25 November 2012

Palestinian Grievances

Palestine Peace Not Apartheid by Jimmy Carter, 2006, Excerpts

There was a unanimous complaint among Palestinian political leaders and others that the worst and most persistent case of abuse was in Hebron, about twenty miles south of Jerusalem, where the biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are buried. About 450 extremely militant Jews have moved into the heart of the ancient part of the city, protected by several thousand Israeli troops. Heavily armed, these settlers attempt to drive the Palestinians away from the holy sites, often beating those they consider to be “trespassers,” expanding their area by confiscating adjacent homes, and deliberately creating physical confrontations. When this occurs, the troops impose long curfews on the 150,000 Palestinian citizens of Hebron, prohibiting them from leaving their own homes to go to school or shops or to participate in the normal life of an urban community. The Palestinians claimed that the undisguised purpose of the harassment was to drive non-Jews from the area. The United Nations reported that more than 150 Israeli checkpoints had been established in and around the city.

These Palestinians were convinced that some Israeli political leaders were trying through harassment to force a much broader exodus of Muslims and Christians from the occupied territories. They claimed that any manufactured goods or farm products were not permitted to be sold in Israel if they competed with Israeli produce, so any surplus had to be given away, dumped, or exported to Jordan. The fruit, flowers, and perishable vegetables of the more activist families were often held at the Allenby Bridge until they spoiled, and in some areas the farmers were not permitted to replace fruit trees that died in their orchards. Their most anguished complaints were about many thousands of ancient olive trees that were being cut down by the Israelis. Access to water was persistent issue. Each Israeli settler uses five times as much water as a Palestinian neighbor, who must pay four times as much per gallon.

Teachers and parents maintained that their schools and universities were frequently closed, educators arrested, bookstores padlocked, library books censored, and students left on the streets or at home for extended periods of time without jobs. They claimed that any serious alteration between these idle and angry young people and the military authorities could result in the sending of bulldozers into the community to destroy homes.

One of their most bitter grievances was that foreign aid from Arab countries and even funds sent by the American government for humanitarian purposes were intercepted by the authorities and used for the benefit of the Israelis, including the construction of settlements in Palestinian communities. 

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