“. . . 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.

“. . . If I and others don’t go to prison, How will the prison guard Feed his children . . .” (Rashid Hussein)

Caption: Palestinian protesters shout slogans during a demonstration on August 16, 2015 in front of the hospital in Ashkelon where Muhammad Allan is being held. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
Palestinian protesters shout slogans during a demonstration on August 16, 2015 in front of the hospital in Ashkelon where Muhammad Allan is being held. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

Aug. 17, 2015
BETHLEHEM ― The Israeli Supreme Court will consider a request by the Palestinian Authority Committee for Prisoner’s Affairs to release hunger striking Palestinian prisoner Muhammad Allan, head of the committee Issa Qaraqe said Monday.
____The Palestinian official made the comments to the official Wafa news agency, without providing further details.
____Muhammad Allan, 31, slipped into a coma on Friday after ingesting only water since June 18 in protest at his detention without charge by Israeli authorities.
____If and when he regains consciousness — and if he continues to refuse to eat — Israel’s government must decide whether it will invoke a law passed in July allowing the force-feeding of prisoners when their lives are endangered.
More . . .

August 17, 2015
Ramallah ― Chairman of the Commission of Prisoners’’ Affairs (CPA), Minister Issa Qaraqe, said on Monday that the situation in Israeli prisons is heading towards an “outburst”.
____He said tension has run high in Israeli prisons after the Israeli prison authorities declined to meet a series of agreements concluded with the Palestinian prisoners, under which the authorities pledged to improve their prison conditions. . . .
[. . . .]
____Qaraqe stressed that efforts are being exerted to ensure [Muhammad] Allan’s release and provide him with the much needed treatment, after 65 days of hunger strike against his administrative detention, without charge or trial.
More. . .

❸ From: +972 MAGAZINE
Sawsan Khalife’
August 16, 2015
A week after the Shin Bet recommended that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon sign off on administrative detention for two Jewish Israelis following the attack in the Palestinian village of Duma, he also recommended the Knesset pass an “anti-terrorism bill.”
____The bill . . . authorizes the defense minister to use administrative detention without the standard prerequisite of declaring a “state of emergency” (which has been in place, essentially, since Israel’s founding). The law refers specifically to the administrative detention of Israeli civilians, since Palestinians in the occupied territories already live under a military regime.
The law will allow the court 48 hours to review the confidential evidence at hand, while the suspect will be denied the right to know the charges against him or her.
More. . .

August 17, 2015
BETHLEHEM― Israeli army Monday razed an agricultural land belonging to local Palestinians near the town of Beit Jala to the north of Bethlehem in preparation to expand the apartheid wall, according to local sources.
____Witnesses told WAFA that an Israeli army force accompanied by two heavy machinery broke into the area, planted with olive trees, and proceeded to raze the land, which has an area of around 30 dunums, for the expansion of the separation wall following an Israeli court order to the change the route of the wall.
____According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, Eighty-five percent of the Israeli Separation Barrier is within the West Bank itself, not along the Green Line. In areas where the Separation Barrier has already been built, the extensive violations of human rights of Palestinians living nearby are evident.
More. . .

Overlooking Beit Jala valley and Cremisan Monastery
Overlooking Beit Jala valley and Cremisan Monastery

❺ Opinion
August 17, 2015
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) calls on people of conscience around the world to initiate and/or escalate boycott and divestment campaigns against the companies that are most complicit in these Israeli crimes, in response to an unprecedented appeal from Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. The appeal came in the context of an escalation in Israel’s repression against Palestinian political prisoners. Israel’s systematic use of torture, a crime against humanity under international law, as a policy against Palestinian prisoners, including child prisoners, has recently seen a sharp rise.
____Israel, which remains one of few countries in the world that legalizes torture under circumstances deemed as “necessary,” has passed at the end of July a law allowing the force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners who have resorted to hunger strikes as a last ditch attempt to achieve their basic rights and dignity.
More. . .
Related (G4S website)

Don’t be sad, Darling!
To put me in prison, as they did, is a very easy thing!
But what can they do about the sun
Shining outside and torturing new rebels?

I should like to be romantic and say to you:
If my being in jail
Did nothing more than bring you to visit me
And cry in my arms ―
Then my arrest was not in vain.

But I’m not feeling romantic right now!
(How can one be romantic with the bedbugs
having such a feast?)
I’m just scratching away, and writing to you,
And asking myself this banal question:
If I and others don’t go to prison,
How will the prison guard
Feed his children?

Darling! I would so like for us
To have a baby!
We spoke of it once,
But I don’t know if
We’ll ever be given the chance.
That is why, for the time being, I give myself
To thoughts about the babies of others
Including my enemies’ babies!
And because they cannot understand this simple feeling
They put me here in prison.

From: Aruri, Naseer and Edmund Ghareeb, eds. ENEMY OF THE SUN: POETRY OF THE PALESTINIAN RESISTANCE. Washington, DC: Drum and Spear Press, 1970.
Available from Amazon.
Rashid Hussein (1936-1977) was born in Musmus, Palestine. He published his first collection in 1957 and established himself as a major Palestinian poet and orator. He participated in founding the Land Movement in 1959. He left in 1966 and lived in Syria and Lebanon and later in New York City where he died in February, 1977. He was buried a week later in Musmus. His funeral was attended by thousands of Palestinians. More. . .

Protest at G4S accuses company of violating human rights. Thursday June 7 2012.
Protest at G4S accuses company of violating human rights. Thursday June 7 2012.