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Killing Of Children & Interference in US Politics

Olive Harvest, Killing Of Children & Interference In US Politics

TOI-Billboard, Oct. 16, 2004

At last Sharon agreed to the request of the army (sic!) to end the campaign of killing and destruction in the Gaza Strip. Most probably Sharon needed the rampage to go on until after the settler demonstration of Thursday against his Gaza Disengagement plan. While destroying Gaza in order to defend himself against the accusation of disengaging from it, Sharon the acrobat simultaneously re-opened coalition talks with the Labour Party.

Today: "Why meddle in US politics?" Adam Keller's reflections after his US tour.

After that: --a counter-demonstration in Jerusalem --settlers and army vs olive harvesters I --settlers and army vs olive harvesters II --Confirmed and confessed, by B.Michael (translated by TOI-staff from Yediot Aharonot) --links to articles in the Israeli media (English) Gideon Levy / Ze'ev Schiff / Herb Keinon / Uri Avnery and more

<> Why meddle in US politics?

by Adam Keller

For most of September I had been touring North America from coast to coast. I attended the "Civil Society" forum at the United Nations, where the resolutions and action plan adopted by over a hundred NGO representatives from all over the world seem to have caused some concern among Sharon's diplomatic representatives. And then I set out on the "grand tour", almost every day arriving at a new city, to meet with activists, speak at one or more public meeting, get interviewed in the local media, sometimes attend a local peace vigil - and set off for the next stop. Columbia University, Wesleyan University at Connecticut, Toronto, Tucson, Fullerton University at L.A., Boston, New York again, Philadelphia, Princeton, Nyack, Baltimore... I met with many kinds of peace groups, a lot of dissident Jews of different kinds and shades including quite a few expatriate Israelis, some devout Christians and Muslims and a lot of agnostics, devotees of the one-state solution and of the two-state solution and some who hesitate between them. In all places I found a warm welcome, audiences who were interested in what I had to say and asked intelligent and pertinent questions, and in activists' homes where I stayed the night I was made to feel "a temporary family member". Even the hostile participants at the meetings (scattered in most places, a large organized group at Fullerton which even took the trouble to locate and publish my photo with Yasser Arafat) behaved on the whole in a civilized way and added to the interest (nothing more dull then a meeting where everybody agrees with you!).

Throughout that tour, I could hardly forget that the United States is facing general elections, whose outcome would greatly affect the rest of the world - and our own region in particular. I was more and more drawn into this struggle, especially after participating at the anti-Bush rally of singer/activist Holly Near at Tucson, who called upon her listeners to attend my own event, later that evening.

At Fullerton, one of the hostile group in the audience asked how I dared to meddle in US politics and explicitly call upon my listeners to get rid of Bush. I said that when the US elections influence the rest of the world, the rest of the world is entitled to express its opinion - and also, that my own government in Israel is in the habit of regularly meddling in American elections, disposing of an enormous lobby whose power my kind of Israelis could not dream of emulating.

There can be little doubt that the administration of George W. Bush has been a disaster for the Israeli-Palestinian arena. The virtual blank check which Bush gave to Ariel Sharon (in marked contrast, it should be said, to the attitude of Bush's own father towards Shamir) had been a central factor in the deterioration and escalating bloodshed which characterized the past four years, up to and including the past weeks. No doubt, all of us would heave a big sigh of relief if we hear on November 3 of George W.'s demise. Still, what can we expect of Kerry, if he does manage to get elected (which now is a more realistic prospect than in September, when I was over there).

Senator Kerry's public pronouncements with regard to our region left much to be desired, to say the least. In fact, he echoed and effectively endorsed all of Bush's worst positions. On the other hand, it is well-known that the pronouncements regarding Israel and the Palestinians made by a US presidential candidate are not a sure guide to how that candidate would actually perform, if and when actually getting into the White House. Moreover, the one clear line emerging from Kerry's positions on Iraq (which also leave much to be desired) is that he would put an end to Bush's unilateralism and seek a rapprochement with the Europeans - and any such effort would have implications for our region.

But as I said in every American city where I spoke, even if Kerry turns out to be as bad a president (a worse one than George W. Bush could hardly be imagined), getting rid of Bush would still be worthwhile. Getting rid of Bush would drive home a salutary and highly-needed lesson, that a leader who starts a war unnecessarily would pay for it with his career (at least that, when so many pay with their blood). Such a lesson would be well attended by future presidents of the United States - and since the US is so dominant in our world, also by future presidents of Russia, and prime ministers of Israel, and PM's of India and presidents of Pakistan. In short, if Bush gets thrown out, anybody else who is in a position to start an unnecessary and precipitous war may think twice. The world would be a bit better place.

<> Oct. 14 While the settlers demonstrated at several locations against Sharon's plan to dismantle settlements and withdraw from Gaza, several dozen Courage to Refuse activists held a silent rally in Jerusalem, "[mourning] all those who have lost their lives because of these very settlements, and to remind the Israeli public of the true price of the occupation."

<> Oct. 15. - from Arik Ascherman

Today's harvest in the South Hebron Hills was disrupted by armed settlers. Although the Israeli DCO had asked RHR to invite the residents of Gawaweis to harvest their trees which they haven't been able to get to since the settler Itamar Cohen took over the village and forced the villagers to live elsewhere, the army decided that they did not have a forces to deal with the settlers who attacked and lightly injured some of the Palestinians. The police did arrest Itamar Cohen and other settlers for entering a closed military area and returning after having been expelled a month ago. Residents of Gawaweis were allowed to harvest in a second grove and promised that the army would keep the settlers away and schedule another harvest day shortly. Nevertheless, there were bitter feelings as hopeful villagers were sent back home and fears that the trees that have not yet been damaged will be harmed before the harvest takes place.

Shortly after, the RHR observers witnessed a parade of women led by a settler from Susya walking from the settlement through Palestinian Susya on their way to the Susya archeological site. Apparently this happens once a week.

An RHR harvesting delegation in Jamain today heard from residents that, like yesterday, settlers from Tapuakh threw stones at Palestinians before the delegation arrived.

RHR calls on the Israeli security forces to fulfill their obligation under the 4th Geneva Convention to protect the occupied population and ensure that they have full access to their land both for the olive harvest and at all times.

<> Peace activists not allowed to help olive pickers Palestinian school kids attacked by settler gangs Prefer international accompaniers over IDF escort. [Just one little "Last update" on the Haaretz internet site; not sure that it will ever appear in print. We chose to print it here in full as the different elements scrambled into one report illustrate "the true price of occupation".]

Left-wing activists not allowed to help olive pickers By Nir Hasson, Haaretz Correspondent last update 16/10/2004 11:31 [see also flash update 12:59: Left-wing activists deny IDF claims that they were allowed to go elsewhere to pick olives after denied entry into W. Bank village (Israel Radio)] The army refuses to allow over 100 activists, who came to the village of Azawiyah to help in olive harvest, to enter sealed military zone. Israel Defense Forces troops denied the entry of more than 100 Israeli left-wing activists who had come to assist in an olive harvest, into the village of Azawiyeh in the northern West Bank on Saturday morning. The army said it feared a violent confrontation would ensue between the pro-Palestinian groups and settlers living in the nearby settlement of Eli.

Security forces have declared the area a sealed military zone and will not allow the activists to enter it.

Police have so far arrested three of the people who entered the area.

Military sources say they have suggested that the activists help picking olives in areas where there is no threat of clashes with settlers but the activists refused.

Settlers may have attacked 5 int'l peace activists Police say settlers may have been behind attacks on five international peace activists in the West Bank last Saturday. The peace activists were assaulted when they were escorting Palestinian children to school in the village of Al-Tuwani in the southern Hebron hills, on a route that passes between the settlement of Maon and the outpost called Maon Ranch. An Italian peace volunteer and an Amnesty International member required medical treatment after being badly beaten with clubs.

This is the latest of three attacks on volunteers perpetrated in the past month.

Kim Lamberty, an American volunteer with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), described the first attack against members of her organization on September 29: "We were escorting five children to school, when five masked figures dressed in black jumped out at us. The children began to run. I was knocked down and beat with a chain. I lay immobile so they would think I was dead."

Lamberty's arm and leg were broken. Her colleague Chris Brown was also hospitalized with a punctured lung. Last Wednesday, rocks were thrown at a single volunteer, who escaped unharmed.

Police say the attacks are not spontaneous outbreaks of violence, but rather the work of a well-organized group, whose members wear black, don ski masks and arm themselves with wooden clubs, chains and rocks. Jewish settlers in the area have long been harassing Palestinian residents. Palestinian children are afraid to go to school and many have dropped out.

The recent attacks are seen as an intensification of the violence. "Until now we were subjected to stone-throwing and spontaneous actions, but not a planned ambush," says Rabbi Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights, another organization active in the area.

Activists also complain about police indifference to the attacks. "We lay waiting there for half an hour before the police came. We could have easily been killed," says Lamberty. No suspects have been detained yet "but if the assailants were Arabs they would have arrested the whole village and found the guilty parties" says Ezra Nawi, an activist with Ta'ayush Arab-Jewish partnership.

Over the past week the Israel Defense Forces has been discussing solutions with the residents of Tuba and with the peace activists. The IDF is demanding that the international volunteers leave, promising that soldiers would take over the job of escorting the children safely to school. But Palestinian children are afraid of the soldiers. "We don't trust the IDF to keep up the routine either," Nawi said.

Judea and Samaria police spokesman Sagi Shlomi said the police are taking the attacks very seriously. "This is a subversive group that has carried out aggravated assault offenses and robbery. We have made 14 searches in Maon and Maon Ranch, and called in dozens of policemen to the scene."

The IDF spokesperson said that an army unit will secure the children's passage every morning. An army source added that the international activists would not be allowed to pass because a terrorist might try to infiltrate with them and hurt the settlers. "As soon as the peace activists are gone, things will calm down," he said. P.S. Gush Shalom is mobilizing olive harvesters for next Saturday; in order to (hopefully) get many olives off the trees this is coordinated with the army - reserve your place in the bus by leaving a message at 03-5221732. ~~~

<> Confirmed and confessed, by B.Michael (translated by TOI-staff from Yediot Aharonot)

Confirmed and confessed, B. Michael Yediot Aharonot, 15/10/2004

Between Sept 29 and Oct 15, fifteen days in all, I killed thirty children. Two children per day.

Two dead children per day is more or less four bereaved parents per day. Why more or less? Because some of them were brothers. So, two dead children for one pair of bereaved parents. Perhaps that's better, because these parents are bereaved anyway, so they are just bereaved twice, and another pair of parents is released from being bereaved. But perhaps it is less good, because to be bereaved is worse than being dead, and being twice bereaved is twice worse than being dead. So I don't really know what to decide.

All these children I killed in the Gaza Strip, and all of them I killed by mistake. That is, I knew that there were children there, and I knew I would kill some of them, but since I knew it would be by mistake I did not feel so pressured about it. Because everybody makes mistakes. Only the one who does nothing does not make mistakes. Mistakes happen, we are all human beings. That is what I think is so nice about my mistakes, they make me so human and fallible, is it not so?

The 30 children I killed by all kind of mistakes. Each child with his special mistake. There was one about whom I thought by mistake that he was not a child. And there was one which I hit because he insisted on standing exactly on the spot at which I decided to shoot. And there was one who threw stones and did not at all look six years old. And there was one who from the air looked like a wanted terrorist. Or like a Qassam rocket. Or like a terrorist holding a Qassam rocket. And there were some children who by mistake got into their heads some of the shrapnel from the shell I shot into their house. And there was one who by mistake hid under her bed exactly when I blew up the bed in order to expel the terrorist squad which was hiding there. But this does not count, it was her mistake, not mine.

I remember it was the most hard with my first mistake. I shot and shot and shot, then they told me I had killed a child. I became pale, and my mouth was dry, and my knees were shaking, and in general I did not sleep very well that night. But with the passing of time, and of mistakes, it became much easier. Now I make mistakes with hardly any side-effects. It was very helpful that my friends, my environment, everybody, did not make so much fuss over every small mistake.

Here, just last week, when I killed by mistake one girl, I shot two more mistakes into her head, just to make sure that I was making a mistake. And then the rest of my magazine, full of mistakes. Once, I would not have been able to do that.

True, some people tell me that I am making a mistake in making this confession. They tell I have not been in Gaza at all, and did not shoot any bullet, and did not bomb, and did not shell, and did not snipe. That's true, I did not. But who paid for the bullets? Me. And who bought the gun? And financed the shell? And the missile? Me. Me. Me. Also me.

And also, who is not growing pale any more with every new mistake? Whose mouth is not getting dry when one more child is laid in the earth? Whose knees do not grow weak when another nameless baby lies dead in a bloody cradle? Who goes on sleeping soundly even when the number of mistakes reaches thirty in two weeks? Me. Also me. So, don't tell me I didn't kill.

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