Mrs. Peled and the Palestinian homes of West Jerusalem

I am delighted that my company, Just World books, is publishing Miko Peled’s intimate and thought-provoking memoir The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine. (We’re already taking advance orders though the book won’t be available before the end of February.)
Miko has been giving out some great teasers for the book in the writing and lecturing he’s been doing in recent months. Today, on his blog, he has this intriguing story:

    Newt Gingrich, being the history buff that he is, might be interested in a story I mention in my book The General’s Son, about my mother. She was born and raised in Jerusalem and she remembers the homes of Palestinians families in neighborhoods in West Jerusalem. She told me that when she was a child, on Saturday afternoons she would go for walks through these neighborhoods, admiring the beauty of the homes, watching families sit together in their beautiful gardens. In 1948 when the Palestinian families were forced out of West Jerusalem, my mother was offered one of those beautiful, spacious homes but she refused. At age 22, the wife of a young army officer with little means and with two small children, she refused a beautiful spacious home, offered to her completely free because she could not bear the thought of living in the home of a family that was forced out and now lives in a refugee camp. “The coffee was still warm on the tables as the soldiers came in and began the looting” she told me. “Can you imagine how much those families, those mothers must miss their homes?”
    She continued, “I remember seeing the truckloads of loot, taken by the Israeli soldiers from these homes. How were they not ashamed of themselves?”
    There are thousands upon thousands of homes in cities all over the country that were taken.

Ah, the importance that a mother has in raising a thoughtful and compassionate person, eh?

Amos Gvirtz’s bulletin, “#282”

    Over recent years, the tireless Israeli peace activist Amos Gvirtz, from Kibbutz Shefayim, has been issuing regular warnings about the misdeeds of various of his countryman. These simply worded bulletins shine a much-needed light on some of the little-known details of what has been going on in occupied Palestine. Here is his latest:

Don’t say we did not know #282
On Thursday, 29th September, 2011, Palestinian farmers from the village Shweiki, in the South Hebron Hills, discovered that settlers had uprooted 50 of their olive trees on their land.
The farmers called the army and police. An army tracker traced the vandals’ footprints, leading to an outpost called Mitzpe Eshtamoa. On a rock was written: “Halhul price tag.”
On Friday, 30th September, 2011, in the afternoon, several settlers and a dog entered the Palestinian village Yasuf (near the settlement Tapuah). The dog tried to attack people in the village. Villagers threw stones at the dog and the invaders, and managed to get them out. IDF soldiers then arrived and threw teargas grenades in the village and fired volleys into the air.
Questions & queries:
אל תגידו לא ידענו
ביום חמישי ה-29.9.2011 גילו חקלאים מהכפר הפלסטיני , שבדרום הר חברון, שווייקי, שמתנחלים עקרו כחמישים עצי זית באדמתם. הם הזעיקו את הצבא והמשטרה. גשש של הצבא מצא את עקבות העוקרים, שהובילו למאחז מצפה אשתמוע. עוד גילו על סלע כתובת “תג מחיר חלחול”.
ביום שישי אחה”צ ה-30.9.2011 נכנסו מספר מתנחלים עם כלב לכפר יאסוף (ליד ההתנחלות תפוח). הכלב ניסה לתקוף אנשים בכפר. אנשי הכפר זרקו עליו ועל הפולשים אבנים וגרשום. חיילי צה”ל שהגיעו, זרקו רימוני גז בכפר וירו באוויר.
שאלות וברורים:

Appeal on behalf of ‘Bedouins’ in Israel

    Amos Gvirtz, who was my generous host in his home at Kibbutz Shefayim two years ago, sends out a short weekly report on some current rights outrage committed by the government of Israel, under the title “Don’t say you didn’t know”. His latest email is longer than usual and comes with a short but heartfelt letter at the top:

Dear Friends
I wrote this article after 9 of us were arrested when we tried to rebuild the homes of El-Arakib after the entire village was demolished again. This time the police arrived again and arrested 4 people from El-Arakib and 5 human rights activists that tried to help them to rebuild their homes. One human rights activist was arrested earlier that day.
I wish you could ask your Foreign ministers to intervene in this grave human rights violation by the Israeli government against defenseless citizens whose only crime is that they are Bedouins in the Jewish state. I wish you ask them to check the racist role of the JNF in this case.
All the best to you and thank you!
Amos Gvirtz

    Gvirtz’s report deals with a long-running campaign by “Bedouins”, who are transhumant Palestinian Arabs who are supposedly “full” citizens of the State of Israel (as opposed to mere “residents” of the OPTs)… to resist having their homes torn down by the Israeli authorities.
    Here it is:

Martin Luther King Junior and the Struggle of the Bedouins
By Amos Gvirtz
On Monday January 17, 2011, America celebrated Martin Luther King Junior Day. In the 1960s King led a non-violent struggle against the racial segregation in the southern states. He was arrested many times during the course of this struggle for breaking the laws of those states. Nevertheless, his birthday was declared a national holiday in the U.S. – and this during the term of a right-wing president, Ronald Reagan.
How is it possible that the birthday of a serial criminal has become a national holiday? The difference between King and other criminals is that the latter break laws which are intended to protect all citizens, while Martin Luther King Junior broke laws which discriminated against some of the citizens – deplorable racist laws.
On Monday January 17, 2011, representatives of the State of Israel, accompanied by a large police force, destroyed the Bedouin village El-Arakib for the 10th time. They then proceeded to clear away the rubble in preparation for the planting of a forest by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) on the village land! That same day the police arrested 10 people at the site, residents of the village and human rights activists who protested against the state’s reprehensible act.

Continue reading “Appeal on behalf of ‘Bedouins’ in Israel”

Israel’s ‘New’ peace wave protests IOF violence in Bil’in

Israel’s peace and justice movement has been reborn. Ten years after the body blow that (current War Minister) Ehud Barak delivered to it when he said the Palestinians had “turned down a generous offer” (which wasn’t generous at all), and that there was “no-one to talk to” among the Palestinians, a new generation of Israeli activists has taken to the streets.
This evening, several hundred Israeli peaceniks blocked the street in front of the War Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv for over an hour as they protested yesterday’s killing-by-poison-gas of Bil’in villager Jawaher Abu Rahmeh. Eight demonstrators including former Meretz MK Mossi Raz were arrested there. Later, some of the demonstrators went to the home of U.S. ambassador James Cunningham in Herzliya, in order to “return” to him spent gas canisters picked up in Bil’in, which had generously been given to Israel by the U.S.
No word yet on any reaction Cunningham has voiced regarding Ms. Abu Rahmeh’s killing. But U.S. officials and spokespeople should be peppered with questions about it at every turn.
Ms. Abu Rahmeh was seeking, along with friends and colleagues from Bil’in and elsewhere, to gain access to her family’s land. Since 2004, Bil’in’s villagers have been quite illegally barred from huge swathes of their land by Israel’s Apartheid Wall.
You can follow the near real-time tweets of activist Joseph Dana (“Ibn Ezra”) here.
… Back in 2009, I reported and wrote this essay about the decline of the Israeli peace movement since 2000 (or perhaps, since much earlier than that.) Thank goodness a new generation of peace-and-justice activists has emerged there and has started to organize in a serious way.