“. . . Can defiled cities be the outcome . . .” (Harun Hashim Rasheed)

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Protest against the wall, Bilin, West Bank, 28,2,2014
A Palestinian youth places a flag on the Israeli wall during a protest marking nine years of struggle against the wall in the West Bank village of Bil’in, February 28, 2014. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

❶ Israeli forces avoid crowd dispersal weapons in Bilin protest for first time in 11 years
❷ Israel Delivers Demolition Notices for Palestinian Houses in Jerusalem Town
❹ POETRY by Harun Hashim Rasheed
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
Ma’an News Agency
May 27, 2016
For the first time in the 11-year history of weekly popular resistance demonstrations in the central occupied West Bank village of Bilin, Israeli forces did not use tear gas and other crowd control weapons to disperse protesters [. . . .]
___Protesters raised Palestinian flags and marched in the streets chanting songs of unity and resistance [. . . .]
___Bilin has long been one of the most active villages in organized opposition against Israeli policies, this year marking the eleventh consecutive year of weekly marches against expanding nearby settlements and the separation wall which separates residents from their private land.      MORE . . .

Snaking its way through the West Bank, weaving an intricate path that encircles, isolates and sometimes divides Palestinian cities and villages, the Israeli ‘separation’ wall stands as a stark symbol of both the occupation and overall Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The ‘wall’ is in fact a hybrid system of control, made up of a complex mix of electronic fences, dirt paths, barbed wire, radar, cameras, trenches, checkpoints and 8-metre tall concrete blocks, with almost 70 per cent of its path completed since construction began  in 2002. As one of the most prominent and contested instances of such a structure built in the last decade, the Israeli wall is particularly unique in a global scene increasingly captivated by the fortification of borders and the building of barriers, in the sense that the line it traces is disputed and not internationally recognized [. . . .]
___Perhaps the most apparent among these factors is that the wall by no means represents a simple division of territory: it does not run along the 1967 borders (the 1949 Armistice line) that are internationally agreed upon as the basis for future peace settlement, and in fact . . . only 15 per cent of the wall sits on the 1967 borders, with the remaining 85 per cent cutting at times 18 kilometres deep into the West Bank . . . .  Not only are some 80 Israeli settlements located behind it (with an overall population of approximately 75,000), but the wall also separates Palestinian from Palestinian – cutting off neighbouring villages from each other and sometimes dividing them in two. This is most evident in Jerusalem.

  • Busbridge, Rachel. “Performing Colonial Sovereignty and the Israeli ‘Separation’ Wall.” SOCIAL  IDENTITIES  19.5 (2013): 653-669.   SOURCE.

Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA
May 28, 2016
Israeli police Saturday delivered demolition notices for at least two Palestinian houses in Silwan town, south of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, said WAFA correspondent.
___Israeli police along with staff from the so-called Jerusalem Municipality raided the Silwan neighborhood of Ein al-Louza, where they handed notices to demolish the houses . . . .
___Israel has systematically targeted Palestinian residential structures in Silwan with demolition orders.      MORE . . .

Israel ‘s policy―one may even say obsession―of systematically demolishing Palestinian homes, urban neighborhoods and entire towns and villages goes back to 1948 and continues with a vengeance up to this moment, both within Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The motivation is obvious: it is merely one expression of the twin processes of ethnic cleansing and Judaization, both of those, in tum, being consequences of defining Israel as a “Jewish state” and taking the steps necessary to make it so. The house demolition policy represents the essence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: denying the Palestinian people the right to remain in the Land of Israel, either as a national collective or as individuals, and their displacement by Jews. [. . . .]
___The “neighborhoods” built in East Jerusalem serve to isolate Palestinian populations in small and disconnected enclaves, and to prevent the development and expansion of the Palestinian side of the city. Together with a new system of Israeli “ring roads” and the creation of a “Greater Jerusalem” enveloped by a wall, Jerusalem is being transformed from a city into a region dominating the entire central portion of the West Bank.

  • Halper, Jeff. “The Policy Of House Demolitions In East Jerusalem: What It Is, How It Is Done And To What End.” PALESTINE-ISRAEL  JOURNAL  OF  POLITICS,  ECONOMICS  &  CULTURE 17.1/2 (2011): 74-82.  SOURCE. 
Israeli soldiers stop and search a young Palestinian man walking near the Damascus gate. They forced him to “raise your arms” to pat him down. A member of a Sabeel Witness delegation crossed the street to investigate and was blocked. (Photo: Harold Knight, November 13, 2015)

The Middle East Monitor – MEMO
Asa Winstanley
May 28, 2016
The propaganda goes that Israel is the “only democracy in the Middle East”. But for anyone familiar with the realities that Israel imposes on the Palestinians and on its neighbours, this has always been a cruel joke.
___The West Bank, occupied in violation of international law by Israel since 1967, is for Palestinians a military dictatorship imposed by Israel. The 600,000 or so (estimates vary) violent Israeli colonists that live in the West Bank settlements are the direct beneficiaries of this dictatorship.      MORE . . .

There is a natural inclination among political scientists and politicians involved in peacemaking to look at the past and memory as obstacles to progress. They recommend liberating oneself from the past as a prerequisite for peace. This view is entrenched in a wider context of reconciliation and mediation policies that emerged in the United States after the Second World War. This school of thought was based on a businesslike approach that treats the past as an irrelevant feature in the making of peace.
___[. . . .] Noam Chomsky, noting such a tendency in the Middle East peace process, concludes that the result was a never-ending “peace process” which was not meant to bring peace, but rather provides jobs and preoccupations for a large group of people belonging to the peace industry.
___This philosophy has informed the peace process in Palestine ever since 1948 and in particular after 1967. It has destroyed the chances of peace in Israel and Palestine; only the re-introduction of the historical dimension can save the peace effort. The starting point that has been totally neglected . . . is the year 1948.

  • Pappe, Ilan. “Historiophobia or the Enslavement of History: The Role of the 1948 Ethnic Cleansing in the Contemporary Peace Process.” ARAB  STUDIES  QUARTERLY 38.1 (2016): 402-417.  SOURCE.

(Note: The poetic image below is of the speaker being forced against a wall, either for search by soldiers or for execution. It is, however, an uncanny [prophetic?] description of the “separation” wall, construction of which did not begin until exactly ten years after this poem was published.)


―Raise your arms . . . .
they aimed their guns at me . . . .
―Raise your arms . . . .

I stood, my eye flaming
and scorching with anger
as an insistent film of events
assailed me.
Can defiled cities be
the outcome of our struggle?
Have years of suffering,
long days of vigilance
in trenches, on hills
and in tattered tents
led to this?

The world blackened in my eyes
my hand on the wall
as guns were pointing at me
I wished the wall would fall on my head
My comrades and I waited
for their bullets
for their bullets

They walked away, and the wall
remained, gazing back at us
waiting for a fiery volcano, for the flames.
―translated by Sharif Elmusa and Naomi Shihab Nye

Harun Hashim Rasheed (b. 1927)
Born in Gaza, poet Harun Hashim Rasheed witnessed, as a child, British soldiers demolishing his and his neighbors’ home in reprisal against Palestinian rebels, an incident which left a deep mark on him as a poet. After obtaining a Higher Teacher Training Diploma from Gaza College, he worked as a teacher until 1954. He then became director of the Sawt Al-Arab broadcasting station in Gaza. After the fall of Gaza to the Israelis in 1967, he was harassed by the Israeli occupation forces and was eventually compelled to leave. He has had a long and illustrious career as a Palestinian poet and literary figure in exile.

From: ANTHOLOGY OF MODERN PALESTINIAN LITERATURE. Ed. Salma Khadra Jayyusi. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992. Available from Columbia University Press.

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