Saturday, May 19, 2007

Two Jews in the West Bank

Photo: Taken on April 20, 2007 when the Israeli army returned to continue the destruction of homes in South Hebron. More information at this LINK.


This is a report on Home Demolitions in the West Bank and a presentation on that subject that I went to recently.

While All Eyes Were on Gaza

This is a report of a presentation by two people from the eastern part of NC. They are Jews, and their names are Tom Stern and Tema Okum. They called their presentation “While All Eyes Were on Gaza – Two Jews Visit the West Bank”. Their goal was to give a Jewish perspective on the beginning of the 40th year of occupation of Palestine by Israel, and their ideas on how to work for a just peace in the region. The group they are working with is the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.


This couple started by telling about their backgrounds, and how their political and religious development changed over the years. They said that Israel conquered the West Bank in 1967 and have occupied it ever since. They were in the town of Anata in the West Bank last summer, where there were many homes destroyed, and another 200 homes have demolition orders. (More information on Anata HERE.)


The homes are mainly destroyed for administrative reasons – that is, the Palestinians don’t have permits for building on their own land, so the home is destroyed. The Palestinians don’t have permits because they cannot get permits from the occupying power. The home that this couple worked last summer on had applied three times for a permit (at the cost of $5,000 each time). There were denied each time for various reasons. The first time, it was because the land was zoned for agriculture (even though it was too rocky for planting). The second time was because the land was too sloped. The third time was because the deed lacked two signatures of the previous owners. Some of the homes had been destroyed and rebuilt as many as four times. Basically, the Israeli government does not want to issue any construction permits. When the Israelis come to destroy a home, the Palestinians have 15 minutes to vacate the home. On the home that this couple worked on in Anata, the Israelis had thrown a tear-gas canister into the home marked “made in the USA” when they came to bulldoze the home. The family is usually presented with a bill for the demolition of their home. All of this is devastating to the family.


This couple talked about the growing settlements on West Bank. These settlements are growing fast, and they appear to be designed to split the West Bank into four different sections.


There are been 4,000 to 5,000 homes demolished since 2000. In Bethlehem, one home that was demolished had a family of three generations (8 people total) who had no where to sleep that night. Settlements surround Bethlehem, and the “security fence” there is a wall that is 30 feet high. The Israeli side of the wall is much shorter. Teenagers in Palestine feel like they are prisoners in their own homes. They cannot even go to a nearby town to play sports, because of the checkpoints.


Israeli military has decided not to retaliate against suicide bombers by tearing down their families’ homes. However, Israeli civil administration still does bulldoze homes, at the rate of 10 per month. The home demolitions are done all over the West Bank, but mostly happen closer to settlement blocks. Home demolition is also happening in east Jerusalem to help maintain the 80/20 population balance there– that is 80% Jews to 20% non-Jews.


I asked what happens to the people whose homes are not rebuilt. The answer is they live in tents, or they get absorbed by other family members. This later one creates a mess because of disruption to cultural family norms.


Starting this summer, the Israeli Coalition Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD) intends to start a program to rebuild ALL the homes demolished during the 40th year of occupation. They will announce this campaign soon. They are asking groups to “adopt” a house. It is a statement of resistance - saying that this occupation is not in the best interests of Palestine or Israel.


What is ICAHD? From their website, there is this description:


ICAHD is a non-violent, direct-action group originally established to oppose and resist Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses in the Occupied Territories. As our activists gained direct knowledge of the brutalities of the Occupation, we expanded our resistance activities to other areas - land expropriation, settlement expansion, by-pass road construction, policies of "closure" and "separation," the wholesale uprooting of fruit and olive trees and more. The fierce repression of Palestinian efforts to "shake off" the Occupation following the latest Intifada has only added urgency to our efforts. As a direct-action group, ICAHD is comprised of members of many Israeli peace and human rights organizations. All of our work in the Occupied Territories is closely coordinated with local Palestinian organizations.


If you support what the ICAHD is doing, they would certainly appreciate your support.

Also, if you are concerned about the ongoing occupation of Palestine, there will be a teach-in, rally and lobby events in DC next month. This is being organized by United for Peace and Justice. An excellent Kos diary has already been written on this subject, with lots of links for local groups working on this issue.


This mobilization has been endorsed by Jewish Voice for Peace, and they sent out this email recently:


Jewish Voice for Peace is working closely with the march organizers, the US Campaign to End the Occupation and United for Peace and Justice, to make sure there is a strong Jewish presence at the march. That's why we want to invite you to march together with Jews and other Jewish Voice for Peace supporters, and to come with us on the 11th to lobby Congress.

Please let us know if you're coming so we can prepare lobbying materials and anticipate the size of the Jewish contingent. If you sign up in advance, we'll make sure you get a sign.


I hope some of my readers will join me in DC for this rally, teach-in and lobbying in DC.


UPDATE: More information from Tom Stern

In actuality, Tema Okun and I represent ICAHD-USA, an independent tax-exempt US nonprofit that ofter works closely with ICAHD in Jerusalem.

Please check out our website - www.icahdusa.org. It is being updated, and in a few weeks will have information on a new, major project to rebuild Palestinian homes.


From the ICAHD-USA website:

ICAHD-USA was incorporated as an independent non-profit organization in July, 2004, in order to help raise awareness in the US of the Israeli government’s demolition of Palestinian homes and its gradual annexation of Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. ICAHD-USA also seeks to educate the American public about campaigns by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) in Israel/ Palestine.

ICAHD-USA’s educational activities include:
· Conducting community presentations, workshops at conferences, and presentations at synagogues, churches, universities and festivals on the Israel-Palestine conflict;
· Maintaining an active Speakers Bureau;
· Engaging the news media on Israel and Palestine, and publishing op-ed pieces and other articles;
· Co-sponsoring educational and cultural events; and
· Networking with other organizations, including ICAHD in Jerusalem, that provide educational information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
ICAHD’s activities include:
· Resisting the demolition of Palestinian homes.

3 comments:

tomsternnc said...

Thanks for the information. In actuality, Tema Okun and I represent ICAHD-USA, an independent tax-exempt US nonprofit that ofter works closely with ICAHD in Jerusalem.

Please check out our website - www.icahdusa.org. It is being updated, and in a few weeks will have information on a new, major project to rebuild Palestinian homes.

Thanks, Tom Stern

From the ICAHD-USA website:

ICAHD-USA was incorporated as an independent non-profit organization in July, 2004, in order to help raise awareness in the US of the Israeli government’s demolition of Palestinian homes and its gradual annexation of Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. ICAHD-USA also seeks to educate the American public about campaigns by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) in Israel/ Palestine.

ICAHD-USA’s educational activities include:
· Conducting community presentations, workshops at conferences, and presentations at synagogues, churches, universities and festivals on the Israel-Palestine conflict;
· Maintaining an active Speakers Bureau;
· Engaging the news media on Israel and Palestine, and publishing op-ed pieces and other articles;
· Co-sponsoring educational and cultural events; and
· Networking with other organizations, including ICAHD in Jerusalem, that provide educational information about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
ICAHD’s activities include:
· Resisting the demolition of Palestinian homes.

Anonymous said...

Let me know if you are ever banned from Daily Kos. They watching you as a questionable proPalestinian blogger. Thanks. Joe/shergald

shergald@verizon.net

dancewater said...

thanks Tom for stopping by - and I will update the post to include your website message and link.


Joe - how do you know they are watching me? I do think it is odd that the post on Daily Kos about this - full of good information on a human rights situation - did not get rescued, but my Iraq posts generally do.


why would they ban these kinds of posts -

also, I am not pro-Palesinian or pro-Israeli..... I am pro-human rights and pro-peace.