[I have met only one Israeli settler (self-identified) first hand. This was a young man who came to a few sessions of an introductory philosophy course I taught one summer and then disappeared. During the two sessions he repeatedly interrupted the class to give spiels on behalf of the settlers and on getting rid of the Palestinians, much to the annoyance of the other class members. He was, I gather, an example of one of the extremists who engage in activities such as those reported below. From other reports I understand that the vast majority of settlers are simply taking advantage of a good economic deal — the considerable subsidies available to those who will move into one of the existing settlements — not religious extremists bent on driving out the Palestinians from Eretz Israel. I have heard that many of these would accept relocation back to Israel proper with economic incentives, although the longer people settle into homes, the more reluctant to leave they will be, as we saw with Gaza.

While we are at it, another far out groups seems to be the ultra orthodox who are in many instances anti Zionist? I have had only one such in my classes, a convert from evangelical Christianity and an able student and humane person. But I assume such people are only irritating complications for their fellow Israelis. Our Brooklyn ones would appear periodically at the college and ask passersby whether they were Jewish and then attempt to proselytize those who said they were.

The really dangerous right wingers (there are others) seem ironically to be the recent arrivals from the former Soviet republics such as Avigdor Lieberman who has come out for expelling Arabs from Israel proper which one must take seriously as he is one of the most popular figures in politics per polls: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avigdor_Lieberman

Needless to say the majority of Israelis are none of the above, but the complications for Israel doing anything in the way of peace-making are all too often blocked by some of these.

Personally, as one who was horrified by the pictures and reports of the Holocaust as a young child and was disgusted by the American anti-Semitism that I saw around me even through my college and early teaching years, I am forced to be ambivalent about modern Israel. As I think Truman once said, Israel could do such good in that part of the world, but . . . ?

The Christian Peace Teams (cpt) reporting below are members of our peace churches (Quakers and others) who work to resolve conflicts around the world.

Ed Kent]


[cpthebron] At-Tuwani Update: February 1-17, 2007

On Team during this period: Bob Holmes, Sally Hunsberger, Barb Martens, Rich Meyer, Sean O’Neill, Heidi Schramm and members of Operation Dove (the Doves).

Saturday 3 February
Holmes and two Doves responded to a call from Palestinian shepherds on a hill opposite the Ma’on settlement. Eight Palestinian men, women andchildren were on the hill. The following story was reported: Two youngshepherds were herding flocks belonging to three different Palestinianfamilies when four settlers, whose faces were covered, approached them and began herding the sheep towards the settlement. When more family members approached, the settlers threw rocks at the family and threatened them with sticks. An army jeep came and separated the settlers from the shepherds and their sheep. The settlers went back to Ma’on.

Monday 5 February
Meyer and Holmes went to the Palestinian village of Jawiyeh to collect testimony about recent incidents of harassment and attempted sheep-stealing by Ma’on settlers. The Palestinians and internationals completed a formal report of the incident for The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Tuesday 6 February
Nomfundo Walaza, a South African psychologist came to At-Tuwani to lead a workshop on non-violence. Over 100 Palestinians from At-Tuwani, the surrounding villages and Hebron gathered under a large tent set up near the village school. Walaza spoke on her experience of non-violent resistance to oppression and began by saying, “I know the pain of having people come to my country and tell me that I don’t belong there. You are thinking today, ‘Will I ever live free in my own land?'” She went on to speak of the peace and reconciliation process in South Africa. “We realized that we had to re-humanize our oppressors and that we owed it to ourselves to build a peaceful society with them.” Some quotes: “If you can make a place for nonviolence in your heart then there is hope for peace.” “Your children have to be able to look into your eyes and see that you haven’t given up hope.” “Peace must become your everyday language.” After lunch, Walaza spent time with just the women, giving them an opportunity to share with her the specific struggles and joys of living in this place.

Thursday 8 February
In the morning Meyer, Holmes and O’Neill responded to a call from a shepherd in his fields who said that settlers were coming toward his flock. The CPTer’s filmed two male settlers in the wooded outpost of Havat Ma’on. Eventually an army jeep arrived; the soldiers spoke to the settlers first and then to the shepherd. The settlers accused the Palestinian of grazing his sheep in the outpost. The shepherd denied this, and said that as the ground was wet, the soldier could look for footprints and see that he and his sheep had not even been up to the perimeter road where the army jeep was parked. The soldier seemed to accept that the shepherd was telling the truth, and that where the shepherd was grazing his sheep was not problematic. The soldier said that on Sunday a man from the Israeli military District Coordinator’s Office would come to meet with the shepherds and settlers about grazing areas.

Tuesday 13 February
The military escort for the school children from Tuba was late in the morning, causing the children to decide to walk a longer, safer path on their own. O’Neill, Hunsberger and Schramm met them part way and accompanied them the rest of the way to school. The children told Schramm that a white settler car came out of the outpost and chased them as they crossed the unavoidable settler road. Hunsberger and a Dove went to an olive tree planting action in the Palestinian village of Imneizel. They watched as about fifty Palestinian men, women and children planted 600 trees. At the same time, at least four large flocks of sheep grazed in nearby fields. For over four years, the threat of attacks by Israeli settlers prevented the Palestinians from using these fields. Three Israeli activists joined the tree planting. Settler and army jeeps drove back and forth during the planting, and settlers and soldiers watched from a distance, never challenging the Palestinians’ work.

Wednesday 14 February
Schramm, O’Neill, and Hunsberger responded to a call informing them that the Israeli Defense Forces were in the process of demolishing a Palestinian home in Imneizel. Later, Meyer and Hunsberger responded to a similar call from the village of Qawawis. See CPT Release: Israeli Military Demolishes Seven Palestinian Homes in South Hebron District.

Thursday 15 February
Settlers cut down twenty-six full grown olive trees in the Palestinian village of Susiya. A Palestinian asked Schramm to call the police because they routinely ignore reports made by Palestinians.

Saturday 17 February
While accompanying a shepherd from At-Tuwani, O’Neill, Schramm, and Hunsberger saw two settlers grazing their sheep in a field of Palestinian crops. The army and police arrived after numerous phone calls from the internationals and Israeli partners. The settlers returned to the outpost and the Palestinians continued to graze without incident. Later, these same settlers stood near the edge of At-Tuwani, yelling insults and threats.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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