Monday, September 23, 2013

Lockdown in Hebron, West Bank

Hebron, the biggest city in the West Bank, has long been a flashpoint for conflict between Palestinian residents, ultra right-wing Zionist settlers, & the Israeli military occupying the city since 1967. After an Israeli soldier was fatally shot yesterday the military put the city under complete lockdown on a manhunt for the unidentified sniper who they have morphed into a Palestinian terrorist. Soldiers have set up road blocks, are raiding houses & corralling male occupants at gunpoint into assembling at main junctions, & are preventing Palestinians from leaving the city. Soldiers are also using rubber bullets & stun grenades against Palestinians protesting the lockdown.

A cursory review of more than 130 incidents of conflict in Hebron between Palestinians, Zionist settlers, & soldiers since 1953 (most of them with multiple victims) shows that violence toward Palestinians is double the incidences by Palestinians. Without examining in detail all of the incidences it is impossible to tell if Palestinians were aggressing or were charged with assault when they were defending themselves against military & settler aggression.

What we do know for certain is from published testimony by Breaking the Silence, the group of ex-soldiers, most of whom served in Israeli combat units in Hebron. It’s  similar to Winter Soldier tribunals among US antiwar veterans. The Israeli veterans (who were conscripted) described violent abuse of Palestinians by settlers & soldiers, petty harassment of Palestinians by soldiers, abductions, beatings, torture of Palestinians without provocation, abusing & tormenting Palestinian children, looting homes & shops, & opening fire on unarmed protestors. One young soldier poignantly testified to "losing the human condition" in Hebron. When asked what he meant, he replied: "To lose the human condition is to become an animal." That is the regrettable & most damning legacy of Zionism.

All media accounts attribute the occupation & conflict in Hebron to the presence of what Jews call the Cave of the Patriarchs & Arabs the Ibrahimi Mosque, a religious site sacred to both traditions. According to Genesis in the Old Testament of the Bible, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca & Leah were buried there sometime in the Bronze Age about 6,000 years ago. Some even claim Adam & Eve are buried there. It isn’t disrespectful to say that if your claims require carbon dating & major archeological excavations & your documentation is fished out of Genesis or the Kabbalah you may want to reconsider your sources. Only the most conservative religious sects consider the Old Testament a reliable historical document. And there’s a long way to go before mysticism is given historical credence.

According to the Zionist re-imagining of history, Hebron has the oldest Jewish community in the world (since time immemorial, they claim) & is the second holiest city in Judaism after Jerusalem. In truth, if you look at non-Biblical historical records going back well over a thousand years, you find very few Jews living in Hebron. Nor does it appear to be a place of pilgrimage like Mecca. Sephardic Jews fleeing the Inquisition found refuge there 800 years ago but even including them, there have usually been far less than 1,000 Jewish residents compared to several thousand Arabs. When Israel occupied the city in 1967, it attracted ultra-right-wing rabbis from the US who by any standards of mental health are nut jobs. Under the protection of the military, they advertised for settlers & eventually built the Zionist settlement of Kiryat Arba on the outskirts of Hebron which now numbers about 7,000 residents, most as crazy, right-wing, & dangerous as the original two rabbis.

This is a photo of a Palestinian child watching Israeli patrols during the lockdown of Hebron yesterday. US taxpayers are bankrolling this monstrosity of injustice. Demand "No US aid to Israel!"

(Photo by Nasser Shiyoukhi/AP)

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