Reflections by Mazin Qumsiyeh
The old Hebron to Jerusalem (now Hebron-to-wall-near Bethlehem) road was lined up with perhaps over 200 armed special forces. These are not Israeli but Palestinian "security". I was going to pick a friend at Dheisheh Refugee camp to eat Knafah (a Palestinian sweet). Every 10 meters (30 ft) for a stretch of over a mile there was one of those security men. Young people 18-24 years old. The "Palestinian Authority" spends most of its budget not on healthcare or education or any other item but on security. We were told President Abbas is coming to the area (either to the headquarters in AlMuqata’a or to the "Presidential Palace" in Artas area very near an Israeli settlement). After the big motorcade the streets had all been cleared of parked cars. The police were slow to let the original traffic reopen and for cars to park again. At the Knafa shop, we had to struggle to get parking and I think it happened only after the owner gave free Knafa to the policemen on duty. No one knows why streets are closed or what is the occasion for the visits of such dignitaries to our little town of Bethlehem (aka Ghetto 12). After the Knafa we visited the besieged village of Tqu’ just two miles southwest of Bethlehem and we saw the desperation of these villages which get no presidential visits. This village and dozens like it are besieged by colonial Jewish-only settlements which took most of their best lands and water resources. Here the colonies of Tekoa, El David and Nodekim (where Avigdor Lieberman lives) sit on the lands of the village. The water resources have been confiscated and the village must buy its water from the Israeli company that has for some 40 years been pillaging the village water wells. Near the entrance and one of the water wells, a roving Israeli checkpoint stopped my car and the young (perhaps Russian) kid sweating and out of his elements wearing heavy cloths and carrying a gun perhaps heavier than he is asks me to step out of the car and to then open the trunk etc. The home we visited had a father with 10 children way below poverty level but with a dignity and generosity that is legendary for such simple decent village people. Unemployment is rampant and some village people are forced to work in the colonial settlements just to survive. But this family says they would prefer to starve than do that. The colonial settlements have all their needs of water, infrastructure, and Israeli government support (and new buildings not withstanding Obama’s empty rhetoric). The lavish life-style reminiscent of Southern California a few hundred yards away from unbelievable man-made poverty is emblematic of the worst forms of apartheid and human cruelty to fellow humans. On stolen lands and using stolen water, they even have a Jewish only water Park overseeing the desert (the Dead Sea and Jordan are visible) attracting colonial settlers from both sides of the apartheid wall. Oh yes, the three colonies are on the so-called Palestinian side of the wall!. I saw enough for one day and on the way back to Beit Sahour, I console myself with the site of the ruins of a castle of the tyrannical King Herod built near Tqu’ 2000 years ago. He and his brutal rule have long disappeared while the native people (dark skinned and beautiful, the Canaanite descendents remain in the people of Tqu’). I wished Palestinian self-declared leaders go to Tqu’ and other besieged villages.
The lunatic apartheid system unleashed here over the past 127 years is producing some really weird anomalies beyond the sad story of Tqu' and villages like it. The intensity of these anomalies have increased recently perhaps heralding in the end of the racist ideologies of choosiness (and us versus them) that manifest itself in Zionism. Weird stories are here told every day: Ultra Orthodox Jews stoning cars in Jerusalem Saturday (hurting 4) in a rioting that will not be quelled with home demolitions or administrative detentions (let alone rubber coated steel bullets or live ammunition) that Palestinians face regularly. It will be little covered in Western media (self-censored due to Zionist sympathies). Ultra Zionist are creating a new settlement to spite Obama and calling it, wait for this, Obama! The Israel ministry of transportation will change signs to show more "Jewish" (Hebrew) names even when written in Arabic. Thus Nazareth (English) and An-Nasreh (Arabic) will be scrubbed for the Hebrew version (notsrim). Ditto for AlQuds/Jerusalem which will hence be Yerushalaym (the latter is ironically stolen/distorted from the Aramaic Canaanite name of the city Ur Salem, the house of Salem, the Canaanite God of Peace). The Israeli foreign ministry hired legions of commentators to scour the internet and produce blogs and comment-back to make Israel look good and Palestinians bad (http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=34520 ).
Israel, which kidnapped Internationals in an act of state piracy in International waters (on their way to Gaza) gave the permission to Egypt to let the same group into Gaza (but for one day). Gaza civilians continue to die due to a siege that is a war crime and a crime against humanity yet few people in position of influence protest. It is also absurd that the Palestinian "leadership" cannot get the courage to rise above the pettiness (both between people in Fatah, and between Hamas and Fatah not to mention the self-marginalization of other groups) or to rise above the trappings of imagined "authority" while not standing with our own people (when was the last time a "leader" was arrested blocking a bulldozer or protecting a family from eviction). Meanwhile Israeli prosecutors quietly dropped a case against a settler who shot two Palestinians at point blank range because the defense threatened to demand Israeli security services expose what they consider information harmful to state security (my guess is that the information is that the defendant like other racist settlers and state security services are team). Another court released a settler who shot a Palestinian (on Palestinian land) claiming the unarmed Palestinian "appeared threatening." The Palestinian "authority" (which has limited other authorities) banned AlJazeera television and then un-banned it (at least they respond to some pressure). Hamas and Fatah officials continue to hold hundreds of prisoners from the opposing camps (but only one Israeli occupation soldier, in Hamas's hands). Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation authorities continue to "harvest" "wanted" Palestinians going to extremes of joining demonstrations, helping cut apartheid fences and egging on demonstrators to use violence and then arresting those that fall into the trap (e.g. as Happened in Ni'lin last week). And the war criminal and disgraced ex-prime minister of the apartheid regime (Olmert) has the Chutzpah to write and publish a column in the Washington Post titled (this is not a joke): "How to Achieve a Lasting Peace: Stop Focusing on the Settlements".
Perhaps all this fits under the misnamed condition called the "Jerusalem syndrome". Perhaps like the Swine flue (but far more deadly), it is becoming pandemic since it is spreading around the world. Obama like Condy Rice before him caught it and began to whisper and whimper nonsense (Condi: we said Israel should withdraw from the cities and we mean it; Obama: We said Israel should freeze settlement activities and we mean it). We mean it by giving Israel billions of our taxes, don't you see.. The Prime minister of Canada shamelessly supports a racist entity called "Jewish National Fund" (imagine a "white national fund" that takes lands to clear them of dark-skinned people). And on and on.
The few sane people (or at least those saner than the average person here in Apartheid land) get together and try to challenge the system (see for example: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8149464.stm http://www.time.com/time/video/?bcpid=1485842900&bctid=9018740001 ) but it is not easy when you are swimming against the tide and is surrounded by sharks swimming the other direction, blocking it and taking bites every once in a while. Fortunately some sane people remain and more are awakened every day. I meet such great people everyday. I just gave a talk to group of 40 bright inquisitive young people from around the world and their understanding of the situation was amazing.
"Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness — and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe. The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling — their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them."
"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."
Both quotes from Arundhati Roy
PS As several readers pointed out to me, the quote I put from Ali Hebshi was simply his retelling of a famous marxist quote but the above are definitely original Arundhati 🙂
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhDA bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at homehttp://qumsiyeh.org