by John, December 18th
“Israel is a democracy and a friend and has every right to defend itself from terror.”
George Bush, May 2004
I had a tour of Hebron today going a bit further than the Tel Rumeida settlement. But we did pass through this area – it turns out that the soldiers often ban the residents from repairing their houses, hence the fact that many have moved out. Many more moved out after the massacre in 1994 by Baruch Goldstein and the Israeli government imposed a curfew for their own ‘safety’. This curfew stopped them going outside for days at a time or visiting shops.
The settlers have also invaded a number of Palestinian homes. The most ‘amusing’ story I heard from one activist is when a group of Palestinians saw an Israeli leave a satchel in a field nearby. The police investigated and found it contained food – it transpired that the Israeli Jews had decided that they would come and throw rocks and stones in the village but because of Shabbat cannot carry food. Locally they have also burnt down olive trees that date from the Roman or even Byzantium era.
A local house has also been turned into a closed military zone but local Jews are often observed going here for illicit affairs and for drinking alcohol. But when the locals return they are often harassed by the soldiers.
The most shocking thing I think I saw today was the sign pictured above, which is written all over the place in Hebrew and as pictured in English. The fact that some Jews want to perpetrate a Holocaust is awful, especially as the fact is the state of Israel was largely created due to the Holocaust.
Although there were no egg throwing incidents (we quite blatantly kept a camera trained on the window that they have been coming from) two settler children did attack some Palestinian boys with sticks. The soldiers intervened, but told the Palestinians off.
Another interesting thing is the fact that for a long time there has been a Palestinian Jewish presence in Hebron and we were shown the old Jewish cemetery and for years they lived peacefully with the Muslims. Again I heard I don’t want all the Israelis to leave Israel but I want the settlers to leave my land. And also the fact that although people don’t condone suicide bombing they are not surprised when it happens. One email I had from a friend asked if they don’t condone it why don’t they stop it. But its not that easy, as on can see in my home country, a large majority was against the Iraq invasion with many demonstrating against it but even in this democratic country we couldn’t stop thousands of soldiers going. So why should we blame the majority of the Palestinians for the actions of very few.
I’m starting to feel quite angry and helpless here and can fully understand the motives behind attacking the Israelis. Palestinians say they have all served in the army (OK not quite true but a large percentage have) and so they are all complicit in the crimes of the settlers – we were told of numerous court rulings that allow them to go to various places or use various roads that they cannot get enforced. Whilst the settlers break various rules but they cannot get them prosecuted – if they try and film they are often harassed and attacked by the settlers and soldiers.
As I’m finishing this off there are some settler kids wandering the streets with music blaring out, they just walked past two soldiers who did absolutely nothing. I’m now going to go looking for quotes from the Bush administration that state the Palestinians, and their democratically elected government, have the right to defend themselves from terror. If anyone can provide me with one I’d be most grateful.