FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Build, Demolish, Rebuild

by BILL And KATHLEEN CHRISTISON

Former CIA Analysts

We’re again in Jerusalem and the West Bank to help rebuild a Palestinian home demolished recently by Israel. As we did last year, we’ve joined a two-week work camp sponsored by an Israeli opposition group, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, to rebuild the house. This one is practically next door to the one we rebuilt last summer, in the same village_Anata, just outside East Jerusalem. This is actually a small two-story, four-apartment building where one very large family lives_something like 23 people, including grown children and their families. The house was destroyed in June, forcing all the 23 inhabitants to live with other family members. Our work camp is only rebuilding the first floor during our two weeks. Presumably, if the building isn’t immediately demolished again, the rest will be rebuilt later.

This is the usual story in Palestinian East Jerusalem and nearby areas of the West Bank: in an effort to discourage expansion of the Palestinian population and encourage emigration, Israel makes it almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain residential building permits; Palestinians build anyway, usually after multiple unsuccessful attempts to obtain a permit; and then the Israelis demolish the home, sometimes immediately after it’s finished, sometimes months later, sometimes years later. This capriciousness is a further attempt to make life so miserable and unpredictable for Palestinians that many will leave.

This has been a pretty intense trip, as always seems to happen here. The sheer magnitude of the oppression of the Palestinians is almost overwhelming_far greater than last year and getting worse. It’s hard to find words to describe.

On our first full day in Jerusalem, before the camp began, our favorite taxi driver drove us around East Jerusalem to see the wall, which hadn’t been started in this area when we were here last year. It winds its way through his own town (the Bethany of biblical fame) and other neighborhoods in and around Jerusalem. It’s truly horrifying. They’ve completed a section of the wall on a hilltop just a few feet behind our friend’s house, so close that it even cuts out much of the breeze that used to blow through his property, and the Israelis are talking about routing the wall down the hill just past his house, so that he’d have trouble even getting out of his driveway. If this happens, it would cut right through his brother’s house next door, meaning that would be demolished altogether. The neighborhood has some lawyers protesting this in court, and at the moment the Israelis have stopped construction in this area, but this sort of thing is happening all over, and most villages and neighborhoods don’t win their appeals. The extent of destruction and upheaval in everyone’s lives is appalling.

One evening, we stayed late at the camp to see an Israeli movie, “Arna’s Children,” about an Israeli woman who in the mid-1990s helped set up a theater group for teenagers in the Palestinian town of Jenin. The woman, Arna, who has since died, was married to a Palestinian man, and it was their son, Juliano Mer Khamis, who made the movie, and who came to the work camp to talk to us after the showing. It’s a very powerful movie, the upshot of which is that all but one of the Palestinian boys shown in the movie in happy times has by now been killed, either fighting the Israelis during the Israeli assault on Jenin in 2002 or, in two instances, in suicide attacks. Mer Khamis is quite a charismatic guy, who spoke forcefully against the Israeli occupation and in support of the Palestinian kids’ resistance to the occupation, saying such things as that their death is “the price any people should pay to be free.”

We have a very interesting cast of characters at the camp, much more diverse and more numerous than last year. The International Coordinator of ICAHD is a young Mexican woman who has a law degree from Mexico, as well as a master’s and <Ph.D>. in philosophy from England, who converted to Judaism about five years ago but only later learned the facts of what’s really going on in the occupied territories and moved to Israel early this year specifically in order to work against Israeli policies. Most of the volunteers seem to have had lots of experience with Israel-Palestine, and most have been here before, working with organizations resisting the occupation. The regulars include four people from France, an Argentine, a couple of people from Spain, three from Italy, a Scotsman, and three from London, including a young woman who converted to Islam a couple of years ago and wears a head scarf. Americans are greatly outnumbered, although there are several of us_including, surprisingly, four from New Mexico.

In addition to these “regulars,” other groups and individuals join us for a day or two of work. Lots of Israeli “refuseniks,” the military reservists who’ve refused to serve in the West Bank and Gaza, and other Israeli resisters have come, and a couple of days ago there was a Japanese group here for a full day of very hard work. We have group discussions over lunch and dinner most days, and it’s amazing to hear how casually so many people_and, interestingly enough, particularly the Israelis_talk about being non-Zionist and can do so without automatically being labeled anti-Semitic or Israel-hating. It’s a refreshing change to encounter so many people who can look at Israel’s policies honestly and critically and who recognize Israel’s effort to squeeze the Palestinians to death and are trying to stop it.

Jeff Halper, who founded and heads the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, was out of the country on a speaking tour until yesterday, so his return should further liven things up.

There are a few pictures on the ICAHD website and a brief description of each day’s activities. The pictures were all taken by us and, unfairly enough, often include one or both of us, as if we were the most industrious. (This is clearly not the case.) The site is at: http://www.icahd.org.

Bill Christison was a senior official of the CIA. He served as a National Intelligence Officer and as Director of the CIA’s Office of Regional and Political Analysis. He is a contributor to Imperial Crusades, CounterPunch’s new history of the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kathleen Christison, a former CIA political analyst, is the author of Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on U.S. Middle East Policy and The Wound of Dispossession: Telling the Palestinian Story. They 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.

February 22, 2018
T.J. Coles
How the US Bullies North Korea, 1945-Present
Ipek S. Burnett
Rethinking Freedom in the Era of Mass Shootings
Manuel E. Yepe
Fire and Fury: More Than a Publishing Hit
Patrick Bobilin
Caught in a Trap: Being a Latino Democrat is Being in an Abusive Relationship
Laurel Krause
From Kent State to Parkland High: Will America Ever Learn?
Terry Simons
Congress and the AR-15: One NRA Stooge Too Many
George Wuerthner
Border Wall Delusions
Manuel García, Jr.
The Anthropocene’s Birthday, or the Birth-Year of Human-Accelerated Climate Change
Thomas Knapp
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Russiagate
February 21, 2018
Cecil Bothwell
Billy Graham and the Gospel of Fear
Ajamu Baraka
Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire
Edward Hunt
Treating North Korea Rough
Binoy Kampmark
Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean
Ron Jacobs
Stamping Out Hunger
Ammar Kourany – Martha Myers
So, You Think You Are My Partner? International NGOs and National NGOs, Costs of Asymmetrical Relationships
Michael Welton
1980s: From Star Wars to the End of the Cold War
Judith Deutsch
Finkelstein on Gaza: Who or What Has a Right to Exist? 
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
War Preparations on Venezuela as Election Nears
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Military Realities
Steve Early
Refinery Safety Campaign Frays Blue-Green Alliance
Ali Mohsin
Muslims Face Increasing Discrimination, State Surveillance Under Trump
Julian Vigo
UK Mass Digital Surveillance Regime Ruled Illegal
Peter Crowley
Revisiting ‘Make America Great Again’
Andrew Stewart
Black Panther: Afrofuturism Gets a Superb Film, Marvel Grows Up and I Don’t Know How to Review It
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail