mothers movement (, to the purely personal outcry of newly-bereaved families visited by President Weitzmann, and to the desperate mother who tried to commit suicide on the day her soldier son was sent to Lebanon. And still, of the two options available - unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon or negotiation with Syria about the Golan which will also include Damascus' Lebanese sattelite, the government chooses neither one and maintains the status quo....

Twice within twenty-four hours a demonstration was held outside the defence ministry in Tel-Aviv: on Tuesday the mourning vigil by the Four Mothers movement, upon hearing the news from Lebanon; on the following day, a solidarity vigil with the imprisoned 28-year old conscientious objector Yehuda Igos. (An anarcho-pacifist who objects to armies and nations in general and to the oppression of the Palestinians in particular, Igos was rejected by the army's Commission on Exemptions on Grounds of Conscience, and sent off to military prison 4). (Yehuda Igos Solidarity Committee -

The two vigils were different in their slogans and in the ages of their participants (mostly middle-aged to elderly in the first, teen-aged radicals predominating in the second). Yet they both constitute part of what a columnist called "the de-militarization of Israeli society". In Ha'ir of this week, socilogist Danny Bartal predicted a massive movement of refusal to military service, should Netayahu's policies lead to war; and this was curiously echoed on the other side of the political spectrum, with  Yisrael Zeira of the National Religious Party stating: "We have lost the struggle for the hearts of the people. The Palestinian state is coming, and to deny it is like denying the sunrise. Netanyahu had no choice - he was afraid that in the next war half the people will desert him" (Ha'aretz, Nov.6).

Adam Keller Beate Zilversmidt

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P.S. Please send the following message (or anything else you want to make up) to Prime Minister Netanyahu, and if you have access to fax - also to the military addresses, for which no e-mail is available.

To ... ... ... ...
I would like to protest in the strongest possible terms your persecution of the West Bank Beduins in general, and in particular the brutal attack on the members of the Da'is family at the Jiftlic on Novemeber 18, 1998. I demand that you immediately restore to the family their confiscated property, compensate them for what was destroyed, and let them live in peace on their meager land. I also call upon you, with relation to the Jahalin Beduins uprooted for the extention of the Maa'leh Adumim settlement, to let them have reasonable conditions on the Abu-Dis hilltop which your government designated for them - including registered ownership of their plots of land, building permits, and financial support to build dwellings instead of those demolished by Israeli forces.

Fax Numbers

  • Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai
    972 3 6976218.
  • Head of the Military Government's Civil
    Administration  Dov Tzadaka: 972 2 9977341
  • Coordinator of Activities in the Occupied Territories
    General Ya'akov Or 972 2 9977356


Please send us a copy of any answer which you get:

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