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Destruction of Mosque in Southern Israel- the war on terrorism goes on
by Shabtai Gold
8:23pm Fri Feb 7 '03
The Israeli Ministry of Interior destroyed a mosque in the Negev this week- part of the war on terror?
We are used to hearing about house demolitions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The usual scenario is this: Israel claims some person was involved in some terror act- sometimes true, sometimes not- and then decides to punish his whole family and their neighbors by destroying his home- even if "his" home is his parents home and even if the neighbors' homes get damaged in the process.
Usual every day stuff; there is even an Israeli committee, an NGO, against house demolition, which does some very nice work. Ho hum.... If this sounds run of the mill and boring I apologize. I write this introduction to explain the true nature of the Israeli government's policy.
This week, the Bedouins in the Negev- a desert region in southern Israel- who are citizens of Israel had one their mosque destroyed by the Israeli Minister of the Interior. The reason: illegally built. Cost to locals: 100,000 shekels (about $22,000) that they paid out of their own pockets. The government refuses to grant these people building permits since they are living in "unrecognized villages". They have been living in these parts many years prior to the arrival of the first Zionists, only bout 120 years ago. Even so, Israel refuses to "recognize" their villages, thus rendering their very existence in their homes "illegal" and any building illegal.
Israel does this since they are not Jewish. Jews have never had a problem building. Just look at all the Jewish outposts in the West Bank to understand that Israel doesn't care about illegal building by Jews.
Today, Friday, the Muslim Sabbath, the Bedouins of ElMaliach- the Bedouin name of the town in which the mosque was built- had no mosque to pray in and staged a protest of prayer next to the ruins of their investment- a peaceful, quite protest; the only noise heard was that of the the prayers and religious sermons given. Some 350 people showed up to pray on rugs placed next to the rubble, which the Ministry of Interior just left there- one more safety hazard these people will have to deal with. To date, these people have no running water, high voltage electricity wires built directly over their homes, and built on purpose that way by the Israeli government. They do not have electricity out there, except for gas-powered generators they purchase for themselves; the consequences are many, the main one being the inability to refrigerate medicines.
Surrounding the various Bedouin towns in the Negev have sprung up many Jewish towns and cities and not one had a problem receiving building permits. They all have clean drinking water and proper medical clinics with all the needed drugs and equipment. Their children don't have to worry about quicksand in the middle of the playground.
If the Israelis are simply waging a war against terrorism these days, and not a war against Arabs, why is it that the Bedouins of the Negev are made to suffer so much by the Israeli government?
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they are a terrorist state
10:44pm Fri Feb 7 '03
Israel's definition of 'legal' is whatever suits
them. The have no real concept of an independent
legal system which is obeyed by every citizen of
the state (which would include government).
I believe it would be hard to argue that the
actions described here, like many of the other
demolitions and assassinations are not terrorism.
Practised by any other group they would qualify
as terrorist acts. That Israel somehow thinks it
is different and can do whatever it likes is
something which will rebound on them eventually.
As it is, they have transformed the outside
world's perception of themselves from an
oppressed people to one who are ruthlessly
barbaric in their racist, apartheid actions.
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Apartheid? I think not...
3:42am Sun Feb 9 '03
Apartheid is a pretty strong word for whats going on here, and this also makes an assumption that the situation in Israel has any comparison to that in South Africa. Beware of your words, they are quite inacurate.
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Actually the scene in the West Bank especially is
starting to look like something similar to
Apartheid. When you consider that under the Olso
agreement there was created seperate 'cantons'
with concentrations of Palestinian population
known as Area 'A'. These eight or so areas are
now completely isolated from each other and
Palestinians need permits to travel from one area
to another. Jewish residents of the West Bank
have freedom of movement. Sharon has said that
these are the areas he wants to call a
Palestinian State, surrounded by sovereign
Israeli territory. It all starts to look like the
so-called 'Sovereign Black Homelands' of the
former South Africa which were surrounded by
White controlled territory.
Arafat may eventually sign off on a truncated
state, just as the greedy black leaders in South
Africa agreed to accept fiefdom enclaves. However
like the Apartheid Regime, the world will never
accept anything less than a viable fully
functional state for the Palestinians. However if
the occupation is now irreversable then we need
to look at a single state or confederation with
equal rights for all.
Indeed even inside Israel where 93% of the land
is controlled by the state there is a form of
Apartheid. Only Jews are permitted under the law
to lease government owned land. No-matter that
78% of the land was confiscated from palestinian
refugees. So the 22% of israeli citizens who are
Palestinian Arabs are confined to 7% of our land.
Call it what you will but it is not a Democracy.
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Comparison: Apartheid to Occupation.
4:52pm Mon Feb 10 '03
Comparison: Apartheid to Occupation.
By Archbishop Desmond Tuttu
In our struggle against Apartheid, the great supporters were the Jews. Jews almost instinctively had to be on the side of the disenfranchised, of the voiceless ones, fighting injustice, oppression and evil. I have continued to feel strongly with the Jews. I am patron of holocaust center in South Africa. I believe Israel has right to secure borders. What is not so understandable, not justified, is what it did to another people to guarantee its existence. I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us blacks in SA. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks suffer like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about. They seemed to derive so much joy from our humiliation.
Collective punishment. We know of the horrific attacks on refugee camps, towns, villages, and Palestinian institutions. We don't know the exact truth because Israelis won't let the media in. What are they hiding? Perhaps more sinister, why is there no outcry in this country about the Israeli siege in the West Bank. You do see the harrowing images of what suicide bombers have done, something we all condemn, but we see no scenes of what the tanks are doing to Palestinian homes and people.
On one of my visits to the Holy Land I drove to a church with the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem. I could hear tears in his voice as he pointed to Jewish settlements. I thought of the desire of Israelis for security. But what of the Palestinians who have lost their land and homes. Desperation. I have experienced Palestinians pointing to what were their homes, now occupied by Israeli Jews. I was walking with Canon Naim Ateek (Head of Sabeel). In Jerusalem as he pointed in a direction and said "Our home was over there." We were driven out of our home; now occupied by Israeli Jews. My heart aches. I say why are our memories so short. Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, home demolitions, and their own history so soon. Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions. Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about the downtrodden. Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice. We condemn the violence of suicide bombers, and we condemn the corruption of young minds taught hatred, but we also condemn the violence of military incursions in the occupied lands and the inhumanity that won't let ambulances reach the injured.
The military action of recent days, I predict with certainty, will not provide the security and peace Israelis want; it will only intensify the hatred. Israel has three options: revert to the previous stalemated situation; exterminate all Palestinians; or, and I hope this will be the road taken, to strive for peace based on justice, based on withdrawal from all the occupied territories, and the establishment of a viable Palestinian State on those territories side by side, both with secure borders.
We in South Africa had a relatively peaceful transition. If our madness could end as it did, it must be possible to do the same everywhere else in the world. South Africa is a beacon of hope for the rest of the world. If peace could come to South Africa, surely it can come to the Holy Land. My brother Naim Ateek has said what we used to say. "I am not pro- this or that, I am pro-justice, pro-freedom, I am anti-injustice, anti-oppression."
But you know as well as I do that somehow the Israeli government is placed on a pedestal, and to criticize it is immediately dubbed anti-Semitic as if they Palestinians were not Semitic. I am not even anti-white despite the madness of that group. And how did it come about that Israel was collaborating with the Apartheid government on security measures?
People are scared in this country [USA], to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful, very powerful. Well, so what? This is God's world. For goodness sake, this is God's world. We live in a moral universe. The Apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosovik, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end, they bit the dust.
Injustice and oppression will never prevail. Those who are powerful have to remember the litmus test that God gives to the powerful. What is your treatment of the poor, the hungry? the voiceless? And on the basis of that, God passes God's judgment. We should put out a clarion call to the government of the people of Israel, to the Palestinian people and say: peace is possible, peace based on justice is possible, and we are meeting today, and we will continue. And we will do all we can to assist you to achieve this peace, because it is God's dream and you will be able to live amicably together as sisters and brothers.
Archbishop Desmond Tuttu is a 1984 Nobel Prize Laureate, Former General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, Leader of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission 96-98.
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