Category Archives: Judaization of land

My Parents Founded a Settlement, Now Trump Could Make Their Dream Come True

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.776450

My Parents Founded a Settlement, Now Trump Could Make Their
Dream Come True

Yair Svorai Mar 12, 2017 4:37 AM

U.S. President Donald Trump’s “two-state and one-state” pronouncement
last month effectively signaled the demise of the Oslo Agreements – a
significant reversal of the long-established U.S. position, now in
contrast with a near-universal international consensus. It also supports
the continuation of Israel’s colonization of the territories it has
occupied since 1967.

Indeed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the spirit of
occupation-as-usual by demanding “security control” over the entire area
west of the Jordan River, proclaiming, in the words of The Nation’s
Rashid Khalidi, “A permanent regime of occupation and colonization,
ruling out a sovereign independent Palestinian state, whatever fictions
of ‘statehood’ or ‘autonomy’ are dreamed up to conceal this brutal
reality. Trump’s subsequent silence amounts to the blessing of the U.S.
government for this grotesque vision of enduring subjugation and
dispossession for the Palestinians.”

The expansion of Jewish settlement in, and control of, Palestine has
followed a consistent pattern for about 100 years: people replacement –
the replacement of Palestinians by Jews. It is crucial to understand the
timing of such expansion: whenever the opportunity arises. And, for
Israel, Donald J. Trump is a historical opportunity on a grand scale.

In 1907, the leadership of the World Zionist Organization sent Dr.
Arthur Ruppin on a fact-finding mission to Ottoman Palestine. Ruppin, a
German-Jewish economist and lawyer, subsequently developed a plan with
the ultimate goal of establishing Jewish self-rule in Ottoman Palestine,
where Jews were a small minority (between 6 and 9 percent).

The plan included establishing new settlements in such a way that over
time they would form a mass of settlements – Israel’s first settlement
bloc – to be used, much like today, as a geopolitical leveraging tool.

In the following three decades, prior to the Holocaust and before anyone
could imagine the horrific fate awaiting European Jews, the foundation
of the State of Israel was set in place via the creation of elaborate
pre-state institutions, buttressed by small waves of immigrants whose
political orientation ranged from Zionist socialists to right-wing
ultra-nationalists.

Among the latter were my parents, Moshe and Tova Svorai, arriving as
children from Eastern Europe in the early 1920s and belonging to the
most far-right elements of the Zionist movement – Betar and Brit
Habirionim, followed by the Irgun, and then the Lehi (Stern Gang); both
of these were pre-state Jewish terrorist organizations.

In the big-picture sense, left-wing and right-wing Zionists wanted the
same thing – a Jewish state in Palestine. The differences among them
were largely semantic: a matter of political style, timing and competing
approaches on how to reach that goal.

The elephant-in-the-room facing Zionism was – then, as now – ignored:
the land was already populated by Palestinian Arabs, who had been there
for centuries. Ignoring the physical reality, from early on Zionist
terminology was designed to perpetuate the myth of an empty land
awaiting its lost people: “A land without a people for a people without
a land.”

A dunam here and a dunam there

Following the original Ruppin Plan, the expansion of Jewish settlement
started with land acquisitions from absentee Arab landlords, culminating
in a military campaign to drive the native population off its land. As
the old Zionist saying goes, “A dunam here and a dunam there” (a dunam
is approximately equal to a quarter of an acre), whenever the
opportunity arises.

The same opportunistic vigor was used to remove the Palestinian people
from what was soon to become Israel.

The best known milestone in the removal of the Arab population was the
Deir Yassin massacre of April 9, 1948, conducted by Irgun and Lehi
forces, designed to scare Palestinians and cause them to flee their
homes, towns and villages.

Israel’s War of Independence consisted of other massacres, too. The war
itself followed Plan Dalet (Plan D), carefully developed by the
“moderate,” mainstream Haganah leadership to expand the territory of the
future state beyond the UN Partition Plan and to remove as much of
Palestine’s Arab population as possible. Then, as now, the goal of the
Jewish state has been to maximize its land area and to minimize the
Palestinian-Arab population residing in it.

This was the Nakba, the catastrophe – a term used by the Palestinian
people to describe the loss of their homeland: the disappearance of
entire communities totaling some 750,000 people, who were forced out of
their country. Post-1948 Palestine was a drastically changed land: about
500 Palestinian towns and villages had been emptied of their
inhabitants, their homes mostly razed and their lands divided among the
Jewish kibbutzim (communal farms) and villages.

The term Nakba, which is central to Palestinian nationhood as much as
the Holocaust is for Jews and slavery is for African-Americans, is
shunned by most Israeli Jews for obvious reasons: Even the mere
implication of responsibility for the Nakba war crimes is unacceptable.

Those Palestinians who managed to remain, now known as “1948
Palestinians,” were placed under military rule, with their basic civil
rights – such as the freedom to assemble, travel and claim their
properties – removed. In addition, most of their lands were confiscated
by the newly created Jewish state and transferred to kibbutzim and villages.

Military rule lasted until 1966 and assured that the dispossession of
the Palestinians could be carried out in a well-organized and highly
controlled manner – “a dunam here and a dunam there” – with the remnants
of the subject population confined to specific territories, in many
cases restricted to their villages, homes or jail cells.

‘This will belong to us’

The Green Line – the 1949 armistice line separating Israel from the West
Bank of Jordan – followed the line of Jewish settlements put in place
during the 1920s-’40s, in close adherence to the Ruppin Plan. It is
probably the first example of how “facts on the ground” proved to be
crucial for the success of the Zionist project, something that Ruppin
appreciated possibly before anyone else.

But the old Green Line was irregular and left a great deal of fertile,
hilly land on the other side. And then there was Jerusalem, whose
eastern parts, including Temple Mount, were also on the other side of
that border. Standing with my parents near the Montefiore Windmill in
the early ’60s, looking at the Old City on the other side of the
then-border, I vividly remember my astonished reaction to hearing my
mother say, “One day, this too will belong to us.” She was soon to be
proved right.

The swift military victory of the 1967 war offered an unprecedented
opportunity for Israel to expand in all directions. Jerusalem was the
nationalist-religious pinnacle; even more importantly, the last
remaining parts of old Palestine were now there for the taking – the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip, totaling 22 percent of historic Palestine.
Ditto the Syrian territory of the Golan Heights, and Sinai (which was
subsequently returned to Egypt under a separate “peace agreement”
following the 1973 war).

Since 1967, under the so-called “moderate” and “extreme” Israeli
governments led by the Labor and Likud parties, some 130 settlements and
100 outposts have been established in the West Bank, with a population
of some 400,000 Jewish settlers. Additionally, some 200,000 Israelis
live in East Jerusalem.

Any relocation of the occupier’s population into occupied territories,
whether into government-established settlements or so-called “rogue”
outposts, is considered illegal according to international law and
conventions.

When they were in their 60s, my own parents were among the founders of a
settlement in the northern West Bank, where they spent the rest of their
days. They were firm believers in the absolute and exclusive right of
the Jewish people to its biblical homeland, and remained committed to
making their personal contribution to their cause to the very end.

They were guided by Lehi’s “18 Principles of Rebirth” essay, which
defined biblical Israel as starting at the Nile and reaching to the
Euphrates River – a vast territory that includes parts of Egypt and
Saudi Arabia, most of Jordan and Syria, and all of Lebanon.
Incidentally, a large number of Israeli right-wingers, among them
Netanyahu and members of his government, admire Lehi and its principles
– including, at least in spirit, its territorial desires.

Immediately after the 1967 war, the Syrian population of the Golan
Heights (some 130,000 people) was forced out by Israel, 1948-style,
leaving the territory largely empty for Israeli colonization to take
root. Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights followed in 1981.
(Netanyahu is now seeking U.S. recognition from Trump of Israeli
sovereignty over the Golan Heights.)

Erasing the past

And the Nakba continued. The initial period after the 1967 war included
a number of known cases where West Bank villagers were expelled from
their homes by an Israeli military command attributed to Gen. Yitzhak
Rabin. Among them were the villages of Imwas, Yalo and Bayt Nuba in the
Latrun area, which were subsequently razed. (I visited the three
destroyed villages in August 1967. There was very little left other than
broken stones and fruit trees bursting with fruit left unpicked by
villagers, now turned refugees.) In an attempt to eradicate the villages
from history and erase them from public memory, the victors attempted to
conceal their crimes by planting a recreational forest, named Canada
Park, on the land formerly owned and cultivated by these villagers – a
concealment method that had been used before.

As for the rest of the West Bank, in a slow process that has lasted
nearly 50 years – and which continues to this day – the Palestinian
population has been stripped of much of its land and pushed into
Bantustan-like areas surrounded by Jewish settlements. The territory is
now dissected into enclaves designed by Israel to assure a discontinuity
of Palestinian land, thereby guaranteeing that a viable Palestinian
state cannot be established.

“Facts on the ground” work in both directions: the presence of one
population (Jewish) and the absence of another (Palestinian). Now, most
of the Jordan Valley has been cleared of the Palestinian population; in
hamlets of the poorest population – the Hebron Hills Bedouin – families
are routinely uprooted and forced out of their shacks.

And throughout the West Bank, bit by bit, “a dunam here and a dunam
there,” Palestinians are forced out by Jews. Houses are demolished, land
is taken or its cultivation is prevented; olive groves are uprooted by
settler thugs with full impunity, under the watchful gaze of Israel’s
occupation army – euphemistically called the Israel Defense Forces. And
Israeli government policy greatly restricts Palestinians in the West
Bank from using their land and natural resources, especially water
required to cultivate crops.

Thus, while Israeli settlements enjoy unrestricted water usage with lawn
sprinklers galore, Palestinian farmers who dig out a 10-foot-long
(3-meter) trench to collect and divert rainwater into a field or
vegetable garden risk punishment and the destruction of their fields and
gardens.

And the Nakba continues. A similar crackdown on Israel’s Palestinian
citizens takes place with predictable regularity along similar patterns
– as witnessed most recently by the destruction of the Bedouin village
of Umm al-Hiran, whose population is to be corralled elsewhere in the
Negev and its lands designated for a new Jewish settlement. The more
things change, the more they stay the same.

This is a very short list of the evils of Israel’s occupation – all of
this, and much more, has been widely reported over the past five
decades, and documented in great detail by UN agencies, multiple
international aid organizations, foreign consulate staff and local civic
organizations, both Palestinian and Israeli. (The death and destruction
in Gaza, its collapsed infrastructure, economy, essential public health
facilities, child nutrition and basic resources of livelihood require
separate coverage.)

The Oslo II (“Taba”) Agreement divided the West Bank into Areas A, B and
C – a division that is used by Israel to divide and rule, confine and
control the local Palestinian population.

The experience of 1948 and the early years of statehood have proven most
beneficial to Zionist colonialism. A slow and methodical acquisition of
land, this time by means that are entirely illegal, coupled with
strategic removal and confinement of the Palestinian population,
resulted in settlement blocs – vast land areas that are largely
Arab-free and a network of highways, other infrastructure projects and
state institutions serving the Jewish-only settlements.

This is nothing short of new-age apartheid, where the indigenous
population is not only of no value to its colonial masters – not even as
a source of cheap labor – but it is essential for the success of the
colonial project that it be removed: the more of “them” that are gone,
the better off “we” are. That people-removal process is called ethnic
cleansing, which is a crime against humanity under the statute of the
International Criminal Court.

All of this has been carried out mostly in plain view, under the world’s
watchful eye. It has also been made possible and indirectly funded by
the United States, under Democratic and Republican administrations alike
– notwithstanding outgoing President Barack Obama’s lame-duck UN
Security Council non-veto move, and various U.S. declarations about
Israeli settlements being “a threat to peace,” or making it “almost
impossible … to create a contiguous, functioning Palestinian state.”
Both true, but meaningless.

Despite the rhetoric, the United States has been the primary enabler of
Israel’s occupation: military aid (currently $38 billion over the next
10 years), including the very latest technologies, and close military
coordination; tax exemptions for donations to Israel, including to
organizations that fund settlements; global diplomatic protection; and
the lending of legitimacy to a state whose actions would have otherwise
made it a global pariah long ago.

Thus, under the guise of a never-ending “peace process,” the United
States has acted as a dishonest broker and purveyor of broken promises,
e.g., a “two-state solution” where the territory of the imagined state
is eaten up by the other, already existing regional-superpower state
while “peace talks” continue. It’s like the pizza analogy where two
parties engage in lengthy negotiations over the splitting of a pie,
while one of them keeps eating the slices. Over these past 50 years, the
United States has facilitated the replacement of the Palestinian people,
bit by bit, one dunam and one person at a time, as Israel grabs every
opportunity that arises, paid for by Uncle Sam.

For Israel, the election of Trump to the highest office in the land
presents a historical opportunity on a grand scale to accelerate both
settlement expansion and the process of people replacement.

Never before has a U.S. president expressed such unbridled support for
an Israeli government – especially one that is widely seen as the most
right-wing, aggressive Israeli government ever.

In light of the new opportunity, the Israeli government has unleashed a
wave of settlement construction permits in the West Bank and East
Jerusalem – so far totaling about 6,000 homes for Jewish settlers – and
announced the creation of a new settlement.

In addition, a new law allowing the confiscation of privately held
Palestinian land for the benefit of Jewish settlements was recently
passed. As journalist Jonathan Cook explained in The National, “In
practice, there has never been a serious limit on theft of Palestinian
land. But now Israeli government support for the plunder will be
explicit in law.” The Nakba continues, vigorously.

Reality could not be much uglier and the future could not look much
bleaker – most especially for Palestinians, but also for Israeli Jews.
As Haaretz writer and occupation expert Amira Hass noted, “It’s hard to
admit that the Zionist ideology and its product – Israel – have created
a thieving, racist, arrogant monster that robs water and land and
history, that has blood on its hands under the excuse of security, that
for decades has been deliberately planning today’s dangerous Bantustan
reality, on both sides of the Green Line.”

Perhaps hard to admit, but crucially important to recognize.

The writer, a former Israeli, has lived in the United States for 45 years.

The Taste of Mulberries

The following beautiful texts are taken from the book “Israel, an Apartheid State” by Uri Davis, Zed Books Ltd, 1987.

Prolegomena: The Taste of Mulberries

by Havah ha- Levi

(a) The Female Snake

Someone said something about Tantura…1

Soft hills rolled silently into each other’s embrace [towards the beach] and right on the edge of the hills there was a dense plantation of low palm trees clustered on the beach. A scenery of soft and misty dream. Only the feeling of nausea returns to trouble me.

At a short distance from the cluster of palms there was a group of empty houses.

Some of them were slightly damaged, but generally, the houses were intact and beautiful. Everything [about the houses] was very neglected, empty and filthy. A few ancient shoes exposed their seams along the footpath. There in the deserted village of Tantura the kibbutz set up the summer camp for its children.

The houses were cleaned up. A large long tent was erected to serve as a dining hall. The place was a paradise for children.

I remember the heat of the scorching sun over my tanned skin. The salt taste of the sea water. The swimming competitions. The beautiful and quiet beach. And thirty or forty happy children. Really happy.

And yet I listen to my memories. I try to redraw the lines that chart my memory.

There are things that already had their beginning in another place.

There were these half scornful sentences, such as: if the Arabs come, they will steal you first. You are blonde and the Arabs like blonde girls; if the Arabs come, they will see your golden head in the dark and will steal you first. They will think perhaps that it is a ball of gold; here is an Arab shoe. Such sentences …

Towards the end, two days before the conclusion of the summer camp, they asked who wanted to go on a tour and listen to Motke telling stories about the conquest of Tantura. I went, too.

We went into the cluster of palms, and the leader of the summer camp, a nice jovial kibbutznik who evidently loved children, was already there telling something. I lagged behind as usual. I walked along daydreaming and slightly bored. When I eventually caught up with the group, they were all standing near a large house which had perhaps originally been situated at the edge of the village, and I remember the words: ‘We attacked at both ends. Most of them had already run away. Suddenly a huge Arab came out behind this house and began to run. I shot him, and he jumped in the air like a rabbit, turned a somersault and fell’.

Even today I do not know whether this was a factual description of what had happened. But at our place, they used to say that if you kill a snake, you should throw it away or hide it, because if it is left exposed, all the snakes (the family? the tribe?) will come to the place to look for it and this could be very dangerous. And that if you kill a bee that has stung you, it is likewise necessary to throw it away or hide it, since otherwise all the bees will come there after its smell. And that if you kill a lion, the lioness will always come to search for it.

And then, suddenly, together with the Arab, shot in the air with his white kufiyya and black agal, all the Arabs who had lived there in these houses, who had worn those shoes now discarded on the footpaths, the children who had run about naked on the beach, the fat, erect women who had carried the jars on top of their heads… they all came out suddenly in my imagination to look for him. I recalled the warning not to leave the corpse of the snake in the place where it had been killed because the female snake will come to look for it and I turned to look behind me, terrified. There was nothing there. Only the beautiful houses and the sea. A bit angry and a bit curious, I thought about this bad Arab who had come to attack our soldiers. I thought he had deserved to die like that, yet he did not seem to have been dangerous when he was shot there in the air, like a rabbit. I wanted to know if he was from this village, or from another place.

We returned to the beach and ate a water melon. I wanted to have the ‘heart’ of the water melon, but I never got it because I always arrived late. Everything lost its taste. I told my friend: Mira, I am already fed up with this summer camp. I want to go back home.

She looked at me surprised, beautiful, suntanned: ‘Why?’

(b) The Taste of Mulberries

The name of the villages was Sarkas, which probably refers to the former origin of its inhabitants, Circassians, who came, I would not know how, to the Middle East and settled here.2Anyway, when I came to know the village, all of its inhabitants were Palestinian Arabs. In fact, I never came to know the village properly; I was never there, though this is only half the truth, and I shall return to that later.

In our eyes, the eyes of children four or five years old, the village was represented by two women: Khadija and Hanifa. Maybe they were more courageous than the rest, or maybe they served as something like the ‘Foreign Office’ of the village. They often walked about in the kibbutz, and as far as I can remember they were mainly preoccupied with the picking of khubeiza (mallow) leaves which grew in wild abundance along the roadside. When we asked why they pick the khubeiza, we were told that the Arabs cook the leaves and eat them. And so, the first thing lever knew about Arabs was that they eat khubeiza. I also knew, of course, that they ride on camels, since the camels used to pass through the kibbutz and occasionally camp there; I knew that they ride on donkeys along the white road which probably stretches up to the very end of the world. But at that time there were also in the area British soldiers (the Mandate) and Australian soldiers (World War II), and thus it was imbedded in my consciousness that Eretz Israel3 consists of us, as well as passers by: Arabs, British, Australians …

About that time they all disappeared, and I really did not notice their disappearance all that much. Of course, the departure of the British was accompanied by much talk on the radio and in the yard of the kibbutz. But as to the fact that Khadija and Hanifa ceased to show up – well, there are many events that pass through the universe of any child, and he or she accepts their appearance os well as their disappearance as a matter of fact. Later, I came to know that the village had been destroyed by bulldozers, and I was a little scared. And then I forgot, und many years passed be fore Sarkas again emerged before my eyes as a place where people lived.

The destroyed village was made into the kibbutz garbage dump. I do not know who was the first to discover that in the midst of the ruins and the dust und the stench there remained a mulberry tree. A huge mulberry tree, which, In summer, produced huge mulberries: black and deliciously sweet. The mulberry trees in the kibbutz were grown on much water and their fruit was therefore somewhat watery, and anyway they were much too high to climb. But this mulberry tree was low, spreading wide, and heavily laden with fruit, to the deep delight of a little girl who was rather quiet and clumsy and who loved mulberries. And thus, every Saturday we would go on pilgrimage to the mulberry tree, stand around it for hours and eat of its fruit and return home with hands and faces blackened by the dark dye of mulberry sap. Never, not once, while standing there among the ruins and the dust under the scathing sun did we talk or think of the inhabitants of Sarkas who lived here: where are they? Where did they go? Why?

From the distance of fifteen years of difficult political development, I watch this group of children devouring mulberries in the midst of a destroyed village, and I just cannot comprehend: how? Wherefrom this utter blindness?

For many years I would walk on Saturdays to Sarkas. At times with company. At times alone. Now Sarkas was no longer embodied in Khadija and Hanifa. Now Sarkas was reduced to the stench of the kibbutz garbage dump and the mulberries In summer. On either side of the road to Sarkas there were sabr cacti hedgerows along all roads, but today they have all disappeared, except in books and in Arab villages, where they still remain. In summer the sabr would bring forth their fruit, and raise masses of tiny red and orange flags glued to their rounded green flagpoles in a summer festival. And when the sabr fruit was ripe, the Arab women would appear out of nowhere, fill their big tin containers with the red and orange fruit and walk away. Today I remember these Arab women and I ask myself: where did they come from? Who were they? Were they exiled inhabitants of the of the village? And in the evening, when they eat the fruit that they had gathered or when they sell it at the roadside, do they feel the taste of their lost homes?

But at that time I did not think of them in the least. The Arabs were something whose temporary provisional existence was eternal. They pass along the white mild on a donkey-cart, emerging out of somewhere and going on to somewhere else, Only once, for some reason … There was a big scout night game, a sort of test of courage. I hid behind the sabr hedgerows and waited for my pursuers to pass by. I sat there in the dark for a long time, quietly. I was not afraid. And all of a sudden they were with me. The women of Sarkas. The women who pick khubeiza along the roadside. The women with the long knives who steal wheat from the fields of the kibbutz. The women with the water cans and the bundles of dry wood on their heads. Slowly, slowly, they slipped by on their bare feet, black and silent. Their round outline, like the sabr cacti leaves, merged with the darkness around, silent.

Today there stands on the site a huge plant for the processing of agricultural products. An exemplary cooperative venture. And the hill? The hill of the village of Sarkas, where is it? The entire area was levelled down, and around the huge factory orange groves were planted, and there is not one single cut stone left as testimony. Yet, I remember. I testify.

In 1961, a very young woman from kibbutz Giv’at ha-Sheloshah married an Arab youth who was employed in her kibbutz. The kibbutz refused to allow them to remain there, and they applied to join ‘my’ kibbutz. The debate on whether they are to be admitted or whether they are not to be admitted extended over one and a half years and shook the kibbutz in a way that no other subject ever did, either before or since. The debate cut across families, and brought sons to rebel against their parents, brothers against brothers and husbands against wives. The leadership of the Ha-Shomer ha-Tza’ir kibbutz federation was called to present its position (opposed), and threats of leaving the kibbutz on this matter were voiced in both camps. In the end, the ‘mixed couple’ was not admitted to the kibbutz. Both camps were already tired of endless debates and rows. In a bitter discussion which I (who supported their admission) had with one of the leading opponents he told me: ‘Do you know that Rashid is a son of the village of Sarkas? Do you think he can live here, raise his children here and always see across the street the hill which was his village, and not think anything?’

At that moment, together with the scorching sun and the dust, I felt in my mouth the taste of the mulberries, and I understood what homeland means, and also, for the first time, vaguely and at a distance and a little bit afraid, I understood that this homeland, the homeland of the songs and of school textbooks, is simply just the taste of mulberries, and the smell of dust, and the moist earth in winter, and the colour of the sky, and that it is a homeland not only for me, but also for Rashid Masarwa. At that very moment, in the midst of the heated discussion, the taste of mulberries and the shock, I remembered one fearful memory.

It was towards the end of the 1948 war, after we had won the war and defeated the Arab armies and had a state of our own. We were lying in bed. Eight children in the children’s house. It was night. From the distance we heard the heavy and rumbling noise. It was not very far away, but one could clearly hear that the noise did not come from inside the kibbutz. And the noise went on and on and on. I asked what this protracted and continuous noise was, and one of the children told me that two kibbutz members had gone with bulldozers to Sarkas to destroy the houses of the Arabs. In real fear of Arab revenge I asked: ‘But what will the Arabs do when they come back and see that we have destroyed their homes?’ And he then answered: ‘That is why we destroy their homes, so that they do not come back’.

I then knew that the matter was lost. The home of Rashid was destroyed then so that he would not return. So that he, his mother in the long black robe who walks erect with the bundle of wood magnificently balanced on her head, and all his brothers and sisters who run barefoot on the stones would not return. And also now they will not let him come back.

In December 1972, the entire country was shaken with what was dubbed in the press as the ‘affair of the espionage and sabotage network’. Some thirty Arab youths and six Jewish youths, Israelis, were arrested on charges of forming a ‘sabotage organization’, operated by Syrian intelligence, whose object was ‘to damage the security of the state’. One of the Jewish detainees, a youth aged 26, was a son of my kibbutz. Another detainee from the Arab village of Jatt, was a youth named Mahmud Masarwa. In his defence speech he stated as follows:

The Honourable Court, Your Honourable Judges,

My father was born in the village of Sarkas, near kibbutz .. , in the vicinity of Haderah. My father was the son of a peasant. In 1948, he was removed from his land, expelled by force. Their lands were confiscated. Their homes were destroyed. On the site a factory for the kibbutz was built. My father was compelled to go out and seek work as a labourer in order to feed … [his family]. We went to live in such a tiny house: twelve people in the space of metres times 3 metres. In 1957, I remember this quite well, one year after the Sinai war, my father told me and my brother who sits here [in the court room]: ‘Go out to work in order that you at least help me to finance your studies .. .’ (Quoted from the official Protocol of the court proceedings.)

‘My brother who sits here in the court room!’

His brother who sat there was Rashid Masarwa who, in 1961, applied to be admitted to the kibbutz together with his Jewish wife. It was Rashid Masarwa who told the members of the kibbutz:

I want to live here as a loyal kibbutz member like everyone else, but I want my children to know that their father is an Arab, and I want my children to know the Quran, and I want them to celebrate all the Jewish holidays, but also know what Ramadan is, and that their grandfather and grandmother will come to visit them here in the kibbutz, and that my children will also go to the village to be with their grandfather and grandmother in the holidays.

Now he is sitting here, Rashid Masarwa, and watches his brother being sentenced for wanting to take by the force of arms what he himself had hoped to gain by application and consent, and all the brotherhood among the nations in the world could not be of any avail to them.

In the Ramleh central prison the son of the dispossessing kibbutz und the son of the dispossessed village met again. Only one youth, one Udi Adiv, from that kibbutz. resolved in his mind to cross the road. But the world has no space to accommodate the naive.

And if prisoners in jail do dream – both prisoners, no doubt, see in their dreams the colour of the sky, and perhaps they also savour the taste of mulberries.

1 Tantura is a Palestinian Arab village on the Mediterranean coast, some 13 km north of Caesaria. In 1944 its population was estimated at 1,470 Muslim and 20 Christian inhabitants. It was occupied by the Israeli army in 1948 and subsequently almost completely destroyed. All of its inhabitants were expelled and made refugees. The lands of the Palestinian Arab village of Tantura are now cultivated by the Israeli Jewish kibbutz Nahsholim (established 1948; population 350; area of cultivation 1,500 dunams). [Footnote probably by Uri Davis]

2 After the Russian conquest of Circassia from the Ottomans in 1878, many Circassian clans and families loyal to the Ottoman regime emigrated to various countries throughout the Ottoman empire. The Ottoman Sultan Abd al-Hamid extended his support to the Circassian resettlement and made lands available to them in Palestine, inter alia, where there are two Circassian villages, Kufr Qama in Lower Galilee and Rihaniyya in Upper Galilee. The attempt to settle Circassians in the Northern Sharon, in the northern coastal plain, where they established the village of Sarkas failed, and the original Circassian inhabitants were gradually replaced by native Palestinian Arabs. In 1947 the village population totalled some 400 inhabitants. [Footnote probably by Uri Davis]

3 The Hebrew designation of historical Palestine.

 

President Weizmann proposed Arabs’ transfer from Palestine in 1941

Nahum Barnea

Yediot Aharonot, 25 May 1993

 

President Hayim Weizmann proposed a transfer of a milllion Arabs from Palestine to Iraq to settle Polish Jews in their place

 

In February 1941, Dr. Hayim Weizmann [who became later the first President of the State of Israel] visited the then USSR Ambassador in London, Ivan Meiski. The meeting was secret. The World War II was then in its first stages. While Britain was fighting for its very life, the USSR was neutral, being true to the cynical agreement it had signed with Nazi Germany [in 1939] [1] Meiski described the meeting in his personal diary. Two years afterwards, when he returned to Moscow, the diary was taken from him and filed away in the archive of the Foreign Ministry of the USSR. But documents, like old soldiers, never die.

Jaffa?s ‘renewal’ aims at expulsion of Palestinians

Jaffa’s “renewal” aims at expulsion of Palestinians

By Jonathan Cook in Jaffa
 
17 September 2008

Jonathan Cook describes how the Israeli government is using a “renewal plan” for Jaffa – one of half a dozen “mixed cities” in Israel, where Jewish and Palestinian citizens supposedly live together – to ethnically cleanse the city and make it entirely Jewish.

The ground floor of Zaki Khimayl’s home is a cafe where patrons can drink mint tea or fresh juice as they smoke on a water pipe. Located by Jaffa’s beach, a stone’s throw from Tel Aviv, the business should be thriving.
 
Mr Khimayl, however, like hundreds of other families in the Arab neighbourhoods of Ajami and Jabaliya, is up to his eyes in debt and trapped in a world of bureaucratic regulations apparently designed with only one end in mind: his eviction from Jaffa.
 
Sitting on the cafe’s balcony, Mr Khimayl, 59, said he feels besieged. Bulldozers are tearing up the land by the beach for redevelopment and luxury apartments are springing up all around his dilapidated two-storey home.
 
He opened a briefcase, one of five he has stuffed with demands and fines from official bodies, as well as bills from four lawyers dealing with the flood of paperwork.
 
“I owe 1.8 million shekels [500,000 US dollars] in water and business rates alone,” he said in exasperation. “The crazy thing is the municipality recently valued the property and told me it’s worth much less than the sum I owe.”
 
Jaffa is one of half a dozen “mixed cities” in Israel, where Jewish and Palestinian citizens supposedly live together. The rest of Israel’s Palestinian minority, relatives of the Palestinians in the occupied territories, live in their own separate and deprived communities.
 
Despite the image of coexistence cultivated by the Israeli authorities, Jaffa is far from offering a shared space for Jews and Palestinians, according to Sami Shehadeh of the Popular Committee for the Defence of Jaffa’s Homes. Instead, Palestinian residents live in their own largely segregated neighbourhoods, especially Ajami, the city’s poorest district.
 
Only last month, Mr Shehadeh said, the Jewish residents’ committees proposed creating days when the municipal pool could be used only by Jews.
 
Although Jaffa’s 18,000 Palestinian residents constitute one-third of the city’s population, they have been left powerless politically since a municipal fusion with Jaffa’s much larger neighbour, Tel Aviv, in 1950. Of the cities’ joint population, Palestinians are just 3 per cent.
 
After years of neglect, Mr Shehadeh said, the residents are finally attracting attention from the authorities – but the interest is far from benign. A “renewal plan” for Jaffa, ostensibly designed to improve the inhabitants’ quality of life, is in fact seeking the Palestinian residents’ removal on the harshest terms possible, he said.
 
“The municipality talks a lot about ‘developing’ and ‘rehabilitating’ the area, but what it means by development is attracting wealthy Jews looking to live close by Tel Aviv but within view of the sea,” he said.
 
“The Palestinian residents here are simply seen as an obstacle to the plan, so they are being evicted from their homes under any pretext that can be devised.
 
“Some of the families have lived in these homes since well before the state of Israel was established, and yet they are being left with nothing.”
 
The current pressure on the residents to leave Ajami has painful echoes of the 1948 war that followed Israel’s declaration of its existence. Once, Jaffa was the most powerful city in Palestine, its wealth derived from the area’s huge orange exports.
 
As Israeli historians have noted, however, one of the Jewish leadership’s main aims in the 1948 war was the expulsion of the Palestinian population from Jaffa, especially given its proximity to Tel Aviv, the new Jewish state’s largest city.
 
Ilan Pappe, an historian, writes that the people of Jaffa were “literally pushed into the sea” to board fishing boats destined for Gaza as “Jewish troops shot over their heads to hasten their expulsion”.
 
By the end of the war, no more than 4,000 of Jaffa’s 70,000 Palestinians remained. The Israeli government nationalized all their property and corralled the residents into the Ajami neighbourhood, south of Jaffa port. For two years they were sealed off from the rest of Jaffa behind barbed wire.
 
In the meantime, Jaffa’s properties were either demolished or redistributed to new Jewish immigrants. The heart of old Jaffa, next to the port, was developed as a touristic playground, with palatial Palestinian homes turned into exclusive restaurants and art galleries run by Jewish entrepreneurs.
 
The Ajami district, on the other hand, was quickly transformed from a distinguished neighbourhood of Jaffa into its most deprived area, which became a magnet for crime and drugs. “The municipality showed its disdain for us by dumping all the city’s waste, even dangerous chemicals, on our beach,” Mr Shehadeh said.
 
The residents – even those who continued to live in their families’ original homes – lost their status as owners and overnight became tenants in confiscated property, forced to pay rent to a state-controlled company, Amidar.
 
Today, Amidar wants the families out to make way for wealthy Jewish investors and real estate developers.
 
Over the past 18 months, it has issued 497 eviction orders against Ajami families, threatening to make 3,000 people homeless.
 
“The problem for the families is that for six decades they have been ignored,” said Mr Shehadeh, who is standing in the local elections to the council next month.
 
“Four-fifths of Ajami’s population is Palestinian and no investments were made by the municipality. Amidar refused to renovate the homes, and the planning authorities refused to issue permits to the families to build new properties or alter existing ones.”
 
Faced with crumbling old homes and growing families, the residents had little choice but to fix and extend their properties themselves. Now years, sometimes decades, later Amidar is using these alterations as grounds for eviction, arguing that the residents have broken the terms of their rental agreements.
 
Mental Lahavi, vice-chairman of the local building and planning committee, recently admitted to the local media: “The municipality froze all [building] permits in the area for a long period and would not even let people replace an asbestos roof. They turned all the residents of the neighbourhood into offenders.”
 
Mr Khimayl has amassed large debts because he used parts of his home that, according to Amidar, were not covered by his contract – even though the house has been owned by his family since 1902.
 
Amidar has also been waging a legal battle over a minor alteration he made to the property.
 
Many years ago, Mr Khimayl rebuilt the dangerous external stone steps that provided the only access to the house’s second floor. In 2005, Amidar inspectors told him he had broken the terms of his contract and should remove the new steps.
 
Unable to reach his home in any other way, he replaced the stone steps with a metal staircase. Another inspector declared the staircase a violation of the agreement, too.
 
Mr Khimayl is currently using a metal staircase on wheels, arguing that the moveable steps are not a permanent alteration. Nonetheless, Amidar is pursuing him through the courts. Other families face similar problems.
 
A recent report by the Human Rights Association in Nazareth concluded the government was seeking to use a “quiet” form of ethnic cleansing, using administrative and legal pressure, to make Jaffa entirely Jewish.
 
Amidar has said it is simply upholding the law. “In cases in which the law has been broken, the company acts to protect the state’s rights, regardless of the value of the property or the religion or nationality of the tenants.” 


Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest book is “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press). His website is www.jkcook.net. This article originally appeared in The National, published in Abu Dhabi.

Comparison Israel – South Africa

Worlds apart

Israelis have always been horrified at the idea of parallels between their country, a democracy risen from the ashes of genocide, and the racist system that ruled the old South Africa. Yet even within Israel itself, accusations persist that the web of controls affecting every aspect of Palestinian life bears a disturbing resemblance to apartheid. After four years reporting from Jerusalem and more than a decade from Johannesburg before that, the Guardian’s award-winning Middle East correspondent Chris McGreal is exceptionally well placed to assess this explosive comparison. Here we publish the first part of his two-day special report

Monday February 6, 2006
The Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,1703245,00.html



Said Rhateb was born in 1972, five years after Israeli soldiers fought their way through East Jerusalem and claimed his family’s dry, rock-strewn plot as part of what the Jewish state proclaimed its "eternal and indivisible capital". The bureaucrats followed in the army’s footsteps, registering and measuring Israel’s largest annexation of territory since its victory over the Arab armies in the 1948 war of independence. They cast an eye over the Rhateb family’s village of Beit Hanina and its lands, a short drive from the biblical city on the hill, and decided the outer limits of this new Jerusalem. The Israelis drew a line on a map – a new city boundary – between Beit Hanina’s lands and most of its homes. The olive groves and orchards were to be part of Jerusalem; the village was to remain in the West Bank.

The population was not so neatly divided. Arabs in the area were registered as living in the village – even those, like Rhateb’s parents, whose homes were inside what was now defined as Jerusalem. In time, the Israelis gave the Rhatebs identity cards that classified them as residents of the West Bank, under military occupation. When Said Rhateb was born, he too was listed as living outside the city’s boundaries. His parents thought little of it as they moved freely across the invisible line drawn by the Israelis, shopping and praying inside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Four decades later, the increasingly complex world of Israel’s system of classification deems Said Rhateb to be a resident of the West Bank – somewhere he has never lived – and an illegal alien for living in the home in which he was born, inside the Jerusalem boundary. Jerusalem’s council forces Rhateb to pay substantial property taxes on his house but that does not give him the right to live in it, and he is periodically arrested for doing so. Rhateb’s children have been thrown out of their Jerusalem school, he cannot register a car in his name – or rather he can, but only one with Palestinian number plates, which means he cannot drive it to his home because only Israeli-registered cars are allowed within Jerusalem – and he needs a pass to visit the centre of the city. The army grants him about four a year.

There is more. If Rhateb is not legally resident in his own home, then he is defined as an "absentee" who has abandoned his property. Under Israeli law, it now belongs to the state or, more particularly, its Jewish citizens. "They sent papers that said we cannot sell the land or develop it because we do not own the land. It belongs to the state," he says. "Any time they want to confiscate it, they can, because they say we are absentees even though we are living in the house. That’s what forced my older brother and three sisters to live in the US. They couldn’t bear the harassment."

The ‘apartheid wall’
 There are few places in the world where governments construct a web of nationality and residency laws designed for use by one section of the population against another. Apartheid South Africa was one. So is Israel.

Comparisons between white rule in South Africa and Israel’s system of control over the Arab peoples it governs are increasingly heard. Opponents of the vast steel and concrete barrier under construction through the West Bank and Jerusalem dubbed it the "apartheid wall" because it forces communities apart and grabs land. Critics of Ariel Sharon’s plan to carve up the West Bank, apportioning blobs of territory to the Palestinians, draw comparisons with South Africa’s "bantustans" – the nominally independent homelands into which millions of black men and women were herded.

An Israeli human rights organisation has described segregation of West Bank roads by the military as apartheid. Arab Israeli lawyers argue anti-discrimination cases before the supreme court by drawing out similarities between some Israeli legislation and white South Africa’s oppressive laws. Desmond Tutu, the former archbishop of Cape Town and chairman of South Africa’s truth and reconciliation commission, visited the occupied territories three years ago and described what he found as "much like what happened to us black people in South Africa".

As far back as 1961, Hendrik Verwoerd, the South African prime minister and architect of the "grand apartheid" vision of the bantustans, saw a parallel. "The Jews took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state," he said. It is a view that horrifies and infuriates many Israelis.

A prominent Israeli political scientist, Gerald Steinberg, responded to an invitation to appear on a panel at a Jerusalem cultural centre to debate "Is Israel the new apartheid?" by denouncing the organiser, a South African-born Jew, for even posing the question.

"As you are undoubtedly aware, the pro-Palestinian and anti-semitic campaign to demonise Israel focuses on the entirely false and abusive analogy with South Africa. Using the term ‘apartheid’ to apply to Israel’s legitimate responses to terror and the threat of annihilation both demeans the South African experience, and is the most immoral of charges against the right of the Jewish people to self-determination," he replied.

Many Israelis recoil at the suggestion of a parallel because it stabs at the heart of how they see themselves and their country, founded after centuries of hatred, pogroms and ultimately genocide. If anything, many of Israel’s Jews view themselves as having more in common with South Africa’s black population than with its oppressors. Some staunch defenders of Israel’s policies past and present say that even to discuss Israel in the context of apartheid is one step short of comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany, not least because of the Afrikaner leadership’s fascist sympathies in the 1940s and the disturbing echoes of Hitler’s Nuremberg laws in South Africa’s racist legislation.

Yet the taboo is increasingly challenged. As Israel’s justice minister, Tommy Lapid, said, Israel’s defiance of international law in constructing the West Bank barrier could result in it being treated as a pariah like South Africa. Malaysia’s prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, has called for a campaign against Israel of the kind used to pressure South Africa.

"Like the struggle against apartheid, the struggle of the Palestinian people against Israeli occupation of their country enjoys enormous support from the global community," he said. "Therefore a more concrete expression of this support by global societies to this campaign is timely and fitting."

Anglican, Presbyterian and other churches have backed sanctions against Israel. Last year, one of the UK’s university teaching unions endorsed a boycott of two Israeli universities, before reversing its decision amid a torrent of criticism over the reasoning behind the move.

The Israeli government has condemned boycotts as anti-semitism and an attempt to "delegitimise" the Jewish state. It asks why only Israel, a democratic country, is singled out for sanctions. A few protests are not a bandwagon, but underpinning Israeli hostility is a fear, expressed in a secret Israeli foreign ministry report, that Israel’s standing abroad could sink so low in the coming years that it might find itself on a collision course with Europe which could see Israel as isolated as the apartheid regime and with serious economic consequences.

Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza strip last year, and the relinquishing of direct Israeli control over that territory, temporarily dampened some of the criticism. But even as the Gaza pullout was under way, Israel was entrenching its control of those parts of the West Bank it wants to retain, using the barrier to mark out an intended future border that would carve up the territory, and expanding Jewish settlements it intends to annex – a strategy that, if carried through by Sharon’s successors, is likely to strengthen the comparisons with apartheid and fuel calls for sanctions.

Israelis are genuinely bewildered that anyone might see similarities between their society and the old South Africa. Where, they ask, are the signs directing "Jews" and "non-Jews" to match the "petty apartheid" of segregated buses, toilets and just about every other facility in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

There are conspicuous differences, of course. Arab Israelis have the vote, although they were prevented from forming their own political parties until the 1980s. They are mostly equal under the law and these days the Israeli courts generally protect their rights. Jews are a majority in Israel; white South Africans were a minority. And Israel spent the first decades of its existence fighting for its life.

But for some of those with a foot in both societies, the distinctions are blurred by other realities. Some Jewish South Africans and Israelis who lived with apartheid – including politicians, Holocaust survivors and men once condemned as terrorists – describe aspects of modern Israel as disturbingly reminiscent of the old South Africa. Some see the parallels in a matrix of discriminatory practices and controls, and what they describe as naked greed for land seized by the fledgling Israeli state from fleeing Arabs and later from the Palestinians for the ever expanding West Bank settlements. "Apartheid was an extension of the colonial project to dispossess people of their land," said the Jewish South African cabinet minister and former ANC guerrilla, Ronnie Kasrils, on a visit to Jerusalem. "That is exactly what has happened in Israel and the occupied territories; the use of force and the law to take the land. That is what apartheid and Israel have in common."

Others see the common ground in the scale of the suffering if not its causes. "If we take the magnitude of the injustice done to the Palestinians by the state of Israel, there is a basis for comparison with apartheid," said the former Israeli ambassador to South Africa, Alon Liel. "If we take the magnitude of suffering, we are in the same league. Of course apartheid was a very different philosophy from what we do, most of which stems from security considerations. But from the point of view of outcome, we are in the same league."

Perhaps the real question is how Israel came to be in the same league as apartheid South Africa, whether by mirroring laws and political strategies, or in the suffering caused. And how it is that the government of a people who suffered so much at the hands of discrimination and hatred came to secretly embrace a regime led by men who once stood on the docks of Cape Town and chanted: "Send back the Jews."

Torn between two struggles
 In 1940, an Afrikaans-speaking Jewish boy called Arthur Goldreich was living in Pietersberg, the brutally intolerant capital of the Northern Transvaal. Goldreich was 11 and South Africa was at war with Nazi Germany.

One morning, his secondary school headmaster announced that students would be learning a foreign language, German. The implication was clear: many Afrikaners, including some of their political leaders, hoped and believed that Hitler would win the war. When Goldreich’s teacher distributed the German "textbook", the Jewish boy found himself staring at a Hitler Youth magazine. He balked and wrote to the prime minister, Jan Smuts, refusing to learn German and demanding to be taught Hebrew. Goldreich got his way and was headed on a path that tore his life between two struggles; against white domination in South Africa, and for the survival of the Jewish state in Israel.

In 1948, both of Goldreich’s worlds were transformed within a few days of each other. Israel declared its independence on May 14, a fortnight before the apartheid Nationalist party won South Africa’s election and the men who backed Hitler came to power. Goldreich had already determined to go to Israel and fight to save it from strangulation at birth. "The reason I went was the Holocaust and the struggle against British colonialism but, of course, the Nats winning the election left me in no doubt about what I had to do," he says.

Goldreich returned to South Africa in 1954 to join his other struggle. After a few years of political agitation, he became an early member of the African National Congress’s military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, led by Nelson Mandela. Goldreich wasn’t known to South Africa’s security police, so he was installed with his family as the tenant of Lillieslief farm in Rivonia, north of Johannesburg, where the underground leadership of the banned ANC met secretly.

Mandela wrote in his autobiography how he turned to Goldreich as one of the few in the ANC’s nascent guerrilla army who knew how to fight. "In the 1940s, Arthur had fought with the Palmach, the military wing of the Jewish National Movement in Palestine. He was knowledgeable about guerrilla warfare and helped fill in many gaps in my understanding."

In July 1963, the police raided the farm and captured a slew of wanted men, including Walter Sisulu, the ANC leader, and Goldreich. Five of the 17 arrested at Rivonia were white, all of them Jewish. The captured men and Mandela, who was already in detention, were charged with sabotage and plotting violent revolution, which carried the death penalty. efore he could be tried, Goldreich broke out of a Johannesburg jail and eluded a much publicised nationwide hunt by fleeing to Swaziland disguised as a priest. Goldreich now lives in the affluent and tranquil city of Herzliya on Israel’s Mediterranean coast. There was a time when he believed the young Jewish state might provide the example of a better way for the country of his birth. As it is, Goldreich sees Israel as closer to the white regime he fought against and modern South Africa as providing the model. Israeli governments, he says, ultimately proved more interested in territory than peace, and along the way Zionism mutated.

Goldreich speaks of the "bantustanism we see through a policy of occupation and separation", the "abhorrent" racism in Israeli society all the way up to cabinet ministers who advocate the forced removal of Arabs, and "the brutality and inhumanity of what is imposed on the people of the occupied territories of Palestine".

"Don’t you find it horrendous that this people and this state, which only came into existence because of the defeat of fascism and nazism in Europe, and in the conflict six million Jews paid with their lives for no other reason than that they were Jews, is it not abhorrent that in this place there are people who can say these things and do these things?" he asks.

Goldreich went on to found the architecture department at Jerusalem’s renowned Bezalel Academy, from where he saw architecture and planning evolve as tools for territorial expansion after the 1967 war. "I watched Jerusalem with horror and great doubt and fear for the future. There were those who said that what’s happening is architecture, not politics. You can’t talk about planning as an abstraction. It’s called establishing facts on the ground," he says.

Beyond the green line
 There was a part of Johannesburg that most residents of the apartheid-era city never saw. By the 1970s, the bulk of the black population was already forced out under the Group Areas Act, which defined living areas by race. The Sophiatown neighbourhood, once a thriving corner of black life, was bulldozed and replaced by rows of dreary bungalows for whites. But several hundred thousand black people remained in Alexandra township, close to Johannesburg’s most affluent neighbourhood, Sandton. The traffic out of Alexandra was one-way. Its residents left each day to work in the mines and shops or to clean homes in Sandton. Whites rarely ventured the short drive off Louis Botha avenue into the overcrowded, often squalid, unpaved back streets of an Alexandra deprived of a decent water supply, adequate schools and refuse collection.

The contrast between West and East Jerusalem is not as stark, but the disparities between Jewish and Arab neighbourhoods are underpinned by attitudes, policies and laws similar to those used against Johannesburg’s black population. Most of Jerusalem’s Jews never cross the "green line" – the international border that divided the city until 1967 – and many of those that do go only as far as the Wailing Wall to pray. If more Israelis were to travel deeper into the city they claim as their indivisible capital, they would encounter a different world from their own, a place where roads crumble, rubbish is left uncollected and entire Palestinian neighbourhoods are not connected to the sewage system.

According to the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, Jerusalem’s Jewish population, who make up about 70% of the city’s 700,000 residents, are served by 1,000 public parks, 36 public swimming pools and 26 libraries. The estimated 260,000 Arabs living in the east of the city have 45 parks, no public swimming pools and two libraries. "Since the annexation of Jerusalem, the municipality has built almost no new school, public building or medical clinic for Palestinians," says a B’Tselem report. "The lion’s share of investment has been dedicated to the city’s Jewish areas."

Take the interior ministry offices on each side of the divide. In the west, Jewish residents face a relatively short wait in an air-conditioned hall. In the east, Palestinians begin queueing in the middle of the night, or pay someone else to do so, to stand a chance of being served. Once the sun comes up, they wait for hours in the heat in front of an iron-grilled gate on the street for identity documents, or to register the birth of a child or the death of a parent. In Johannesburg, white people and black people were directed to different entrances of the home affairs ministry and afforded service – or not – according to their skin colour.

There is many a city in other parts of the world where minorities are forced into poor, underfunded neighbourhoods and treated as unwelcome outsiders. Where Israel’s self- proclaimed capital differs is in policies specifically designed to keep it that way, as in apartheid Johannesburg. In Jerusalem and other parts of the occupied territories, Palestinians face a myriad of discriminatory laws and practices, from land confiscations to house demolitions, de facto pass laws and restrictions on movement. "The similarities between the situation of East Jerusalemites and black South Africans is very great in respect of their residency rights," says John Dugard, the international law professor widely regarded as the father of human rights law in South Africa and now the UN’s chief human rights monitor in the occupied territories. "We had the old Group Areas Act in South Africa. East Jerusalem has territorial classification that has the same sort of consequences as race classification had in South Africa in respect of who you can marry, where you can live, where you can go to school or hospital."

Palestinians in East Jerusalem, often the city of their birth, are not considered citizens but immigrants with "permanent resident" status, which, some have found, is anything but permanent. In the old South Africa, a large part of the black population was treated not as citizens of the cities and townships they were born into but of a distant homeland many had never visited. "Israel treats Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem as immigrants, who live in their homes at the beneficence of the authorities and not by right," says B’Tselem. "The authorities maintain this policy although these Palestinians were born in Jerusalem, lived in the city and have no other home. Treating these Palestinians as foreigners who entered Israel is astonishing, since it was Israel that entered East Jerusalem in 1967."

Israel says it has offered citizenship to anyone born in Jerusalem and that few Palestinians take it up because doing so implies recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the entire city. The government says that by choosing not to become citizens, Jerusalem’s Arabs subject themselves to restrictions.

After the entirety of Jerusalem was brought under Israeli rule, the Jewish state annexed about 70 sq km of Palestinian territory and incorporated it within the new municipal boundaries – sometimes taking land from villages such as Said Rhateb’s, but leaving the people and their homes outside the city. Israel then wrote laws to permit the government to confiscate property wholesale with one purpose: to transfer land and homes from Arabs to Jews.

Laws of division
 "Planning and urban policy, which normal cities view as this benign tool, was used as a powerful partisan tool to subordinate and control black people in Johannesburg and is still used that way against Palestinians in Jerusalem," says Scott Bollens, a University of California professor of urban planning who has studied divided cities across the globe, including Belfast, Berlin, Nicosia and Mostar. "In South Africa there was ‘group areas’ legislation, and then there was land use, planning tools and zoning that were used to reinforce and back up group areas. In Israel, they use a whole set of similar tools. They are very devious, in that planning is often viewed as this thing that is not part of politics. In Jerusalem, it’s fundamental to their project of control, and Israeli planners and politicians have known that since day one. They’ve been very explicit in linking the planning tools with their political project."

At the heart of Israel’s strategy is the policy adopted three decades ago of "maintaining the demographic balance" in Jerusalem. In 1972, the number of Jews in the west of the city outnumbered the Arabs in the east by nearly three to one. The government decreed that that equation should not be allowed to change, at least not in favour of the Arabs.

"The mantra of the past 37 years has been ‘maintaining the demographic balance’, which doesn’t mean forcing Palestinians to leave," says Daniel Seidemann, a Jewish Israeli lawyer who has spent years fighting legal cases on behalf of Jerusalem’s Arab residents. "It means curtailing their ability to develop by limiting construction to the already developed areas, by largely preventing development in new areas and by taking 35% [of Palestinian-owned land in greater East Jerusalem] and having a massive government incentive for [Jews] to build up that area."

The political decision to discriminate against Arabs was an open but rarely acknowledged secret. The authors of a 1992 book on Jerusalem, Separate and Unequal, laid bare the policy. The writers, two of whom were advisers to the city’s mayors, said that Israeli policy since 1967 was "remorselessly" pursued with four objectives: to expand the Jewish population in the mainly Arab east of the city; to hinder growth of Arab neighbourhoods; to induce Arabs to leave; and to seal off Arab areas behind Jewish settlements.

In 1992, Jerusalem’s deputy mayor, Avraham Kahila, told the city council: "The principle that guides me and the mayor is that, in the Arab neighbourhoods, the municipality has no interest or reason to get into any kind of planning process. Thus, we encourage the building of Jewish neighbourhoods in empty areas that have been expropriated by the state of Israel. But so long as the policy of the state of Israel is not to get involved in the character of existing Arab neighbourhoods, there is no reason to require plans."

The mayor at the time, Teddy Kollek, was so identified with the city that he was known as Mr Jerusalem. Talking in 1972 about East Jerusalem, Kollek’s adviser on Arab affairs, Ya’akov Palmon, told the Guardian: "We take the land first and the law comes after."

At a city council meeting two decades later, Kollek was confronted by a lone councillor outraged at the evident discrimination in limiting Arab housing development. According to an Israeli newspaper report at the time, Kollek responded that the council was adhering to a policy "followed by all governments since 1967" of restricting the growth of Palestinian neighbourhoods.

By then, discrimination was so entrenched that Kollek’s statement drew almost no attention, let alone criticism.

Of the 70 sq km of annexed Arab land around Jerusalem, the state expropriated more than one-third to build homes for Jews without constructing a single house for Palestinians on the confiscated land. The Jewish population of East Jerusalem had fled or been driven out in 1948. A gradual return after 1967 turned to a flood as the settlements ate into the east of the city. Today, the population of Jewish settlements in and close to East Jerusalem has grown to nearly two-thirds that of the Arab neighbourhoods.

"Houses were built for Israelis, but the lands were overwhelmingly taken from Palestinians," says Seidemann. "This was the tool by which Israel was able to consolidate its hold over East Jerusalem. This was based on the law of expropriation for public purposes, but the public bearing the brunt of this was always Palestinian and the public benefiting from this was always Israeli."

One method of preventing further construction by Arabs in the east of the city has been to declare many open areas to be "green zones" protected from building. Bollens says about 40% of East Jerusalem is designated as a green zone, but that this is really a mechanism for land transfer. "The government calls it a green zone to stop Palestinians building homes there, and then when the government wants to develop an area [as Jewish] it lifts that green zoning miraculously and it becomes a development place."

Jerusalem’s mayor, Uri Lupolianski – who chaired the city’s planning and zoning committee in the 1990s – declined to be interviewed in person on these issues, but responded to written questions. "We have to keep a reasonable balance between residential areas and open green zones. We’ve designated green zones in all parts of Jerusalem, not just the eastern one," he wrote. "We’re keeping the green zones in the entire city free from construction, and we plan to keep it this way. We believe that the development of parks and green zones in eastern Jerusalem will improve the quality of life of the people living there."

During the 1990s, about 12 times as many new homes were legally built in Jewish areas as in Arab ones. Denied permission to build new homes or expand existing ones, many Palestinians build anyway and risk a demolition order. Israel’s former prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, routinely defends the demolitions by arguing that any civilised society enforces planning regulations. But Israel is the only western society to deny construction permits to people on the grounds of race. Until 1992, so did South Africa.

Land confiscation
 Israeli law also restricts where non-Jews may live. "Muslims and Christians are barred from buying in the Jewish quarter of the old city on the grounds of "historic patterns of life of each community having its own quarter’," says Seidemann, in a phrase eerily reminiscent of apartheid’s philosophy. "But that didn’t prevent the Israeli government from aggressively pursuing activities to place Jews within the Muslim quarter. The attitude is: what’s mine is exclusively mine, but what’s yours is mixed if we happen to target it."

Israeli law permits wholesale confiscation of property inside Israel or Jerusalem that is owned by Palestinians who live in areas defined as "enemy territory", including the West Bank, which was occupied by Jordan until it lost the war against Israel in 1967. "Any Palestinian who was at any point in ‘enemy territory’ after 1967, forfeits his property," says Seidemann. "But enemy territory includes the West Bank. It’s a remarkable situation. Any property that was ever ‘abandoned’ by any Palestinian becomes state land and is then ‘turned over to the Jewish people’. Any property that once belonged to a Jew is ‘recovered to the Jewish people’ and turned over to the settlers."

"I hate the term ethnic cleansing in the context of this," he says, "because of the connotations of rape and pillage, which this is not. But there was and is an active government effort using procedures such as this to rid targeted areas of its Palestinian residents and turn it into an exclusively or predominantly Jewish area. And I say, with regret, that the efforts have been moderately successful."

The law is not applied in reverse: Jews who go to live in West Bank settlements do not lose property they may own in Tel Aviv. Last year, Sharon’s government quietly confiscated thousands of acres of Palestinian-owned lands within greater Jerusalem without compensation, after a secret cabinet decision to use a 55-year-old law on abandoned property against Arabs separated from their olive groves and farms by the West Bank barrier. Previous governments decided not to apply this law to East Jerusalem and the Sharon administration was embarrassed enough to expropriate the lands in secret before dropping the policy after an international outcry when it came to light. The Palestinians called the confiscations "legalised theft".

"What stands out for Jerusalem and Johannesburg is that it was and is such a prolonged use of planning in pursuit of a political objective," says Scott Bollens. "One distinction with South Africa is the racial identifiers and the racial rhetoric was so blatant, and it was so visible and it was so much part of apartheid South African language. But, despite the difference in rhetoric, the outcomes are very, very similar and the urban landscape Israel has created in the Jerusalem region is just as unequal, just as subjugating of the Palestinians as the ‘group area’ planning was in South Africa for the blacks."

In 2004, Jerusalem’s council approved the first new masterplan for the city since 1959. The plan acknowledges some of the injustices and problems in East Jerusalem, provides for greater construction of homes in some Arab areas, and criticises Jewish settlement in the east of the city. But critics say that at its core is the same obsession with demography and what the plan describes as "preserving a firm Jewish majority in the city".

A former Jerusalem city councillor, Meir Margalit, says the process was flawed from the start because the steering committee of 31 people who put the plan together included only one Arab. "It is characteristic everywhere of colonial regimes which believe that the ‘natives’ are worthy neither of suitable representation nor of being masters of their own fate. The planning team apparently sets out from the assumption that, in any case, one is dealing with a Jewish city and therefore there is no reason to ask the opinion of anyone who does not belong to the Jewish people," he says.

‘Grey racism’
 "One cannot but receive an impression that behind the document lies an attempt to restrict the natural increase of the Arabs in the east of the city. With their historical experience, the planning team understands that this cannot be achieved through doing away with all the firstborn sons, but the plan assumes that by restricting the Arabs’ living space, they will be compelled to leave the city and move into places in the periphery where they will be able to build without restriction."

Margalit says that the measures used to bring this about, including restrictions on Palestinians travelling into Jerusalem and preventing women who marry men from the east of the city from moving there, amount to "grey racism".

"This, in fact, is the strength of municipal racism. It is neither brutal nor openly visible, preferring to take cover behind apparently neutral formulations. Thus it is always carefully concealed behind consensus-oriented wording, hidden beneath a thick layer of cosmetic liberal language," he says. "This is how a unique term which does not exist in the professional literature was born in our country: ‘grey racism’. This is not a racism stemming from hatred of the ‘other’, but a ‘lite racism’ rooted in a Zionist ideology which strove to be democratic but, in giving priority to Jewish interests, inevitably deprived others of their rights. When there is no equality, there is bound to be discrimination, and when all those discriminated against are of the same nationality, there is no alternative but to call it what it is – ‘national discrimination’ – which belongs to the same family as the infamous racial discrimination."

Over the years since the 1967 occupation, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem have made it easier for the Israelis by refusing to vote in city council elections on the grounds that this would amount to recognition of Israel’s claim over the entire city. Uri Lupolianski, the mayor, says that maintaining the demographic balance is no longer as crucial under the new masterplan, but he acknowledges that Arab neighbourhoods are disadvantaged. "The situation in eastern Jerusalem does leave a lot to be desired. However, during the last two years, we’ve taken significant measures to improve it and separate the needs of the residents from political issues," he wrote. "A new central bus station was opened, as well as the biggest Arab school in Israel. I’ve ordered a new plan to rebuild the roads in those neighbourhoods. Also, we’ve expanded the route of the light train that’s currently in construction to include Arab neighbourhoods. The largest Arab cultural centre in Israel is being planned in the area.

"In the new masterplan, we have designated a wide area in eastern Jerusalem for construction for the Arab residents. There are more than 10 building plans, initiated by the municipality, currently in the works for eastern Jerusalem.

"There’s no basis for comparison with South Africa. We do not separate racially between the Jews and Arabs. We do, however, acknowledge the fact that different areas are populated by different groups, and we meet the needs of all groups. We keep the building and zoning laws completely separate from any political issues."

According to the municipality’s most recent annual figures, the council issued 1,695 building permits in the city in 2004. Of these, 116 went to Arab parts of East Jerusalem and, of those, 46 were to build new homes. The balance was for extensions to existing houses. In 2004, a total of 212,789 sq metres was built in all of Jerusalem; 7% was in Arab neighbourhoods. Several months ago, Israel’s cabinet minister for Jerusalem, Haim Ramon, described the 33ft-high wall dissecting Arab neighbourhoods – which the government has insisted is purely a security measure with no political intent – as having the added advantage of making the city "more Jewish".

The mask of equality
 Israel’s one million Arab citizens are on a firmer footing. They can vote – the primary evidence, for many angered by the apartheid analogy, that Israel is not the old South Africa – at least, within Israel’s recognised borders. But the Jewish state has long viewed its remaining Arab population with suspicion and hostility, and even as the enemy within, through the country’s wars for survival against hostile neighbours and in the competition for land. Until 1966, Israeli Arabs lived under "military administration" which allowed detention without trial and subjected them to curfews, restrictions on jobs and where they could live, and required them to obtain passes to move around the country.

Israeli governments reserved 93% of the land – often expropriated from Arabs without compensation – for Jews through state ownership, the Jewish National Fund and the Israeli Lands Authority. In colonial and then apartheid South Africa, 87% of the land was reserved for whites. The Population Registration Act categorised South Africans according to an array of racial definitions, which, among other things, determined who would be permitted to live on the reserved land.

Israel’s Population Registry Act serves a similar purpose by distinguishing between nationality and citizenship. Arabs and Jews alike can be citizens, but each is assigned a separate "nationality" marked on identity cards (either spelled out or, more recently, in a numeric code), in effect determining where they are permitted to live, access to some government welfare programmes, and how they are likely to be treated by civil servants and policemen.

Ask Israelis why it is necessary to identify a citizen as a Jew or Arab on the card and the question is generally met with incomprehension: how can it be a Jewish state if we don’t know who the Jews are? The justification often follows that everyone in Israel is equal, so it does no harm. Arab Israelis will tell you differently.

Generations of Israeli schoolchildren were imbued with the idea that Arabs did not belong on the land of Israel, that they were somehow in the way. In the mid-1980s, the military was so concerned at the overt expressions of racism and anti-Arab hatred from within its ranks, sometimes cast within the context of the Holocaust, that it thought to re-emphasise "moral values".

In 1965, the government declared some lands on which Arab villages had stood for decades, or even centuries, as "non-residential". These "unrecognised" villages still exist but they are denied basic services, and subject to periodic demolitions and land confiscations.

The US state department’s annual human rights report – not a document known for being hostile to Israel – concluded that there is "institutionalised legal and societal discrimination against Israel’s Christian, Muslim and Druze citizens". "The government," it says, "does not provide Israeli Arabs, who constitute 20% of the population, with the same quality of education, housing, employment and social services as Jews."

Unequal education
 In the 2002 budget, Israel’s housing ministry spent about

Conference to be held on achieving Jewish majority in Acre

Last update – 10:55 08/01/2006

Conference to be held on achieving Jewish majority in Acre
By Jack Khoury, Haaretz Correspondent


A conference on finding ways to achieve a permanent Jewish majority in Acre is to be held on Sunday in the northern Jewish-Arab city. The convention, the first of its kind, was initiated by the New Forum for Strengthening the Jewish community in Acre, lead by council member Muli Cohen, a member of Mayor Shimon Lankri’s faction in the city council.

Over the weekend, Cohen told a local newspaper that Acre has the right to exist as a mixed city only if it has a permanent Jewish majority. "The real solution is to establish appropriate institutions so that the city would be able to receive nationalist ultra-Orthodox families," he told the Zafon1 newspaper.

The Acre municipality said in response that "the mayor supports any activity that may advance the city and bring in strong populations to advance it."

Israel might expel Soviet Christians

Israel might expel Soviet Christians

International Herald Tribune, 6-7 January 1990

 

Haifa, Israel (AP) – Officials may revoke the citizenship granted to 19 members of a Soviet family after it was found that they belonged to a Christian sect.

Pyotr and Alexandra Trofimov arrived Sunday with 17 children and grandchildren. Mr. Trofimov subsequently said the family were Pentecoastals, members of a fundamentalist Christian sect he said was persecuted in the Soviet Union. "We did not care to which country we were going," he said, adding they received an Israeli invitation through a daughter who emigrated to the United States.

The Interior Ministry said Friday that family members would be called in and that if it was determined they were not Jewish they would "have to find another place in the world to live." Israel’s Law of Return grants automatic citizenship to Jews.

Zionist Congress resolution: Further Jewish colonization

Settlement as Zionist Fulfillment


34th Zionist Congress Resolutions

18. Encouraging Settlement 19. The Roles of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency in Settlement Activity 20. Aliyah Groups for Settlement 21. Agricultural Settlement 22. Recognition of Keren Kayemet Le”Israel 23. Settlement as Zionist Action

18. Encouraging Settlement

Jewish settlement in the State of Israel represents the expression of the fulfillment of the Zionist vision. Therefore,

It is hereby resolved by the 34th Zionist Congress to encourage, cultivate, assist and strengthen Jewish settlement of all types in the State of Israel.

19. The Roles of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency in Settlement Activity

1. The Zionist Congress instructs its leaders in the World Zionist Organization and of the institutions of the Jewish Agency to operate within the institutions of the Jewish Agency, in order to ensure continuing and extended activities in the field of settlement, also after the year 2004. The aim of this activity is to strengthen, accompany, encourage and develop rural settlement in the Negev, in the Arava and in the Galil, whereby the Jewish people in the Diaspora should be recruited and made to actively cooperate in the act of settlement and development of the land, in funding and populating, so as to give meaning to each act of settlement of the land and its development.

2. The Zionist Congress demands that the leaders of the World Zionist Organization and the leaders of the Jewish Agency immediately remove all bureaucratic obstacles which hinder the expansion of settlement in the regions of the Negev and Arava, the Galil and in the periphery ? to help develop and promote economic projects, local and regional, and to encourage the absorption of new settlers based on business initiatives.

3. The Zionist Congress instructs its representatives on the executive of the World Zionist Organization and in the institutions of the Jewish Agency for Israel, as well as the Jewish National Fund, to lead and guide processes within the executive of the World Zionist Organization, the executive of the Jewish Agency and its institutions, and the Jewish National Fund, to initiate, lead and guide processes within the executive of the World Zionist Organization, in the executive of the Jewish Agency and its institutions, and in the Jewish National Fund, in cooperation with the Israeli government, so as to promote and fulfill the following goals:

i. Encouragement and stimuli for the absorption of new settlers in the Negev and Arava, as well as in the Galil. ii. Encouragement and stimuli for the absorption of new settlers, mainly of the young population in settlements located in the region of the Negev and Arava, as well as in the Galil. iii. To keep land reserves and open territories, to create green lungs, as a land reserve for coming generations, and as a contribution to the quality of life and environment of the citizens of Israel. iv. Encouragement of combined economic and social activity among the rural, community and urban settlements within the field of activity of the Jewish Agency, in the Negev and Arava, as well as in the Galil. v. To create integration in the fields of education, culture, society, economy, and local cooperation regarding municipal and other services, among the rural settlers and settlers in rural areas, as well as community and urban changes in the Negev and Arava and in the Galil.

20. Aliyah Groups for Settlement

The Zionist Congress understands the importance of the settlement of young immigrants in Israel as part of the Zionist vision coming true,

The Zionist Congress encourages it, and is happy to see the organization of Aliyah groups of students and young people in the Diaspora.

21. Agricultural Settlement

1. The Zionist Congress reconfirms the centrality of agricultural Jewish settlement in the State of Israel as one of the main tools for the attainment of Zionist goals, as defined and determined in legislation, as well as in the Jerusalem Programme. 2. The Zionist Congress regards the settlements, the settlers, and the settlement movements as the backbone of the Zionist act regarding the settlement and creation of the State of Israel and the settlement of the Jewish people in its own land, and will act toward its promotion, development and proper establishment, while remaining aware of the rights of the settlers and their proper anchoring.

22. Recognition of Keren Kayemet Le’Israel

The Zionist Congress congratulates the Jewish National Fund, its heads and leaders, contributors and employees, on 100 years of productive activity.

The Zionist Congress expresses its admiration and appreciation for the activities of the Jewish National Fund throughout the years of its existence and activity, and in all fields of its Zionist activity, educational and economic ? the redemption of the land, and its reclamation and enhancement. The preparation of land for agriculture, settlement, and construction, forestation and planting and developing the environment, green areas, environmental and air quality, the establishment of parks, the preservation of nature, the creation of blazing roads and scenic routes from which to admire views, the rehabilitation of riverbeds, the repairing of environmental damage, the establishment of water reservoirs, help for the national, regional and local water enterprises; the development of agricultural research and supporting areas of research and development in different areas of the country; educational activity among young Israelis to promote love for the country, for its nature, and for its landscapes, as well as cooperation with world Jewry in all fields of activity of the Jewish National Fund, regarding funding, planting, education of young people, and the redemption of the land.

The Zionist Congress recognizes the importance of economic viability in the regions of the Negev, Arava and the Galil, so as to ensure the continuing settlement of these areas. The Zionist Congress thanks the Jewish National Fund for Israel for its contribution to the agricultural field of research and development, and calls upon it to increase its investment in this field, so as to help the settlers who must cope with extremely difficult conditions ? lack of water, labor, limitations of climate and world competition that encourages agriculture in other countries.

The Zionist Congress recognizes the importance of the issue of environmental quality, and connects this issue to the values of Judaism and Zionism. The Zionist Congress thanks the Jewish National Fund for its contribution on this issue, and calls upon it to reinforce its activity in this field, by restoring riverbeds and rehabilitating environmental damage, by establishing secondary water reservoirs and creating parks and forests.

23. Settlement as Zionist Action 1. The prime national missions stand today before settlement as guarding the nation’s lands and an answer to the demographic challenge in peripheral areas. These require special efforts for their development, population and the basis of distant desert and lightly populated areas.

The 34th Zionist Congress sees the settlement activities as a preferred aim of the World Zionist Organization and places on the Zionist Executive the task of working to establish and found Jewish settlement in the Negev and the Galil.

This activity will be done in full co-operation with the Government of Israel, the Jewish Agency and Keren Kayemet Le’Israel, in order to realize all of the resources of the State and the Jewish Agency in place for this target.

2. Since the 33rd Zionist Congress the settlement project has sustained difficult tests of stormy days, conflict and bloody riots.

The Zionist Congress sends greetings of support to settlers and blesses the Settlement Department and its workers on the efforts made to provide fitting solutions to the urgent living needs of the settlers in light of changing realities.

Initiative to Create A Zionist Majority in The Negev and Galilee

October 27, 2002
21 Cheshvan, 5763
Jerusalem
 

The New Challnge: The Jewish Agency – Government of Israel and World Jewry Initiative to Create A Zionist Majority in The Negev and Galilee

 

Jewish Agency Treasurer Shai Hermesh will present the project to the Agency’s Board of Governors on Monday 28 October

The New Challenge, an initiative of the Jewish Agency in conjunction with the Government of Israel and World Jewry, intends to create a Zionist majority in the Negev and Galilee. Jewish Agency Treasurer Shai Hermesh will present this project to the Jewish Agency Board of Governors (BOG), on Monday, 28 October at 16:30.

The project will strengthen rural communities and will reinforce villages on the borderline in the Galilee and Negev. The New Challenge will likewise establish additional colleges in these regions in order to further higher education. The project will attract new residents to the Galilee and Negev and will forge new partnerships with Diaspora Jewish communities.

Jewish Agency Treasurer, Shai Hermesh, said that The New Challenge will continue through 2010. The project will absorb 200,000 new residents in the Galilee and 150,000 in the Negev. It will develop 50 rural communities and will include the Bedouin and Druse communities of these regions.

The Government of Israel will participate in the project through the intermediary of the World Zionist Organization Settlement Division. The regional councils, the private sector, and World Jewry will likewise join the Jewish Agency in this project.

The Jewish Agency Board of Governors is convening in Jerusalem from 27-29 October. The BOG, comprised of 120 members, is the highest administrative body of the Jewish Agency. It oversees operations of the Jewish Agency and is authorized to establish permanent and ad hoc committees. The Board of Governors meets three times a year, in February, June, and October. It formulates the Jewish Agency’s budget and makes policy and operational decisions for the Jewish Agency.

For additional information please contact Yehuda Weinraub 053-927017 

Or
Contact the Office of the Spokesman:

Michael Jankelowitz
Liaison to Foreign Press and Media
Jewish Agency for Israel
Tel: 972-2-6202780
Fax: 972-2-6202708
Mobile: 972-51-601706