Being a Counterweight to Change in Israel-Palestine

On June 6, 2007, a final Israeli Supreme Court hearing was held on the appeal of the Palestinian residents of Susya, in the southern edge of the West Bank. The deliberations — carried out since 2001 (appeal # 7530/01) — were against the destruction of the Palestinians’ homes.

The Court accepted the state’s argument that the indigenous Palestinians are squatters although they are the legal owners of the land. Israel reasons that because the indigenous people have rebuilt their homes — after previously being evicted — without a permit, their dwellings must be destroyed. The village of Susya is in “area C” and the authority to issue permits in entirely up to the settler-run Civil Administration bureau, which routinely denies permits to Palestinians to build on their legally owned land.

The State actually admits the land is private Palestinian land, but in their illogic they deny Palestinians the right to live on it, while the settlement outposts in the same region are continuing to expand on private Palestinian land.

The first Jewish settlements in the area of South Mount Hebron began in the 1980s and the indigenous Palestinians were employed in construction and other jobs to build the settlements.


An email from a member of Anarchists against the Wall provides some background information:

The Palestinian inhabitants of Khirbet Susya, who now live in huts and tents on the edge of the Jewish settlement of Susya originally lived in Susya Al-Qadime… In the mid 1980’s, the site was declared a ‘National Park,’ and the Palestinian inhabitants were expelled by the IDF. Powerless to resist the expulsion, the Palestinians continued to cultivate their private plots and settled some 500 meters from the Israeli settlement of Susya in what is known today as Rujum. This was too close for the comfort of the Jewish settlers, who instigated a second expulsion. One night, the Palestinians were herded into trucks and dumped some 15 kilometres to the north, in the area of the Zif Crossroads, where they stayed for some time. Eventually, unable to return to their real homes, the families built small huts and put up tents on a hilltop close to their lands on the periphery of the Susya settlement.

Friction between the Jewish settlers and the Palestinians escalated as settlers, together with the army, harassed and terrorized [them]. This concerted, ongoing persecution reflects a policy clearly aimed at cleansing the area of its Palestinian population. The mid-1990’s saw the spread of Jewish farms and illegal ‘outposts’ in the region, all established in areas previously seized by the army.

Thus, under the protection of the IDF, Jewish settlers managed to grab more and more land belonging to the Palestinian inhabitants of Susya. Increasingly violent in their actions, settlers stopped Palestinian farmers from cultivating their plots of land… Another eviction took place in July 2001 following the murder of a Jewish settler, Ya’ir Har- Sinai. The pretext for the eviction was the claim that the Palestinians had trespassed the boundaries of the Jewish settlement of Susya. Labeled as trespassers in their own historic lands, these Palestinian families were evicted without notice from the area of Susya – Gawawis, between the Yatta-Samu’a road and the Green Line. Many were beaten and/or arrested, [their dwellings] were demolished, wells blocked up, fields destroyed and livestock killed…. Still undeterred, some of the Susya families returned to their lands. Since 1999 Israeli activists (particular from the Ta’ayush movement) have joined their struggle…

The Jewish settlement of Susya is built on so-called State Land. In 2001 the army established a Special Security Area around the settlement designed, of course, to keep out the local Palestinian inhabitants. The size of the forbidden area far exceeds that of the settlement proper. De facto, it increases the area of the settlement by several orders of magnitude. It extends entirely over private lands owned by local Palestinian families…

Recent years have seen countless violent incidents perpetrated by armed settlers. These include the destruction of fields, the uprooting of trees, the poisoning of wells and fodder, the systematic molestation of shepherds and children on their way to school, even assaults on families at home in the dead of the night. Ta’ayush activists and international volunteers have had to evacuate the injured to hospitals on a number of occasions.

It goes almost without saying that the Israeli Police has shown utter impotence when called upon to enforce the law against the settlers of Susya and Havat Maon (an outpost of Susya). The few arrests, almost never leading to trial, which the police did carry out have not deterred the settlers, whose aim remains to ‘encourage’ the Palestinian inhabitants of Susya and other hamlets in the region to abandon their lands. And yet the Palestinian inhabitants of Susya continue to cling to their land and homes.

The threat of eviction hangs over their heads. Susya is a test case for the whole region of the south Hebron hills. The fate of countless homes hangs in the balance. (For more Background Information and to support the Susya struggle you can email: moc.liamgnull@norbehhtuos)

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-USA (ICAHD) presents some more facts:

“Since the beginning of the Occupation in 1967, at least 18,000 homes have been destroyed in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem. Tens of thousands of other homes have been left uninhabitable. Altogether around 50,000 people have been left homeless.”

During my first interview in Jerusalem with Jeff Halper, Founder and Coordinator of ICAHD/Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and a Noble Peace Prize Nominee for 2006, he informed me:

“Israel is a not a democracy but is an Ethnocracy, meaning a country run and controlled by a national group with some democratic elements but set up with Jews in control and structured to keep them in control…”

“95% of the [home demolition] cases have nothing to do with security. All these homes are on Palestinian private property. The Israeli government will not grant permits for them to build on their own land, and in reality are quietly transferring the Palestinians administratively from the land. They make conditions so intolerable that the Palestinians give up and leave and this is exactly what they are after. Not only do the Palestinians receive no warning when their homes are to be destroyed they are fined $1, 500.00!”

“The Israeli government simply does not want to take responsibility and the USA government ignores the situation. Do you know why Israel does not want to become America’s 51st state? Because then they would only have two senators.” (Memoirs of a Nice Irish American Girl’s Life in Occupied Territory, pages 15-16)

Mitchell Plitnick, Director of Education and Policy at Jewish Voice for Peace and Chris Toensing, Editor of Middle East Report, wrote:

The influence of the Israel lobby should neither be underestimated nor overstated. It is not some omnipotent force that can turn the world’s sole superpower against its own perceived interests. The lobby derives its strength, in some measure, from being largely unopposed in Washington. Israel will remain a strong US ally, for many reasons, for the foreseeable future. But that need not mean that the US cannot pressure Israel into the compromises required for a just peace with the Palestinians. This can happen if a counterweight to the Israel lobby is built.

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 2007 edition, reported on pages 23, 24:

From 2005-2006, Pro-Israel Funds to Congress TOTALED: $3,277,693

From 2005-2006, Arab-American Funds to Congress TOTALED: $80,500

The most feasible counterweight to the Israel Lobby’s deep pockets is U.S.A. public opinion. A vigilant, well informed and active citizenry can lead our leaders to do the right thing, but we must, in Gandhi’s words, “be the change we want to see in the world”

“On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations.” – May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the establishment of Israel

Peace and security can not be achieved through the barrel of a gun, and Dorothy did not need to leave Kansas to know there is no place like home.

Will another thirteen indigenous Palestinian families be denied the inalienable right to live on their legally owned land and care for their fields in order to feed their families; or will the injustice perpetrated by the settlers’ expansionism and desires to “clear” the area once again triumph because good people did nothing for too very long?

Do something and let Israel know that we the people in America say no more home demolitions, no more denying inalienable rights to the indigenous people of the Holy Land.

Please sign the Petition in defense of the indigenous people of Susya and comment: “In solidarity from U.S.A.”

Eileen Fleming is the author of Keep Hope Alive and Memoirs of a Nice Irish American Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory and the producer of 30 Minutes With Vanunu. Email her at Read other articles by Eileen, or visit Eileen's website.

4 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Mulga Mumblebrain said on July 3rd, 2007 at 7:17pm #

    While not for an instant claiming that Israeli viciousness is worse than that of any other aggressive, racist overlord, or that Israelis are uniformly racist bully-boys, is not this ongoing ethnic cleansing, the viciousness, the sham of juridical approval and the constant bellicose arrogance of Israeli apologists everywhere, one of the greatest tragedies in the world? Not just for the interminable suffering of the Palestinians, but what the callousness and cruelty of the Israelis tells us of human nature. That a people who had latterly been subject to unspeakable cruelty, could, within three years of their liberation, be slaughtering women and children to drive them out of their land. That you can, as you leave the Children’s section of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, look out on where the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin once stood, before its inhabitants were massacred by Jewish terrorists. Unless the Israeli and US race war against the Middle East is stopped, somehow, and soon, there will be a true Third World War, a religious conflagration that will engulf us all. But how do you negotiate with people who believe they are part of God, that, in the words of Rabbi Kook the Elder, spiritual Godfather of the settler movement, that ‘..there is a greater difference between the soul of a Jew and a non-Jew, than there is between the soul of a non-Jew and the soul of an animal’?

  2. eileen fleming said on July 3rd, 2007 at 8:23pm #

    WOW Mulga! You raise some very harrowing points, but all i can say is enough is enough and it is time to begin the world again.

    Six million innocent Jews and five million innocent other ‘outcasts’ were gassed and fried by the Nazis because GOOD PEOPLE did nothing for too very long.

    It has been 60 years since The Nabka and 40 years of occupation of innocent people who had nothing to do with Hilter’s sins against humanity and GOOD PEOPLE have once more done nothing for too long to right the wrong done to Palestinians.

    My hope in writing this article was that we can all do a little good by signing this petition for the voiceless and oppressed people of Susya and let Israel know we the people of America say no more home demolitions and no more denying inalienable rights to the indigenous people of the Holy Land.

    We the People for justice and peace must rise up to the empire: USA and Israel and be a Counterweight, for who else will change the world as we now know it?


  3. Seb T said on July 11th, 2007 at 1:09pm #

    I did a search on that appeal number at the Israeli Supreme Court’s website but couldn’t find anything. How can I read the actual decision?

  4. eileen fleming said on July 11th, 2007 at 4:17pm #

    Dear Seb T

    I do not have the answer to your inquiry, but I return to Israel Palestine for the 5th time on July 14, 2007 and will dillegently seek an answer and an update on the situation.

    You can follow me on my journey on the WAWA blog: