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(this on-the-ground report and analysis by scholar-activist David Shulman, with some additions and links by yours truly, is crossposted from the Villages Group Blog)

Dear Friends,

     By a miracle of sorts, we had a mostly peaceful day in South Hebron today; such an event is so rare that I thought it might be worth mentioning to you. In lieu of a more substantial report, let me just say that Abu Sharif and Fadil plowed three fields, with an iron plow and a donkey, on one end of the wadi at Umm al-'Amad, just under the settlement of Otniel-- lands they were denied access to for some 15 years-- and there was a slightly higher-tech plowing, with an old tractor, at the other end of the wadi as well. The settlers and the soldiers kept their distance. The goats grazed freely. The sun was sweet. If the rains come, there will be crops of barley in these newly regained fields.

Palestinian resident teaches Israeli activist David Shulman how to plow in the traditional method. Southern West Bank, Palestine, November 2013.
David Shulman gives traditional farming a hand under the guidance of a Palestinian resident, November 2013

      At Umm al-Ara'is, on the other hand, the standard ritual played itself out; the 'Awad owners were driven off their land, along with our activists, by the soldiers, as happens week after week.

      Lest anyone be tempted to think that things are better, I should mention that the committee of the "Civil Administration" that [according to Israel] still has the authority to approve Palestinian development plans in West Bank "Area C", has rejected the village development plan submitted by residents of Palestinian Susya.

This means that if the final appeal to the High Court [which had heard this case for years - then punted it back to the "Civil Administration" a few months ago] goes against the residents, the entire village, housing some 300 to 400 people, will be demolished and its inhabitants expelled

(the demolition orders have been hanging over them for years, and the "Civil Administration" [see here for a chronology of its torment of area residents in 2008-2011] is talking about issuing final orders to destroy all the tents and shacks and infrastructure).

The "committee" offered the following rationalization of its decision:

"This plan offers no hope that the population can be advanced beyond the state of poverty and ignorance to which its representatives have condemned it....

The city, as the meeting place of diverse populations, serves as a source of cultural, economic, and educational enrichment. On the other side of the scale, the village dwellings are fragmented and scattered, founded upon tribal and clan identities which suffocate the citizen, the individual, and which offer no means for social development or opportunities for making a living, for cultural or educational experience...

The urban structure lets people meet one another, multiplies opportunities, enriches the horizons of each and every one in the family or tribe as in the wider society. Thus, in our view, the present plan is but another attempt to prevent this impoverished population from making progress...

It also prevents the Palestinian woman from liberating herself from the cycle of poverty and closes off opportunities for work and education. Similarly it keeps the Palestinian child away from the opportunities open to everyone else and condemns him to life in a small, degenerate village."

If anyone had any doubt as to whether the Occupation of the West Bank is a colonial enterprise through and through, this passage should settle the question.

[It must also be noted that the fabled "enriching urban environment" towards which the Occupation wants to cleanse Susya residents, is none other than Yatta - a down-and-out town of ~50,000 residents suffering from inadequate infrastructure, economic suffocation - 75% of the town's employed workforce are day-laborers for Israeli bosses (pdf link), and - at least according to Israeli media - rampant crime]

Israeli military watching over Palestinians and Israeli activist as the latter work Palestinian lands, November 2013.
Military Vehicle keeping a watch upon Palestinians plowing their lands, November 2013
The sheer cynicism is astonishing:  you can guess who has kept the Palestinians of Susya in poverty, and who now intends to expel them from their ancestral homes and lands. The West Bank must be the last site in the world where this kind of language, reminiscent of French Algeria or apartheid South Africa or colonial Kenya or Tanganyika [or, indeed, the self-righteous precedent providing the post's title], can still be used without shame.

David Shulman

Editor's notes:

[Comments in square brackets] are mine. As the links in the post show, this struggle has been going on - and covered by us - for quite a while. Click on those links to learn more.

I insist upon placing "Civil Administration" in quotations. It is a faux government body with a fraudulent name - designed specifically (by Ariel Sharon in 1982) to create an impression of "law and order" when there is none.

As this latest gem from the "Administration" shows, the only guiding principle of that impostor body (which - contrary to its misleading name - is actually a branch of the Israeli military, and whose legal authority is questionable to nonexistent) is: quash the Palestinians and take their lands, and find as many lands as possible to give to Jewish settlers.

The "Civil Administration" hacks will find or invent any legalistic, bureaucratic pretext to cover up this naked racism and thievery. In the current case, apparently, they are stupid enough as to be unaware of the historical context of their charade.

Here are some addresses and numbers you might try, in order to protest these policies:

Israel’s defense minister, or, Phone: +972 3 6975349 Fax: +972 3 6976218 /691 6940 / 696 2757 / 691 7915 / 697 6711 (they are said to hate faxes),

or the ministry’s US outlet (, fax 212-551-0264).

And of course... feel free to share and cross-post this widely.

Thanks, Assaf

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm holding my head in my hands (9+ / 0-)


    Tribal and clan identities that suffocate the citizen?

    That sounds like China talking about Tibet.

  •  It reminds me of what happened to the (16+ / 0-)

    Native Americans in the U.S. as the government broke treaty after treaty and even made it a crime for people to practice their ancient religious ceremonies.  See, for example, the recent book by Timothy Egan, Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher, about the photographer Edward Curtis' massive effort around 1900 to record the people and cultures before they were gone.

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 07:02:19 AM PST

  •  South Africa (11+ / 0-)

    I do not think I have seen the basic concept behind Grand Apartheid, the "separate development" (literal translation) of the "homelands", expressed so clearly in an official Israeli statement before.

    Not only does this action (forced relocation and movement of Israelis onto occupied territories) constitute a War Crime under the Geneva Conventions, it also makes explicit a desire to eliminate a way of life which is an essential element in making forced relocation a crime under the Genocide Convention.

    We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 07:03:32 AM PST

  •  Who could have any doubts of this? (9+ / 0-)
    If anyone had any doubt as to whether the Occupation of the West Bank is a colonial enterprise through and through . . .
    What I like is how diplomatic was David Shulman with his choice of words, calling it a "colonial enterprise" instead of calling it what it really is - the "slow-motion ethnic cleansing" of an area so that BennyNet and his right-wing cronies can build housing for more Israeli Jews (Sorry, no Israeli Arabs allowed!) in the West Bank and on land that is legally Palestinian.

    Why don't they build these things inside Israel?  Because if they did that, they wouldn't be taking land away from the Palestinian People and eroding the chances of a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank.  They tried this shit in the Gaza Strip and failed because the people there would not leave the colonists alone.  The West Bank Palestinians are more peaceful, so they get to be screwed over.

    If the US wasn't providing diplomatic cover for this criminal enterprise to continue, the UN would have been able to stop it long ago.  If the US wasn't providing Israel with more than $3 BILLION taxpayer dollars worth of military support each and every year, this would be much harder Israel to do to the Palestinians.

    America, your tax dollars and your government support these activities against an indigenous people.  You are responsible for it continuing.  Get off your butts and scream at a congressman about it.  Scream at Barry about it.  Support the BDS movement.  In this situation, your complacency harms people.

    Celtic Merlin

    Struggle with dignity against injustice. IS there anything more honorable that a person can do?

    by Celtic Merlin on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 07:10:14 AM PST

  •  Glad to see this view being presented (8+ / 0-)

    again on Daily Kos.  It is much needed, although David Gershon does a pretty good job of holding Israel's feet to the fire of transparency. It is also helpful to have the video evidences, links to information and on the ground evidence based observations.


  •  The long list of abominable acts by Israel is (5+ / 0-)

    Astonishing, because they get away with it - each and every time.
    The Israelis are trying to dehumanize the Palestinians, as if this will make the Palestinians magically disappear.
    The hest thumping hubris shown by the heartless Bibi is depressing.
    Juan Cole's site is a must read
    Check this article out

  •  It's hard for people to understand (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    how it is to live near people whose ethnic brethren mounted numerous wars to eradicate Israel, and whose other members committed numerous terrorist attacks against Jewish civilians. Until you live it, you will never understand.

    As someone whose family includes Israeli Jews, I understand their determination. They are an the opposite side from you but they will fight for their survival with everything they got.

    •  As an Israeli, I am insulted by your insinuation.. (8+ / 0-)

      ...that the petty thievery going on in the Susya area and elsewhere under the guise of "proper governance",

      as well as the crassly hypocritical and racist word-games and world-view that justify that thievery,

      are in any way shape form or size, "necessary" for Israel to survive.

      If anything - then the reality is the very opposite.

    •  how are the demolitions and crop destructions (9+ / 0-)

      and arrests, and separation walls, and militarized settlements not terrorist attacks to eliminate palestine, and a constant war to eradicate palestine?

      you cannot have it both ways, unless you make the palestinians and israeli arabs non-persons, and pretend the past half century didn't happen.

      •  there is too much history (0+ / 0-)

        that justifies a lot of it. Especially the separation walls which prevented so much palestinian terrorism.

        I certainly don't view any of what Israel is doing as "terrorism". Preventive and defensive actions, sure.

        Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza are not Israelies and due to their hostile history, should not have Israeli rights, and they do not. Israeli Arabs living in Israel proper on the other hand should have Israeli rights.

        That's how I view it.

    •  How the west was won... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Assaf, AoT, corvo, Jackson L Haveck

      Against my people.

      Was with that same argument.

      We 'Savages' waged numerous wars to wipe the whites off our continent. But they bravely fought for their survival until they had us down from 10+ million to 120,000 in camps.

      And then debated whether or not to exterminate that last few in a Final Solution (the author of Wizard of Oz was one such party arguing for us being killed off to the last man, woman, and child).

      We on the other hand, point to numerous treaties over the years that we had thought meant the conflict was over, and it was time to just live on. But they kept presuming we were going to strike.

      And if we didn't, they'd build "settlements" across the border in our lands, and then call in the US Calvary when we tried to push those settlers out.

      And yes, we too had no "nation state". Like the people of Palestine we were not invited to the treaty of Westfalia in the 1600s.

      We were just a series of 'ethnicities'. Sometimes, like the Palestinians under the Ottomans, we lived under the umbrella of somebody else's larger empire, like the Huron or Iroqois.

      But that did not mean we did not exist.

      Now I'm going to say something that will get some people pretty mad...

      Abuse travels the generations. We know this, when a parent abuses a child, that child grows to abuse its own children.

      Hitler studied under Ford's letters. Ford looked to the Indian Wars, and many of his generation suggested the same for the Jews. The Jews were brutalized by Hitler... and some who rule in Israel have merely taken that abuse and transferred it down to those under their yolk now.

      Yes the Arab states fought wars to eradicate Israel. Why? Because when the British abused them, and then left - they left under terms that were untenable to everyone there. They set up a conflict. That conflict was waged. Israel survived.

      Which Arab nation is attacking Israel now? Who are they at war with? 1967 is a long time ago.

      Its time to stop fighting that war, on a people who have long been crushed.

      Many of the Arab states talk a very harsh game when it comes to Israel. Given the occupation, this should surprise no one. More important is that many have signed for peace, and others recognize a de-facto peace.

      But the Palestinians, are still living in camps, and not at all by choice...

      OMG, like, gag them with a multi-colored spoon. Like, ya know.

      by Jyotai on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 12:58:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  arab states have 99% of the land in the region (0+ / 0-)

        I couldn't give a damn for the reasons they talk against Israel. They've tried multiple times to destroy Israel (btw you forgot 1973). How neutrally you portray those attempts - it's the British fault Arabs tried to wipe out Israel.

        Arab states can't attack Israel because they are nowhere near strong enough to win, and because Israel got nukes. Those are the only reasons Arab states stopped fighting Israel.

        Palestinians have been terrorizing Israelis via suicide attacks for a long time, and after that via rockets from Gaza. If Arab States really cared about Palestinians they would've long welcomed them into their countries with open arms. But instead we all know how they treat them.

        The Palestinian conditions are a great and never ending way for Arab countries to shift the focus from the horrendous conditions and human rights in their own societies.

        The only way to prevent Palestinians from attacking Israeli civilians is through the check points and the walls. I would prefer Israel just left most of West Bank, let Palestine be its own country, and separate themselves from Palestinians forever. Of course it's where you draw the lines where the disputes lie.

        •  They have a lot of land so it's okay to (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          corvo, Jyotai, IndieGuy, poco, Flyswatterbanjo

          ethnically cleanse Arabs. Right, that's great.

          If Arab States really cared about Palestinians they would've long welcomed them into their countries with open arms.
          No, just no. If my friend gets kicked out of his house by a violence then I would do best to get his house back, not overcrowd my house.

          And Israeli Jews have been terrorizing Palestinians for a long time. So I'm sure you'd be fine with Palestinians taking Israeli land because of that as well.

          •  if your friend gets kicked out (0+ / 0-)

            because he tried to kill the neighbor, he ain't never getting his house back. No matter how hard he and you try.

            •  You support racist ethnic cleansing (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Because Arab nations attacked. Blaming all Palestinians for the actions of Arab countries is racism, pure and simple. Denying Palestinians their right to return home after they were ethnically cleansed is racism.

              You can pretend Israel holds some sort of moral high ground all you want but that's bullshit. You pretend like Palestinians weren't driven from their homes before Israel was a state. I doubt you know anything but the Israeli propaganda.

              •  Palestinians were not ethnically cleansed (0+ / 0-)

                They fled because of the war their Arab brethren started. Also no one seriously expects any return happening.

                •  Just keep on pretending that there were no (0+ / 0-)

                  Jewish terror groups. Your denial of historical fact is telling.

                  Also no one seriously expects any return happening.
                  Because we all know how racist and colonialist Israel is.
                •  My point stands... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  My point stands...

                  Regardless of someone triggering my anger yesterday... and the "oh so you're just one of them" reply...

                  Israel is repeating the cycle that was done against its people - rather than learning from history.

                  As a Native American, I look to the genocide done against my own people, and I see a parallel. Cordoning us off - building settlements in our lands, and using our objections to such as an excuse to send in a military response.

                  As well, using the threat posed by one set of people, as an excuse to persecute another. The US fear of Cheyenne, Sioux, Apache, etc... became an excuse to murder or 'contain' members of "tribes" they had already conquered.

                  Will it only end for the Palestinians when there are so few of them left that they can't even lift a stone anymore, as happened to my people?

                  The 'Final Solution' was finished against us... I don't mention Hitler to 'Godwin', I mention him because he kept books written by the people who slaughtered my ancestors in his library, and engaged in commerce with their peers. When called out on his plans, he cited the "Indian Wars" as an example that he was only doing what civilized people do to savages.

                  Atrocities don't happen in a vacuum. Each persecutor learns from his predecessors.

                  Don't be the next people to put it onto another group.

                  OMG, like, gag them with a multi-colored spoon. Like, ya know.

                  by Jyotai on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 12:20:48 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  As someone whose family also includes (8+ / 0-)

      Israeli Jews, I find your rationalization of land stealing, the demolition of lives and the militant expansion of Jewish rights on the backs of Palestinians to be morally abhorrent.

  •  As an old black Mississipian, i approve this (0+ / 0-)

    Diary Message, it sounds so familiar. Especially the part where they say they are kicking them in the ass for their own good.

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