Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Israel--"creating forests"

In the summer Gale and I try to get away for trips to our Rocky Mountains to enjoy the pine forests—hiking, biking, or just sitting by a lake. So how could anyone find fault with Israel for creating forests?

The Jewish National Fund calling itself “a global environmental leader,” has been creating forests in Israel for 107 years. They have planted 240 million trees and created more than 1000 parks. According to their website (http://www.jnf.org/about-jnf/), they are “bringing life to the Negev Desert.”

A story written by Max Blumenthal tells us about the most recent forestation effort (http://maxblumenthal.com/2010/07/the-summer-camp-of-destruction-israeli-high-schoolers-join-in-the-destruction-of-a-bedouin-town/ ):

“On July 26, Israeli police demolished 45 buildings in the unrecognized Bedouin village of al-Arakib, razing the entire village to the ground to make way for a Jewish National Fund forest. The destruction was part of a larger project to force the Bedouin community of the Negev away from their ancestral lands and into seven Indian reservation-style communities the Israeli government has constructed for them. The land will then be open for Jewish settlers, including young couples in the army and those who may someday be evacuated from the West Bank after a peace treaty is signed. For now, the Israeli government intends to uproot as many villages as possible and erase them from the map by establishing “facts on the ground” in the form of JNF forests. (See video of of al-Arakib’s demolition here).

One of the most troubling aspects of the destruction of al-Arakib was a report by CNN that the hundreds of Israeli riot police who stormed the village were accompanied by “busloads of cheering civilians.” Who were these civilians and why didn’t CNN or any outlet investigate further?

I traveled to al-Arakib yesterday with a delegation from Ta’ayush, an Israeli group that promotes a joint Arab-Jewish struggle against the occupation. The activists spent the day preparing games and activities for the village’s traumatized children, helping the villagers replace their uprooted olive groves, and assisting in the reconstruction of their demolished homes. In a massive makeshift tent where many of al-Arakib’s residents now sleep, I interviewed village leaders about the identity of the cheering civilians. Each one confirmed the presence of the civilians, describing how they celebrated the demolitions. As I compiled details, the story grew increasingly horrific. After interviewing more than a half dozen elders of the village, I was able to finally identify the civilians in question. What I discovered was more disturbing than I had imagined.

Arab Negev News publisher Ata Abu Madyam supplied me with a series of photos he took of the civilians in action. They depicted Israeli high school students who appeared to have volunteered as members of the Israeli police civilian guard (I am working on identifying some participants by name). Prior to the demolitions, the student volunteers were sent into the villagers’ homes to extract their furniture and belongings. A number of villagers including Abu Madyam told me the volunteers smashed windows and mirrors in their homes and defaced family photographs with crude drawings. Then they lounged around on the furniture of al-Arakib residents in plain site of the owners. Finally, according to Abu Matyam, the volunteers celebrated while bulldozers destroyed the homes.”

Read more: http://maxblumenthal.com/2010/07/the-summer-camp-of-destruction-israeli-high-schoolers-join-in-the-destruction-of-a-bedouin-town/

If you have ever doubted that Israel is engaging in ethnic cleansing, please read more and watch the video: http://wallwritings.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/karsh-dissembles-truman-escapes-a-village-disappears/

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