In Gaza and north of the West Bank, the Israelis are taking down what should never have been put up in the first place (their illegal settlements), all the while muttering, “they haven’t made us do it; we are doing it on our own”. On the West Bank, the Israelis are busy constructing what must in future be taken down. It must.
So much back-breaking, deal-breaking work for the future (not to mention all the expense for the US taxpayer, who is footing the bill of what goes up)! Day by day, what will have to be dismantled grows, concrete slab by concrete slab, what has to be “withdrawn” proliferates, and there is no one to stop it or even to protest against it. On the contrary, Israel continues to hoodwink the US Senate and the House of Representatives, some of whose members are now considering attaching even stiffer conditions on aid to Palestine based on one red herring issue dangled by Israel after another.
But the world should keep its focus on the real leads to the conflict, the real incitements - like the abomination of the wall, and now the construction of “processing terminals” for people and goods to be run by civilian operators employing “smart cards” or biometric hand screens in place of physical security checks. So much for high tech enterprise and growing the knowledge economy in the Middle East! And who needs the military after the Israelis impose their peace on their terms?
The two new terminals for Gaza are Erez (for people) and Karni (al-Mintar) (for goods). For the West Bank, the terminals will all be located on the Wall line (not the Green Line) at Bitunia, Jalameh, Kalandia, Qalqilya, Ma’ale Efrayim, Tarqumia, and near Bethlehem. Cost: $27-$38 million each, of which, according to Ha’aretz, the US will contribute 40%.
The large processing terminal at Kalandia is now taking shape. It is the mechanism by which the West Bank is being isolated from Jerusalem, the crossroads of so many walls. It’s a big construction site with ample parking that looks obscene next to the congested Palestinian shops, public transport and narrow Ramallah-Jerusalem road against which the construction pushes up - the better to grab land on the Jerusalem side of the barrier, my dear.
Would you call any of this, at the very least, “hurtful and insulting”? That’s what Israeli officials are calling the private construction, by the Palestinian business community in San Salvador, of a park near the city’s Jerusalem Street named after the late Palestinian leader Yaser Arafat. Oh, yes, Israel is so irked by this park that it is delaying the return to San Salvador of Ambassador Yonatan Peled.
Since showing diplomatic displeasure is a toothless option for the Palestinians, other countries ought to speak up for them against what Israel continues to do. But this doesn’t happen, unfortunately. Where was the displeasure, the withdrawing of ambassadors when Israel, for example, built Canada Park?
Canada Park (named in honor of the Canadian funds that built it) extends illegally for 7,500 pine-forested acres built by Israel over the ruins of three Palestinian villages, Amwas, Yalu, and Beit Nuba, and across what used to be no man’s land between Jordan and Israel. In 1967, Palestinians were forcibly expelled from these villages never to be allowed to return.
Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan knows only too well of the options the Palestinians have to react to what’s “hurtful and insulting”. He is warning that “Israel’s current actions, its settlement policies and its isolation of Jerusalem from the West Bank, are paving the way for a third Intifada.”
So why aren’t Abbas and all his make-believe cabinet, all the newly-elected Hamas officials, not sitting in peaceful protest in front of the stone crushers on the Kalandia construction site right now? Are they waiting for the VIP lounge to be built, or are they afraid they might be scooped up by a bulldozer and eviscerated, as happened to peace activist Rachel Corrie?
Why aren’t Egypt and Jordan withdrawing their representatives from Israel?
Why aren’t the US and Europe calling, in the strongest terms possible, for an immediate halt to the illegal wall construction and for the dismantling of the miles already up, for a halt to the illegal Kalandia construction, to the continued illegal Israeli settlements? Why are they not withdrawing their ambassadors from Israel?
By not protesting, by accepting Israeli actions implicitly or explicitly as “security” policies, they are buying into the biggest hoax in history. They are leaving the Palestinians no option but to fight back - one kind of force (the kind that grabs land, builds walls and barriers and constructs illegal settlements under the protection of the Israeli army) with another kind of force (the kind that throws stones and mortar shells and explodes people in the market place), and then let each individual’s conscience sort out which is defense and which is terrorism.
It will take some effort to get out from under the biggest Israeli hoax of all time. You have to use imagination: “You have to imagine what it feels like to wake up one morning in your own house, the house your grandfather built long before the state of Israel existed, and to find the official notice on the wall. Your home, where you have lived your life, is soon to be destroyed; you and your children will be refugees.”
So wrote Professor David Shulman, a member of Taayush/Hacampus-lo-shotek (Students and Faculty against the Occupation) in The Electronic Intifada a few days ago (link below) in connection with 88 homes slated for demolition in the Al-Bustan neighbourhood of Silwan, as a result of which some 1,000 innocent people will lose everything in order to create yet another Jewish island in East Jerusalem.
May courageous leaders see the hoax for what it is and intervene before Israel’s brand of terrorism leads to yet another Intifada.
Rima Merriman is a freelance writer and a communications specialist. She worked in the West Bank for four months in late 2004. This article was first published in The Jordan Times on June 16 2005.