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JfJfP comments


2016:

06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics

2015:

23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo

2014:

15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014

2013:

29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011

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Posts

Sexual fury of settler mob in assault on protesters


This posting has 5 items
1) report of Police turned a blind eye;
2) Why Anatot? We were looking for a nice peaceful place;
3) report of Policeman among attackers;
4) eyewitness sexual humiliation;
5) Sheik Jarrah appeal (plus video link, English translation) watershed moment;


Israel Police turned a blind eye to a lynching

What happened Friday afternoon at the entrance to the settlement of Anatot was a pogrom, a lynching. Media outlets that don’t see fit to report a pogrom of this magnitude are partners in the policy, or the sins of omission, of abandonment.

By Eyal Raz, Haaretz
04.10.11

Were you ever at a lynching? Were you ever someplace where an unbridled mob was beating you and your friends and then chasing you to beat you again? Were you ever the victim of wild violence before the blind eyes of policemen who ignored your desperate calls for help? Have you ever felt abandoned? The following story begins with blood, but its point is the abandonment.

What happened Friday afternoon at the entrance to the settlement of Anatot was a pogrom, a lynching. There’s no other way to describe an event in which hundreds of large men are wildly beating and pursuing a non-violent group of male and female activists for an extended period of time. There’s no way to convey to those who weren’t there the threatening sense of the approaching dark – not in words, not in pictures, not even in video.

They came to destroy, to break, perhaps even to kill. They used their hands, their fists and their teeth, along with stones, pipes and knives. They aimed for the photographers, the women, for the young and the old alike. They brought individuals down to the ground and assaulted them as they lay there, surrounded. They pounced on the hindmost of those trying to flee as they pursued their battered victims.

And all this was taking place before the very eyes of the police, who didn’t do a thing to prevent people from being hurt. It all passed, as usual, in a thunderous silence.

Those who abandoned the Palestinian family that had come to work its land that Friday afternoon were not the rioters who sent the family to the hospital. Those who allowed the mob to wreak havoc on the Ta’ayush and Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity activists who were present at the site that evening stood outside the circle of assailants. They did their bit, but they personally are just one rib of a multilayered structure.

How can one explain the blind eye turned by the policemen present at the site? How can one explain why they didn’t know, or didn’t think, that their job was to stop the pogrom?

Perhaps the fact that Anatot’s residents aren’t radicals like Baruch Marzel played a role. Anatot residents aren’t “hilltop youth” or “wild weeds.” They are ordinary Israelis, former Jerusalemites who upgraded themselves to a “quality of life” settlement – including employees of the police, who were given preferential purchasing terms there. There are even suspicions, based on testimony and evidence gathered over the last few days, that a few of the rioters were off-duty policemen themselves.

And perhaps it is the deep-rooted hatred of “Arabs” and “leftists.” Perhaps this hatred also made it easier for those on duty at the Shai District police stations, who received our calls for help, not to rush to send forces there. And even when two patrol cars did finally arrive, the policemen devoted most of their energy to informing the battered activists that an order had been issued declaring the site a closed military zone, which they were now violating.

And you should know that these are the same police stations at which the victims are supposed to file their complaints. It was, for instance, to one of them that a friend of mine was referred when he sought to repair his destroyed car. So far, he has refrained from doing so, for fear of meeting his assailants there.

Today, there is no protection for anyone who isn’t on the side of the establishment, who isn’t in the right-wing camp. And in the absence of such protection on the part of the agencies entrusted with upholding the law, responsibility passes to the media, which gives the public information.

Media outlets that don’t see fit to report a pogrom of this magnitude are partners in the policy, or the sins of omission, of abandonment. The same goes for those who term it a “confrontation,” or a “clash,” or any of those other laundered words that indicate mutuality; and for those who fail to do their job of investigating and checking the facts and make do with “reporting each side’s version of events;” and for those who opt to downplay a news story that they know full well would, under other circumstances, immediately become the lead headline.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” Desmond Tutu once wrote. This story begins with blood, but its point is the abandonment. For that is what will enable more blood to be shed in the future. And anyone who doesn’t cry out against it is a party to it.

The writer is an activist in the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement.



‘We were looking for a nice, peaceful place near Jerusalem’

If the construction of settlements in the West Bank is meant to be on hold, why are Israeli buyers being offered new properties on Palestinian land at knock-down prices?

Rachel Shabi, Guardian
25.09.11

The housing project currently under construction in Almon offers enticingly priced, spacious family homes with a garden and a view. The surrounding neighbourhood, also known as Anatot, sits on a ridge overlooking the Judean hills, near Jerusalem, a blaze of cultivated greenery in the parched landscape. Residents have a relaxed air, and newcomers who have recently relocated from Jerusalem wish they’d made the move years ago. If I were a prospective house-buyer, I’d be charmed. But I would not be looking here – because Almon is in the occupied West Bank.

It is a Jewish settlement with a population of around 1,000, established in the early 80s. Like all Jewish settlements in the Palestinian West Bank, Almon is illegal according to international law. But its residents do not fit the headline-grabbing stereotypes of fanatical settlers, motivated by a national-religious drive to claim land. There is a marked paucity of Israeli flags and no settler-slogan banners bedeck the streets. If the West Bank became part of an autonomous Palestinian state, residents of Almon would be unlikely to put up a fight, as the ideological settler movement has sworn to do. Instead, they would pack up and move back to Israel.

The settlement movement began almost immediately after Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza, seized as the spoils of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Settlers were initially ideological but, by the 80s, the rightwing government that came to power realised that greater numbers of, perhaps less politically-motivated, Israelis would have to be enticed on to Palestinian land. Israel has always argued that settlements are a strategic and military asset. Former prime minister Ariel Sharon – one of the settler movement’s biggest supporters – summed up Israel’s approach in 1998 when he said of the occupied territories: “Everyone there should move, should run, should grab more hills, expand more territory. Everything that’s grabbed will be in our hands. Everything we don’t grab will be in their hands.”

Yet in 2007, when the Israeli organisation Peace Now polled settlers about their motivations for living where they do, 77% cited “quality of life”, suggesting that economic factors and proximity to Israeli cities were primary considerations. That percentage can be split into two camps: there is the rapidly expanding, low-income, ultra-Orthodox community, which, priced out of Jerusalem, has migrated to nearby settlements such as Modin Illit and Beitar Illit; then there are secular or mixed community settlements, such as Almon. These are often located close to the Green, the internationally recognised border between Israel and the Palestinian West Bank. And they exist primarily because the state wants them to.

In Jerusalem – just as in the rest of Israel – decades of state planning has priced people out of the city and into settlements in Palestinian East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Meanwhile, ideologically-motivated budgeting has resulted in enticements and benefits for Israelis who live on occupied Palestinian land.

Settlements, and the resources, infrastructure and military might required to keep them going, are a major impediment to negotiations to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Under international pressure, for the past 10 months, Israel has operated a partial freeze on settlement construction. However, the incentives still offered to Israelis to live on Palestinian land are so considerable that, leaving politics aside, it would be silly not to take advantage of them.

To find out how easy it would be to buy a settlement home on Palestinian land in the midst of this supposed freeze, I pose as an Israeli buyer, looking for a reasonably priced property for myself, my fictitious husband and the family we’re planning. Walking into a Jerusalem estate agency with an imaginary spend of £200,000, a realistic sum for an average Jerusalem couple, it comes as no surprise when the agent says, “With that sort of budget, you need to get beyond the city.”

I’ve already checked the housing market online and seen that the price for a home in West Jerusalem – four bedrooms across around 100 square metres – can start at around £400,000. Jerusalem’s housing problem is blamed variously on its lack of high-rise housing (in part because many observant Jews do not use lifts on Saturdays); on environmentalists, who have prevented the city’s expansion to the west (the only direction within Israel’s borders); and on the “ghost town” effect in well-heeled parts of the city, where foreign Jewish buyers have snapped up second homes, pushing up the prices. The housing market is under such stress that, last year, Jerusalem’s mayor wrote to absentee home-owners, asking them to rent out or sell up.

The agent suggests Pisgat Ze’ev or Neve Yaakov, both in East Jerusalem. Though these areas are defined as settlements by the international community, Israel views them as neighbourhoods of Jerusalem and has prioritised rapid Jewish development here, at the expense of affordable housing in West Jerusalem. However, at £250,000 for around 120 square metres, these houses might still be too pricey.

I certainly can’t afford a decent-sized property in the plusher Ramot or Gilo – also settlements, or “neighbourhoods”, within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries. So the estate agent suggests Givat Ze’ev, a secular settlement a 10-minute drive north-east of Jerusalem. The agent doesn’t currently have homes to view there, but properties in this settlement – and many others – are advertised online under the category “Jerusalem and surrounding area”. A quick call to each settlement’s secretariat would provide me with agents’ phone numbers, and sometimes the numbers of private sellers, too.

Givat Ze’ev is a pretty settlement of 10,000 residents living in semi-detached homes on leafy, winding streets. It is spacious and organised, with shops, schools and health services. Everything about its planning is designed to make you feel as though you’re in a satellite of Jerusalem – there are no demarcation lines, no checkpoints back into the city, and the Palestinian villages, if visible, are behind a wall. Like so many settlements that hug the Green Line, Givat Ze’ev is on the Israeli side of the separation barrier that cuts into the West Bank for around 80% of its path. The barrier route runs, in some places, up to 12 miles deep into the West Bank, but settlements on the Israeli side of it are, broadly speaking, “consensus settlements” – ones that Israelis assume will be conceded to the Jewish state in peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

At Givat Ze’ev there are plenty of large, affordable houses for sale, but the only new properties are on a recently-finished ultra-Orthodox project. I ask residents about new secular housing, but their response is, “Don’t you read the news?” They’re referring to the current 10-month freeze, but in August, Peace Now found that building on at least 600 settlement housing units had begun during that period, in more than 60 different settlements. Of those, it says, at least 492 were in direct violation of the freeze.

My search for affordable, secular housing leads me, eventually, to Almon. It’s a short drive east of Jerusalem, and I’ve had to cross an Israeli checkpoint, but it’s specifically for settler use – a nod, the “right” appearance and Israeli number plates get me waved through. Outside, a billboard advertises the number of the contractor, who confirms that 70 units are under construction at the site. The four-bedroom houses vary in size from 130 to 140 square metres, with gardens of up to 70 square metres, and they are shifting fast. The settlement is not officially exempt from the construction freeze, but Palestinian constructors are currently working on the site and homes could be ready within a year. The starting price is £175,150.

It is staggeringly cheaper than an equivalent property on the Israeli side of the Green Line, because it is on Palestinian land, confiscated by Israel. There are no market forces to dictate land value here, as there would be in Tel Aviv or West Jerusalem. Instead, the Israeli housing ministry regulates prices, keeping them low to attract settlement. Campaigners say the contractor will also have received considerable state subsidies for connecting new settlement buildings to water and electricity mains – another saving that’s passed on to me, the buyer.

Calculating my hypothetical mortgage allowance gives me yet more incentive to live across the Green Line. All Israelis qualify for a state allowance, an add-on to the mortgage lent by the bank, but with more favourable repayment terms. Points are added to your basic state allowance if you have children, have served in the army, or if you are a new Jewish migrant. Then there is a top-up if you live in areas defined as “national priority zones”, which include some under-populated parts of Israel and all settlements.

For a new property in Almon, I’d get almost £11,600 as a special allowance. But the allowances rise sharply for Israeli couples who pick homes in the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Betar Illit, near Jerusalem, or in Ariel, around 25km east of the Green Line, or in Kiryat Arba, a hardline settlement near Hebron. For each of those, I’d get a total allowance of around £40,200. When I ask, the housing ministry says that state subsidies vary according to the “security threat assessments” pertinent to each area, adding that properties on the Israeli border with Lebanon qualify for similar amounts.

Israeli settlements expert Dror Etkes describes how, at times, mortgages given in the West Bank have “included loans which, after a period of time, turned into grants”. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reports that, between 1997 and 2002, the state put 419m shekels (around £72m) into state-subsidised “association mortgages” for 1,800 apartments, most of them in the West Bank. The state comptroller, investigating these payments, found they were not included in the housing ministry’s budget. Responding to queries over this funding, the ministry said it was not intended for “the entire public” and that announcing it would have caused “unnecessary confusion”.

The veteran Israeli journalist and author Danny remembers a time in the late 80s when contractors offered free cars to those who bought settlement homes. Meir Margalit, a Jerusalem council member for the leftwing Meretz party, claims that at around the same time, Israelis invested in settlement property, left uninhabited, in the knowledge that at some point the state would offer compensation to evacuate it. He says the practice was “an open secret among settlers”.

Today, on top of my mortgage incentive, I’d get free nursery care for my children from the age of three, instead of five, as I would in Israel. Settlement schools are better funded, health services are allocated more state funds. I’d no longer get a 7% discount on income tax – that incentive was scrapped in 2003; I’d pay lower local taxes, but my local council would be twice as flush as those inside Israel, because of a central government funding bias. In 2006, the Adva Centre, an Israeli policy analysis organisation, found settlers pay 60% of the national average in local tax.

There are currently more than 200 settlements, including West Bank outposts and neighbourhoods in annexed East Jerusalem, and half a million Israelis live on the Palestinian side of the Green Line. B’Tselem says it is impossible to calculate the total state spend in settlement benefits, because “government ministries obscure documentation of the moneys in their budgets that are directed to the settlements”. But Peace Now estimates that settlements cost Israel $556m (around £355m) a year – and it is clear that this cost is keenly felt by those living within Israel, since the state seems to prioritise settlements at their expense.

Responding to international pressure, in 2008 the Israeli government debated a plan to offer settlers cash to leave the West Bank, a move designed to target economic settlers rather than ideological ones. The proposal – backed by then prime minister Ehud Olmert – couldn’t get through government. Yet there are currently thought to be lists of settlers who have expressed interest in leaving the West Bank, if compensated.

For as long as Israel has occupied Palestinian lands, there has been a dominant force within government that has kept the settlements project going. Driven by a mix of national-religious conviction, expansionist politics and military tactics, the settlements project has wholly controlled state agenda. B’Tselem describes the project as one of Israel’s main national enterprises. State efforts to pull Israelis over the Green Line have been so forceful that, as Rubinstein puts it, “You could say it was a bribe on a national scale.”

Israel has always played up the pain of dismantling the settlements. Yet as Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar writes in Lords Of The Land: The War For Israel’s Settlements In The Occupied Territories, the “elixir of life” for these settlements is their infrastructure: the electricity, water pipes and military forces that guard them. Remove these, “and this project collapses like a house of cards”. Today, Eldar describes Israel’s purported inability to do so as “a myth perpetrated by the government to make us believe that it is impossible”.

How hard would it really be to divert funds from the occupied West Bank back into Israel, thus encouraging settlers to move back – especially from somewhere like Almon, where residents have already said they will relocate if political realities dictate that they should?

One man who has lived there for 20 years says of the settlement, “It is not fanatic in a religious sense and not fanatic politically, either.” Other residents agree. “We came here because we were looking for a nice, peaceful place near Jerusalem,” says one woman, who still votes for the Israeli Labour party. “We didn’t want to annoy anyone, and we are not ideological… The settler movement does not represent us.”

The problem, as Rubinstein points out, is that what starts off as economics can eventually become ideological. “When you move [to the settlements],” he says, “you can’t say, ‘Well, I went there because I’m greedy.’ You change your political opinion.”



Policeman identified among settlers who attacked activists

One of the attackers in Anatot was identified as Yossi Ben Arush, a police investigator residing in the settlement. Police: If someone complains, Internal Affairs will investigate

Yossi Gurvitz, 972 mag
03.10.11

An unusually violent incident took place during the last weekend in the settlement of Anatot, when large groups of settlers attacked Palestinian and Israeli peace activists on two occasions. The violence was well-documented by the activists. The first attack happened during the day, the latter at night, when the activists returned to the settlement to protest. During the second attack this person was prominent:

In a strange attempt to move the blame away from the settlers, Rotter – a Jehovist-right-wing equivalent of Anonymous – published a post this morning (Hebrew), identifying the attacker as police investigator Yossi Ben Arush, whom it is claimed resides in Anatot. According to the anonymous writer’s somewhat confused logic, the fact that Ben Arush is a settler residing in Anatot somehow proves settlers had nothing to do with the attack. Leftist activist Michal Sapir, who was present during the attack, told me in a phone conversation that she, too, recognized Ben Arush, as she was interrogated by him in the past. Sapir further said that she cried out to Ben Arush “What are you doing, I recognize you, you’re a cop.” From the pictures published by the Rotter poster it would seem Ben Arush has attacked at least two of the protesters: Assaf Sharon and Gil Gottglick.

It should further be noted that a significant number of the settlers of Anatot are police officers, that witnesses noted that several of the settlers tried to prevent the rioting of the others, and that there are certainly worse offenders than Ben Arush. Even so, policemen who allow themselves to attack civilians, even when not in uniform, are justly considered to be worse than mere offenders. At least, since when we are dealing with a cop who is also a settler, who attacks leftist activists, we can safely say this wasn’t a pogrom: After all, the police famously stand aside during pogroms, they do not participate in them.

The police district’s spokeswoman, asked for a comment, said that should someone lodge a complaint against Ben Arush, and should any proof be brought forward – such as the pictures – than Internal Affairs will investigate Ben Arush, which is the normal procedure. Activist Gil Gottglick responded on my Hebrew blog, saying he intends to lodge such a complaint. Developing.


Tales of sexual humiliation at Anatot: Israeli eyewitness

Stavit Sinai , Tikun Olam
05.10.11

Richard Silverstein — Stavit Sinai, an Israeli graduate student in European history and peace activist, participated in the Anatot protest several days ago. She was savagely beaten and stripped naked by the settler-police counter-demonstrators. She’s just published her eyewitness testimony, which I’ve translated below:

How I was beaten up, stripped naked, tortured, and threatened with being burnt alive by Anatot settlers

A balding stocky man with light-colored hair and wearing glasses, bangs my head against a white transit van. Michal Sapir is next to me and we’re surrounded by settler-police who’ve been shoving me back and forth in opposite directions. I fought back against them. I knocked off the glasses of the man who thrust my head backwards and crushed them in my right hand. He bit my hand hard, trying to release the glasses from it.

At this time, a brown-skinned man on my left began to twist my left arm in ways I had seen Border Police do in previous protests I’d attended. He didn’t stop even when I screamed in pain. Only a heavy blow that smashed one of my front teeth…apparently when I was kneed in the face as my head was pushed down, freed my left hand from the pain.

Then I was knocked to the ground as a vehicle behind me moved, threatening to run me over. Michal tried to help by raising me up. The white van left and I got back on my feet and stood facing a tall brown-skinned man who never stopped yelling his insults at me: “Go fuck Arabs…”

At this point, the group of settlers began to shake and shove me in different directions as they tore the clothing from my upper body. They ripped off my bra, vest and shirt. The upper half of my body was stark naked. Other activists tried to cover and calm me. I remember especially that in all the efforts to get me out of there, the tall, balding brown-skinned man came close and said: “A Jewish prick isn’t good enough for you? You want an Arab prick, hah?”

I remember another man wearing a black civilian shirt and a cap on which was the word “Police” tried to move me. I asked him for his police ID and instead he pushed me out of the way. An activist, Maya Rotem, brought me to her car and promised to drive me home when the protest was over. I got into the car and locked the doors. From that moment I tried to tweet everything that happened as long as my cell battery held out. I wrote what happened on the ground, the blows, the disrobing and the dire situation the protesters faced that night. I took a picture from the car and uploaded it to Twitter. I tried to hide, not to arouse interest. I saw how the protesters were driven backward by the settlers.

Only a few minutes passed from when I entered the vehicle when a settler recognized me. He drew the attention of his other settler friends and they began rocking the car. I tightened my seat belt and waited quietly for help. In my hand, I grasped a narrow synthetic strap from my purse. It was the only thing I could find nearby to use to defend myself and I was ready to use it to strangle the first person who approached me. Before that, I’d tweeted that I needed other means of protection should they break in. I covered my breasts with the little fabric that remained from my torn clothes.

The crowd around me grew, but I tried to maintain my composure. At that moment, a soldier came by and I begged him to help me. He gave me a look of utter boredom. But after more begging he asked the group to move back a bit so I could leave the car. He suggested that I get into the army jeep, but I wouldn’t agree despite the pressure that the soldiers exerted on me. I was frightened that the settlers standing around me would resume their violence. Because no one offered protection I began to scream at the soldiers to block me [from the settlers]. They did this indifferently. They did check that I hadn’t left anything behind as I’d asked. Despite this, I lost my purse which contained all my IDs including the one categorizing me as “Jewish,” despite the fact that I am not.

The door of the military vehicle in which I was sitting was opened by an older soldier, clearly a member of an ethnic minority [I’m guessing she means Druze or Bedouin]. He screamed at me and threatened to arrest me. Apparently because I gave the settlers the finger while sitting in his vehicle. I told him to arrest me already, because I was shamed by being in the midst of soldiers of apartheid. He turned away, slamming the door of the vehicle. Eventually, the soldiers returned me to my fellow activists.

I still have the tattered remnants of my clothes from that night.

An Israeli journalist who I respect, but whose politics are clearly different than mine, warned me not to put too much credibility into accusations of sexual abuse at rallies like this. He said it was par for the course for such claims to be made. To which I replied–one woman screaming rape or abuse may lack credibility, but five or ten? No, this testimony is credible as are the others I’ve translated which Idan Landau collected from other Israeli eyewitness sources.

I have not heard a peep from the Anatot settlers claiming otherwise. If they wish to do so let them.

As I’ve written, these are not the hardcore Jewish terrorists of Yitzhar. These are the “reasonable,” “moderate” settlers who settled in Anatot because they were looking for a good place to raise their kids in a reasonably priced home, drawn by economic incentives in buying over the Green Line. Yet, even these can be monsters. It’s not just the individual who determines whether someone becomes a cruel villain, it’s the situation. And the situation is Occupation, which turns us all into monsters sooner or later.

The victims of this pogrom are demanding an independent investigation. It’ll be a cold day in hell before that happens. Though you’re welcome to call your local Israeli embassy or consulate to tell them about the black eye that such violence gives the nation. There is also talk of civil suits against Anatot and its pogromists, which I hope to see.



The Anatot mob attacks: a watershed moment for Israeli democracy

By justjlm.org/Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity
05.10.11

For decades, the Israeli government and police force have passively allowed settlers to act violently against Palestinians and Israelis who protest the occupation. Last Friday, when a mob of settlers attacked a group of Palestinian farmers and Israeli solidarity activists outside the settlement of Anatot, a new level of collusion was reached: not only did the police not act to stop the mob of settlers, but indeed many of the settlers in the mob were themselves out-of-uniform policemen and state employees. The press was silent. The occupation has found a new way to silence non-violent resistance and dissent.

At first glance, Anatot is a pastoral gated community close to Jerusalem, inhabited by law-abiding citizens, many of whom are employed by the Civil Administration and the police.

But despite its benign appearance, Anatot is a settlement, located in Palestinian territory occupied in 1967. Anatot was built in 1982 on land allocated by the Israeli government, and inexpensive housing was offered to police officers and other government employees in order to encourage them to live and work in the otherwise unattractive area known by the Israeli government and settlers as “Judea and Samaria,” and by the rest of the world as the West Bank.

Like many other settlements, Anatot is surrounded by a separation fence that envelops acres of privately-owned Palestinian land. Six years ago, the residents of Anatot decided to expand their settlement southward. They neither requested nor received government permits to expand. They simply rerouted the settlement’s fence to encompass additional private Palestinian land, including land owned by a farmer named Yassin el-Rafa’i and his family, who are citizens of Israel.

For years, settlers from Anatot have regularly harassed el-Rafa’i. On multiple occasions, settlers have uprooted el-Rafa’i’s trees and otherwise damaged his property, including poisoning his well with animal carcasses. El-Rafa’i has filed numerous complaints with the local police, but to no avail. The police have consistently refused to address el-Rafa’i’s complaints, or to take any action whatsoever to restrain the settlers’ continued harassment.

Last Friday (9/30/2011), a group of a dozen Israeli activists from The Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement, Ta’ayush, and other groups, went to visit Yassin el-Rafa’i and his wife Iman, in order to hear their story and to express friendship and solidarity. While the activists were getting ready to go home, a crowd of nearly a hundred settlers from Anatot surrounded the el-Rafa’i family and the Israeli activists. The mob of settlers quickly grew violent, and began to attack Iman, Yassin and the Israeli activists with fists, rocks and clubs. Three people were hospitalized, including Yassin and Iman, and several activists were detained for interrogation.

During the entire incident, uniformed police officers were present, and did nothing to stop or restrain the mob, despite the activists’ repeated pleas for intervention. Not a single settler was detained or arrested. No journalists were present, and the majority of the evidence was destroyed by the attackers, who specifically targeted cameras, breaking or stealing them and beating the photographers.

That evening, a group of about 40 Israeli activists returned to Anatot, to protest the brutalities committed earlier that day. The activists held a non-violent demonstration in front of the settlement’s locked gate, while hundreds of settlers amassed on the other side. Some had participated in the afternoon’s violent attack, and some were soldiers and police officers in civilian dress: a horde of men seething with hatred and hungry for violence.

The settlers demanded that the gates be opened, and charged at the activists, again with fists, rocks, and clubs. The police officers in uniform that were present did nothing to restrain the crowd. One of the attackers tried a number of times to stab activists with a knife. When we tried to get away from the place, the attackers chased us, chanting “Death to Arabs!” and “Death to leftists!” They were accompanied by a group of uniformed police officers. About 10 demonstrators were injured, three of whom were evacuated for medical treatment. Six cars were seriously damaged or destroyed. On one of them a Jewish star, a Magen David, was incised.

Despite the attack, which was caught in stills and in video, the police did not arrest a single rioter. And despite the fact that the afternoon’s attack was known to the press, not a single journalist was present to witness the evening’s attack.

The readiness with which the settlers turned to brutal violence – violence which in any other context would be called terror – exposes Anatot for what it is: an extremist ideological settlement. Furthermore, these attacks call into question the commonly held belief in Israel which posits a clear distinction between extremist, ideological settlements and moderate, ‘quality of life’ settlements. All settlements are based on expropriation and dispossession, and all are maintained by the same tools of the occupation.

The fact that the police accommodated and enabled the rioters highlights the complete lack of both accountability and justice in the occupation .The police and security forces do not monitor the settlers; they work for the settlers. In many cases, including the case of Anatot, the police are the settlers, and the settlers are the police. Police out of uniform assaulted citizens while uniformed police looked on and did nothing.

The press largely ignored the events, and only after considerable public pressure and the release of videos and photos did several newspapers cover Friday’s events. Even then, most of the coverage was tepid, equivocating, and biased towards the settlers and the police.

With the Anatot events, political conflict in Israel has reached a watershed. In the light of day and under the supervision of the law enforcement, non-violent dissent is being silenced with brutality. Dissidents are branded as traitors, and their physical safety and property are forfeit. Israelis and Palestinians alike were savaged by a mob of settlers, who acted with the complete confidence of those whose impunity is guaranteed.

Decades of occupation and repression have made Israeli society largely callous to settler and state violence against Palestinians. In Anatot on Friday, this violence was extended to Israelis who arrived to show non-violent solidarity with the struggle against injustice, discrimination, and occupation.

We demand an investigation of the events in Anatot, to be carried out by a special commission made of officials unrelated to the Judea and Samaria District.

We demand the immediate suspension of the law enforcement officers present, and the dismissal of the chief security officer of the settlement, Tomer Shapira.

We demand that the el-Rifa’i family be guaranteed full and uninhibited access to all of their land, including, if necessary, security escorts and protection.

We demand the dismantlement of the illegal separation fence that allows the settlers of Anatot to expropriate privately-owned Palestinian lands.

We will not be silenced.

We will continue to struggle against the occupation, violence, and repression.

We will continue to stand up for justice, civil equality and democracy.

Will you stand up with us?

Share the story of the Anatot events and of the el-Rifa’i family. Share the videos of the attacks with your friends, family, classmates and colleagues. Bring these stories to the attention of your political representatives and community leaders.

[Share this video  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKzNrNhTu5w&feature=player_embeddedof Friday’s pogrom in Anatot
so that as many people as possible can see with their own eyes
the true face of the occupation.

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