Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New: Israel is taking land from Palestinians!

So many Israeli settlements, in particular Ma'ale Adumim, are built largely on private Palestinian land. So that accounts for about 40 percent of their land area. So?

This information was leaked from inside the Civil Administration (the Israeli government body responsible for the occupied territories). The Yesha Council, as usual, responded by lying (see the Ha'aretz article cited below) and the government responded in its usual way--by essentially admitting that this was true and saying nothing. For example: "Miri Eisin, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said that Israeli officials would have to see the data and the maps and added that ownership is complicated and delicate." Of course they need to see the data and the maps, it's not as though they've had access to them before! Inevitably they will have to conclude (after seeing the data and the maps for the first time) that the expropriated land is necessary to protect Israeli citizens from terrorism.

I find it interesting that the organizers (Peace Now) apparently placed as much emphasis on getting the information to The New York Times--where it was reported prominently, and who actually spoke to the informant--as to the Israeli public, though they did, according to Ha'aretz, hold a press conference in Jerusalem. The American public doesn't already know these facts. The Israeli public is well aware already, and by and large, doesn't care.

Yes, this should cause an outrage, but it's just another one of those things that should cause an outrage that is all too common in this conflict and won't really change anything.

1 comment:

Karl Smith said...

A big part of this, I believe, is that to explain what is going, to get people to care, you have to tell a *story*. It has to be a simple story, and when there's a lot of history involved the message will never be fully communicated to those beyond academic circles. We live in soundbite reality. When we are told a story of repeated random acts of violence against people peacefully going about their business, that is a story - a tragic story, but a story which resonates. It helps that the people being attacked live in cities resembling our own, have a quality of life comparable to our own, for then we can relate.

But how do we tell the other story? 40% of settlements are privately owned by Palestinians, regrettably, is not a narrative story; it a fact, a very tragic one. The story of a land stolen and a people displaced would certainly work if it had not been so savagely and unfairly attacked. So how do we tell the story of the present? How do you explain an inflicted poverty, the result of systems of oppression, without invoking history and developing complexity? I don't know, but I believe that's what a solution will require - each side must be able to tell its story.