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ISM Updates 09/30/03 from Jbarra and Jenin

ISM Updates 09/30/03 from Jbarra and Jenin

1)Unhappy New Year - Rosh Hashana at Jbarra - Tulkarem 2)Last letter from a land without a State - Jenin

Unhappy New Year - Rosh Hashana at Jbarra

Tulkarem 28 Sep 03 Radhika S.

Unhappy New Year - Rosh Hashana at Jbarra

[Jbarra, TULKAREM] As Israeli Jews celebrated Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) just a few kilometers on the other side of the Green Line, villagers from the Jbarra area south of Tulkarem received orders for a home demolition, and 88 children were barred by Israeli Forces from going to school.


The Israeli army served the Dameri family, whose house is located on the Israeli side of the separation Wall, with a home demolition order last Wednesday, September 24. The military road of the Wall runs through the family of twelve’s backyard, separating the home from the village of Ar Ras and annexing much of the village’s land to Israel. According to the order, the family had 3 days to evacuate their home. Abu Iyad and Um Iyad are refugees who were forced out of Haifa in 1948 and have been living in the Tulkarem refugee camp for fifty years. Approximately 5 years ago they used their savings to buy land on the outskirts of Ar Ras to build a home and a small farm. Because of the Wall the family can no longer take the vegetables to market. Volunteers from the International Women’s Peace Service (IWPS) and the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) are currently staying with the family, who refuse to leave their home and their land. If the Israeli Army demolishes the home, the family intends to continue living on their land in tents.


Schoolchildren from the village of Jbarra (pop. 309), isolated between the Wall and the Green Line, must cross through a gate in the Wall manned by Israeli soldiers in order to attend school. On Saturday morning, soldiers armed with M-16s prohibited the 88 elementary school children from going to school, stating that because of the Jewish holiday the children would not be permitted passage for two days. ISM and IWPS volunteers monitored the gate on Sunday morning, where school teachers claimed they would hold class at the Wall if the Israeli Army forced the children to return home. Israeli soldiers opened the gate and allowed the children passage on Sunday, however.


Upon leaving the village of Jbarra and crossing through the Jbarra checkpoint, ISM volunteers witnessed a young Palestinian man being detained with his hands handcuffed behind his back, eyes blindfolded and forced to kneel on the ground in a cement cubicle in the soaring heat. One ISM volunteer asked the soldiers why the young man was being detained in such a manner: ’Does he have a gun?’ she asked. The soldier responded, ’No, but he might have one tomorrow.’ After speaking to a captain the man was released without further harm.


Last letter from a land without a State

Jenin 30 Sep 03 Aaron

I’m writing from the ISM office/sleeping quarters in the Balata refugee camp near/in Nablus, which is a much larger ciy than Jenin (around 180,000 people, I’ve been told). When I finish this message, I’ll be heading for Amman, and my flight home to New York city. With one exception, Nablus is really just a stopping-off point for me, so I’m going to write a bit about the end of my stay in Jenin, and then share some thoughts and conclusions from my trip. Sunday afternoon, several members of our team had a chance for a long and fascinating discussion with a leader from the local community. The gentleman we spoke with has a legal education, teaches classes on democracy and electoral management to residents of the city, and coordinates a political / educational exchange of some sort between residents of Jenin and Belfast, Ireland. Describing some of the less obvious costs of the occupation, this teacher described a period of 40 days during which he was unable to leave Jenin and, therefore, could not visit, or care for, his 70 year old mother, who lives in a nearby village. His obligations to his own wife and children prevent him from simply moving to the village, and his mother remains in an extremely vulnerable situation. We also spent a great deal of time discussing the current political scene, as well as political a So, what have I learned? Too much to write here, but I will try to touch on a few points. I’ll separate this into two groups: things which seem fairly certain, and things which seem probable. More general thoughts and speculations will have to wait until my return to the states.

What is certain: 1) It has become painfully clear that, since 1967, the Israeli government(s) has/have pursued a consistent, and carefully orchestrated policy to seize and permanently occupy the lands and resources of the West Bank, while witholding citizenship and basic human rights from the Palestinian population. It is equally clear that these policies have nothing to do with the presence, or absence, of violent resistance by the Palestinian community. I draw these conclusions primarily from materials generated by Israeli human rights organizations, secondarily from materials generated by Palestinian human rights organizations and my personal encounters with the people of Jenin, and finally from descriptions of such encounters from other internationals and Palestinians whom I believe to be trustworthy. The systematic seizure of lands, refusal of permits for building and well-diggin 3) At least in Jenin, the attachment of the Palestinians to their lost homes and lands is both genuine and deeply felt. I have neither seen, nor heard, anything to support the suggestion that these claims are some kind of political ploy. In fact, the opposite is true: memories of and yearnings for family homes and lands, particularly in Haifa, are extremely widespread.

What is probable: 1) The dehumanization and slander of Palestinians by Israelis is far more entrenched than vice versa. One of the things I have frequently heard said in the US is that Palestinians are \\ taught to hate Jews.\\ Having spent almost two weeks in Jenin (possibly the most militant, anti-Israeli town in the West Bank) during a lengthy military lockdown (at which time anger towards Israel is at its peak), I can say that this appears to be either a complete fabrication, or a wild exaggeration. By the end of my stay, I was known to be Jewish by a significant fraction of the Palestinian community, and our team’s other member was more widely ’out’. Nonetheless, we were both made extremely welcome in a broad range of circumstances. Although anti-Jewish sentiment does appear to be greater among some of the local children, who have known nothing but occupation, a large number of adults have expressed their concern about this trend prior to finding out I was Jewish. One can find hatred of Jews here, but the Israeli army appears to be its only teacher. On the other hand, I have spoken

I’m afraid that I’m monopolizing the office’s internet connection, and there are other ISM activists waiting for a chance to send out their reports. I will write a more comprehensive, and carefully researched, summary when I return home. Until then, please remember that peace requires justice, and justice requires sacrifice, and all require honesty.

Shalom, Aaron

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