Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Norman Geras links to this this article on the situation. This article from Haaretz has similar sympathies. This other Haaretz article.

It's tiresome to fisk articles in the Independent and the Guardian because to me it seems that the loaded language and one-sided presentations in those publications should be obvious to everyone. But since this article has made such an impression on a sensible liberal blogger it seems like a good time to respond.

There are yellow steel gates in the barbed wire [at Jayyous] but they are closed. Farmers are busy making phone calls, some are going to see the Israeli military to demand that the gates be opened. Eventually, soldiers arrive. Harvesting is a family affair so the soldiers face a crowd of men, women and children. What they do is this. First they collect all their identity papers.

Then they call the people out one by one. Today they have decided that no male between the ages of 12 and 38 will be allowed on his land. Also, no woman will be allowed unless she is over 28 and married. So the majority of the farmers - men, women and teenagers - stand at the gate, the Israeli soldiers and the barrier between them and the harvest that is their sustenance and income for the coming year.

Two men set off to try and find a way of infiltrating their own land. The rest make their way back to the village hall. On the mayor's desk lie some 600 permits that appeared in the village this morning. They are issued by the Israeli authorities and made out to individual farmers. About half of them are in the names of people who can't use them: babies, infants, a couple of men who have been in Australia for 15 years. But that is not the point. The point is that the people know that if they use these permits they are implicitly accepting their terms: three months' access with no recognition of any rights to the land. They suspect that after three months Israel will start playing games with them. Permits like these were one of the mechanisms by which their parents and grandparents were dispossessed of their land in 1948. What should they do? Use the permits and try to salvage their crops and deal with the rest later? Boycott the permits and starve?

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