Wednesday, December 5, 2012

As Though They Owned the Place

The Palestinian homeland held a magnetic attraction for the early Zionist colons:

"Hitherto the Turks had been [the Arabs'] landlords indeed, but the key of the house had been the Arabs' and the Arabs' only. Now* the Arabs were presented with latchkeys to their own hearths, Zionist strangers were given identical latchkeys, and in a day or two were pointing out the rooms in which they had been born." (Palestine: The Reality, JMN Jeffries, 1939, p 410) *1919-1923

Of course, following the depredations of 1948, the only bit of Palestine to escape their 'attention' was the fragment known as the West Bank - but, mind you, that was only until 1967:

"It is like being in a small room with your family. You have bolted the doors and all the windows to keep strangers out. But they come anyway - they just walk through your walls as if they weren't there. They say they like your room. They bring their families and their friends. They like the furniture, the food, the garden. You shrink into a corner, pretending they aren't there, tending to your homework, being a rebellious son, a strict father or an anxious mother - crawling about as if everything was normal, as if your room was yours for ever. Your family's faces are growing pale, withdrawn - an ugly grey, as the air in their corner becomes exhausted. The strangers have fresh air, they come and go at will - their cheeks are pink, their voices loud and vibrant. But you cling to your corner, you never leave it, afraid that, if you do, you will not be allowed back." (The Third Way: A Journal of Life in the West Bank, Raja Shehadeh, 1982, p 133)

These days, having swallowed and digested the Palestinian homeland in its entirety, it's the humble Palestinian home that's now become the focus of these invaders. No one is safe. Nothing is sacred:

"There was an operation in the company next to mine where they told me that a woman was blown up by a fox*, her limbs were smeared on the wall, but it wasn't on purpose. They knocked and knocked on the door and there was no answer, so they decided to open it wet**. He put down a fox and just at that moment the woman decided to open the door. And then her kids came over and saw her. I heard about it during dinner after the operation, someone said it was funny, and everyone cracked up, that the kids saw their mother smeared on the wall." (Our Harsh Logic: Israeli soldiers' testimonies from the Occupied Territories, 2000-2010, Breaking the Silence, 2012,p 40) *explosive device; **with explosives

"We got an order, some team went to an IDF benefit, and they told us to go into a house in Hebron. We'd been in that house 2 weeks before, same owners, same procedure. We didn't really understand why we had to do it. You went to search, or to stay there? The same procedure, to take down the family... that night, all of a sudden they tell us a TV crew's coming, they want to film you - it was Hanukkah - eating doughnuts. Slowly we started to realize that they sent us into the house to film us for television. Really. They sent us into the house to film us for television. Also, afterward, we left in the morning or the afternoon, there were warnings or something. And they sent us in to film us for television. That night we were on the Channel 2 news for 20 seconds, that's it. They prepared everyone, they brought us doughnuts to show that we were happy and strong." (ibid p 106)

"They go into a house, part of what's called 'personal pressure', the whole idea is that you go in... you rest inside the house. Meaning, you move the family to some room and you rest, you make a kind of war room in some room, in the living room or I don't know... whatever room you come across. But there was one time when they came, they went in, and they wanted to watch something on TV. So they took the family and put them in another room. The family was sitting near the TV, but the soldiers wanted to watch something, they took the family, moved them into a different room so they could watch something. There was an explicit rule not to do something like that, not even to sit on the chairs. When I went around, I normally went around with the deputy company commander, wherever he went around, he made sure the soldiers didn't... the team above me, they sat on the sofas and moved the family... What was it? What was it? I don't know, soccer, something with soccer." (ibid, p 107)

"We got an order to go into the Al-Amari refugee camp, I think. There was an order that now we're going every week to a refugee camp to 'go over it.' 'Going over it' means you search everything... We'd come in, send all the men to the school - from age 15 to 50... there were always all kinds of numbers. Whoever has a mustache goes to the school... they stay there all day. And with the women and children we go from house to house with maps. You go through each house and search everything. We're good kids, so we come, open the closets, look, move things around, put things back, like that, all day. That particular day was the World Cup final, and we're finished, also because it was the final, and because it was extremely hot. So we go, make our rounds, as usual we don't find anything, like in all those operations. Our officer was always into... we'd go in, like, a team of 5 to blow up every door. This was covered up. It wasn't really, it was to train us to blow things up. So we'd learn a bit. Also, we did it out of enthusiasm for this game: any door that was a bit difficult, even though we had a crowbar, hammer, all kinds of equipment, we had to blow it up." (ibid p 109)

It should come as no surprise that this extraordinary 'interest' in Palestinian homes is almost as old as the Zionist project itself. In fact, I think I may actually have stumbled upon the earliest recorded instance of the phenomenon. The year is 1920:

"The American Zionist Medical Unit (that which had obtained special Zionist passports for the journey), good as its work was in itself, would not hear of acting under the control of the Public Health Department. It toured the country without authorization, and was involved in quarrels with Arab municipalities because it carried out inspections of Moslem houses through its own uniformed inspectors, who entered them without the consent of the inhabitants and as though enjoying the very Governmental authority which its members had refused to accept for themselves." (Palestine: The Reality, JMN Jeffries, 1939, p 310-311)

1 comment:

Peter D said...

Not entirely off-topic, I was googling today trying to find more info on yesterday's 174-6 UN vote in favour of Israel opening its nuclear facilities to inspections and signing the NP treaty (what a hide the UN has expecting Israel to comply with treaties every other country is expected to comply with!), when I noticed an interesting story about Netanyahu being involved in smuggling American nuclear triggers into Israel during a period before 2002.

I can understand why Israel would sooner blow the world up than let the inspectors in - the scientists would be able to determine where and when Israel stole all the materials and technology to make its nuclear bombs, and that wouldn't go over well, especially in their favourite hunting ground, the good old USA.