July 31, 2010
Ari Hart's guest column in the Jerusalem post raises many important questions relating to Israel's raid on a Bedouin village this week. Israel razed around 40 homes belonging to the residents of this 'unrecognised village', despite the Bedouin living in the Negev prior to the creation of Israel. This act of destruction has left around 300 Bedouin homeless. The JNF will facilitate the transfer of this Bedouin land to Jewish settlers in an attempt to 'Judaise' the land. The proposed Jewish settlement of Givat Yael, if it goes ahead will build 1,200 homes, some of them directly on top of existing homes in Walaja. As such, the Israeli state is engaged in Ethnic Cleansing the systematic removal of Palestinians in order to replace them with Jewish residents, wiping out generations of history in the process.
Below is a section of Ari Hart's article:
''SOME MIGHT look at this situation and see the government protecting its citizens, with unfortunate collateral damage. Some see this story as part of a systemic plan to eliminate one of the few remaining Arab villages between Gilo and Gush Etzion. Others might see this story as a result of all-too-familiar Israeli bureaucratic confusion and red tape. Whatever political lens you look though, the results are the same: we are suffocating the village of Walaja.
If you believe that all Palestinians must permanently leave Israel and the West Bank, then perhaps Walaja’s suffocation is no big deal. But if you believe, like me, that Palestinians aren’t going to just disappear, then this situation should worry you. If you believe that as Jews we must hold our state to the highest possible standards of compassion and justice, this situation should anger you.
And if you believe that there are Israelis and Palestinians who want to lead normal lives in peace with their neighbors, but that possibility is slipping away, then Walaja should worry you.
Calling for change in Walaja does not undermine the death and pain of thousands of Israelis who have been killed or hurt by Palestinian violence. It does not undermine Israel’s right to exist or moral standing in the world. On the contrary, Walaja as it stands now undermines our own moral standing. The difficulties villagers face in building homes and getting residency rights support those who claim that Israel is functioning as an occupation state smothering Palestinian existence. The isolation of Walaja and the confiscation of farmlands, coupled with its proximity to surrounding Gilo and Har Gilo, strengthens the voices who say that the security barrier is functioning as a land grab.
If the village of Walaja is a security threat, why have we waited four years into its construction to finish the wall’s completion? And what is the relationship between Givat Yael, the proposed settlement that shows plans for 1,200 homes, some of them directly on top of existing homes in Walaja, and Walaja’s current suffocation?
Do we have the moral courage to take a hard look at the effects of our own policies?
Don’t get me wrong: Our security concerns are very real. We have very real enemies who want to destroy our state and our people. Paraphrasing the sage Hillel, “If we are not for ourselves, who will be for us?” We must also remember, though, that the lives of the villagers in Walaja are real too. “If we are only for ourselves, what are we?”
At this moment, we are engaged in a process of encircling a village with walls and turning it into a ghetto, denying people access to their land, livelihoods and bones of their ancestors, completely disregarding the lives of the human beings living under Israeli jurisdiction.
“If not now, when?”''