Monday, January 16, 2006

Heb-lines

Seeing as Hebron has been all over the headlines in the past few days, I thought I might share with you that I was there to witness just what the papers are reporting on. This is the Hebron I saw. It is a city devastated by road closures, and the shutting down of commercial centers in order to protect the settlers. In fact it is an invasion. The Israeli military has systematically enabled Jews to colonize and retain the old city of Hebron because it is the burial grounds of Abraham and Sarah. Main arteries of the city are cut off and walled in. Palestinians are prohibited from traveling freely throughout the city, it is segregated and devastated.

Some of the streets of the old city are caged in from above in order to protect the Palestinians walking below from having rocks and trash thrown on their heads, as settlers have inhabitted the ancient former homes of the Palestinian old city. I hope that whatever news source you are reading is clarifying to you that the settlers are racist and aggressive. They live their lives in fear of their neighbors. In my day in Hebron, I had the pleasure of witnessing the aftermath of adolescent settler girls who had assaulted international peace workers with paint bombs, spit, rocks and vitriol. Settler women routinely march down into the Palestinian territories en masse, destroying commercial goods, creating trouble, and spreading hate. They are protected by a dictatorial military presence. Young boys with guns who are forced to protect these racist colonizers, even though they themselves hate them and what they do. But their job is to protect the Jews, and so they lash out towards the Arabs because it is their only outlet.

Hebron is a dangerous place right now. But it's not dangerous because of the Palestinians, it is dangerous because of the settlers. They live in a state of terrified paranoia. The picture above was taken on the main commercial drag in the center of Hebron. It is one of the only remaining areas that can sustain commercial activity, due to the fact that it is a main artery. The boys you see were selling produce and keeping warm. Settlers have issued a call to arms and are importing other settlers from all over the country in order to violently protest the fact that the army is ordering them to evacuate the farmers markets that they have been illegally inhabiting for months. The Palestinians who have been displaced from their commercial center have no recourse but to wait idly by as a reluctant military establishment removes the hostile presence. They have committed no violent acts towards the settlers, they know exactly what would happen if they did...

Try to imagine what would happen if the Palestinians attempted to organize violent protests the way the settlers do. Do you remember Jenin? I do... the power dynamic is perverse.

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