Politics or Human Rights
It's hard to escape politics in Palestine; it starts when you get to Damascus gate but can’t find the Palestinian owned hotel on Google maps. Turns out Google ignores most places with Arab names, for more read this in-depth article from Paul Kearns of Irish Times.
On our journey from Jerusalem to Nablus, we saw long lines of vehicles with Palestinian licence plates, queuing for inspection. The separation wall cuts through the landscape; large red signs outside many Palestinian towns warn Israeli citizens that entry is forbidden, and could be “dangerous to your lives” and you wonder; who is afraid of whom?
It is hard to visit Palestine, but it is even more difficult to come back and stay quiet about how humans can be so inhumane. If human rights is not your thing… you may stop now.
Palestinians in the West Bank live under Israeli military law, made up of over 2500 military created by the army since 1967. Each order is passed by a military commander; there is no process to examine these orders and each law may be enforced at a soldiers discretion.
Israel imposes restrictions on the movement of Palestinians within the West Bank, and travel between it and the Gaza Strip, into East Jerusalem, Israel, and abroad. This state of affairs forces Palestinians to live in constant uncertainty, making it difficult to perform simple tasks and make plans. At the very basic level this affects children who have to go through checkpoints to get to school, but don’t know if they will make it to school on time or will be able to get back home. A doctors appointment, a wedding in another town, a trip to an embassy to get a visa are all subject to the discretion of the soldier you meet.
All of this gets amplified in Gaza, where no-one is allowed to leave except in extremely rare cases, which include urgent, life-threatening medical conditions. You can read more about this here.
About 85% of the barrier’s route winds through the West Bank, effectively annexing large areas that could have been part of a Palestinian state. In constructing the wall, Israel broke up contiguous Palestinian urban and rural blocs, and imposed an arbitrary reconfiguration of space based on settlements that are illegal according to international law. It is unlikely that the wall will be completed; because the majority of Israeli electorate supports continued colonization and settlement expansion.
People escape persecution to the “Promised” land; the initial settlements lead to the formation of a new state. A settler movement armed with the ideology of ‘manifest destiny’ and backed by the government, leads the genocide and displacement of the indigenous population.
This American story is playing in Palestine today. The settlers assault against the Palestinians come with the police; not to prevent harm to the Palestinians, but to protect the Jews. This includes support for over 100 outposts that even Israel considers illegal. The Palestinians are displaced under Israeli protection, these outposts get roads, utilities, school buses, police protection and eventually are declared legal.
While the rest of the world is silent, Israeli is building settlements. Over 200 Israeli settlements are established in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem); their current population is almost 620,000. The Israeli government provided subsidies, tax incentives and low-cost utilities to support new settlements and almost all political parties support continued settlement growth. At the same time, Palestinians are not allowed to expand their existing homes. As the family grows they are forced to build without permits which can result in demolition of their house for which they are obligated to pay.
Tent of Nations is a case study on how the colonization affects Palestinian lives. The farm project is run by a Christian Palestinian family, located in area C which is under complete Israeli civil and military control. The Nassar family has owned their land for over hundred years and unlike many have the deed from the Ottoman times. In 1991 Israel declared their land as state land, resulting in an ongoing legal battle that has been going on for more then 25 years.