Stop The Impending Demolition Of Homes
Stop The Impending Demolition Of Salim And Arabiya Shawamreh's Home
Beit Arabiya, the House of Peace Dedicated to the Memory of Rachel Corrie and Nuha Sweidan, faces immediate destruction
September 30, 2003
On Monday the "Civil" Administration, Israel's military government in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, issued Salim Shawamreh a summons to appear before the military court at the Ofer Detention Center. His crime: building an "illegal" home for his family on his own privately-owned land - a home that has been demolished four times before. Today, Tuesday, the Civil Administration issued an order declaring its intent to demolish the home within 48 hours. Army jeeps now stand at the site of the house to prevent activists from reaching it.
We call on the thousands of people who have heard Salim speak passionately the world over on the need for peace, on thousands of others who have grown to love and respect Arabiya and her seven children over their years of struggle for a home, and on all those who seek a just peace in the Middle East, to urgently contact their political representatives to demand that the Israeli government rescind the order against the house immediately.
Since it was first demolished by the Israeli authorities five years ago, the Shawamreh house has become a symbol of resistance not only to the Occupation itself, but to Israel's sustained campaign to displace the Palestinians from their country altogether. It is only one of more than 10,000 houses demolished in the Occupied Territories since 1967, the house of a family of refugees who cannot return home since their village in the northern Negev now lies destroyed beneath Israeli agricultural fields, yet is not allowed to build a new home in their place of refuge.
Unable to continue living in the densely-packed Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem, Salim and Arabiya bought a small plot of land in the nearby village of Anata. Four times they applied for a permit (each application costing about $5000), and each time they were refused for a different reason: their barren stony plot was zoned as "agricultural land;" the slope was too steep; signatures were missing on the deed; the plot was too close to a planned Israeli highway - then the Civil Administration claimed to have lost their file! As Salim says, the reasons are immaterial. The true reason for not granting permits and demolishing homes is to confine Palestinians to the islands of Areas A and B - the 42% of the West Bank Sharon has in mind as the Palestinian "state." Planning, zoning and legal procedures are nothing more than formal mechanisms concealing political ends.
Salim and Arabiya have withstood successive demolitions of their home, severe traumas to themselves and their children, violence, threats, intimidation and impoverishment in their refusal to submit to the Occupation. By raising the issue of house demolitions on the international agenda (ending demolitions was supposed to be a key to the first phase of the ill-fated "road map"), their courage has saved the homes of thousands of other Palestinian families, including their immediate neighbors. Unable to endure yet another demolition, they have rebuilt their home for the fifth time, this time as a peace center in the name of Arabiya and dedicated to Rachel Corrie and Nuha Sweidan, two women who died under bulldozers. They deserve our support.
We call on EVERY person concerned with justice, human rights and peace in the Middle East - as well as the well-being of the Shawamreh family - to act immediately to avert this cruel act of destruction. Americans should contact their Senators and members of Congress, speak to their senior staffer for Middle East affairs, and ask that they contact in turn Secretary of State Colin Powell or Assistant Secretary William Burns to DEMAND of the Israeli government to rescrind the demolition order immediately. Canadians, Europeans and others throughout the world should demand the same from their political representatives and foreign ministries.
We will stand vigil by the Shawamreh house. We are also attempting to get a court injunction (though the chances are not great). We ask you to stand vigil as well: to raise the issue with your local media and clergy, to raise your voices in any way possible. We must mobilize our forces not only to prevent this particular demolitions, but to declare: ENOUGH! This is where we will draw the line! No more house demolitions. No more settlement expansion. No more wall construction. No more Occupation. It is time to demand the real engagement of our political and religious leaders in effectively opposing this apartheid-in-the-making. Enough!
(1) First call: Your political representatives/foreign office. Most politicians say they are against the demolition of the homes of innocent people -- tell them you need their immediate urgent action to save the Shawamreh home.
E-mail the People [addresses of US government officials] http://www.wethepeople.com
US Congresspeople http://www.congress.org/ http://www.capweb.net/classic/index.morph
Secretary of State Colin Powell U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street, NW Washington, DC 20520 Phone: (202) 647-6575; Fax: (202) 261-8577 E-mail: email@example.com
European Union http://www.politicalresources.net/eu.htm http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/GSSI/eu.html
Javier Solana - EU special envoy to the Middle East E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
European Parliament http://www.europarl.eu.int E-mail: email@example.com
(2) Second contact: Israeli officials
Israeli Embassies http://www.embassyworld.com/embassy/israel1.htm
Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom Fax: +9722-581-1832 Phone: +972-530-8500 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Coordinator of Activities in the Occupied Territories (Yusuf Mishlab) Phone: +9723-697-5302 Fax: +9723-697-6306
IDF Civil Administration Commander (Ilan Paz) Fax: +9722-997-7326 Phone: +9722-997-7001/2/3
IDF Commander for the Central Command, General Moshe Kaplansky Phone: +972-2-997-0461 Mobile: +972-54-240-303
Now that the road map is all but gone and governments have abrogated their responsibility, the burden falls on us, the international civil society, to mobilize our forces in defense of the Palestinians and in favor of a just solution to the Middle East conflict.