Monday, December 25, 2006

Children of Bethlehem


I visited Bethlehem at the beginning of the Eid festival in November, when most children receive presents, and are dressed in their best new clothes.

Everywhere the girls were dressed in smart fashionable outfits, but what was most noticeable was that all the boys had toy guns, and new combat fatigues. Of course when I was a child in the 1960s in England we also had toy guns and played war all the time; and most of our fathers had been soldiers. Play has an important role in helping children make sense of the world they are in.

These young boys of Palestine are not play acting a war from the past, but dreaming of a war for the future. This is what Israel has created. The pictures here are from Aida refugee camp, where until this summer the boys could go into the fields and play football, look for turtles or fly kites. But just ten metres from where these scenes were shot the Israelis have built the 8 metre high apartheid wall, cutting these children from the land.

According to the relief workers at the camp many of the children, especially the boys, were traumatised by the construction of a wall that blocked them into their narrow streets and by the nonchalant and impudent brutality of the Israeli soldiers. There is now a high incidence of bed wetting and sleep disorders among the children. Now they cannot go out to play, their fathers and uncles cannot tend their land or harvest their olives, they cannot travel to Jerusalem, just 5 minutes away by car.

In the English language Peace has two meanings. It means absence of conflict, but it also means tranquillity. The apartheid wall is an attempt by the Zionists to create “facts on the ground” that any eventual “peace” settlement will reward them with their colonial land seizure, as they herd the Arabs they see as Untermenschen into ghettos and reservations. But the wall is torture to the souls of these children, and in their hearts they have no peace, nor will they have peace while they are treated like animals. Next year will see the 40th anniversary of the Zionist annexation of Lebensraum in the West Bank and Gaza. Yet through all those years not a solitary Palestinian voice has argued for acceptance of the occupation. Not a single Palestinian has been prepared to kneel at the proud feet of their conquerers.

The children of Palestine deserve a better future than war and hatred and violence. Yet that is the future that the Israeli wall, and the colonisation of the West Bank with half a million Zionist settlers inevitably brings to them.


Louisefeminista said...

Speaking as an atheist, if you take the "Xmas story" and fast forwarded it to the present day then JC would have been born at a checkpoint because of not being able to get to hospital on time due to the guards etc.

It is just despicable. The Israeli State is colonialist. The injustice it hands out to the Palestinians every bloody day. Words sodding fail me.

Renegade Eye said...

Very troubling powerful post.

D.A. Becker said...

That's one of the way too many places on earth where there is a great need for humanitarian aid, and strong defence against injuustice from outside and from within the community.

Charlie Pottins said...

Just on what might seem a technical point, regarding the 40th anniversary of Israeli "annexation" of the West Bank and Gaza, the Israelis did not annex these territories as a whole, though they have unilaterally and illegally annexed the Golan and East Jerusalem (including a large chunk of territory taken as Jerusalem environs).
The reason is obvious. Annexing these areas to Israel would have meant bringing them under Israeli law and making the people Israeli citizens. Unacceptable as that would be to Palestinians it would have been even more so to the Zionists since it would have made the inhabitants into Israeli citizens, enitled to vote and claim equal rights (even though Israel would still discriminate). Ideally, the Zionists want the land but not the people,although for a time they used the occupied territories as pools of cheap labour, but without giving the people hired by the day the right to return to former homes within the State or even stay overnight - a Bantustan situation.
Jewish settlements in the occupied territories have the best of both worlds, they remain Israeli citizens and enjoy subsidies, but need not worry about Israeli minimum wage laws etc.
Israel still controls who can enter the occupied territories, keeping out some foreign visitors and returning Palestinians,even dividing married couples, but its supporters still contrive to have it both ways, referring to places under occupation as part of Israel, but claiming Israel is a "democracy" without Apartheid-laws by only referring to what happens within its pre-1967 borders.
Even then politicians and academics are concerned about the "demographic threat" and whether it can remain both a "Jewish state" and a democracy without somehow removing people.

AN said...

Thanks Charlie, it is an important distinction you are making.

But the annexation of east Jeruslem also has quasi-legal implicationms for the settlements as well. The huge colonisation of Har Homa just north of Beit Sahour now has some 30000 settlers in it, deep inside the West bank.

But the Israils have argued it is not an ilegal settlement, as it is part of the municipality of Jeruselem, even though outside the area they have formally annexed and since Jordan withdrew its territirial claim to the west bank, the West bank is (in Isreali eyes) not occupiued but only has disputed legal status, that will be resolved in the final peace agreement.

Suffcie to say that not even the US government supports this legal opinion.

The Sentinel said...

Once again you play underhanded games. Obscuring the truth and propagating lies, everywhere you slither.

You are nothing more then an excuse for a man with no concept of right or wrong.

Your repugnant beliefs are responsible for this shit hole we call the UK today.

You despise this country and its inhabitants and are nothing more then a traitor who does not have enough courage to live in the countries whose peoples you wish to import here wholesale or whose systems you advocate for our own.

History is a self repetitive entity however, and your day will soon end.

And the traditional punishment for treason will come back again.