- 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
- "This was utter nonsense", Mr Levitt
- 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
- 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.
- Ethnically Cleansed Palestinian Refugees, October, 1948
- Bashir Abu-Menneh 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
- 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
- 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. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13004.htm
- 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