Amira Hass: What Business Is It of Chirac?

The Jordan Valley, the settlement blocs that continue to merge into each other, the monumental Jews-only roads, the demilitarized zone long since annexed to Israel, the area annexed to Jerusalem in 1967, the de facto annexations of the fence – these already cover most of the West Bank.

Amira Hass, Haaretz, Aug 03, 2005

A European journalist was asked to write about the wall being built around Anata, which will transform it into an enclosed ghetto within Jerusalem. Sorry, she said, the paper’s editors are only interested in the disengagement. It has it all: upbeat news, lots of action, Jews cursing Jews, Jews beating up Jews. We’re fed up with the repetitious details of the wall’s damages.

The other side of that coin is the affection with which Ariel Sharon was welcomed in France last week. And honestly, should Jacques Chirac care that last week the Israeli authorities demolished three homes in the village of al-Khader? And is it his responsibility that a short distance from there, the illegal settlement of Efrat continues to expand at the expense of the biblical landscapes of al-Khader?

What is it to him that the crossings Israel is now building, east of the Green Line, rob hefty square kilometers from West Bank territory and the private property of hundreds of families, with a transparent objective of institutionalize them as “international terminals?” And why should he and other European leaders be shocked by the news that the West Bank’s main roads have nearly no Palestinian traffic, as though a transfer has been implemented there? Israelis are not shocked by this information.

Who can find the words to explain to Europe’s newspapers that once every few weeks, Israel Defense Forces soldiers prevent all residents of the northern West Bank from driving south? At the Za’atara checkpoint south of Nablus, near the illegal settlement of Tapuah, they send people packing as the IDF declares a “hot security alert.” In the creative diction of the IDF, this is called “separation.” They separate between Judea and Samaria. Sometimes this lasts four days, sometimes 10. As usual, whoever is determined to reach his destination finds a roundabout way that takes several hours, between hills and dales, rocky terrain and olive groves. But most forgo their right to mobility.

Why should Chirac and Le Monde, or Le Figaro, be interested in shepherds in the southern Hebron Hills whom IDF soldiers kicked off their grazing lands on Monday, shouting distance from another illegal settlement?

Why should Chirac and the other European leaders take an interest in the millions of trifles of the calculated dispossession, which dictate the lives of the Palestinian people? Trifles that add up to a clear picture: Sharon is determinedly striving to realize the master plan – integrating most of the West Bank into the sovereign State of Israel.

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Amira Hass: Fooling the High Court of Justice and the Hague

The legalistic deception of the Israeli Civil Administration: “It is all Israel”

Amira Hass, Haaretz, 13 July 2005

Listen to the soldier in the field. He says what his commanders were trained to cover up and embellish. Listen to the red-headed soldier, who prevented residents of Qafin from passing through the gate in the separation fence last month to get to their lands. These are 5,000 out of 8,200 dunams of agricultural land in a village in the northwestern West Bank. These are lands belonging to the families of these residents for several generations, and for so-called security reasons they were separated from the village – as has happened, and will happen, with hundreds of other Palestinian villages.

Several residents have Civil Administration permits allowing them to pass through the closed gate. Signed permits serve as written proof – intended for the High Court of Justice, and indirectly for the world court at The Hague – that the security establishment and the state are keeping their promises, whereby the security fence does not keep farmers away from their land, that it is “measured.” This could be used as evidence in a future international court that will clean out the entire system: the commanders, the politicians, the judges. A written document is better evidence than the undocumented long hours during which people waited for nothing outside the gate, under the beating sun.

But the soldier knows better, because he’s in the field, and he doesn’t lie: These permits don’t obligate the army, he said (and the Civil Administration confirmed this, when asked), because this gate is only for the olive harvest season. That is, the autumn – but now it’s summer. Since the gate near their land is closed, there’s no chance that the Qafin farmers can pass through to plant 7,500 olive saplings received as a donation, to replace the 12,000 trees destroyed by the fence. Since the gate near! their l and is closed, when fires break out they can’t get there quickly and save the groves their grandfathers planted. And since the gate is closed, they are unable to plant wheat, okra or corn between the groves to slightly improve the nutrition of their families, which are trapped in a cycle of poverty and unemployment.

But the red-headed soldier didn’t discuss only the gate. He didn’t hide the geopolitical worldview in whose name he is commanded to safeguard the gate’s welfare. “There is no entry to Israel from here,” he said. When he was told that the farmers don’t want to enter Israel, but to walk 200 meters to get to their age-old lands, a few kilometers away from the Green Line, he responded: “To be politically correct, it is all Israel.”

How right the soldier is. From his standpoint, on the security road that links up with bypass roads for Jews only, which in turn link up with settlements and Israel proper, this is what he and his colleagues watch every day: The space called “Israel,” from the river to the sea, containing all kinds of “crowded population concentrations” surrounded by fences and imprisoned behind locked gates.

It’s not only one locked gate that separates the farmers of Qafin from their lands. Another locked gate in the separation fence, in the north of the village, also divides them from their lands. And there’s a third gate open only to those who have permits, but it involves its own tricks to ensure that the residents of Qafin won’t really be able to work their lands. It’s 12 kilometers away from the center of the village and is located in what’s called the Reihan terminal, which cuts off and isolates some of the northwestern West Bank villages from other parts of the West Bank. In other words, it costs money no one has to get to this gate, which is between four and eight kilometers away from village lands. Residents aren’t allowed to get to the lands by car or donkey. They are not allowed to take tools or saplings. In short, it’s a hike of several hours, so as to! cry ove r the neglected land. This is the nature of “the access to the land” that the security establishment promises the High Court justices, who believe what they are told.

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Amira Hass: There’s a Settler in Every Israeli

Amira Hass, Haaretz, July 6, 2005

The hunting season is at its height, and the settlers are the prey. They have become a target for criticism in the media to an extent whose like is hard to remember. They are criticized for sending their children to block roads, for hitting and cursing soldiers, for the disappearance of blue-and-white ribbons on cars (and sometimes the antennas, as well), for occupying a Palestinian house in Muasi and for throwing stones at a Palestinian youth.

The neighborhood’s spoiled brat, who feels he should get it all, has suddenly lost his temper, and the neighbors are losing patience. But the child is spoiled because the entire neighborhood has spoiled him, and he is convinced he should get it all because for years all the neighbors have proved through their actions that this is so.

It began with the tolerance displayed by all Israeli governments, as well as the legal establishment, for the settlers’ behavior toward the Palestinians. It reached a peak with Yitzhak Rabin’s leniency in 1994, when instead of evacuating the fundamentalist Hebron settlers in light of the general disgust for the massacre perpetrated by Baruch Goldstein, he imposed a lengthy curfew on Palestinian Hebron. He thereby gave a green light to incessant criminal acts of persecution and expulsion, long before the lynching in Muasi.

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October 30 – November 20, 2003
Reporting the Middle East, From the Road Map to Iraq: A Lecture Series

Amira Hass
Thursday, October 30, 2003
Morgridge Auditorium, UW-Madison Grainger Hall
7:30 pm

Amira Hass covers Palestinian affairs for the Israeli daily Ha’aretz. She is the only Israeli journalist who actually lives in the Occupied Territories. Author of Drinking the Sea at Gaza, she has just published a second book, Reporting from Ramallah. Known for her honest and often brutal portrayals of the impact of Israeli occupation on the lives of ordinary Palestinians, she received the 1999 International World Press Freedom Award in recognition of her work in the Gaza Strip.

Ali Abunimah
Thursday, November 6, 2003
Madison Area Technical College, Room D240
211 N. Carroll St.
7:00 pm

Ali Abunimah is a co-founder of and major contributor to The Electronic Intifada, an online educational gateway to the Palestine-Israel conflict, and one of today’s most prominent critics of mainstream U.S. media coverage of that conflict. He is also vice-president of the Arab-American Action Network of Chicago.

As’ad Abukhalil
Thursday, November 13, 2003
The “War on Terrorism” and its Impact on Middle East Politics”
UW-Madison Memorial Union, Great Hall
7:30 pm

Dr. Abukhalil is a Professor of Political Science in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at California State University-Stanislaus. He is the author of the just-released book, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.: The Tale of the ‘Good’ Taliban.

Robert Fisk
Thursday, November 20, 2003
The Fantasy War: “Democracy”, WMD’s and “Liberation”
Orpheum Theater, Madison
8:00 pm

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