Monday, April 20, 2015

An Afternoon with Jeff Halper

Jeff Halper

Jeff Halper, Director of ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions, probably understands better than anyone in the resistance movement Israel's strategy to remove Palestinians from their homeland and to claim it for their own. No one ever said Israelis weren't smart.

To spend an afternoon with Jeff with a group of colleagues from the Episcopal Peace Fellowship's Palestine Israeli Network (PIN), is, to say the least, informative. Jeff reminded us

We viewed Jerusalem from multiple vantage points. Several provided panoramic views of this remarkable city which reminded us of its inherent beauty and fascinating history.

In the middle you see the Old City with the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque just to its right. Until the early part of the 18th century it was primarily this walled city that constituted Jerusalem. The high rise buildings in the background represent the growth of Jewish West Jerusalem. The land falls off to the right of the walled city into the Kidron Valley, Gethsemanae and (not in this picture) up the Mount of Olives. Silwan, a Palestinian neighborhood, occupies the land in the foreground.

No sharper contrast exists than back to back visits to Silwan and the massive Ma'ale Adumim settlement (referred to now only as a pleasant Israeli suburb of 40,000) built on confiscated Palestinian land. Silwan lies in the path of an Israeli project called The City of David and thus the focus of a variety of strategies to remove Palestinian homes. In the picture below, look to the upper right quadrant for a new four story building with parallel vertical windows – the result of an eviction, a demolition and the sale of the land to a Jewish Israeli contractor.

Ma'ale Adumim is an entirely different story. In contrast to many Palestinian neighborhoods where sidewalks don't exist, streets are in disrepair, playgrounds are non-existent, water is often rationed during summer months, garbage is not collected, Ma'ale Adumim is where I would like to live. It is beautifully landscaped, features 1,000 year old olive trees dug up from Palestinian lands and replanted here, water is plentiful; has playgrounds, two olympic size swimming pools, bus stops, well cared for roads, handsome homes.

And no one seems to notice.

And here's the kicker. Palestinian Israelis amount to 37% of Jerusalem's population; they pay 50% of the taxes; and they receive 8% of the services.

And no one seems to notice.

Ma'ale Adumim

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