Monday, July 5, 2010

Ghost at the table

Update: as yet, the army's bulldozers have bypassed the little village Al-Farsieyah, mentioned in my previous posting Get out - no matter where to!  The army handed its residents deportation orders, effective within 24 hours, but the immediate blow fell on their neighbors at Ras al Ahmar.

Daphne Banai, MachsomWatch activist who devotes much time and energy to residents of the Jordan Valley sent the following account:

Sarah, a goodlooking 68 years old woman, is tired. She looks into the distance and wipes a tear from her eye. The army came this morning, the bulldozer destroyed her home. Also the neighbors' homes. In total 15 families, comprising about 100-150 persons, were left homeless under the brutal summer sun. Children, the elderly, and the livestock. No one was spared.

Sarah can’t stand it anymore. Also last year at the same time her home was destroyed. A home which is nothing but a tent and a few shacks can be rebuilt. The most difficult to recreate is the tabun oven which is dear to her, which is made of stone and on which the family's bread is baked. Every time the bulldozers tear up her home they just destroy everything indiscriminately.

Years ago, she remembers, jeeps would come along with aircraft, shooting and killing the sheep. Or sheep would be taken to the Ouja Quarantine and had to be redeemed from the army at two Jordanian Dinars a piece.

But over the past twenty years, every year the army comes and destroys everything Tents, sheepfolds, warehouses, and the tabun. Lives are torn up anew every year. Young people are used to it, but she is old, tired... She would have been ready to leave - but where? Where could you go with your flocks? Into the city?

And it is a privately owned land. It belongs to land-owners from the town of Tubas. Their ownership is duly registered in the land registry books, and Sarah and her family and neighbors live there as officially recognized tenants. Like with thousands of other plots of land. But almost every place where people live had been declared the army declared to be "A Fire Zone" so as to justify expelling the people from it. An ethnic cleansing.

Israel's written and electronic media have not published any word of this story. The misfortunes of Jordan Valley villagers is not high on their list of priorities, and this is not the kind of news which an ordinary Israeli likes to hear. But deep inside the pages of Ben Kaspit's commentary in Ma'ariv newspaper last Friday, a hint could be found as to why the strongest army in the Middle East insists upon fighting the poor village families of Ras al Ahmar. As recounted there, in an intimate dinner with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared: "There is no way I would give up the Jordan Valley".

The Jordan Valley is a fairly substantial area, estimated at at least 33% percent of the West Bank (40% or more by some calculations). An Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley, in accordance with the old "Allon Plan", would sever the Palestinian state from all contact with the outside world. It would not be really be an independent state, more of an isolated enclave within Israeli territory. In order to implement such an annexation in a smooth and elegant way, it would be better if the area was made "free of Arabs". Arab Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley are a nuisance. They should be bombarded with eviction orders and demolition orders, until they give up and go away.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is due to meet with President Obama, tomorrow evening at the White House – where he might be asked to state at last inside which borders he intends to place the Palestinian state to whose creation he says he agrees. .

Sarah of the village of Ras al Ahmar in the Jordan Valley, and he family and neighbors, will be an invisible presence at that table.