“. . . In the middle of a siege it’s still possible to dream . . .” (Samih Faraj)

The Apartheid Wall at Cremisan with Palestinian olive trees beyond and new construction in foreground. Israelis-only bypass road to illegal settlement above (Photo: Harold Knight, Nov. 8, 2015.)

❶ Palestinians mourn final Cremisan Valley olive harvest

  • Background: “Bethlehem’s Wall.” America

❷ Zionist Settlers Assault 3 Palestinian Farmers in West Bank
❸ Extremist settlers reap profits from occupied Jerusalem sites
❹ POETRY by Samih Faraj
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
Al Jazeera English
Extension of Israel’s separation wall will soon cut Palestinians off from the valley’s distinctive olive groves.  
Sheren Khalel
Nov. 4, 2016
The rocky terraces of the Cremisan Valley are mostly overgrown and wild these days, as local landowners say they have lost all hope of keeping control over the more than 300 hectares of olive trees and orchards along the sloping mount, confiscated by the Israeli government earlier this year.
___”I haven’t been here at all this year. Look how the weeds have grown over, and trash from the street has piled up,” Ricardo Jaweejat said, motioning towards the vast olive grove that has belonged to his family for generations.
___”What’s the point? When we learned the Israelis were taking the land, I avoided doing anything with it. It’s a little bit dangerous to be here now.”
___Beit Jala olives are known by Palestinians around the world for producing the finest olive oil, and the oil from the city’s Cremisan Valley is considered to be the best of Beit Jala, a district of the Bethlehem municipality in the southern occupied West Bank. This year is expected to be the last chance to harvest olives from the valley, which will soon be blocked off by an extension of Israel’s separation wall.  More . . .

  • Ivereigh, Austen. “Bethlehem’s Wall.” America 199.5 (2008): 15-17.  Full Article 

The Salesians who make wine at the Cremisan estate, located on the terraced hillsides to the west of Bethlehem, live in the path of the wall. They cannot stop its expansion; they have a settlement behind them, far into the West Bank, and the wall is designed to ensure that the settlements are included within the Israeli border—when that is finally agreed upon. The Vatican has added its voice to the international condemnation, but until Israel implements the 2001 Fundamental Agreement with the Holy See, the juridical status of the Catholic Church is at best fragile and its power to negotiate limited. Israel has agreed to a Vatican request not to divide church lands that lie beneath the path of the wall, so when the wall is extended later this year, Cremisan will be cut off from Bethlehem—depriving the town of one of its oldest and popular landmarks—and from the Palestinian workers on whom the winery depends. “We are negotiating to allow the workers to come each day through the wall,” says Father Luciano, an elderly Italian Salesian at Cremisan. “But everything is very uncertain. It is a great weight on us.”
[. . . . ]  The wall is strangling Bethlehem and its Christian population. It will come down only when Christian public opinion in the United States awakens to that fact and issues an S.O.S. for the birth town of Christianity, putting pressure on Washington to enforce international law.
___But that means dispelling some deeply held myths. A 2006 Zogby opinion poll commissioned by the campaign organization Open Bethlehem found that only 15 percent of Americans know that Bethlehem is a Palestinian town with a mixed Christian-Muslim Arab population in the occupied West Bank. Bethlehemites, when asked why Christians are leaving, point to the wall and speak about the land confiscations; yet most Americans believe Christians are being pushed out by “radical Muslims.” Most Americans simply do not realize that the wall is responsible for the destruction of the town’s Christian population; instead, they accept Israel’s argument that the wall was built to protect Israel from terrorist attacks, not to consolidate the illegal settlements and land annexations.

Middle East News 17
Nov. 5, 2016
Three Palestinians were wounded, one critically, after being attacked by Israeli settlers on Saturday in the village of al-Janiya in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah.
___According to locals, Israeli settlers assaulted and threw rocks at members of the Abu Fekheideh family while they were picking olives on their land in the al-Batha area of the village, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Talmon.
___Jaber Barakat Abu Fekheideh was critically injured in the head, while his brother Hassan and cousin Muhammad were reported as mildly wounded.  More . . .

Jaber Barakat Abu Fekheideh being treated for critical wounds in a Ramallah hospital after being attacked by Israeli settlers, Nov. 5, 2016 (Photo: Ma’an News Agency)

Charlotte Silver
Nov. 3, 2016
Israel’s state comptroller has sharply criticized three government agencies for outsourcing the management of major archaeological excavations and sites in Jerusalem to Elad, a private organization that settles Jews in the militarily occupied eastern part of the city in violation of international law.
___The report says the Israel Antiquities Authority has not supervised Elad’s archaeological work, nor has the Israel Nature and Parks Authority supervised Elad’s management of the so-called City of David, a settlement containing an archaeological museum catering to tourists.
___The City of David settlement is located in the middle of the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, and Elad asserts it is the ancient biblical City of King David mentioned in the second book of Samuel.    More . . .


Take one step towards the old house
And another down the stairs to the home
Where a woman sits in the early evening light:
Light, the radiance of a dove, shining;
Or light like the light from a shrine.
No one knows where she has come from –
Through which quarter or distant land she passed.
What shadow the light cast when she’d gone.
No one knows the flood she passed through –
The risks she took, the daily deluge.
No one can measure the vast sea she crossed,
The hazards she held in her small hands.
An ordinary woman: one step at a time, one step
On the land lacking, on the barren soil; one step
On the time passing; one step on the clock ticking.
Except for something in her now rising, hot, scolding,
Even her dreams are besieged, it seems; yet
In the middle of a siege it’s still possible to dream.
A dream of the old house, and her first step.
—Translated by Jackie Kay

Samih Faraj is a teacher in Deheishe Refugee Camp in Bethlehem and a lecturer at Hebron and Bethlehem Universities. He has been editor-in-chief of several journals, including VOICE OF THE NATION.
About education in Deheishe Refugee Camp.
Poem from A BIRD IS NOT A STONE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY PALESTINIAN POETRY (Glasgow: Freight Books, 2014) –available from Amazon.com.

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