Israel Demolishes Restaurant in Beit Jala, and other downlifting updates

This morning, I went to meet with a bunch of folks from various Israeli, Palestinian and international NGOs. The meeting was in Beit Jala, a common meeting place for Israelis and Palestinians in that it is both close to Jerusalem and is Area C, so Israelis are allowed in by Israeli Law (a cute little formula I came up with to help with remembering the difference between Areas A, B and C is A= Arabs, B= Both, C= Colonial Rule. For more on the Area-difference, this piece I wrote this past fall on my first time into Area C. Whoa. This past fall was my first time in Area C? Weird). We were going to go to meet at the restaurant. Then we discovered that we couldn’t meet at the restaurant, because there was no longer a restaurant: two hours before, the Israeli Civil Administration had destroyed the restaurant. Just smashed it to pieces. “Lack of permit,” of course (for more on demolitions, this piece I wrote this past fall on my first time witnessing a demolition).

Here are some pictures of the aftermath:

This was a place where people came to meet, and to eat. It did not have the proper permit, according to the occupying government [mine]. Read: Israel doesn’t really want places where Palestinians and Jews meet.

An anecdote: The tractors are usually drive by Palestinians (the Separation Wall and many settlements were built by Palestinians, also), which indicates all sorts of things about the power of capitalism/the complete economic decimation brought on by occupation. As the drivers were leaving the site, our group passed. Some of the Palestinians in our group began yelling at the drivers, asking them how they could do such a thing to their own people, et cetera. The first driver, grinned, shrugged, and rubbed his thumb and fingers together in the universal gesture for “money.” Then the second driver passed: his face was buried in his arms, on the top of the steering wheel.

A personal note: I am not happy to say that I was largely unable to allow this demolition to move me, or deeply sadden me, or anything. I mostly felt tired.  Yesterday, I spent the morning in the Bedouin village in the Negev, Al-Arakib, where the JNF and the Israel Land Administration have announced they will return to plant trees on Al-Arakib’s land. (They village has been destroyed 37 times so far, and those (Israeli citizens!) who have remained are now living inside the village’s graveyard. Pictures don’t capture it well, so I’ll stick to words: the way in which the JNF trees are surrounding the village, closing in like lines of green soldiers, is really, really disturbing. Trees as weapons. Nature as ethnic war. Forests as tools of oppression. Ugh.

After getting back from Al-Arakib, I went down to Silwan, to meet with a 14 year-old boy who had been imprisoned for 30 days, beat and tortured, and is now under house and forbidden from finishing up 9th grade (I am working on a longer piece/campaign about that story, hopefully will finish by the end of the weekend). 14 years old. The folks in Silwan also told me that 5-7 houses in the Bustan area had received demolition orders the night before. So. Anyway, I’ll bounce back- this is really not about me, and to despair is, as Heschel teaches, selfish (so hard for me, I am so tired, I am having a hard time with all of this, etc). And there are good things, too, like the funny/clever/actually-sort-of-great new word I invented with my friend Sahar (below for Hebrew readers). And sunrises, and Bon Iver and human resilience and the fact that the family whose restaurant was destroyed really wanted to feed us anyway.

Final downlifting blip: The Beit Jala demolition was only one of three demolitions carried out in the West Bank this morning.


אני וסהר המצאנו מילה חדשה: בערבית קוראים למתנחלים ״מוסתאוטנין״ מלשון ״וטנ״ יעני לאום. לכן החלטנו שצריך להתחיל להשתמש במילה מתלאם כדי לתאר כל מי שתומך בפרויקט ההתנחלויות, קרי ההתלאמויות