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Gush Shalom: The Fence Is Not Going To Deliver

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[1] The fence is not going to deliver + report on a bus trip - by Adam Keller

[2] Tuesday, trial of the three internationals

[3] Politicide - article of Baruch Kimmerling

*******

NB: We were informed that the refusers' protest at Mount Herzl, is taking place tomorrow, June 17 [as we forwarded in the Friday billboard], and NOT today as wrongly suggested in the Ha'aretz ad. Contact: orotlevy@yahoo.com

[1] The fence is not going to deliver + report on a bus trip - by Adam Keller

The main news item in Israel today is the fence, the celebrated "security fence" which the army is about to start erecting somehwere around the site of the Green Line, Israel's pre-'67 border, and which was the subject of a stormy debate at this morning's session of the Israeli cabinet. The settlers and their allies on the extreme right are up in arms about it, regarding erection of the fence as harbinger of Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders and the creation of a Palestinian state - their worst nightmare.

For the same reason, quite a few people who consider themselves supporters of peace and opponents of the occupation are supporting the fence - in fact, there had been activists intensively lobbying over the past year for such a fence to be erected, and quite a few politicians hope to make political capital out of it. For such people, today is a time of celebration. Looking dispassionately at what Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer is actually launching today, with the approval of Prime Minister Sharon, both the doves' euphoria and the settlers' alarm seem highly premature and misplaced.

For one thing, the fence is not exactly following the line of the pre- '67 border. In many places it departs from it by "a few kilometres here and there" - changes which are airily taken by politicians and generals who draw lines on a map, but which on the ground mean that in dozens of villages barbed wires and minefields will suddenly appear to seperate Palestinian peasants from their ancestral lands, peasants already hard-pressed by the events of the past two years and for whom these lands are the last remaining source of subsistance.

In the area of Jerusalem, the intended line of the fence has nothing whatsoever to do with where the 1967 border was. Rather, its aim is to entrench the annexation of 1967, with the barbed wire seperating the 200,000 Palestinian inhabitants of East Jerusalem from their brethern in Bethlehem to the south, Ramallah to the north, and a host of villages and suburbs all around. For a Muslim or Christian inhabitant of the West Bank, visiting a Jerusalem shrine of one's faith - at present a difficult and risky endeavor, but still possible - would become truly impossible, once the fence is complete on all sides.

Moreover, erection of a fence does not in itself mean that the army is going any time soon to withdraw behind that fence, or even to cease its prolonged incursions and invasions into Palestinian cities. In fact, Sharon had said quite clearly, over and over again, that this is NOT going to happen, that the army is not about to withdraw from anywhere, nor is any settlement going to be dismantled by the present government.

There is, in fact, an obvious precedent: the Gaza Strip is already for many years surrounded on all sides by a fence - which makes it a huge prison for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, but it does not prevent Israeli settlers from keeping control over a full third of the strip's meager land, with the concomitant result that large military forces go on killing and getting killed, day after day, in order to maintain these settlements in place.

Last Thursday soldiers guarding the settlement of Netzarim, shot and killed a nine- year old Palestinian child, in an incident which found hardly any mention on the Israeli or international press; this morning, a Yediot Aharonot headline hailed as heroes two soldiers killed last night "in defence of Dugit" - Dugit being a place in the north Gaza Strip inhabited by disgruntled settlers, who have long since given up and asked the government, repeatedly and in vain, to evacuate them.

The fate of Gaza seems to be what Sharon has in mind for the West Bank as well - with the added complication that in addition to the fence on its outside the West Bank is to be divided and sub-divided into smaller and smaller enclaves, a process which is already well-advanced. (In a chance conversation with a contact in Hebron, we today heard of Beit Anun villagers bombarded with tear gas when they tried to get to their fields and vineyards, and of dedicated teachers transporting matriculation exam forms to the cut-off villages, on the backs of donkeys moving through steep mountain paths.)

An Israeli population which lives under the constant threat of suicide bombings finds little room for empathy with the plight of Palestinians under occupation. With a complete distrust of the other side and the hope for peace at its lowest, the concept of "separation" makes the idea of a "Separation Fence" popular among broad parts of the Israeli public. Yet without an end to the occupation, "separation" will not bring about security. And with a true end to occupation there will be no need for a 'Chinese Wall'.

Yesterday (Sat., June 15) Gush Shalom organized a trip to see the fence from two sides. A Gush Shalom ad in Ha'aretz on Friday denounced "The Bad Fence" and called upon people to join in a trip and "see for themselves the fence and its effects". And indeed, on the following day we did get a unique demonstration of what "separation" is all about - though, it must be admitted, not exactly as planned.

Our idea was to visit Bethlehem, which had suffered an invasion and curfew more prolonged than any other Palestinian city during Sharon's "Operation Defensive Shield" in April, with the suffering and destruction compounded in a repeat, week-long invasion in May. To boot, erection of the "separation fence" had already begun there two months ago, with no public announcement. When the inhabitants were finally able to leave their homes after more than a month of curfew they found the northern portion of their city completely transformed.

Metres long and many kilometres long, rolls of a barbed wire has been spread - barbed wire of a new type, not seen before in the Palestinian territories, "wire like dozens of razor blades, one on top of the other" as an awed inhabitant described it over the phone. The army had not paid much respect to property rights, cutting thorugh the long-held lands of old Bethlehem families. Seeking to start judicial proceedings against the arbitrary seizure of their lands, the Palestinians discovered that the relevant land deeds had been removed from the municipal archive, during the month in which Bethlehem's Town Hall served as an Israeli military position...

In earlier contacts with the Palestinians, a program was worked out: arrival at the Church of the Nativity and meetings with clergy and Christian worshippers; visit to the Town Hall - still scarred with some crude racist graffity left by a different kind of Israeli "visitors" in April - and a formal meeting with Mayor Hana Nasser and other civic leaders as well as mayors from neighboring towns; surveying different public and private institutions which were damaged in the April and May invasions, and observing the feverish efforts made to repair the damage, despite the acute awareness that a new invasion may come at any time; and finally, of course, the visit to the site of the new fence, in company with the landowners whose lands had become inaccessible.

In preparing for the action, we did not quite keep conspiratorial rules; that was not compatible with trying to mobilize the maximum number of Israelis ready to see for themselves what had been happening such a short distance - yet so far away. Indeed, it was not difficult to fill a bus and several smaller cars with people of good will - but in the process, our intentions became known to the police and military, who turned out to be highly attentive and interested.

Already while gathering at the terminal in Tel-Aviv's Arlozorov Street Railway Station, traditional rendezvous of the peace movement, we had an unaccustomed visit from the police, who asked questions and demanded to see I.D.'s - especially that of the bus driver, who happened to be the only Arab on the spot.

That was the prelude. It was powerfully followed up when we tried to use "The Tunnel Road" which goes southward from Jerusalem, bypassing Bethlehem, being mainly reserved for settler traffic and with Palestinian traffic strickly excluded. A side road can take you into Bethlehem - most times in the year. But on this particular day, there was a police roadblock waiting. An exceptionally large roadblock, with many dozens of police and at least ten patrol cars and jeeps. They knew who we were, too, no use to pretend to being innocent hikers. "I have been instructed to tell you that Bethlehem and all approaches to Bethlehem have been declared closed military zones. We will permit absolutely no entry." "We are simply going to see the sights near Har Gilo, no further than that". "That's fine, but we will accompany you, just to make sure that you don't lose your way". And they did, too - a whole cavalcade of patrol cars in front and behind, for kilometres. An outside observer would have likely wondered who were the VIP's in that bus.

We could have gone down on the road and started a vigil with our signs, in which case some of us would have probably ended up in police detention - which may have helped get publicity. But over the phone we heard that our friends in Bethlehem were still waiting and hoping for us to arrive.

So, we decided to go back to Jerusalem and try a different route. In fact, we tried three different routes. They were all blocked. Even the very, very long and roundabout road, lasting an hour through the scenic mountains, had its own roadblock, and there too the police were expecting us. There was not even a real pretence of keeping up the "closed military zone" routine. When we pointed to a settler car being allowed through, they said openly "it is closed for you, not for them. Our instructions mention specifically the bus with these licence plates." (A single activist, travelling in a private car which was not recognized as belonging to us, did make it into Bethlehem and was enthusiastically received.)

In a way, we should be flattered. The police thought us worth a major, carefully- planned and executed operation. Preventing a bunch of Israelis from meeting peaceably with Palestinians was considered high enough a priority to justify a significant expenditure of manpower - and that at a time when (according to the media) the police is mobilizing its forces "in an effort to intercept five dangerous suicide bombers". In the eyes of somebody, peace is the most explosive mixture of all.

[2] Tuesday, trial of the three internationals

------- Forwarded message follows -------

From: Dorothy Naor dor_naor@netvision.net.il

Date sent: Sun, 16 Jun 2002 16:23:01 +0200

The trial of the three internationals, arrested at Balata Refugee Camp and facing deportation, has been moved up to this Tuesday, June 18, 14:00. Please come to support them at the Administrative Court in Jerusalem, on the third floor of the District Court building, Salah A'Din Street opposite the Ministry of Justice.

[A vivid description of the earlier session and about what these internationals stand for in Tom Segev's " Three Volunteers in Limbo" of last Friday - appearing in today's Ha'aretz online among "features":]

[3] Politicide - article of Baruch Kimmerling

------- Forwarded message follows -------

From: "yitzhak laor" yitshac@post.tau.ac.il

http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Articles/KimmerlingPoliticide.htm

The Politicide of the Palestinian People

by Baruch Kimmerling

June 11, 2002

Because Ariel Sharon's latest, more moderate incarnation has been so warmly received by the Bush administration, the US media, and the American public, it is crucial to understand both the context of his transformation and the actual behavior of the Israeli government toward the Palestinian people. The general context is that the primary goal of the present government is the destruction of the Palestinian Authority and the dismantling of the Oslo Accords.

This can only be defined as the politicide of the Palestinian people, a gradual but systematic attempt to cause their annihilation as an independent political and social entity. For this reason, Ariel Sharon has skillfully used the brutal and indiscriminant forms of Palestinian resistance - especially the suicide bombers - to create a chain of mutually escalating responses in order to induce both the Israeli and international community to accept his goal.

Using the fight against terrorism as a pretext, he aims to divide the Gaza Strip and West Bank into tiny enclaves ruled by local strongmen while claiming he is supporting the "reformation" and "democratization" of the Palestinian authority. The final aim is to continue the Jewish colonization of the so-called "Greater Land of Israel" until Israel's exclusive and non-reversible control of the territories has been attained.

Some analysts suspect or hope that one outcome of this project is to make daily life so miserable for Palestinians that large numbers will emigrate from the territories, something that has, in fact, occurred during the last few years. Sharon learned from the Lebanon fiasco that, while such policies must be implemented militarily, they must cause minimal casualties. Otherwise, both international agencies and public opinion could turn against them. To minimize Jewish casualties, it is necessary to deploy large, heavily armed forces and to use cruel techniques like razing whole neighborhoods. Resistance is met with heavy fire power, as was the case in Jenin.

The immediate aim of "Operation Defensive Shield" was to disarm "bases of terrorism" by capturing weapons and explosives and to "liquidate" or capture those involved in Palestinian armed resistance. In other words, the goal was to dismantle any Palestinian security forces, not only to hamper their ability to fight Israel, but to dissolve the internal authority of Arafat's regime as well. For the same reason, Israel security forces also assaulted most of the national and public infrastructure and institutions and even destroyed databases like the one used by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistic. Additional goals of the incursions, sieges, and extra-judicial executions were to demonstrate Israeli military might and its willingness to use it and to prove to the Palestinians that there were defenseless against any wanton action.

The Arab states barely paid lip service to the Palestinian cause, denouncing Israeli actions just enough to avoid internal unrest, apparently because they feared Israel was looking for a regional war. Such a war could distract the Israeli public from the severe economic and social crisis within Israel (such as a high unemployment rate and the beginnings of hyperinflation) and serve as a cover for uprooting large numbers of Palestinians from the land, as happened during the 1948 war. However, the international community, including the United States, will soon recognize that in an era during which every nation (including the Jewish and Palestinian nations) has the right to self- determination, politicide is a crime against humanity that is very close in its severity to genocide.

Baruch Kimmerling is a professor of sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Among his recent books are The Invention and Decline of Israelieness (University of California Press) and with Joel S. Migdal Palestinians: The Making of a People (The Free Press and Harvard University Press).

NB: The campaign to free Marwan Barghouti is getting organized - go to http://www.freebarghouti.org/

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Full transcript of the war crimes panel available on the Gush site For Hebrew http://www.gush-shalom.org/archives/forum.html For English http://www.gush-shalom.org/archives/forum_eng.html French available at request


If you want to support Gush Shalom's activities you can send a cheque or cash, wrapped well in an extra piece of paper, to:

Gush Shalom pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033

or ask us for charities in your country which receive donations on behalf of Gush Shalom

For more about Gush Shalom you are invited to visit our renewed website: http://www.gush-shalom.org/

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