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The Struggle For Survival
2006 09 30

By Judy Andreas |

Ethnically Cleansed Palestinian Refugees, October, 1948

On September 26, 2006, I attended an event in New York City called Occupation of Palestine/Invasion of Lebanon: A Forum on the Mid-East Crisis. There were two speakers on the menu, Aaron Levitt, from Jews Against the Occupation and International Solidarity Movement's Bashir Abu Manneh, from the English Department of Barnard College.

Judging by the size of the room, the organizers had not anticipated a large crowd. And yet, the small room was packed to capacity. The gathering group was there because they were seeking solutions. They were sick of the Middle East situation and the bullying stance of Israel and the United States. They were heartbroken about the devastation and brutality in Palestine and Lebanon. They were concerned about the endless wars. They were there because they deeply desire peace in the Middle East.

$Mr. Levitt opened the evening with a question. "Is there anyone here that is Pro Israel"? Not one hand was raised. Then he proceeded with his brief talk.

He explained that in 2004, he had been stranded in Palestine and took the opportunity to visit the abandoned and depopulated villages He had his camera with him and showed us the film footage. Seeing the villages had been a powerful experience for him and it was a powerful experience for the audience as well.

Levitt began with footage of Ein Kerem, the alleged birthplace of John the Baptist.

Thousands of people had populated the area prior to 1948 when they had been driven into exile by such bloodthirsty groups as the Irgun, the Haganah and the Stern Gang.

Today Ein Kerem is populated by North American Jews. "They are artsy people; the granola crunching, politically correct set", Mr. Levitt explained. And yet, their political correctness does not extend to the people whose land they are occupying.

The village was impressive; the old stonework was breathtaking. It was the work of the Palestinians.

A total of four hundred and thirty villages were depopulated. In every single case, the excuse was that these were "vital military outposts".

"This was utter nonsense", Mr Levitt explained.

Today, close to 400 villages are scrub brush, ghost towns and little pieces of farms giving low yield crops. The Israelis have taken the most fertile parts of the country.

One of the most notorious and controversial events of current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians was the April, 2002 Israeli invasion of Jenin Refugee Camp. For weeks, the Israeli army assaulted the camp with helicopters, tanks, bulldozers, and troops.

Mr. Levitt explained that in Jenin, everyone is originally from Haifa, and they still hold the deeds and keys to their stolen homes.

Lifta had approximately 2500 Palestinians prior to the occupation. It was emptied out because, once again, it was said to be a "super strategic" place. Every home and Mosque contained a hole that was blown in the roof by the Haganah. The two foot hole was to make the places uninhabitable so that no families could return. Beautifully built homes were now no protection from the cold Jerusalem rain.

On the 28th of December in 1947, six people were gunned down when Jewish terrorists (probably from Begin's IZL or the Stern gang) shot them in the village coffee house. Soon after the terror act on Lifta's coffee house, its population was terrorized repeatedly into leaving by Menachem Begin's IZL and Yitzhak Shamir's Stern terror gangs. By February 1948, the village was completely emptied and all of its inhabitants were trucked to East Jerusalem.

Bashir Abu-Manneh talked about Hezbollah and Hamas. People in the United States are fairly ignorant of the true nature of these organizations. Hezbollah is mainly defensive. They want national unity and are fundamentally democratic. They are socially philanthropic and provide Social Services and Healthcare. 80% of the Lebanese people supported Hezbollah.

Hamas wants to end the oppression and free the 10,000 political prisoners. They want to end the siege in Gaza and dismantle the settlements. They want control over their own borders. They want democratically elected officials. They want an end to national oppression. They want to return to the 1967 borders.

Today there is 70% poverty in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israeli terror against Palestinians has intensified. Israel has halted the transfer of about $55 million a month in taxes it collects for the PA in an attempt to bankrupt its government. Its army had closed El-Montar trade crossing (Carney Crossing); the only passage Gaza has to the rest of the world. More army checkpoints were erected within cities, and people were not allowed to move between neighborhoods. Israeli offensive army had intensified its terrorist attacks against Palestinian cities; raiding homes, completely destroying their contents or demolishing the whole house, randomly arresting people, raiding mosques and churches stripping worshippers naked and harassing religious figures, and beating or shooting reporters and confiscating their cameras. The Israeli tanks continuously shell civilian communities in Gaza Strip killing children and women, while military drones continue their targeted assassinations of alleged militant leaders by bombing their vehicles. The Israeli government is grabbing more land to expand its colonies and is finishing its jailing wall on Palestinian land to besiege more Palestinian cities and to destroy their economy. The wall and military checkpoints had divided the West Bank into small 64 cantons. Palestinian prisoners including children (boys and girls in their teens) in Israeli prisons are routinely tortured and denied heath care.

The presentation did not offer much hope. The question and answer period contained more questions than answers. I asked Bashir Abu Manneh if the Israelis and the U.S really wanted peace. His facial expression answered my question.

I took the long walk to the subway. The crisp air did nothing to clear my head. I thought of the pictures of the villages. I thought of the pictures of little Palestinian and Lebanese children I had seen. I thought of the pictures of deformed Iraqi babies. I thought of the "granola crunching" Israelis. I was wrestling with "despair" and I was losing. As I descended subway stairs I paused for a moment to pay homage to a homeless man. The sounds of a saxophone sweetened the surreal subway scene. Street musicians are commonplace in New York City. They too are a part of the struggle for survival.

The Dark Forces of Injustice - Genevieve Cora Fraser

When the knock comes
On the door of your soul
Do not fear opening yourself
To a view of hell created
And controlled by the Will
Of the misguided

When the knock comes
Welcome the hate filled
Into an ocean of understanding
Share the food of insight
Break bread and feed the minds
Crippled by the propaganda
Of those who would be
The masters if we let them

When the assault comes
Rise in spirit
Resist the weight of hate
Counter their attacks
With energized self-determination
Buffered and buttressed
By the full weight
Of the Loving of the world
Who offer you support
In your unmitigated suffering

We are all Palestinians’
Who do battle
With the dark forces of injustice
We will prevail
And the meek shall inherit the earth

Copyright: 2006

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