Sunday, January 10, 2010

Israeli Settlers

I went to Al-Khalil this weekend. The West Bank city more popularly know outside the Arab world as Hebron. Where Israeli settlers have occupied Palestinian apartments, homes, streets, neighborhoods, schools and put up military outposts on rooftops, at street corners, on top of the Ibrahimi Mosque.

Israeli Soldier Posing for My Camera

Israeli Soldier Guarding Rooftop of Occupied House

See, Israeli settlers don't just occupy West Bank hilltops, they go into Palestinian cities and occupy homes and buildings. They take over, and harass the local Palestinian population until they have no other choice but to leave if they want to live their lives in some kind of dignity.

Settler-Proof Net and Israeli Soldier on Rooftop

In the old city of Hebron, like in Jerusalem, Israel puts up a protective net over the streets so that the trash the Jewish settlers throw down on Palestinians will not hit them in their heads. A normal state would prosecute any crazy person wild enough to throw trash down on the heads of people from the windows of the houses they do not even rightfully own, but Israel puts up a net.

A Torn Israeli Flag outside Occupied Second-Floor Apartment

Israel doesn't prosecute. They support the settlers with soldiers that escort them where ever they go, guard entrances to schools and mosques they occupy, and place military outposts on rooftops to keep the city under surveillance.

Lone Palestinian Woman on the Streets of the Khalili Souk

The streets of the centuries-old souk that in any other West Bank city would be bustling with commerce on all days except Fridays, are eerily quiet in Hebron. Shops are closed because business just isn't good when Jewish settlers harass shoppers.

Little Palestinian Boy Playing on the Streets of the Khalili Souk

Ever so often, a hoard of Israeli settlers get escorted by Israeli soldiers through the old city. The Israeli soldiers walk first, clear the way by waving their guns at children, women and men, and the settlers walk after, smug with notions of superiority.

Israeli Settlers Escorted by Israeli Soldiers

Tarek and I stepped aside when they came. Didn't say a word. Settlers stared. Walked past us haughtily. Their eyes icy cold with contempt and disdain for everybody who is not them. One settler spat at Tarek. My cheeks burned and my heart pounded. A soldier pointed his gun at me. I decided I didn't want to risk my life and put my camera away after taking one more blurry shot.

Israeli Soldier Pointing His Gun at Me

Why settlers settle in Hebron? There's a mosque there, the Ibrahimi Mosque, where a bunch of Jewish, Christian and Muslim patriarchs and their wives are buried: Abraham and Sara, Isaac and Rebecca and Leah, and Jacob (did he have a wife?). The settlers have cordoned off parts of the mosque and you have to pass through a military check point to go inside. Of course, only Jews and maaaaybe non-Arabs are allowed into the Jewish part, but Tarek and I went to the Muslim part.

The First Military Check Point Outside the Ibrahimi Mosque

Holy tombs or not, I cannot for the world understand that there are human beings who imagine that they are so superior to the rest of us that they have the right to forcibly take over the homes, neighborhoods, schools and lands of others. As if there are those who are better than others. So that they need to separate themselves from us by excluding our very presence.

But even more difficult to understand is that the state of Israel is allowed to encourage and support the Jewish settler takeover of Palestinian homes, neighborhoods, schools and lands, and still maintain normal relations with the rest of the world.

It's like South Africa, people. Apartheid. It's time for serious, all-encompassing sanctions directed at Israel. It's time to cut Israeli military, economic, and diplomatic relations with all nations. And if our leaders won't act, WE can act. By boycotting Israeli goods and services, and buy-cotting Palestinian dito. Ask your local grocer for Palestinian olive oil, for olives, couscous, sun dried tomatoes, flowers, vegetables and fruits. And always, always ask where the avocados, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, mango, persimmons, grapes, and figs come from before you buy them--Israel is a big exporter of these fruits.

Don't work with Israeli universities, don't go see Israeli artists, shows or sport events, don't buy Israeli literature, avoid foreign companies who do business in the occupied Palestinian territories. Check with your local Palestinian solidarity groups which companies and products to avoid. Because nothing will change until it becomes too expensive for Israel to continue its Apartheid policies.

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COLLAZ said...

Interesting blog, i´m already reading all yours post, and sorry for my english, i´m alexander from colombia, take care, and this is my msn, if you wanna chat someday

Ruby said...

Thanks for your kind words about my blog, Alexander :)

Anonymous said...

These were Jewish homes stolen after the riots and massacres that drove jews out of Hebron in the 20's and 30's, inspired by the Mufti. Jews have a right to live int eh City that has form ancient times been a Jewish town. Also they are attacked and threatened with stone throwing gangs and so need protection. The Arabs also have taken over Jewish shrines and refuse to recognise Jewish rights of worship, often destroying ancient Jewish heritage. It is not as you present it a one way street. Also you are as close to presenting prejudiced Jew-hatred racist troops as it is possible to do. You bias every comment - the gun, for example is not pointed at you, it is just carried, because they Jews have to be protected. Dona's you ask why? You are completely ignorant of history. Jews and Arabs once lived peaceably together in Hebron, but it is Arab racism and nationalism that is the root cause of the nastiness. You should look more deeply.