Nick Pretzlik

The hour before dawn

“A successful military career in Israel is a stepping-stone to success in the political arena and it is not unreasonable to suppose that ex-soldiers carry army-inspired prejudices with them when they enter the Knesset. Therein, perhaps, lies a partial explanation for the construction of the apartheid wall. Maybe the idea wouldn’t have taken root had those involved not been conditioned during their formative years in uniform, and maybe it also explains why the wider Israeli public fails to oppose the project in larger numbers.” Nick Pretzlik muses on the psychological roots of Israeli violations of Palestinian rights. 

For the life of Fatemeh

“Khashem Zeneh is not difficult to find. Just head out of Beer Sheva on the Dimona road, opposite the exclusively Jewish community of Moshav Nevatim, then turn right at the sign which reads “CEMETARY.” It sounds easy, but on the map, Khashem Zeneh does not exist. In 1965, a quick stroke of a Knesset pen created the phenomenon of “Unrecognised Villages”. Along with many other Bedouin communities in the Negev, it was made invisible to governmental planners and thus illegal in the eyes of the authorities.” Nick Pretzlik reports from the Negev. 

If this is justice, I'm a banana!

“The family last saw Asma Abd-elrazzaq Salih, a 25-year-old mother of two, at the beginning of February this year. It was 1:00 a.m. when the Israeli soldiers arrived at the house, and dawn was breaking as they took her away. She has not been charged with any crime, but is being held as a hostage by the Israeli Army and Government, which has now stooped so low as to kidnap young women.” Nick Pretzlik reports on a particularly disturbing Israeli violation of International Humanitarian Law from East Jerusalem. 

Ramadan begins in Jenin

“The Holy Month of Ramadan, marked by fasting and reflection, has begun and energy levels seem low. But in any case, people have little to do. The Palestinian economy is dead and what money remains in Jenin is slipping away fast — most of it into Israel itself to pay for electricity, gas, water and telephones, to list just a few of the bills which have to be settled. None of the money comes back. It is hard for a large family to live on just US $10 per day and be energetic.” Nick Pretzlik reports from Jenin. 

"Go to the West Bank!" yelled the soldier

“Democracy is more than simply paying taxes and having the vote. It requires the state to ensure that every citizen enjoys equal rights and access to justice — something Arab citizens of Israel clearly do not enjoy. Until early 2002, out of 3,000 Bedouin cases brought before Israeli courts, not one had been decided in favour of the Bedouins. Not one! For the Bedouin of Israel, democracy is a myth, as it is for the rest of the 20+ percent of Israel’s population that is not Jewish.” Nick Pretzlik reports on a new house demolition campaign — inside the Green Line. 

Peace is a long way off

Nick Pretzlik, now in Jenin, reports on local responses to the Road Map, noting that Palestinians “have suffered too much and too long to accept a plan which permits the apartheid walls and electrified fences to remain, a plan which leaves settler roads and key settlements in place, and allows Palestinian water resources, airspace and borders to remain under Israeli control. Even if the current generation can accept that, I doubt that their children will.” 

We reap what we sow

“The relocation policy of shifting the Bedouin population into official settlements has the added benefit of creating a cheap source of labour for the Jewish economy. Life for the Bedouins is made as difficult as possible in order to pressure them into making that move. With the help of the legal ‘hocus pocus’ involved with the 1965 Planning and Construction Law, Unrecognised Villages became ‘de-legalised’ — existing buildings were unable to obtain permits and those which already possessed them, schools for example, had them rescinded. Whole communities became illegal.” Nick Pretzlik details the vast array of injustices committed against Bedouin citizens of Israel since 1948. 

Where will this road map really lead?

“We now witness the publication of the Middle East Road Map, the latest attempt to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian impasse. Cynics will expect Israel to prevaricate and demand amendments and President Bush to lack conviction in the face of a US election in 2004. Cynics will no doubt recall Sharon’s oft-stated belief that it is necessary to inflict a devastating defeat on the Palestinians before peace can be agreed to. They will also remember the words of General Moshe Ya’alon, the IDF chief of staff, when he said that the aim is to lead the Palestinians to internalise “in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people”. Is this the appropriate mindset for an equitable peace?” Nick Pretzlik views events in Palestine and Iraq from London and asks some difficult questions. 

"The news from Palestine is so bad, it makes me want to be there"

“Seasoned with announcements of house demolitions and human rights abuses, the news is doubly hard to read from London. I know from my experience in Palestine that reports which reach the media represent only the tip of the iceberg of catastrophes visited on the Palestinians. It was easier for me by far to be on the spot, to be immersed in events.” Nick Pretzlik reflects on his recent visit to Palestine and the steadfastness of those living under occupation.