Friday, August 06, 2010

Where a child pleads for his father, and a trip to the seaside is breaking the law

TWO "human interest" stories from the land some call "Holy" caught my eye this week, showing some very unholy -and inhuman - things happening, in the name of "Law"; and despite that, some decent people determined to affirm their humanity by a simple action, and not afraid of breaking the law in doing it.

First, is something which, unusually, mainstream TV appears to have picked up, the harrowing scene of a distressed five year-old boy protesting helplessly as armed soldiers drag away his father, arrested for the "crime" of "stealing" water. As a friend, Gila Svirsky comments, "From the landscape, this appears to be the area south of Hebron, where Israel has consistently refused to bring running water to Palestinian homes. Good thing the settlements nearby have swimming pools and irrigated lawns".

TV cameras have captured the distressing moment a five-year-old Palestinian boy sees his father arrested for stealing water. Khaled Jabari wails in torment and confusion as Israeli soldiers drag away his father Fadel in the West Bank district of Hebron. Walking barefoot, the youngster becomes ...

From citizens of Hebron to cave-dwelling Bedouin in the hills to the south, Palestinians in this area have been undergoing repeated harassment and terror from the Israeli army, the Border Guards, and the armed Zionist settlers whose goal appears to be making life impossible for them.

Angela Godfrey-Goldstein explains some of the background to this particular incident: "Atta Jaber and others there in the Beq'a Valley near Kiryat Arba recently had all their irrigation pipes torn out by the Civil Administration (IDF) and yet another water cistern totally demolished. No water for farmers in Area C from Israel, who control Area C (60% of the WB) and none from the PA because they have no authority there... so how the hell do Palestinian farmers farm? Not enough they lost a huge tranch of land to Road 60, which they're not allowed to use..."

Some people accuse the Palestinians of bringing up their children to be "terrorists". Not like the Israeli police who brought high school students to assist in last week's destruction of a Bedouin village in the Negev and mass eviction of families. A lesson in civics. I wonder what lesson they think the 200 Bedouin children left without shelter in the desert have taken? Or what 5-year old Khaled Jabari makes of seeing his father dragged away like that?

Our politicians, renewing arms export licences for Israel while still talking about "the peace process", ought to have that scene branded on their heads, or at least projected large on the walls of Parliament and Congress.

And now for something more uplifting, a happier tale, of what 'ordinary' people can do against awful reality:
"On Friday, July 23rd, a dozen Jewish women, a dozen Palestinian women, one baby, and three Palestinian children took a trip from the West Bank in six private cars. We crossed several checkpoints, drove to Israel’s coastal plain, and toured Tel-Aviv and Jaffa together. We ate in a restaurant, swam in the sea, and played on the beach. We ended our day in Jerusalem. Most of our Palestinian guests had never seen the sea. Most had not, in their entire lives, prayed at their sacred places: they looked upon them longingly from the heights of Mount Scopus.

"None of our guests had an entry permit from the Israeli authorities. We are announcing here publically that we deliberately violated the Law of Entry into Israel. We did this in the footsteps of Ilana Hammerman, after the state lodged a complaint against her with the Israeli police. She had written an article published in Ha’aretz on May 7th reporting on a similar excursion.

"We cannot assent to the legality of the Entry into Israel Law, which allows every Israeli and every Jew to move freely in all regions between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River while depriving Palestinians of this same right. They are not permitted free movement within the occupied territories nor are they allowed to enter the towns and cities across the green line, where their families, nation, and traditions are deeply rooted.

"They and we, all ordinary citizens, took this step with a clear and resolute mind. In this way we were privileged to experience one of the most beautiful and moving days of our lives, to meet and befriend our brave Palestinian neighbors, and together with them, to be free women, if only for one day.

"We did not go with “terrorists” or enemies, but with human beings. The authorities separate us from these women with fences and roadblocks, laws and regulations, often claimed to protect our safety. In fact, the barriers are only designed to perpetuate mutual enmity and the control of Palestinian land seized illegally in contravention of international laws and the values of justice and humanity.

"It is not we who are violating the law: the State of Israel has been violating it for decades. It is not we—women with a democratic conscience—who have transgressed: the State of Israel is transgressing, spinning us all into the void.

"Henry David Thoreau, in his famous essay “Civil Disobedience” (1845) wrote:
"…when a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize. What makes this duty the more urgent is the fact that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army."

"Listen to these words, see how aptly they describe our situation here and now —and do as we have done.

Signed (in alphabetical order): Annelien Kisch, Ramat Hasharon; Daphne Banai, Tel Aviv; Esti Tsal, Jaffa; Ilana Hammerman, Jerusalem; Irit Gal, Jerusalem; Klil Zisapel, Tel Aviv; Michal Pundak Sagie, Herzlia; Nitza Aminov, Jerusalem; Ofra Yeshua-Lyth, Tel Aviv; Roni Eilat, Kfar Sava; Ronit Marian-Kadishay, Ramat Hasharon; Ruti Kantor, Tel Aviv

Some of the women in the act of breaking the law.
When laws are unjust, they are made to be broken. When the state and government are inhuman, we can only affirm our humanity by acts of resistance.
As well as admiring the action these women took, maybe we can learn from them and apply the same attitude in other situations.

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At 7:12 PM, Blogger white rabbit said...

Fantastic posting, Charlie. Hit me right in the guts (twice)!


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