I wish I could say otherwise. But in this my ninth trip to Israel/Palestine, no one I talk with denies it. Most agree that Israel is succeeding ... perhaps to its own demise, but by any measure, its multiple strategies/tactics are working.
Let me give you small examples.
Making life uncomfortable/impossible enough that Palestinians give up and leave is a strategy with multiple tactics.
- Rulla, a senior staff member at the National YWCA of Palestine is Palestinian as is her husband. But he is an Israeli citizen (his family lived within the 1948 borders) as are her two children. Rulla may never travel with her husband and children.
- With his brother Naser, Hussama is the owner of the National Hotel where I stay. The hotel is profitable and Hussama gives generously to many humanitarian projects, among them is one in Gaza. Some time ago the Israeli police asrrested Hussama citing a long list of "suspicious" charities for which he is a benefactor. Ironically, he said, they failed to include the Israeli hospital to which he gives for the care of children, Israeli and Palestinian. Husamma protested his arrest, citing American citizenship and showing his American passport. The police, who obviously had not done their homework, took the passport, threw it on the floor with the words, "Go back to America".
- Hussama mentioned to me on Tuesday that his cousin had just received a demolition order for the home he built in 1994. It will be demolished because he built it without a building permit, a permit that is rarely, if ever, granted a Palestinian in Jerusalem.
- Many of you know of Daoud Nassar, a Palestinian Christian farmer and creator of Tent of Nations, an international demonstration of non-violent struggle on land owned by his family for generations and registered as such during the Ottoman Empire. Israel has sought every means possible to confiscate his land for over 30 years. Israeli territorial authorities have now demanded that Daoud (and other area farmers) re-register their farms. The next step will be for aerial surveys to be examined to determine if any of the ancestral holdings should be classified as "State/Public Land" instead of personal property.
For any who care to look or listen (clearly not members of the US Congress), there are sooooooo many more examples of harassment that can have only one purpose. To rid this land of an indigenous people.
At the end of the day there are always examples that contain at least a shred of humor.
A block from my hotel is the most wonderful bookstore in the world – with surely the most wonderful cakes, sandwiches and caffe latte in the world. It's called the Educational Bookshop. It's on Salah al-Din Street in East Jerusalem.
First, you have to know Mordechai Vanunu. He's the former Israeli nuclear technician who, citing opposition to WMD, revealed Israel's nuclear weapons program to British press in 1986 for which, when Mossad caught him, he spent 18 years in prison, 11 in solitary. Released in 2004, he was subject to an array of restrictions on speech and movement. He's been rearrested several times, but when he's not in detention, he is often sited at a table outside the bookshop. Yesterday, Mordechai was at his usual table when a tall Norwegian came out of the bookshop, and chatted for a few minutes with him. Suddenly "many" Israeli police converged on the bookshop, would let no one enter or leave, and took Vanunu and tall Norwegian away for interrogation. The Norwegian tried in vain to give the bookshop manager the keys to his car which would soon be parked illegally across the street. No deal; police took his keys. The Bookshop owner called the Norwegian consulate and the tall Norwegian returned for his car fours later.
Mordechai is a quite affable man, hardly much of a threat to Israel. But then it is still a secret – so don't tell anyone. Israel ... has ... a ... stockpile ... of ... nuclear ... weapons.