Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Village of Aqaba, the bulldozers and Netanyahu's truth

Sample protest letter in the end
Last Thursday morning it happened again. As on many previous occasions over the past decades, a large force of the Israeli Defense Forces arrived at a small village called Aqaba, on the northeast corner of the West Bank. Soldiers mounted on jeeps sped along the village's main (and only) street, followed by three bulldozers. Three houses were razed to the ground, and twenty people (out of a bit more than the village's three hundred) were thrown into the street. The bulldozers also destroyed and thoroughly ploughed the access road to the village, about a kilometer and half long and known by the inhabitants as "The Peace Road", and then blocked it by large piles of dirt and debris. Also another kilometer-long road, used by villagers, was similarly destroyed and blocked.

The soldiers were accompanied by a man called Asher Tzur, an officer in the Civil Administration maintained by the State of Israel on the West Bank - a man who already for many years has taken it as his personal mission to act as the nemesis of the Akaba villagers, constantly issuing demolition orders and taking care that they would be implementated. Villagers standing near the active bulldozers could see a big smile on his face, and later he got on a bulldozer, and asked a soldier to take his photo. And then he left the village with soldiers and bulldozers - until next time.

Not for the first time, Haj Sami Sadeq, Mayor of Village of Aqaba asked me: "Why are they doing this to us? What did we do to them?" Haj Sami is wheelchair-bound since being, early in his life, shot in the back during training with live ammunition held by IDF forces in the village. "I personally, all our village people, have suffered very much from the Israeli occupation, but we do not harbor hatred in our hearts. There were never any acts of violence here. I went several times to speak in Europe and America and everywhere I told that all we want is to live in peace with the Israelis. Just leave us alone, to live our lives in our village, stop destroying our homes and roads ".
How to understand and how to explain that it's probably not a chance act nor the sadistic whim of one man, it's a policy that comes straight from above, straight from the government's decision makers. Not new policies or a new plan, but ultimately the same program which was initiated already in 1967 by a senior Israeli cabinet minister named Yigal Allon, who is long dead but whose "Alon Plan" is alive and well. According to this plan, the State of Israel must maintain permanent control over the Jordan Valley. And unfortunately for the village of Aqaba, it is located on the edge of that Valley. If  the authorities can manage to "get rid" of Aqaba, than the Jordan Valley area "free of Arabs" could be extended several kilometers further.  And so it came about that the bulldozers arrived again to make another effort at  implementing the Alon Plan. 

And by chance (and is it only by chance?) the bulldozers came to the village of Aqaba on the very day that Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu announced his intention of going to the UN General Assembly next week and delivering an eloquent  speech setting out Netanyahu's truth and explaining why he calls upon the nations of the world to reject the Palestinians' bid to be free of the occupation and establish their independent state. From what was published so far, it seems that Netanyahu intends to speak at the UN about Israel's righteousness, its democratic society and its desire for peace. The name of the village of Aqaba would most probably not be mentioned in his speech on the UN podium.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu


Defense Minister Ehud Barak

Dear Sir

I wish to express my strong protest at the September 15 demolition of homes and roads in the small village of Aqaba, east of Tubas in the West Bank. It is an especially ominous sign so short before the  United Nations debate on  Palestinian statehood. The twenty people who were left homeless by your acts are no recommendation for your real intentions.

I can't understand what your government thinks to achieve by delivering such a blow to a small village whose inhabitants wish only to live in peace and be left alone.