Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Heading for Arab East Jerusalem

Amman, Jordan. We have a picture taped above a computer at home, sent to us about a month ago on the email circuit, of a naked Palestinian man who has just been strip-searched by Israeli solders in the West Bank city of Ramallah and relieved of his clothes altogether, now surrounded by other Palestinian men trying to cover him. It is obviously a cold, rainy day. The other men and a young boy standing off to the side are bundled in heavy jackets; the pavements are wet. The offending Israeli soldiers stand around in the background, next to a tank in the middle of a city street. Such a sight would probably be incongruous in any other city, but not in Ramallah or elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territories, where Israeli tanks control Palestinian lives.

Having just experienced the particular penetrating, bone-chilling dampness of a couple of rainy winter days in this region, we’ve been thinking again of this photograph, which so strikingly captures the complete humiliation that Israel daily inflicts on the West Bank and Gaza Palestinians under its total domination. Humiliation is only one of the mundane aspects of Israeli control. Death and destruction are the real order of the day: 15 killed in Gaza one day, six the next, “only” one yesterday. Few in the United States ever notice these daily atrocities and, as war in Iraq looms and takes up the headlines in the American press, fewer still know or care.

After being involuntarily diverted from our intended mission of traveling to Iraq with a peace team that will report on the plight of the Iraqi people, we hope now to do the same for the Palestinian people. The rest of our peace team did finally obtain Iraqi visas the day after we were denied ours, and they left last Thursday for Baghdad. It was a sad parting; we are frightened about their fate if the U.S. does launch this war, and we desperately wanted to go with them. Instead, we will leave Amman on Saturday for Arab East Jerusalem, where we expect to stay for a couple of weeks seeing what we can see, doing what little we might do to help, trying to testify to what the Palestinian people endure under Israel’s harsh U.S.-financed, U.S.-endorsed occupation.

The Palestinians need the kind of witnessing that we would have done in Iraq just as much as the Iraqi people do. Over three million Palestinians live in the West Bank and Gaza, which have been under Israeli military control for the last 36 years. During the two and a half years since the Palestinians began their second uprising against Israeli control, they have lived at the total mercy of assaults by Israeli military forces and vigilante attacks by Israeli settlers, often under curfew, usually unable to travel freely on roads blocked by checkpoints or totally destroyed by roadblocks, always unsafe, subject to confiscation of land, sniper shootings, air assaults by helicopters or fighter jets. While over 700 Israeli civilians and military have been killed in suicide bombings and hit-and-run attacks by Palestinians, more than three times this number of Palestinians, the vast majority civilians, have been killed by Israelis.

“Will you go to Jenin?” everyone here asks, referring to the West Bank town and refugee camp virtually destroyed by Israel during its month-long siege of the West Bank in April last year. Following house-to-house fighting between Palestinian fighters and Israeli soldiers, Israeli bulldozers literally flattened entire residential blocks in the center of the refugee camp, and over fifty Palestinians, including both fighters and civilians, were killed, four times the number of Israelis killed. The killing and destruction were officially declared not to be a massacre by the UN and various human rights organizations, none of which was allowed by Israel to investigate on the scene. But no Palestinian can imagine any other word but “massacre” to describe fifty-plus killed in a small town, homes demolished, sometimes with residents still inside, thousands of square feet reduced to rubble, and Israeli officials refusing to let any outsiders in to view the damage.

Jenin has become the universal symbol for Palestinians of the second great catastrophe in their history, the first being their dispersal and dispossession in 1948. Jenin and Israel’s siege and reassertion of control over the West Bank and Gaza, as well as the full-scale physical destruction throughout the territories, may spell a death knell for Palestinian national hopes, obviating for the foreseeable future, perhaps ever, any chance for real independence in a small part of Palestine. We will try to see what is left of Jenin.

Jenin is only the most obvious place of suffering. Other towns have seen devastation as well, particularly Nablus, where ancient mosques and residential areas were destroyed during last year’s siege. Most cities have been under near total lock-down for the last year; Nablus endured a 24-hour curfew for something like four months last summer and is still subject to frequent curfews. Israeli tanks drive into Ramallah every night, and soldiers conduct middle-of-the-night, door-pounding, house-to-house searches. The town is under curfew from six o’clock every evening. The 150,000 residents of Hebron are under virtual total curfew, constantly subjected to shooting, beating, ransacking by 400 militant Israeli settlers in the town, settlers so ferocious that their rampages are occasionally directed against Israeli soldiers who stand in their way.

Not surprisingly, poverty has grown rampant since the intifada and Israel’s crackdown began. An article just yesterday in the Jordan Times cited a new poll conducted in the West Bank and Gaza by a local university showing that fully 77 percent of residents now have a per capita income of under two dollars a day. In estimates of the income gap between rich and poor throughout the world, two dollars a day is commonly cited as the point denoting the world’s very poor. Almost half the world’s population lives below this low poverty line; in the occupied territories, the proportion is an incredible three-quarters. In Ramallah, the West Bank’s principal city, a startling 80 percent live on a daily per capita income of between 10 cents and two dollars.

Besides the killing, which has taken approximately 2,500 lives in as many months, there is the regularity of property destruction. Israeli soldiers demolish scores of houses almost daily on some pretext: to build a road for Israelis (never for Palestinians), to clear an area for Israel’s security (never Palestinian security), to clean out some alleged nest of terrorists. Thousands of homes have been destroyed in this way, more thousands of civilians left homeless. If Americans hear about this, they hear the pretexts, not the consequences for innocent civilians. A typically mindless, unconcerned AP story recently reported that in mid-February Israeli forces demolished the home of a Palestinian militant killed in November 2000 and that the militant’s mother had died in the collapsed rubble of the house. The AP reporter commented absurdly that it was unclear why the woman had remained in the house because Israelis usually warn residents to leave before bulldozing houses. The reporter apparently thought it a greater oddity that a woman should remain in her house than that Israel should destroy a house that once belonged to a fighter killed more than two years ago.

You can see the West Bank from most places in Jordan, everything is so close. The hills across the Jordan River and on the other shore of the Dead Sea are usually layered in haze, another world altogether, despite the nearness. Standing with a group of Palestinians looking across the river a few days ago, we heard one say quietly, “I get so angry looking there and thinking about what they have done to us.” Yes, we will try to see what has become of Jenin, what the Israelis have done to the Palestinians.

Bill Christison joined the CIA in 1950, and served on the analysis side of the Agency for 28 years. From the early 1970s he served as National Intelligence Officer (principal adviser to the Director of Central Intelligence on certain areas) for, at various times, Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa. Before he retired in 1979 he was Director of the CIA’s Office of Regional and Political Analysis, a 250-person unit.

Kathleen Christison also worked in the CIA, retiring in 1979. Since then she has been mainly preoccupied by the issue of Palestine. She is the author of Perceptions of Palestine and The Wound of Dispossession.

The Christison’s can be reached at: christison@counterpunch.org

 

Bill Christison was a senior official of the CIA. Kathleen Christison is the author of Perceptions of Palestine and The Wound of Dispossession.

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail