“Let us work together to replace despair with HOPE, fear with human SECURITY and humiliation with DIGNITY”

Reflections #49 APARTHEID PEACE

A joyous Wedding Party last Monday evening on our veranda overlooking Mt. Zion for dear friends Sami and Vera Taha was a backdrop for the continuing drama of tense “peace negotiations” and the tightening apartheid system. By Tom Getman World Vision Palestine APARTHEID PEACE Sept. 27, 2000 Dear Family and Friends: A joyous Wedding Party last Monday evening on our veranda overlooking Mt. Zion for dear friends Sami and Vera Taha was a backdrop for the continuing drama of tense “peace negotiations” and the tightening apartheid system. Even at such a celebratory event the message one gets about the future here depends on who one listens to and how closely, and how clear and unencumbered the communication is! Sami the bridegroom came an hour late for his own party because his best friend Hisham’s jewelry store in East Jerusalem was raided by 35 tax investigators, police and heavily armed soldiers at the very moment Sami went to pick him up. One of the family was still under arrest 48 hours later and 50 kilos of gold were confiscated with the charge “that you Arabs always lie and refuse to pay your taxes”, even though Hisham’s records were perfect and the tax payments current. The greatest inconsistency is that the services provided by the Israeli Jerusalem municipality are minimal while such harassment continues. It may be rooted in the fact that several years ago another family member courageously video taped the beating of Palestinians by police behind his shop…as a result it was reported on CNN. The wedding party, attended by Jewish, Muslim and Christian friends of the bridal couple was still an expression of hope and promise. The toasts and menu were appropriate to all gathered and the representative wishes warm and sincere. Our Jewish guests expressed shame at the government’s abuse of their friends, especially because of the spirit of forgiveness by the victims. Dare we call this racism of the very worst kind? I think we must, particularly as the charade of a peace process lurches along an uncertain path. PERSECUTION OF ARABS CONTINUES Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz editorializes that persecution of Jerusalem Arabs which continues at the Ministry of Interior’s crude office across from the Garden Tomb, despite a former Interior Minister ordering the “humiliating” facility be renovated to provide better service for Palestinians with Jerusalem IDs. These “citizens” sometimes have to wait all night (women and children included) without shelter from weather just to get forms for renewal of permits, registration of births, deaths and marriages, and requesting travel documents. Forms have only been in Hebrew up until now even though the Ministry was ordered in 1995 to provide forms in Arabic. As so often is the case when oppression occurs thugs hold places in line for a fee and fights occasionally breakout as if on cue to further the misperception that Palestinians are untrustworthy lawbreakers. The old strategy of divide and conquer adds cruel tension to wounded souls. Also news this week featured details on the vast gulf between municipal services for Israeli Jewish and Arab citizens…pointing out that this is a time bomb from within Israel’s borders. Recent plaintive reporting, evenin Israeli newspapers, was on the continuing home demolitions ofJerusalem’s Arab population and expropriating of their land, including a front page story about the “new Jewish outpost on the Mount of Olives”. Around many of our World Vision project villages the noose is tightening as the construction explosion within Jewish settlements 24 hours a day limits severely development possibilities and water resources for the Palestinians, exacerbating tensions even among families who have no land to expand housing. About the resulting disparity of basic services Israeli journalist Amira Haas says, “work is progressing at a dizzying pace on the creation of two parallel but asymmetrical infrastructure on the West Bank”. Apartheid certainly seems to be an option for the emerging reorganization of the political structures in the “final status” negotiations…but it is as surely a dead-end as it was in South Africa. WHILE THE LEADERS PARTY And all this as President Arafat and Prime Minister have enjoyed a cordial dinner at Mr. Barak’s home and the Palestinian and Israeli negotiators seemingly oblivious to, or in denial about, the reality on the ground gather once again at “an undisclosed location” in the United States. One of the attendees at the wedding party summed it by saying, “if it only had to do with my heart we would have peace together, Jew, Muslim and Christian together…but there are few opportunities to do what we did tonight. We rationalize the suffering we impose on one another because we don’t know the others as we came to know each other”. The politicians on both sides are going to bear a heavy burden in their historic legacies if they keep this pot boiling over issues which must have a just solution based on equal sharing of resources and property, especially as they effect the sharing of Jerusalem and refugees. One Israeli friend commented, “how can we live with ourselves when we are so abusive of the Palestinians; how can peace come if we continue to humiliate the other party?” What is happening insures one peoples’ servitude and undermines the possibility of peace even if the senior political leaders come to an accord in short order. This was certainly underscored by Likud party leader Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit to the site of the ultimate fault line in Israeli-Palestinian relations, the Haram al Sharif called by the Israelis the Temple Mount. The bloody clashes that resulted reminded the world that without a joint sovereignty over the largely Muslim Old City and Palestinian rule over East Jerusalem violence is inevitable and civil society untenable. My country director colleague in Romania Chris Shore describes the pain caused by any systematized government sponsored oppression when he says, “I hate those orphanages with a passion…that alter the neurology of 100,000 deserted children still in my country 10 years after the communist regime!” In like manner, I hate with a white hot passion the scores of abusive Israeli checkpoints and policies that alter the hearts and brains of 1000s (including World Vision staff) who suffer daily humiliation at the hands of youngsters in uniforms assigned “to put Arabs in their place”. HONEST REPORTING During the hiatus since my last communique there have been two extra-ordinary efforts at analysis that I trust will be as heartbreaking and instructive to you as they have been to many of us here. One is by the increasingly candid Washington Post correspondent Lee Hocksteder and the other by a group of Israeli progressives concerned about the emerging apartheid who met at Neveh Shalom the inter-religious/biracial peace community near the Latrun Monastery. I have attached them below. These observers and many others agree that the inequities are worse now than when the “peace process” began 8 years ago. On a personal note for those of you who know our family members we are enjoying the presence here of our eldest son Andrew. He has come to study the local languages (Hebrew and Arabic at the same time!), become conversant with the issues, teach English to Palestinians with sister agency AMIDEAST and participate as a volunteer with the faithful violence reducers of the Christian Peacemaker Team in troubled Hebron. Our youngest Tim was here as well for 3 weeks in August taking a break from his budding acting career bringing great joy and laughter to all of us. We happily anticipate that Eliza, Jonny and first born grandchild Noah will be coming for Christmas. Karen and I will be spending part of October in the States to take care of some minor health matters, attend the wedding party of close friend Malisa Carlson in Boston, see family, do some WV business, and speak at the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation Conference “the Future of the Holy Land: A Cry for Justice” at the National Presbyterian Church October 20-21. (Call 301871-9222; email , web site if interested). We do trust that we can cross paths with a number of you. With prayers that a legalized apartheid will not be the result of a soon to be signed peace accord, and those who have open ears will hear clearly the call to treat neighbors with love and respect and raise a movement to provide all citizens the right of self-determination. For our Israeli friends and all the people of the region may the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, truly be a season of joy, peace, shalom, salaam, and prosperity in fullest biblical sense. Faithfully, tg PS: Its mid afternoon on Friday and the late breaking news is that at least 3 are dead and 150 injured in clashes following Friday Muslim prayers around the Old City. Lots of shooting, ambulances and calls for blood from the local hospitals. Please pray that calm will come quickly and that provocateurs do not use this to deepen the dilemmas. Tom Getman World Vision Palestine Box 51399 East Jerusalem, Palestine Via Israel ph: 972-2-628-1793 fx: 972-2-626-4260 For the “Jerusalem Emergency Fund” Jim Canning World Vision International 800 West Chestnut Monrovia, CA 91016-3198 PRESS RELEASE ISRAEL OVER PALESTINE: AN INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN AGAINST AN EMERGING APARTHEID Concerned that current attempts to force the Palestinians to accept an imposed agreement are leading inexorably towards an apartheid-like domination of Israel over a Palestinian bantustan, some sixty Israeli citizens convened a conference at Neveh Shalom/Wahat al-Salaam over the weekend of September 1-2 to critically discuss the issue. The conference, entitled “Israeli Over Palestine: Are We Headed for Apartheid?”, was organized by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and the Alternative Information Center. After extensive discussion, the conference produced the following urgent call: ————————————————————————— BEHIND AN IMPOSED SETTLEMENT — THE DANGER OF APARTHEID We, citizens of the State of Israel, feel the need to raise our voices in warning and protest. We believe that the negotiations currently being conducted between representatives of the State of Israel and Palestinian representatives, under the supervision of the US, are able to deliver neither self-determination for the Palestinian people in its homeland, including the right of return, nor peace. Rather, the negotiations will likely frame the basis for future war. The establishment of a Palestinian state truncated by a massive system of by-pass roads, encircles by Israeli settlement blocs, subject to closures and restrictions on freedom of movement and commerce, with no control of its borders or natural resources, will only create a reality of apartheid; a Palestinian state as a bantustan. We call upon the public of the State of Israel as well as public opinion worldwide to resist this dangerous reality. So long as the right of self-determination for the Palestine people is not implemented, including the right of return, there will be no peace. ————————————————————————— CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS In the opening session, Prof. Dafna Golan of the Hebrew University defined apartheid and identified elements common to both the South African and Israel/Occupied Territories cases. Jeff Halper, Coordinator of ICAHD, described the “Matrix of Control” that Israel has lain over the Occupied Territories, making the point that it not simply a question of territory but of control that will determine whether a Palestinian state will be viable or not. He went on to set out the elements underlying Israel’s imposition of an apartheid relationship over the Palestinians: * The exclusive claim of one group to a country at the exclusion of “others,” accompanied by their attempt to physically separate from them; * Displacement of the indigenous population and the seizure of their lands and properties, confining them to small enclaves and transforming them into a permanent underclass; * Formalization of unequal power relations through discriminatory laws and policies, enforced by political means as well as by the military and “security services;” and * The formulation of a meta-narrative that supports the claims of the dominant group over the others, demonizing and excluding the “others'” claims. Amira Hass, the West Bank reporter of Ha’aretz newspaper, described the nine year-old “closure” and its effect on fragmantizing and impoverishing Palestinian society. She noted that such a drastic policy would have been universally and vocally opposed before Oslo, but that no one protests today because of the fear of “harming” the “peace process.” Thus the Palestinian economy is destroyed and Palestinians individually impoverished, without the ‘closure” even becoming a major issue of the negotiations Eli Aminov of the Committee for a Secular Democratic State then led an open discussion on the issue of apartheid, followed by the film “A Long Night’s Journey Into Day,” on the Truth and Reconciliation Committee. On the second day, Michael (Mikado) Warschowski, Chairmain of the Alternative Information Center, presented different forms of control over Palestinians employed by the Zionist movement and then Israel over the past century. The principle has remained constant throughout: ensuring exclusive Jewish control of maximum territory while including a minimum Palestinian population. After 1967 Israel adopted a policy of limited ethnic cleansing (on the Golan and enforcing a Jewish majority of 75% in Jerusalem), together with annexation through expropriation and settlements. The Intifada showed that the Palestinians would not simply acquiesce. The Oslo “peace process” was thus conceived as an alternative. Israel would annex Jerusalem and strategic parts of the West Bank, control the rest through “security” arrangements, by-pass roads, the closure and the like, and create a fragmented Palestinian bantustan that would allow it control of territory but relieve it of having to grant citizenship to the Palestinian population. The Palestinians might not like the idea but, Israel assumes, they have little choice. Control plus territory plus “separation” (Barak’s term for “peace”) equals apartheid. Allegra Pacheco, a human rights lawyer, discussed the failure of the Oslo Accords and subsequent interim agreements to address fundamental issues of human rights, just making it necessary for the Palestinians to negotiate with a much stronger partner for rights (such as the end of expropriation and settlements) that should not have been in question. She then described the apartheid “on the ground — how, for example, every enclave of Palestinian-controlled “Area A” is surrounded by Israeli-controlled Area C” — creating elaborate security arrangements that are unlikely to be significantly changed even after a peace agreement. Manar Hassan (al-Fanar) and Uri Davis (Chair of al-Beit: the Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Israel) led a concluding discussion on the implications of the presence of an apartheid-like situation within the state of Israel, pointing out that many of the same concepts and mechanisms that are leading to apartheid in the Occupied Territories preceded them in Israel proper — and are still active. The call issued by the conference’s participants reflect not necessarily our agreement on all the issues and analyses, but our common concern that apartheid is indeed a likely consequence of the present “peace process.” Given the immense pressures being exerted on the Palestinian Authority to accept Israeli (and, unfortunately, American) dictates, we share a common sense of urgency as well. Our Campaign Against an Emerging Apartheid is being coordinated with many groups in Europe and North America. For more information, contact: Campaign Coordinator: Jeff Halper (ICAHD, AIC) Phone: 972-2-50-651425; fax: 972-2623-6210 E-mail: ICAHD@zahav.net.il; aic@alt-info.org

2016-10-24T07:36:07+00:00 October 2nd, 2000|Categories: News|