FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Demographic Wars

by NEVE GORDON

On the southern tip of the West Bank, situated on the slope of a mountain, there is a small village of Palestinian cave-dwellers. Its name is Jinba, and it is home to roughly three hundred inhabitants. A visitor might see the sheep grazing on a nearby hill and a tractor plowing the fields. An idyllic scene, especially following the rainy season, when the desert has turned green.

But here too, the ostensible tranquility is little more than an illusion. Not unlike other cave-dweller villages in the Mount Hebron region, life in Jinba has become unbearable, and the small rural community is now on the verge of being annihilated.

A few hundred meters south of Jinba the Israeli military set up a training camp and confiscated acres and acres of agricultural land which had previously belonged to the inhabitants. Armored vehicles and jeeps travel unrestricted even on fields adjacent to the village which the military has not expropriated, and thus destroy crops and frighten young children.

A few hundred meters to the north, along the mountain ridge, a series of Jewish settlements and outposts have been constructed. The settlers threaten any Palestinian who climbs the mountain slope, thus preventing the residents of Jinba from plowing their northern fields and grazing their sheep. In addition, these settlers have also blocked the path between Jinba and Yatta, the major town in the region where the cave-dwellers buy basic foods and obtain medical services.

Hence, the military and settlers have successfully restricted Jinba’s residents to a miniscule piece of land which barely suffices to sustain the population. The inhabitants have been confined to a desert island of sorts, and in many ways their lives are now similar to the lives of thousands of Palestinians who are trapped between the separation barrier — a complex series of trenches, roads, and fences — and the Green Line, the pre-1967 border; it is extremely difficult for them to travel into the West Bank and impossible to enter Israel. Their movement has been severely restricted, and they have, in a sense, been imprisoned.

Two months ago, the cave-dwellers suffered yet another blow. On January 15, a small plane sprayed some of the fields the villagers still had access to, destroying the crops that had been planted just a few weeks earlier with chemicals. What could not be carried out from the ground was accomplished from the air.

To the inhabitants of Jinba the message was clear: You will not continue living on this land for long.

The method is to destroy the infrastructure of existence so that the inhabitants will leave their land “of their own volition.” In Hebrew it’s called “transfer”.

But who is behind this sinister plot?

On February 4, Ta’ayush activists (Jewish-Arab Partnership), together with an attorney from the Association for Civil Rights and a fieldworker from Physicians for Human Rights, visited Jinba. While they were there, the attorney made a phone call to the Hebron police, asking them to look into a complaint involving settler harassment of Palestinians. Little did she know what was to ensue.

Four nights later, at about 3 am, three cars arrived in Jinba. The visitors seemed to be security officers from the nearby settlements. They woke the cave-dwellers, separating the men and women. Children were screaming and the elderly crying, but the armed men were unimpressed. They took the Palestinian men aside and threatened them.

“Don’t you dare walk in the direction of Mitzpeh Yair (an illegal outpost), and don’t come near Bir El-Ad (the route to the regional capital Yatta),” the settlers shouted, thus reducing even further the villagers’ living space.

Before leaving, the settlers threatened that if the villagers were again to cooperate with lawyers or with Ta’ayush activists, their lives would be turned into hell.

The settlers cannot directly prevent Israeli activists from visiting the cave-dwellers so instead they terrorize the local Palestinians. Their threat is also directed at the peace activists: Every time you come to gather evidence, we shall make the lives of the locals more miserable. This is a paradigmatic example of how settlers try to torpedo the work of Israelis who are struggling to protect the basic rights of the indigenous population.

The well-orchestrated plot to embitter the lives of Jinba’s inhabitants indicates that in the Mount Hebron region the breakers of the law work in concert with those who are paid to protect it: an unholy alliance has been established between the settlers, on the one hand, and the military and police on the other. Who told the settlers that a lawyer had visited Jinba? Who sprayed the fields? And who has allowed the soldiers to trample and destroy crops with their armored vehicles?

The enormity of the danger facing the cave-dwellers becomes even clearer when one takes into account the rapid construction of the so-called separation barrier. According to the maps published by the Israeli government, the barrier will pass north of the cave dwellers’ villages. Thus, like the villages in the north, they too will be stuck between the barrier and the Green Line.

The ongoing harassment of the cave-dwellers as well as the attempt to undermine their infrastructure of existence should accordingly be considered as part of a war of attrition. By the time the separation barrier is erected in this region, the inhabitants’ hold on the land will be very fragile. It will, therefore, be relatively easy to uproot and expel them from their homes so that the land can be annexed without Palestinians.

The situation in South Hebron is but a microcosm of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at large, which the current Israeli government conceives as a demographic war: it wishes to grab as much land as it can without upsetting the Jewish majority within the State. In Hebrew, as mentioned, this kind of scheme is called “transfer.”

NEVE GORDON teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University, Israel, and can be reached at neve_gordon@yahoo.com

 

Neve Gordon is a Leverhulme Visiting Professor in the Department of Politics and International Studies and the co-author of The Human Right to Dominate.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail