Palestine: Remembering forests lost to the Israeli occupation

Since Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem in 1967, the Israeli
government has built a ring of Jewish “suburbs” around Arab East
Jerusalem. Nearly 200,000 Israelis now live there. This ring
essentially seals off East Jerusalem from Bethlehem, Hebron, and
Palestinian villages to the south. One of the last pieces to snap into
place was Har Homa, a settlement built between Jerusalem and Bethlehem
on a hill known to the Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim. I recall
seeing the hill from Bethlehem in 1996. By then, Israeli chainsaws and
earth-moving equipment had already sliced lines into the hill’s
conifer forest, giving it what looked like a bad haircut. Palestinian
activists, desperate to hang onto this part of the West Bank, had set
up a 24-hour emergency camp, pledging not to abandon their peaceful
protest until Israel withdrew its claims. Today, the trees are gone,
replaced by long rows of new white houses for Israelis.

“This is the last resort from which you can establish the umbilical cord between
Bethlehem and Jerusalem,” said Jad Isaac, director of the Applied
Research Institute, a Palestinian think tank in Bethlehem. “So the
construction of Har Homa destroys the peace process. Unless Har Homa
is totally destroyed and returned to the Palestinians, there is no
peace.” For Bethlehemites like Isaac, the wedge of Har Homa and the
other East Jerusalem “suburbs” effectively renders moot Palestinian
aspirations for a contiguous state. If any doubt about this lingered,
Israel’s separation wall put an end to it. Driven into the land at the
northern end of Bethlehem is the 25-foot-high concrete curtain with
two narrow, single file pedestrian lanes running beside it.

Each is
about 150 feet long, framed by steel bars from concrete floor to metal
ceiling. These give the few Palestinians with permits to travel from
Bethlehem the inescapable feeling of moving through a cattle line.
(Actually, Palestinians prefer a poultry analogy, calling the lanes
ma’aatet al-jaaj, the chicken-plucking machine.) When I walked through
the line, emerging near the southern edge of Jerusalem, I gazed back
on the northern face of the wall, stunned at a banner unfurled beneath
the gun turret and watchtower. From the Israeli Ministry of Tourism,
it proclaims in Hebrew, English, and Arabic, “Peace Be With You.”\01\01-28\zopinionz\970.htm&dismode=x&ts=28/01/2009%2002:23:12%20%C3%A3

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Comments (1)

pamJuly 6th, 2009 at 6:59 am

Israel will one day be banished from Palestine, the land they stole, and if it takes Iran to do this for us, so be it, if not, there are millions of us in the world today who are devoting our lives to the freedom of Palestine and opposing, boycotting, divesting anything to do with Israel, Israel is hated and will be isolated and we will not remember their holocaust no matter how many times they brainwash us, we will remember the Gazan holocaust

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