<  Reflection Two: Colonial Contexts - Settlements and Resistance  

Olive Harvest Delegation |  October 24 - November 6, 2016  


Overview: This second collection of reflections focuses on the ongoing colonization of Palestinian land. Reflections focus primarily on the Israeli settlements and the resistance which they demand from the Palestinian communities they affect. Pam N., Linda H., Robert M., and Arlene L. each discuss an element of Israeli colonization.

Pam N. also contributes a bit of satire to this reflection; and John B. wraps up this collection relating his thoughts while on a morning walk in Jerusalem.


Eyes on the Prize  |  Pam N.

At our debriefing last night, I thought of Martin Luther King as we discussed how best we can work for justice for Palestinians and be good allies in their struggle.  My first response to the Israeli policies of conquest, occupation and control is, “What the hell!  You can’t get away with this!!”  But I realize this may not be the best way to support Palestinians.  What I need is patience.

Muslims have a saying: “There are many doors to Paradise, but the one marked ‘Patience’ has the shortest line.”

It is what Palestinians need as they negotiate the many checks to movement in their lives; the Kafkaesque permit bureaucracy; as they confront the policies of silent transfer.

Patience is not acceptance.  This is was what I learned from Daoud Nassar at Tent of Nations. Patience is needed to overcome the first reactions to injustice: violence, resignation, flight.  

"Refuse to be enemies," Daoud said.  That is a tall order.  It needs strategy, and strategy needs patience.


A Blueprint for the Jewish State  |  Linda H.

Theodor Herzl ‘s 1896 European manifesto calling for Der Judenstaat — a homeland and ethnically exclusive state for Jews — was the blueprint for the Jewish State of Israel from long before 1948 until today.  Our IFPB trip took us to three organizations that explained in clear terms the progress of this colonization of Palestine. Today, Palestine and its residents stand perilously close to Herzl’s Zionist dream: being squeezed out of the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River so that the State of Israel can remain a Jewish majority.

Today, it is through legal maneuvers that the Palestinian world is being shrunk daily by Israeli State claims to land, house demolitions for state purposes, and refusal of permits for building or improvements.  Laws of the land are applied only to the Palestinians — the Absentee Property Military Order of 1948, the Absentee Property Law of 1952, and the “Present Absentee” categorization.  These result in confiscation of land brought about by confinement of travel, the Wall, legal challenges of ownership, and convoluted bureaucratic practices that deny or ignore requests for permits (required for most everything that a Palestinian wants to do and often requiring renewal every three months).

A legal scholar from the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights articulated the history of forcible displacement of Palestinians: 150,000 from 1922 to 1948 while Palestine was under the British Mandate; 750,000 in 1948, and 450,000 registered refugees after the 1967 Six Day War. 

The Jewish state provides Jews from around the world with instant citizenship, low-income housing, and tax rebates, while land appropriation and settlement building that started with David Ben Gurion continues to this day.  Badil publishes a series of working papers on this forced population displacement, loss of natural resources, the legal hurdles placed on Palestinians, and the human rights abuses that occur, not the least of which is the imprisonment of children as young as twelve-years. 

Our Badil visit was followed with a journey to the Tent of Nations in Area C of the Occupied West Bank, under Israeli control.  This is a most lovely farm perched high on a hillside from where on a clear day one can see to the Mediterranean.  Tent of Nations is not only a farm but a testament to the determination of the owners, the Nassar family, to live by the Christian principle of love: love thy neighbor; love thy enemy. 

As settlements built by the government encroach on his farm, Daoud Nassar has to deal continuously with governmental restrictions, denial of permits, threats to demolish his farm buildings, and settlers who uproot his trees.  In 2014, the Israeli military also found reason to bulldoze his large fruit orchard.  

Daoud is both resourceful and determined, fighting the destruction and the continuous military attempts to take his farm away. He has gone all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court, from whom he is still awaiting a final response. Tent of Nations hosts a two-week summer camp for refugee children from nearby areas. On speaking tours and by invitation, he has built up a coterie of international friends who volunteer their work and time on the farm.

We fear the days of the farm will be short-lived without additional international help. The government has expropriated a large track of land very close to the entrance where an enormous Yeshiva school is being built that will likely bring more right-wing individuals even closer.  Daoud’s best protections are the international visitors to the farm.

As our day at Tent of Nations ended and we walked down the road to our bus, we found that military police had come to find out who we were. They said nothing as they watched us drive off.


Modi’in  |  Robert M.

Away from the bright lights and airport hubbub
Onto a broad pavement slicing without mercy through the heart of Palestine.
Modi'in strides triumphantly athwart the Green Line and Palestinian hopes.

Yellow phosphorous lights glare protectively over the broad Tarmac ribbon

Rough stone walls shield new settlements and segregate centuries-old Palestinian villages,
defiantly raising their green light bulbs of Islam in the darkness: "We are still here despite your hate and oppression."


The Law of Absent Presence*  - A Satire  |  Pam N.
Recorded by Pam Nice (just kidding)

Said:    Sabah al kheir, everyone.  Okay, today there is a new law in Israel and Palestine making the occupation an absent presence.  So please, be careful about taking photos.

Arlene: What do you mean?

Said:  No pictures of soldiers, walls, demolition warnings, checkpoints or colonies.

Linda:  How can we do that? They’re everywhere.

Said:    Please aim carefully.  If you get one of these items in your photos, your cell phone will be confiscated and they will send you to a special room where you will write in a notebook, “What occupation?  Do you see an occupation??” 100 times or until your fingers become paralyzed, whichever comes first.  Then they store the book in the Israeli archives for perpetuity.

John:  They can’t make me do that!  I’m an American citizen.

Said:  If you refuse, they will either force you to leave the country immediately or make you stay indefinitely, whichever is worse.

Inge:    What are you talking about?

Said:    I don’t know.  I’m not the Israeli government.  Please, ma’am, I’m only a tour guide.

* On being told by Said of the Electronic Crimes Law to be instated as of today, October 31, by the Israeli government, through which all cell phones, tweets, emails and What’s App communications will be surveilled.


On Stolen Land  |  Arlene L.

The amount of land that has been “confiscated” for Israeli settlements really hit me as the scene opened up before me.  The fact that a couple of settlements even kept the same name as the demolished village was surprising.  Who would want to be reminded of how they received that opportunity to live there?  Even worse was the fact that a Jewish cemetery was built on demolished homes.  I wonder if their souls rest in peace?   Added to that, we passed a huge sign, four times bigger than the city destination signs that read, "Ariel and Muriel Sharon Farm."  What the sign said to me was, “Look what I earned from destruction and killing.”  Who would want to be known for that?


Free Time in Jerusalem  |  John B.

During free time, around 8:00 am, I decided to walk about.

The first thing I looked for was Arabic coffee and it was easy to find among the street vendors.

I found myself standing beside a man while waiting at the crosswalk.  I greeted him and he responded cheerfully and asked where I was from.  When I told him American he said "Good" which I thought was kind of him and undeserved after what I have seen in the past week.  He went on to ask me "Hillary, Trump, who are you for?"  I said "Neither. They both a couple of Zionists."  He laughed aloud and wished me well and I returned the wish.

Later, the Israelis were apparently aware of my presence and decided to put on a show for me.  Just joking; but it was no joke for the Palestinian man I saw arrested.  The first thing I noticed was soldiers swarming, like bees, 8-10 of them.  Then two of them put their hands on the Palestinian and pushed him against the nearest wall.  One of the soldiers was black, Ethiopian I presume.  He stood look out as the other "white" soldier put the Palestinian through the drill, so to speak.  All the other soldiers seemed to have disappeared.  Somehow I happened to look up and there on top of a building overlooking us was what was obviously a sort of command post looking down on us and in communication with the two soldiers.  At some point they decided to "take him in."  And all of a sudden we had 8-10 soldiers returning from what I suspect was what the military would call “perimeter security” and the whole lot of them marched the poor fellow off to god knows what hell.

What struck me most was the black soldier.  Someone told me previously that Ethiopian soldiers in the Israeli army can be among the harshest, meanest, trying to prove themselves to their fellow soldiers and to Israelis generally.   But this soldier had what I took to be a nonplussed look - which was actually very fitting.



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