Saturday, August 20, 2011

What Congress Won't See on Its Trip to Israel This Month

Michael Berg-The Huffington Post

During my time in the Holy Land, I had an opportunity to meet and talk with many Palestinians and Israelis. I learned about a system in Israel that discriminates against Palestinians on the basis of their ethnicity. In the West Bank, things are far worse. I observed an explicit system of racial segregation and ethnic cleansing, where Palestinians are separated from their own lands and water by walls, barbed-wire fences and machine-gun-wielding soldiers and Jewish settlers.

I saw the remains of an entire demolished Bedouin village, destroyed in order to expand an illegal Jewish settlement in the Jordan Valley. The settlement uses what used to be the wells of the Bedouin village in order to provide water for its swimming pools.

I witnessed a Palestinian farmer coming under fire from projectiles merely for trying to farm his own land. The excuse? His land is too close to a Jewish-only settlement. A European with me did not leave the vicinity as quickly as Israeli soldiers wanted and had his face smashed into the ground. He was detained for approximately one week and then deported.

I observed how Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, is being economically and socially stunted by a giant wall that separates it from Jerusalem. It is a wall that Israelis can cross freely to travel between settlements and the rest of Israel. For Palestinians living in the West Bank, it is quite difficult to get a pass to go to Jerusalem, and if they do they must go through a humiliating inspection procedure at the checkpoint.

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