Justice for the Jahalin Tribe
Toward the end of February 1997, the last of the Bedouins from the
Jahalin tribe were evicted from their homes near Ma'aleh Adumim,
east of Jerusalem, the largest Israeli settlement on the West Bank.
Israeli soldiers and police forcibly removed 400 members of the
Jahalin from their land, their tents and their huts in order to
facilitate the expansion of the Jewish settlement.
The Jahalin tribe was expelled in 1950 from its ancestral land near
Arad in the northern Negev and forced to cross into the West Bank,
then under Jordanian rule. Now, following the rejection of their
appeal to the Israeli High Court, their encampment near Ma'aleh
Adumim has been bulldozed and the tribe moved to a rocky wind-swept
hillside near the Jerusalem municipal garbage dump.
The land there, now designated by the Israelis as "state land," was
seized from Palestinian residents of nearby Abu Dis. This
transforms the Bedouins into accomplices in the dispossession of
other Palestinians. Experts have declared the new site as unfit for
human occupancy. The Jahalin say they are ready to negotiate moving
to an alternative site if given adequate facilities, security of
tenure, building permits and compensation for the loss of their
Bedouin way of life.
Large signs on the Ma'aleh Adumim site advertise apartments and
villas enjoying "Above all, quality of life," while the Bedouins
have been evicted to a bleak hill lacking elementary facilities
like water, electricity and roads, not to mention schools. They are
living there in primitive huts, containers and tents. Palestinians
and Israelis from the peace camp who participated in a protest
meeting on the hilltop asked why the Bedouins were not entitled to
the same caravans provided for every West Bank settlement, however
small. No wonder that peace activist Uri Avnery declared that
"today I am ashamed to be an Israeli."
The Jahalin Solidarity Committee appeals to Israeli and
international public opinion to protest against the inexcusable
behavior of the Israeli authorities. We demand an end to this
discrimination, and justice for the Jahalin tribe.
Against Preaching to the Converted
I'm sorry I don't feel able, at this time, to subscribe to your
magazine. The truth is that my mood about the Middle East is so
depressed that reading academic articles in addition to what is in
the news, is too much for me. I'm afraid you will think me a
weakling and a quitter, and perhaps I am. My reaction to the May,
1996 elections was so bad that I feel my Zionism of nearly 50 years
crumbling under me.
lt seems to me inconceivably sad and shocking that more than half
the population of Israel could turn from the path of peace, forged,
whatever their faults, by the former administration, and take the
road they are taking now - a nationalist, isolationist, blind and
stupid road that leads nowhere but to war, internal strife and
world condemnation. Truly I feel that Israel has entered a new Dark
Age. I am trying hard to numb myself, not to care anymore, but
every now and then my feelings erupt as some new folly or cruelty
emerges, and I could and do weep with rage and despair.
Today, belatedly, I read the words of the man [Peres] who, if the
people of Israel had had any real desire for peace, should now be
prime minister, spoken in the Knesset in October 1996 and reported
nowhere in the U.K. He said that the road to peace leads through
agony. This is so true and so statesmanlike that my heart ached at
what might have been. Considering ongoing events since then, it is
evident that the many sane and passionate appeals in that speech
convinced none of the villains and zealots who are leading Israel
Words, spoken or printed, will not alter the direction in which
Israel is being taken. The time for words has passed. Preaching to
the converted is nothing but self-indulgence. And when you are
speaking to closed minds there is no way to reach them. You can use
every weapon of appeal and reason and eloquence at your disposal
but it will change nothing, and neither, I'm afraid, will your
magazine. Only actions count now.