Thursday, 27 January 2011

Peaceful Protest Causes Anger and Condemnation By LSE Israel Society (as usual...)

Milad Ranei
Tuesday 25th January, the London School of Economic's weekly newspaper - The Beaver, published a letter written to the Editor, by the LSE Students' Union Israel Society:

Sir We are writing further to hearing about the Beaver’s support for the Palestine Society’s campaign to boycott water from Eden Springs UK.
We understand fully the importance and role of a strong pro-Palestinian voice on campus. Of course, it is legitimate to disagree with the policies of the Israeli government.
However, we object to the method of protest. On Thursday outside Clement House members of the Palestine Society were standing dressed in army outfits holding oversized guns. They had placed around them bottles of Eden water with red liquid inside.  Perhaps this was supposed to represent Palestinian blood?  This “stunt” was offensive and childish. Furthermore, such crude campaigning does nothing to further good campus relations and dialogue between the Israel Society and the Palestine Society.  It is divisive and creates a hostile atmosphere. Please could the Beaver explain its support for such a method of campaigning, which is clearly highly offensive and divisive?
It is interesting to note that the water in question here originates from West Hyde, Hertfordshire, not the Golan Heights. In addition, since the Palestine Society’s aim is to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people, the Golan Heights does not even fall within this remit. The only explanation the Israel Society can draw from this is that the Palestine Society are more anti-Israel than they are pro-Palestine.
The response from the Beaver Editorial Board was as follows: 
Israel Society - Thank you for your letter regarding the stance expressed in our editorial ("This is the only way we can participate" , 18th January 2011). 
We should preface our justification of support by saying that at the time of going to press last week, the Palestine Society had yet to protest in the manner that they did outside St.Clements. That said, we continue to support their actions 
Because the cause they are campaigning against concerns an allegedly illegal occupation which has displaced a large number of civilians, we believe the comparatively tame nature of their protest is fully justified. Whether those harmed by Israel's actions are Syrian or Palestinian, the society is right to highlight the methods that Israel deems acceptable. 
As for the revelation that the water originates from Hertfordshire, we are confident this is immaterial to the discussion. We remain concerned witht he parent company's actions, viz, profiteering from an unjust state of affairs. 
Please be assured this does not correspond with any uneasiness about the actions of the Israel Society, which we appreciate is committed to constructive dialogue. 
Nonetheless, it is laughable that the LSE Israel Society oppose peaceful protest, describing it as "childish and offensive." Then again when protesting for basic rights, Justice and Freedom for Palestinians, who are murdered on a daily basis, it is difficult to please everyone, even the 'mouthpieces' of the oppressors.

It would be interesting to know whether the Israeli Society finds the illegal colonial settlements built in the West Bank offensive, or if they find the present siege on Gaza offensive, or if they find Avigdor Lieberman's statements offensive, and if they do, what are they doing to protest this? Nothing.

 Perhaps time would be better spent pursuing more noble causes, instead of being the first to criticise the actions of the LSE Palestine Society. 

Friday, 21 January 2011

LSE Palestine Society Stunt: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions - Eden Springs

By Nadia Marques de Carvalho
(LSE Palestine Society)

On Thursday 20th January the London School of Economics Palestine Society staged a surprise stunt at midday on Houghton Street, to raise awareness of a recent campaign it has launched to get Eden Springs off its campus. 

LSE Palestine Society Members in the Stunt
The stunt involved having bottles of Eden water symbolically wrapped in barbed wire, surrounded by two Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers on either side. Note some of the bottled water stained symbolically with red tint, to portray the blood of Palestinians. 

The Stunt in the Union General Meeting 

The stunt was a successful and dramatic way to mobilise the student body into standing in solidarity with the core concepts of Justice, Equality and Freedom, which the BDS movement endeavours to achieve in Palestine - well, should I say, The Occupied Territories. 

Signatures filled the petition papers that propose that the university not purchase water coolers and bottled water from Eden Springs UK, which is part of the Israeli company Mey Eden, which appropriates and sells water from sources in Syrian land that has been controversially occupied since 1967.

LSE Palestine Society Committee Members

This campaign to get Eden Springs off campus is only the beginning. 

The LSE Palestine Society are in the process of contacting other British Palestine Societies to follow in suit.

 In solidarity we can end the illegal, Israeli Apartheid regime. 

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Sticker on the London Underground

LSE Palestine Society Host Ben White

By Peter Stockwell
On Tuesday 18th January, the London School of Economics Palestine Society invited the author Ben White to come and give a talk titled, "Understanding Israel's policies of Apartheid and Exclusion." 

Ben White at the LSE

The talk was a great success attended by both outside and LSE students. 

Ben White is a freelance journalist and writer, specialising in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. His first book, ‘Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide’, was published in 2009, receiving praise from the likes of Desmond Tutu and Nur Masalha. Ilan Pappe called White a “strong and clear voice”, while Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, described the book as “essential reading”.

Ben White divided his talk into three fundamental parts which he believes has helped in creating and maintaining the Israeli Apartheid Regime: Land & Privilege, Demolitions and a De Facto One State. 

Under the first point of "Land & Privilege" Ben White explored the Israeli strategy of "judaising' the Negev/Galilee, whereby 20% of the population are Palestinians, mainly because there are "too many of the wrong people in a particular area." The strategy of ensuring a "Zionist majority" was one initiated by the Jewish Agency in 2002 and endorsed by the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister who claimed in 2009 that the "focus of today is to judaize the Negev and the Gailiee." 

Ben White also explored the concept of "settlements" whereby there are over 120 official colonies, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, fragmenting and colonising what would be considered in the future the Palestinian State. In these settlements the regime of separation and inequality is ensured: a prime example illustrated by Mr. White was that Israelis in the settlements are subject to Civil Law, compared to Palestinians who are subject to Military Law. This has been described by Human Rights Watch as "Systematic Discrimination", thus creating a two-tier system. 

Mr. White explored the question of the East Jerusalem where by 87% of land is unavailable for Palestinian construction, which the EU has described as "systematically undermining the Palestinians." Reference was also made to the Gaza Buffer Zone whereby 23 children were shot in the period between March - December 2010 alone. 

Demolitions are one way of ensuring apartheid. An example of Al-Arqaib was given, a village that has been demolished 9 times in the space of one year. In the West Bank, Israel has torn down 396 Palestinian structures in 2010 alone: leaving 561 homeless. The funny thing is, Palestinians must pay for the demolition of their own property. 

"Demolition of Palestinian homes is linked with Israeli Policy to control and colonise areas of the West Bank" 
Amnesty International  

Mr. White also touched on the semantics of the lexicon employed by Israel, i.e. Occupation. Surely, this suggests something short-term? Nonetheless, this supposed "occupation" started in 1967. Nothing temporary about this Israel. Mr. White argued that Israel has absorbed the West Bank into the very fabric of the Israeli Society, and thus the de facto creation of a "one-state". 

The talk ended with an emphasis on the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) Campaign, because, in the words of Yonathan Shapira (in his letter "Courage to Refuse");

 "It is no longer enough to try and change Israel from within. Israel has to be pressured in the same way apartheid South Africa was forced to change." 

because, "the oppressor doesn't give up power voluntarily." 

LSE Palestine Society Campaign to Drown Eden Springs


Lukas Slothuus

Members of the Students’ Union Palestine Society are currently protesting the School’s use of water from a company which operates sources and plants in the Golan Heights.
Students are lobbying the School not to purchase water coolers and bottled water from Eden Springs UK, which is part of the Israeli company Mey Eden, which appropriates and sells water from sources in Syrian land that has been controversially occupied since 1967.
The extension of Israeli law and administration throughout the territory has been condemned by the United Nations Security Council, and widely denounced.
The Palestine Society ran a stall on Houghton Street last Thursday and Friday, from which they asked students to sign a petition supporting their cause. They also sold cakes and traditional Palestinian foods to fund a new initiative with the Palestinian Women’s Humanitarian Organisation. The LSE has no central contract or purchasing agreement with Eden Springs UK, but the company is on a list of suppliers offered to individual departments by the London Universities Purchasing Consortium (LUPC), with which the School has a framework agreement.
LSE Palestine Society's Stall

A spokesperson for the School said that departments could choose between at least six water suppliers; empty water canisters are regularly seen outside offices in the Department of International History, among others.
The School also clarified that water ordered from Eden Springs UK originates from West Hyde, Hertfordshire, and not from the Golan Heights.
Similar campaigns have been organised by Palestinian rights activists at other British universities. In February 2009, a sit-in protest by forty students convinced the University of Strathclyde to cancel its contract with Eden Springs UK. The protest, which was led by members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, presented a list of demands, including the severing of investments with BAE Systems, an arms manufacturer, and the creation of a scholarship scheme for Palestinian students wishing to study at the university.
Signing the petition to get Eden Springs off campus

Eleven students at UCL submitted a motion in February 2010 petitioning their students’ union to “put pressure on UCL to cancel its contract with Eden Springs UK Ltd as soon as is legally possible”.
The UCL motion, which passed at the union’s Annual General Meeting in the same month, also mandated the education and ethics and environment Officers to write to the university’s Provost on the issue. UCL’s Procurement Services website, which was last updated in October 2010, still lists Eden Springs as a contracted supplier of water coolers, though two other suppliers are also specified.
A statement from the LSE confirmed that the framework agreement with LUPC expires on 30th June, and that it would be a matter for LUPC as to whether Eden Springs retains its place on a new agreed list of suppliers.
Among the sources operated by Mey Eden is the Salukia spring in the Golan Heights. The company also owns a bottling plant in Katzrin, an Israeli settlement in the region.
20,000 Israeli settlers inhabit the Golan Heights alongside an equal number of Syrians; the unilateral annexation of the region in 1981 is not internationally recognised.
Palestine Society President Zachariah Sammour told the Beaver: “The natural resources of a State should be of benefit to the people of that State alone; either through national ownership or through State taxation of profits accrued through its economic use”.
Sammour added, “Israel is therefore denying the people of that region the benefits of their own land and resources and illegally subverting it for themselves.

“We believe that a progressive institution like the LSE should not be conducting business with a company facilitating a state of affairs that is both illegal and which poses a massive threat to world peace, namely the continued, illegal Israeli Occupation”, he said.
The School also said it was their intention in the longer term to “eradicate all bottled water supplies on campus in favour of water fountains using filtered tap water, as this is a more sustainable option." 

UCL Candlelight Vigil For Gaza

By Ruth Sanderson

Today, citizens from all over London gathered in the front Quad of UCL (University College London), for a candlelight vigil to remember those massacred in the 22 day Israeli attack - Operation Cast Lead, that claimed 1, 417 lives (2008 - 2009).

The Massacre of Gaza attempted to silence the Palestinians, silence the music of hope that keeps them going and silence Justice. To silence Justice is impossible: not even the Zionists are capable of this.

We will stand with Gaza and keep the flame of hope alight. We will stand with Gaza, light each other's candles until the siege on Gaza ends. We will stand with Gaza in the face of oppression, until Israel respects the very essence of humanity, until it respects those whose land it took, until it ends its barbaric and primitive rape of Gaza: until the Zionist rapacious disposition is done with.
"Israel have you become the evil you deplored?" I think you have.
(video from Sternchen)

The hour and a half vigil was a beautiful scene: passionate individuals who had gathered in the cold January night to remember the butchering of fellow human beings 2 years ago. This solidarity reminds us all that there are still individuals who will fight for the Freedom and Justice of others.

Fire, the whispering of Palestinian flags and the deafening one minute silence kept the atmosphere alive. Accompanied with speeches from inspirational speakers such as Sameh Habeeb - the editor of The Palestine Telegraph, the ambience was one of energy!

We all have a duty to remember our commitment to Justice and Freedom: even in the oppressive face of the pseudo-religion known as Zionism.

This is the beginning of something big.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

First Death Experience


A True Story By A Girl From Gaza

Walking and tears dropping on the floor and without choice I had to prepare myself for death. Whispering to myself, will they wipe us out, will everything stop, my dreams , my hopes?
And then...where will the love go and where will the flowers flow? But surrendering is not a choice to me. I was repeating victory poems while collecting my things, within my  mind there were echoes of silence addressing the world, where is your Humanity, where are the advocators of human laws that aim to protect and serve?

“The Israeli forces are at the end of our street” my brother said, “no choice to escape“, he added. I was confused and panicking sped up my steps towards my shelf to pick up things my Grandma gave me, that medal carved in it the Palestinian flag and the key of return. I took some pictures of my fancy childhood, putting them in my bag, looking at the remaining things, my files, the yellow box I bought with my cousin, and my books I bought with my own pocket money. Those slips of papers from my beloved people, my pictures on the wall, the new clothes I bought to wear for that party we were preparing for, all that will soon be destroyed; I even questioned my own survival. I tightened up my bag, wiping my tears; consoling myself that nothing will remain in my heart except nice remembrances and hope.
With sudden jarring of the floor, a trespass upon our zone, tanks and bulldozers surrounding all buildings in the place, all families were in distress.

Mummy closed the doors and windows for safety, father rushed with my brothers to protect us, my brother’s wife say pregnant on the floor doing nothing. Waiting.

Cautiously, I went peeking from that broken window to see what’s happening outside. More than 17 tanks were settled, I caught the eyes of those Israeli ‘Defense’ Force Soldiers who were perched with indifference on the knife-edge of their offensive machines, popping seed after seed into the black holes that were their mouths: waiting, to pounce on my life. The bulldozers savagely advanced on the planted orchards…Other soldiers set about fencing off the street.

I heard a knock on the door that pulled my attention away from concentrating on this terrifying view.
With a quick stand, I reached the door. Looking through the door lens I saw our neighbors gasping and asking what shall we do? We told them in a hurry to come to our flat; it might be safer than theirs. My young siblings, my brother’s wife, our neighbors, and some more; we all were trapped in the house. Five hours after, the Israeli soldiers reached our zone, they took our location and distributed themselves amongst the buildings. They started bombing and striking bombs randomly. The operation started. Many bombs were thrown towards our building; fire ate every single thing.

We were waiting to die. We reached death station: every voice of the bombs we heard made us move to the opposite side of the room thinking wrongly it would be safer! It was all quite like a horror movie. You know the one where you are trapped: waiting?

I never stopped peeping from the broken window, this time I saw one tank moving its artillery to a near place. Suddenly, a big explosion in our building without knowing in which floor, you can’t scream, you can’t walk, you have to lean yourself on the floor  not to make shadows, to ask in silence, it was our language that day.

Electronic wires were cut, transmitter station was ruined. The soldiers opened fire on water drums and barrels of water with apertures everywher. Minutes later, we would find no water, no light and no communication network, but few candles and some water mum has saved for need.

We were isolated..!

My father prevented us to open any door which leads to rooms in our flat, “we don’t want them to know we are here” he said, otherwise we will all be killed. I wanted to check if there was any damage in our room. I tried to open the door, but another series of bombs stopped me. Fear and the peak of frightening feelings settled upon us, they began throwing the firebombs. Smoke was frightening us more than rockets and bombs; it was the slowing down of death.

My young sister was talking to herself, looking at the blazing fire behind the window “I don’t want to be killed by smoke, rockets and bombs are much better...” I interrupted her asking why? “I don’t want to see any of you dying in front of me by suffocation, gasping for air, smoke will kill the weakest, the rocket might kill us at once.”

The fire reached the fourth floor, curtains caught fire, the windows smashed and broke, and there was no way to put out this fire. We used a white cloth to put on our noses to breath air, no place to protect us from smoke. It was everywhere.

“Shall I open the window for oxygen mum,” asked my sister. With no answer, my mother began to look for a safe place without smoke, but there was none. She held them and went to my brother’s room.
We stopped peeping out of the window, knowing nothing about what is happening outside, the situation got worse, and the sound of helicopters above us throwing rockets to the building, waiting for the minute, the land gulps us all.   Closing our eyes, holding our hearts, and saying: “Ya - Allah”.  We all were repeating after my mother’s praying and with one voice we said “Ya- Allah.” I fell upon my knees, raised my hands to pray for mercy and for rain... “Please Allah be with us “
“Where can we go Dad,“ my brother asked. Silence was all the answer.

I went to the toilet, to escape from the fire to find fire inside. Where I thought to be with no fire and smoke, but more badly, the wall was boiling, I couldn’t even touch it.

My elder brother lit a candle to try to see in front of us, we were all sitting beside each other I  embraced my young sister in my ribs, hugging her all time, she eased off her arms upon my chest, and closed her eyes and went to sleep.

Looking to my brother’s wife, I was afraid she would miscarry after this strained day. I was thinking, how one of us can bless those children in this hard time, thinking about that strange winter that passed upon us, with no rain.

We stayed till 9 pm, smoke began lessen and vanished, without knowing if the Israeli are still in the place or withdrew. I opened my eyes to pray, in the gloomy night, but I couldn’t move, otherwise ill awake my small sister who’s sleeping beside me. I didn’t know what time it was, I looked right and left I just saw the blackish night, took a breath  and a tear of mine dropped on my sisters cheek awakened and paniced her. She flopped on me and began crying.

All members of my family woke up and didn’t grasp what happened, we all got up looking around, finding no sound, and silence controlled all the surroundings.

I went in a hurry to my room, looking and checking my things, the injured dove amazed me, pooh!!   Even this dove is a purpose.  What’s this wrong? What’s this guilt? Damage was everywhere, smoke and broken glass on the floor, halls in the wall, files of mine were disorganized, books, everything was targeted, shrapnel everywhere.

O Palestine, to you I will express my sorrow, there’s no tears in my eyes, all have been dried, to your eyes I tell my sadness. My eyes were deprived of sleeping, afraid that my dreams would escape! Why is the life painful? When heart suffers from what is happening, When the echo of groans are grief, we are still living of what is called “humanity”.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Gaza Youth Manifesto: Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel...


Gaza Youth Break Free 

Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. 
Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA!

 "We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community! We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice and indifference like the Israeli F16’s breaking the wall of sound; scream with all the power in our souls in order to release this immense frustration that consumes us because of this fucking situation we live in; we are like lice between two nails living a nightmare inside a nightmare, no room for hope, no space for freedom. 

We are sick of being caught in this political struggle; sick of coal dark nights with airplanes circling above our homes; sick of innocent farmers getting shot in the buffer zone because they are taking care of their lands; sick of bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in; sick of the wall of shame that separates us from the rest of our country and keeps us imprisoned in a stamp-sized piece of land; sick of being portrayed as terrorists, homemade fanatics with explosives in our pockets and evil in our eyes; sick of the indifference we meet from the international community, the so-called experts in expressing concerns and drafting resolutions but cowards in enforcing anything they agree on; we are sick and tired of living a shitty life, being kept in jail by Israel, beaten up by Hamas and completely ignored by the rest of the world.

There is a revolution growing inside of us, an immense dissatisfaction and frustration that will destroy us unless we find a way of canalizing this energy into something that can challenge the status quo and give us some kind of hope. The final drop that made our hearts tremble with frustration and hopelessness happened 30rd November, when Hamas’ officers came to Sharek Youth Forum, a leading youth organization ( with their guns, lies and aggressiveness, throwing everybody outside, incarcerating some and prohibiting Sharek from working. A few days later, demonstrators in front of Sharek were beaten and some incarcerated. We are really living a nightmare inside a nightmare. It is difficult to find words for the pressure we are under. We barely survived the Operation Cast Lead, where Israel very effectively bombed the shit out of us, destroying thousands of homes and even more lives and dreams. They did not get rid of Hamas, as they intended, but they sure scared us forever and distributed post traumatic stress syndrome to everybody, as there was nowhere to run.

We are youth with heavy hearts. We carry in ourselves a heaviness so immense that it makes it difficult to us to enjoy the sunset. How to enjoy it when dark clouds paint the horizon and bleak memories run past our eyes every time we close them? We smile in order to hide the pain. We laugh in order to forget the war. We hope in order not to commit suicide here and now. During the war we got the unmistakable feeling that Israel wanted to erase us from the face of the earth. During the last years Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behaviour and aspirations. We are a generation of young people used to face missiles, carrying what seems to be a impossible mission of living a normal and healthy life, and only barely tolerated by a massive organization that has spread in our society as a malicious cancer disease, causing mayhem and effectively killing all living cells, thoughts and dreams on its way as well as paralyzing people with its terror regime. Not to mention the prison we live in, a prison sustained by a so-called democratic country.

History is repeating itself in its most cruel way and nobody seems to care. We are scared. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We are afraid of living, because every single step we take has to be considered and well-thought, there are limitations everywhere, we cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want, sometimes we even cant think what we want because the occupation has occupied our brains and hearts so terrible that it hurts and it makes us want to shed endless tears of frustration and rage!

We do not want to hate, we do not want to feel all of this feelings, we do not want to be victims anymore. ENOUGH! Enough pain, enough tears, enough suffering, enough control, limitations, unjust justifications, terror, torture, excuses, bombings, sleepless nights, dead civilians, black memories, bleak future, heart aching present, disturbed politics, fanatic politicians, religious bullshit, enough incarceration! WE SAY STOP! This is not the future we want!

We want three things. We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask? We are a peace movement consistent of young people in Gaza and supporters elsewhere that will not rest until the truth about Gaza is known by everybody in this whole world and in such a degree that no more silent consent or loud indifference will be accepted.

This is the Gazan youth’s manifesto for change!

We will start by destroying the occupation that surrounds ourselves, we will break free from this mental incarceration and regain our dignity and self respect. We will carry our heads high even though we will face resistance. We will work day and night in order to change these miserable conditions we are living under. We will build dreams where we meet walls."

A village, A Well and Two Graves.

Zachariah Sammour

In this story these three nouns are the centrepiece; the beginning, middle, and end. They are the where, the why and the what. They explain everything.

In a normal story these three nouns could only be connected through location; they may exist together in the same place but no other connection would be feasible or meaningful. But this is not a normal story; a normal story would be located within a normal context, a normal setting and it would be subject to the general constraints that our lives are. This, however, is a story set in a place where a well can be a catalyst for death and destruction, where an entire village can be hounded and harassed because of it and how two young boys can be shot dead because of it.

This is clearly not a normal place. And I do not mean to blame the well for the tragedies which I shall disclose to you in this story; it is of course an inanimate object and unable to be a cause in and of itself. It is rather what the well represents that will emerge as the villain of our story, as the prime antagonist, as the murderer of two young boys.

And so to begin.
The village is called Iraq Burin. It’s a small village, a cluster of houses nestled atop a small mountain. In another time and place the village could be considered beautiful; surrounded by steep hills on one side and by an even steeper drop from the other, the views are truly incredible. But it is not the aesthetic value of the place which makes it of interest; it is rather its location.

This village is home to hundreds of Palestinians and has been for over a century. The surrounding hills and the flowing fields below have provided the inhabitants of that village with sustenance and commerce since its inception. But the village is also home to another, allegedly far older than even the olive trees planted by these Palestinian farmers’ years before- a well.

If you ever, per chance, stumble upon this small village you would certainly be forgiven if you did not in turn stumble upon this well. It is not signposted, there are no tour guides waiting eagerly to show you it or too teach you of its historical importance, waiting to bore you with a lengthy monologue on the style of architecture it exhibits. It is a simple, small, concrete block protruding from a hill facing the village; nothing more. Despite its relatively unimpressive looks however, this well is believed by some to be Jacob’s Well, immortalised by its mention in the bible and holy to Jews and Christians alike;

John 4:5:  So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

These poor villagers! Little did they know that this entire time they have been living on the very sight that Jesus (pbuh) once sat and drank; where he preached a message of brotherhood between Jew and non-Jew. We could perhaps forgive them for never making the connection however, particularly in light of the fact that the villagers claim the well was built in the 60’s. We might also forgive them when one discovers the fact that a short drive away in Nablus a colossal church sits atop the sight that most Christians and Jews believe Jacob’s Well to actually have been. A church which itself has witnessed the brutality that a well can cause, but that’s another story.  

But nonetheless, the scene is now set and our tale can begin to unravel. A village of Palestinians living atop a Judeo-Christian religious site; of course it must be made open to worshipers. As Christians (and the rest of the world) believe the site to be in Nablus, it will only be Jewish worshipers who will come to pay homage. If they are to journey down and pray at the Well there must also be a place for them to rest, store their prayer materials and so forth. Of course, these worshipers must therefore have a plot of land around the well in order to have such a place to rest.

And so the trouble begins. Land atop the hill is appropriated and turned into an ‘outpost’, a place where Jewish worshipers can rest, store their materials and protect their holy site. Of course the appropriation of land owned by the villagers of Iraq Burin will not occur without protest, thus more land must be taken in order to establish and IDF Security Zone. The outpost naturally grows as more and more Jews flock to pay homage to the site of religious significance, more and more land is appropriated atop the hill, and the Palestinians at the bottom grow more and more agitated.

Animosity is high, over 100,000 square metres of the Villagers land has been appropriated as a result of the discovery of a Jewish religious site in their village. The entire hill is now a Security Zone, prohibited to Palestinians to access. The Palestinians are envious of their new neighbours who have large, well maintained homes with decent access to water, nice cars and their own roads- far more direct and safe than the winding, pothole ridden roads designated for the indigenous inhabitants. They are angry that these people, most of whom having arrived recently in the continent from Eastern Europe, have taken the lands there fathers and grandfathers farmed and loved without so much as a courtesy note.

One day the settlers walk down the hill, accompanied by IDF soldiers, and violence erupts. Some say it was Palestinian stone throwers, others say the settlers attacked a Palestinian man who was trying to graze his flock of sheep, this part of the story is unclear. Perhaps a Palestinian wished to expel the invaders from his land, perhaps a settler wished to push the Palestinian further from it.

The reaction is predictable. IDF soldiers flock into the area in order to protect the settlers; they impose a curfew on the entire village. Armoured cars, soldiers with state of the art machine guns, children with rocks; the reality of conflict descends upon this small village atop the mountain. A jeep proceeds down the hill, it is hit by stones from nearby youths. Muhammad Qudus turns to run from the advancing soldiers, the 16 year old boys heart racing at the excitement; he finally gets to confront the enemy, he can finally vent his anger, showcase his machismo to his friends. He stops. The rock in his hand drops to the floor, he soon follows. Everything goes blank. A bullet entered his back, travelled through his abdomen and erupted out of his stomach, taking with it all of young Muhammad’s dreams, his anger, his hate, his life.  

Muhammad’s cousin, Asaud, see’s his kinsmen fall to the ground. He sees the massive hole in his cousin’s stomach; he watches the blood pour from it like the tears of a bereaved mother. He run’s to his cousin’s side when his world too goes blank. A bullet from an IDF rifle pierces his skull and enters his brain, nestling there like the village atop the mountain. Asaud is rushed to hospital, but there is nothing that can be done. Just as the village will not disappear at the behest of the invading settlers, the bullet will not disappear at the behest of the doctor’s scalpel.

So Muhammad and Asaud now lie together in an eternal sleep; their new, clean, white graves surrounded by flags and flowers bringing life to the graveyard.

The village, the well and the graves; all connected in this abnormal and abhorrent course of events.
And so we see that it was not the bullets, or the settlers, or the IDF that really killed these young men. It was the well and everything it represents. It’s assertion that my past is greater than your present; that my religion trumps your existence, that my needs are greater than any of yours, that I am greater than you. The religious observance at this well should not be mistaken with a real attempt to honour ones religion and God; it is the inverse. It is the perverse use of religion to facilitate the illegal annexation and occupation of another’s land. It is the opportunistic attempt to delegitimize the existence and claims of another to land by usurping them with blatantly false claims of historical significance.

The well is Israel; the logic which drives the settlers to steal land from the Palestinians, to live on their own in communities exclusively for Jews, with Jew-only roads and Jew-only water; to exclude and harass the Palestinians and to in turn create a ‘Jewish’ utopia. It is the logic that drives the settlements and drove the Nakba; it is logic of Zionism. So what if you live here, if your father lived here, if your grandfather lived here; Jews once lived here and therefore this land is mine. My claim is greater than yours.

The inability of Zionism to acknowledge the legitimacy not only of Palestinian claims to land but of the Palestinian people is the driving force of this conflict. The story of Iraq Burin is the story of any settlement, of any outpost, it is a case study of a settlement in its embryonic stage. A historical claim, an outpost, a settlement, armed action in the Palestinian village, a gradual exodus of non-Jews, the Juadisation of the West Bank.