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Justice for the Jahalin Tribe

Sirs,

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.

Sincerely,

Adam Keller
Holon, Israel


Against Preaching to the Converted

Dear Sirs,

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 to destruction.
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.

Yours sincerely,

Lynne Reid-Banks
Dorset, U.K.

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