Published on October 13, 2014
1. Report from Palestine and Israel – What are the facts on the ground? Report on a visit made October 31 – November 13, 2009 Peter Larson
2. Presentation outline • My own objectives • How my trip was organized • Where we went, what we saw – Jerusalem – West Bank – Inside Israel • My conclusions/observations
3. My trip objectives 1. To see the “facts on the ground” 2. To answer a bothersome question - “Is it fair to call Israel an “Apartheid” state?” 3. To do some tourism
4. We did have fun…
5. A little geography reminder…..
6. Where we went Jaffa Beersheba Jordan Valley Jericho
7. ETT STUDY TOUR TO ISRAEL & PALESTINE 31 October - 11 November 2009 List of persons/organizations visited 1. Jeff Halper, President, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions 2. Yahay Zohar, guide, ICAHD (walking tour of E. Jerusalem) 3. Salim Shawamreh, Beit Arabiya 4. Dina Awad, Bethlehem University 5. Usama Nicola, Wi’am Mediation Centre, Bethlehem 6. Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem 7. Hazem Jamjoum, Badil Information Centre on Refugees, Bethlehem 8. Nuri el-Ukbi, Bedouin, Negev Desert 9. Dr. Yeela Livnat Raanan, Ben Gurion University 10. “Unrecognized Bedouin village” of Al-Sira, Negev 11.Halil el Amour, Regional Council for the Unrecognized Bedouin Villages in the Negev. 12. Dr Abed Haiek, future School for Girls, Beit Hanina 13.Leigh Brady, Defense for Children International, Ramallah
8. 14.Alex Kuttoub, Negotiating Affairs Unit of the PLO, Ramallah 15.Sami Awad, Director of The Holy Land Trust, Bethlehem 16.Hannah Barag, Machsom Watch, West Jerusalem 17.Alwyn Knight, Christian Peacemaker Team, Hebron 18.Hashem Al Azzeh, Hebron 19.Women in Black, West Jerusalem 20.Four Homes of Mercy, Bethany 21.Daher Nassar, Tent of Nations, East Jerusalem 22.Mikhael Manekin, Breaking the Silence, West Jerusalem 23.Aaron Snyder, Lod Community Foundation, Lod 24.Yudit Ilany, Public Committee of Housing and Land Rights, Jaffa 25.Fathe Kdirat, Jordan Valley Solidarity organization 26.Humsa family, Jordan Valley 27.Jonathon Cook, Author, Nazareth PLUS 27.Jon Allen, Canadian Ambassador to Israel 28.Graeme McIntyre, Canadian Representative to Palestinian Authority 29.Margaret Evans, CBC Middle East Correspondent 30.Barbara Shenstone, Director, West Bank Operations, UNRWA 31.Nomi Levitsky, Israeli television commentator/journalist
9. Historic Jerusalem – a fascinating place to visit Inhabited for more than 5000 years 1867 pop’n estimate: 6,000 Muslims, 5,000 Jews, 2000 Christians
10. Hundreds of Pilgrims (and a holiday atmosphere) at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher
11. The Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque
12. The Western or “Wailing” wall
13. Palestine and Transjordan Map source: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1935
14. Where is Palestine today??? It has been literally “wiped off the map”
15. UN Partition plan • Israel 56%, Arab state 43% •Jaffa Palestinian •Jerusalem to be international Post 1949 truce • Israel 72%, Arab state 28% •Jaffa Israeli, Gaza smaller •Jerusalem divided
16. Where did the Palestinians go when Israel was created?
17. Where are the Palestinians today? Refugee Camps (Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Syria) 4.7 M TOTAL 10.1M Israel 1.5 M West Bank 2.4 Gaza 1.5 M
18. The geography of Jerusalem
19. In Jerusalem there are multiple points of tension between Palestinians and Israelis 1. Israeli settlements - Construction of thousands of illegal settlements in the occupied territory surrounding Jerusalem 2. Israeli security and the wall (or “separation barrier”) – economic and social impact on Palestinians 3. Service levels – disparity between East and West Jerusalem 4. Demolition of Palestinian houses (and the building freeze) 5. Eradication of traces of Palestinian culture and religion
20. 1. Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem Above – Ma’Ale Adumim Right – its recreation facility
21. The Israeli settlements have been growing since the Oslo Agreement. There are now over 250,000 (Jewish) Israeli citizens living in Occupied East Jerusalem
22. 2. Israeli Security and the wall
23. The wall effectively annexes a huge area of Palestinian land to Israel and cuts Jerusalem off from its Palestinian hinterland
24. 3. Disparity in services West Jerusalem East Jerusalem
25. East Jerusalem — Facts and Figures June 2008 • Number of residents: 256,820 (34% of the Jerusalem population) • Families under the poverty line: 67% (vs. 21% in W. Jerusalem) • Children under the poverty line: 77.2% (vs. 39.1% in W. Jerusalem) • Sewers: 70 kilometers of main sewage lines are lacking. • Water: Approximately 160,000 Palestinian residents have no connection to the water network. • Schools: There is a shortage of 1,500 classrooms. • School dropout rate: Currently stands at approximately 50%. • Post offices: 2, plus 5 postal agencies (as opposed to 50 postal facilities in West Jerusalem). - Association for Civil Rights in Israel
26. 4. Demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem
27. Reasons for demolishing Palestinian houses • The wall • “beautification” • Security - “military/police sites” • National historic purposes • Reprisals for terrorism • Illegal construction
28. 50 Palestinians evicted from Jerusalem homes Israeli police then allowed Jewish settlers to move into the houses MSNBC - Sun., Aug 2, 2009 JERUSALEM - Israeli police evicted two Palestinian families in east Jerusalem on Sunday, then allowed Jewish settlers to move into their homes, drawing criticism from Palestinians, the United Nations and the State Department. Police arrived before dawn and cordoned off part of the Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah before forcibly removing more than 50 people, said Chris Gunness, spokesman for the U.N. agency in charge of Palestinian refugees. U.N. staff later saw vehicles bringing Jewish settlers to move into the homes, he said.
29. 5. Gradual elimination of traces of Palestinian civilisation in Jerusalem
30. Hotel of the Shepherd Former residence of Grand Mufti of Jerusalem (religious leader) taken over by Israel after 1967. Potential site of new Palestinian government.
31. Demolished, January 2011 To be replaced by new Jewish housing units, built by American developer
32. ‘Beautification’ of old city of Jerusalem by creating a park … By destroying Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem
33. Destruction of the Palestinian village of Silwan, (and forcible removal of its inhabitants) to create a new Jewish cultural history park Ancien village arabe de ‘Silwan’ – sous menace de démolition pour en faire un parc de l’histoire juive
34. Proposed new ‘Museum of Tolerance’ (financed by Elie Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles) to be built in East Jerusalem…. … On the site of a Muslim Cemetery
35. Summary – Palestinian point of view on the Jerusalem situation Since 1948, Israel has been waging a low intensity war to take over Jerusalem and make it the capital of the ‘Jewish’ State of Israel. It wants the Palestinians to get out. Key elements of the strategy: • Build huge settlements for hundreds of thousands of Jews in East Jerusalem, using subsidies and other enticements • Cut Jerusalem off economically from its historic Palestinian hinterland • Make it hard for Palestinians to live in Jerusalem by destroying their houses and preventing new Palestinan construction • Buy up or expropriate Palestinian houses and encourage religious Jewish fanatics to move into Arab neighbourhoods • Provide minimal level of service (sewers, schools, etc.) to Palestinians • Generally push Palestinians to leave Jerusalem.
36. The occupied West Bank - Bethlehem - Hebron - Jordan Valley •2.4 million Palestinians •Military rule since 1967 •No civil rights •2/3 of adult males have been in prison •Complete take over of Jordan Valley •Israeli control of water •Growth of Jewish settlements •Hundreds of “checkpoints” •Many settler only roads
37. Bethlehem University
38. On Wednesday, 28 October 2009, we learned that Ms. Berlanty Azzam, a 21 year old Bethlehem University student, was arrested by the Israeli military at a check point in the West Bank. She was loaded into a military jeep - blindfolded and handcuffed - and taken to Gaza - against her will. Berlanty, a Christian, had been a student at BU since 2005. “For 3 years I stayed in Bethlehem. I didn’t dare visit my family in Gaza for fear that I would not be permitted to return to my studies in the West Bank,” said Berlanty. “Now, just two months before graduation, I was arrested and taken to Gaza in the middle of the night.” Text taken from the Bethlehem University of the Holy Land Website – December 8th, 2009
39. El Aida Refugee Camp - Bethlehem
41. Hebron – 120,000 Palestinians, 600 Jewish settlers. City now divided into Jewish and Palestinian areas. Jewish areas are growing….
42. But Jewish religious fundamentalists (many of them Americans) have taken control over parts of Hebron and, supported by the IDF, have closed the main commercial street of Hebron
43. The Jordan Valley
44. Jordan Valley: Palestinian peasants without water, while immigrant Jews have water and electricity at subsidized rates
45. Inside Israel Palestinian Israelis, or “Israeli Arabs” Jaffa Beersheba Jordan Valley Jericho
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48. Bedouins in the Negev
49. Jewish National Fund’s “Blueprint Negev planned community”
50. My own conclusions
51. Conclusion 1 Palestine is disappearing….. …Israel’s 60 year old war to take over all of Palestine continues to this day
52. Palestinian Sovereign Areas according to the Sharon Proposal, 2001
53. Conclusion 2: There are now 4 main groups of Palestinians each with different problems. • Israeli Citizens • West Bank • Gaza • Refugees TOTAL 10.1 M Israel 1.5 M West Bank 2.4 Gaza 1.5 M Refugees 4.7 M
54. Conclusion 3: The Palestinians do feel hostile toward the Jews… • …Not because they are Jewish, but because the State of Israel and the Israeli military – Have made 4 million people refugees and refuse their right to return – continue to take over more and more Palestinian land – continue to tear down Palestinian houses – Allow hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers to move into occupied territory – have taken over the control of water, limiting access for Palestinians while subsidizing it for illegal Jewish settlements – practice a severe discrimination against Palestinians inside Israel – hold 1.4 million people in an open air prison in Gaza • And do all this in the name of Jews and a “Jewish state”
55. Conclusion 4: The Palestinians resist every day – and most of the resistance is non violent • Palestinian leadership knows that they cannot win militarily – Israel is far too powerful – and they discourage individual acts of violence • How do the Palestinians resist? • Graffiti • Demonstrations • Rebuilding destroyed houses • Appeals to the UN • Non-cooperation • Cultural – religion (Christian and Muslim), dress • Democratic elections • Civil society call for Boycott of Israel • There is simmering resentment everywhere and there are some acts of violence against Israel – and Israel makes sure we hear about them. But the surprising thing is that there is not more.
56. Conclusion 5: The treatment of the Palestinians by the Israelis is rooted in their own fears Specifically many Israelis and Jews fear: • that the Holocaust will somehow return • that the Palestinians will want revenge • that the Arab neighbours want to annihilate them • that the West will abandon them Therefore: • Any lasting solution to the Israeli/Palestinian issue will have to guarantee economic and physical security to Israelis (as well as Palestinians). Their sense of fear has to be recognized, understood, and dealt with.
57. Conclusion 6: Our guilt over what happened to the Jews (and our inaction) has led Canada to look the other way as a new injustice takes place • Canada “officially” opposes the occupation, the demolition of houses, the illegal settlements, the location of the wall, etc. etc. • BUT - instead of speaking up – or imposing any sanctions on Israel – we look the other way. We even signed a free trade agreement with Israel in 1996 and carry on “business as usual”. • Today, our hypocrisy is even more striking. – “The Harper government has remained largely silent on the ongoing building of illegal settlements, the demolition of Palestinian houses, the ongoing siege of Gaza, all of which violate the Geneva Conventions that Canada has signed and ratified”. – Paul Heinbecker, Former Cdn. Ambassador to the UN
58. A challenge • What should Canada do? – Canada should drop its unconditional support of Israel – Instead, we should be prepared to: • support any initiative (by Israel or by Palestinians) that conforms to human rights and international law, and • criticize any activity which does not (and even apply economic and political sanctions as appropriate) • What can you do? – Raise the issue for discussion among your friends, or in your church or other social group. Don’t be intimidated by the argument that criticizing Israel makes you “anti-Semitic”. You can support human rights for Jews while still being critical of Israel. – Learn more. I can suggest books, movies and articles. – Invite me to talk to some of your friends. – Go see for yourself – but make sure you visit with Palestinians as well as Israelis.
59. Report from Palestine and Israel – What are the facts on the ground? Report on a visit made October 31 – November 13, 2009 Thank you.
60. Other observations • More and more Palestinians (and Israelis) doubt whether a “2 state” solution is still possible. • But what is the alternative to a “2 state” solution? – A one state solution? A greater Israel? • But what to do with the 6 million Palestinians who live there? (To say nothing of the 4 million still living in refugee camps?) – Assimilation of the Palestinians? – Expulsion of the Palestinians? – Extermination of the Palestinians? – Full fledged apartheid? • The other alternative is a secular democratic state with equal rights for all. • This will no longer be a “Jewish” state
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62. Conclusion 2. Palestinians are being squeezed into the least productive areas…
63. Palestine and Transjordan Map source: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1935
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