[Marxism] Israel, Don’t Level My Village

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 23 07:45:40 MDT 2015

NY Times Op-Ed, July 23 2015
Israel, Don’t Level My Village

SUSIYA, West Bank — IN 1948, as Israeli forces closed in on his village 
of Qaryatayn, my grandfather carried my father in his arms to Susiya, 
about five miles north, in the South Hebron Hills area.

“We will go back home soon,” my grandfather told my father.

They did not. Qaryatayn was destroyed, along with about 400 other 
Palestinian villages that were razed between 1948 and the mid-1950s. My 
family rebuilt their lives in Susiya, across the 1949 armistice line in 
the West Bank.

In 1986, my family was expelled from our home once again — not because 
of war, but because the occupying Israeli authorities decided to create 
an archaeological and tourist site around the remains of an ancient 
synagogue in Susiya. (A structure next to the abandoned temple was used 
as a mosque from about the 10th century.) This time, it was my father 
who took me in his arms as the soldiers drew near.

“We will return soon,” he said.

We did not. Without compensation, we were forced to rebuild Susiya 
nearby on what was left of our agricultural lands.

If, in the coming weeks, the Israeli government carries out demolition 
orders served on some 340 residents of Susiya, I will be forced to take 
my children in my arms as our home is destroyed and the village razed 
once again. I do not know if I will have the heart to tell them that we 
will soon go home; history has taught me that it may be a very long time 
until we are able to return.

In 2012, the Civil Administration branch of Israel’s Defense Ministry 
issued demolition orders against more than 50 structures in Susiya, 
including living quarters, a clinic, shop and solar panels. The reason 
given in these orders was that our village was built without permits 
from the Israeli military authorities.

The new Susiya was built on Palestinian villagers’ private agricultural 
land, but that is no safeguard. In practice, it is virtually impossible 
for a Palestinian living in what is known as Area C — the 60 percent of 
the West Bank under both civil and security control of the Israeli 
military — to receive a building permit. According to Bimkom, an Israeli 
nonprofit focused on planning rights, more than 98 percent of 
Palestinian requests for building permits in Area C from 2010 to 2014 
were rejected.

The threat has now become immediate. Following the initial distribution 
of demolition orders, there was a political and legal campaign 
spearheaded by the residents of Susiya that had support from 
Palestinian, Israeli and international activists and rights groups. The 
village was not demolished, our case returned to the courts and the 
pressure let up.

But this past May, a few months after the re-election of Prime Minister 
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Supreme Court justice Noam Sohlberg, who 
himself lives in an Israeli settlement that is considered illegal under 
international law, caved in to pressure from right-wing and settler 
organizations and ruled in the High Court that the Israeli military 
could go ahead with demolitions in the village — despite the fact that 
the higher-ranking Supreme Court had scheduled a hearing for our case on 
Aug. 3.

Earlier this month, I learned from lawyers working against the 
demolition of Susiya that representatives of the Israeli military had 
stated their intent to demolish parts of our village before the Aug. 3 
hearing. Since the May ruling, we in Susiya have been grateful for an 
outpouring of support and solidarity. Last week, the State Department’s 
spokesman, John Kirby, made a strong statement on the issue.

“We’re closely following developments in the village of Susiya, in the 
West Bank,” he said, “and we strongly urge the Israeli authorities to 
refrain from carrying out any demolitions in the village. Demolition of 
this Palestinian village or parts of it, and evictions of Palestinians 
from their homes, would be harmful and provocative.”

That was a step in the right direction, but we need more than mere 
declarations now. If the Israeli government demolishes all or part of 
Susiya once again, it will be for no other reason than that we are 
Palestinians who refused to leave, despite immense pressure and great 
hardships of daily life under occupation.

The situation in Susiya is only one of many such situations in Area C of 
the West Bank. Several villages near ours have pending demolition orders 
as well. If Susiya is destroyed and its residents expelled, it will 
serve as a precedent for further demolitions and expulsions through the 
South Hebron Hills and Area C of the West Bank. This must not be allowed 
to happen.

This story is not a story of Jews against Muslims, or even a story of 
Israelis against Palestinians. We’re grateful for the many messages of 
support our village has received from Jewish communities around the 
world, and the groups and activists working by our side include many 
Israelis. This is simply a story of justice and equality against 
dispossession and oppression.

Nasser Nawaja is a community organizer and a field researcher for the 
Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.

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