A Response to the Israeli Embassy’s Response Re: Susiya (Snark Warning).

This morning, I got a response to a form-letter I had sent to the Israeli Embassy in London regarding Susiya. In reading the text, I was immediately struck by how expertly they succeeded in saying almost nothing, and also by the bits of information missing, by the little distortions, et cetera. A few others emailed me saying that they’d gotten the same response. So, I decided to do a “response to the response,” as it were. I allow: This will be snarky. Buckle up.

The Embassy’s response is in bold below. Mine is in italics. 

***

Dear Mr Rothman-Zecher,

Listen, I don’t know how to say this gently, but in America we generally put a ”.” after “Mr,” so, uh… 

Thank you for contacting the Embassy regarding the West Bank village of Susiya.

You’re welcome. 

It seems from your letter that you have not been presented with accurate information,

Oy vey! Must have been those sneaky Pakistanis- I mean, Palestinians I’ve been talking to lately. Enlighten me? 

…and we would therefore like to take this opportunity to clarify the facts of both the current situation and forthcoming developments. 

Facts? Facts! Facts. Hit me with some objective, unbiased facts. 

As per the Interim Agreement between the State of Israel and the PLO (1995), the Government of Israel has not only the right but the duty to…

provide basic services like running water, paved roads, trash pickup and healthcare– That is what you were going to say, right? That you feel awfully that the Israeli Government has perpetrated such radical neglect of communities like Susiya in this regard? 

uphold and enforce the law regarding planning and zoning in Area C of the West Bank…

Ah. Right. That. The Duty To Uphold And Enforce The Law Regarding Planning.

Is that a reference to:

-The way in which the Civil Administration branch of the IDF has avoided approving a Master Plan for over 90% of the Palestinian villages located in the West Bank, including Susiya, despite the fact that reputable planning organizations like Bimkom have drawn up suggested Master Plans?

-Or maybe you’re talking about the way in which the Israeli government strictly Upholds and Enforces The Law when it comes to Settlement Outposts which are Illegal even under Israeli Law?

-Or maybe you are singing the praises of a law that has granted permits to a whopping 1.6% of the Palestinians who applied for permits between 2010-2014? (Hit me up for the PDF source if desired).

As we have learned in the Jewish Community around the world, as long as something is legal, it is definitely good.

Right?

Right.

Right?

Right.

Anyway, back to you, Mr. Ambassador Sir.

…until the agreement of a negotiated solution for a lasting peace.

Which the Government of Israel is desperately seeking, as we all know.

Problems surrounding Palestinian construction in Susiya have arisen as a result of not only the illegality of the structures in question but also their proximity to an active archaeological excavation.

In other words, their proximity to the homes from which they were evicted by force by the Israeli Government in 1986. But who’s counting, amiright? After all, anyone who follows Israeli-Palestinian politics knows that when it comes to a clash between Jewish Artifacts and Real Live Palestinians, the Israeli government always gives the concerns and needs of the Palestinians preference. Right?

These structures are the subject of an ongoing examination by the Supreme Court of the State of Israel, and the petitioners include the individuals who claim ownership of the illegal structures. The Court is to hear arguments from both sides during August 2015. 

The Court is balanced, the Court is fair, the Court is righteous, the Court is good. If the Court says “Close down that insane detention center you’ve made for African Refugees,” the Israeli Government hurries to do so!

If the Court says, “Allow those Palestinians displaced from their village in 1948 to return home,” the Israeli Government hurries to do so!

If the Court says, on August 3rd, “Leave Susiya alone,” the Government will hurry to do so!

After all, the Court is righteous, good, far and balanced (as long as it rules how the Government wants it to rule).

Contrary to some reports, there is to be no demolition of the structures which were the subject of the case at its outset until the Court gives its ruling.

Is that a promise?

That’s not what ya’ll said a few weeks away, when you issued a list of 32 structures slated to be demolished. Will you stand by the claim that every single one of those structures was built during the injunction? Of course you won’t. ‘Cause it’s not true. 

Until May of this year, the Court had imposed an injunction preventing any demolitions in Susiya. However, on 4th May 2015, the Court declined to issue a further injunction to prevent demolitions, on the basis that the petitioners had continued to build illegally in violation of judicial rulings intended to facilitate the Court’s examination.

How dare the petitioners, who have virtually no possibility of obtaining legal permission to build, build without legal permission, and on land which belongs to… Them? (Source: IDF). 

Nevertheless, the Government of Israel has decided to remove only those structures built in violation of the judicial rulings while legal proceedings were ongoing.

You said that already. The strategy of out-jargoning the reader is a noble one, but not gonna fly here. 

The Government will not remove the remaining illegal structures before the Court reaches its decision, and then only with the Court’s permission. 

Snark aside. Let us all recall this: If the Government destroys a single house in Susiya, with our without Court permission, it is committing a crime, and an act of blatant injustice.

No matter the outcome of the case, it is important to note that the petitioners will not be rendered homeless.

Because the government of Israel would never ever ever ever leave a Palestinian family that it evicted by means of discriminatory laws (Court Approved!) homeless. Nah. Never

The Government of Israel recognises their traditional lifestyle and has proposed solutions appropriate to their needs.

The Palestine Jewish Colonization Association has nothing but the utmost admiration for the barbari- I mean, ”traditional” lifestyles of the Pakistanis.  

They have been offered plots of similar or better quality in a nearby area which already conforms to planning and zoning laws, and which would provide access to infrastructure and educational facilities that are not available in their current location.

Yeah! Why don’t they just go live in the blossoming metropolis of Yatta, where they could work in Yatta’s prominent industry (the stolen car industry) or just get addicted to drugs and languish in searing unemployment as the “Special Security Zone” of the “Sussya” settlement just so happens to swallow up that conveniently-empty plot of land nearby… 

(Also, weird that said infrastructure and educational facilities aren’t available in Susiya. Who’s supposed to provide those, again?) 

In addition, they would be able to continue agricultural activities on the lands they currently claim. 

Yeah. Not a chance will those agricultural lands be taken over by nearby settlements. That doesn’t happen

We hope that the foregoing addresses your concerns, and highlights the necessity of possessing the facts of a sensitive situation before drawing any conclusions.

Yeah, no, definitely. Definitely, definitely important to possess the facts before drawing the conclusion that discrimination is wrong. That injustice can never be justified, no matter how much jargon you spill on it. 

(Or that you provided virtually no accurate facts in your letter). 

Ultimately the resolution of this matter will be determined by the Court, and we thank you for your patience in awaiting its decision. 

False. Ultimately, the resolution of this matter will be determined by political, diplomatic and media activism, and by the extent to which the Israeli Government is committed to its agenda of oppression. 

I don’t have patience in awaiting the Court’s decision. The Court’s decision can either align with basic decency, in which case it will be a useful tool in the struggle, or it can align with the State’s agenda, in which case it will be an illegitimate method of oppression. 

no symmetry
Susiya, 2012

#SaveSusiya.

***

For those who wish to read it without my interruptions, here is the full text of the Embassy’s response:

”Dear Mr Rothman-Zecher,

Thank you for contacting the Embassy regarding the West Bank village of Susiya. It seems from your letter that you have not been presented with accurate information, and we would therefore like to take this opportunity to clarify the facts of both the current situation and forthcoming developments.

As per the Interim Agreement between the State of Israel and the PLO (1995), the Government of Israel has not only the right but the duty to uphold and enforce the law regarding planning and zoning in Area C of the West Bank, until the agreement of a negotiated solution for a lasting peace. Problems surrounding Palestinian construction in Susiya have arisen as a result of not only the illegality of the structures in question but also their proximity to an active archaeological excavation. These structures are the subject of an ongoing examination by the Supreme Court of the State of Israel, and the petitioners include the individuals who claim ownership of the illegal structures. The Court is to hear arguments from both sides during August 2015.

Contrary to some reports, there is to be no demolition of the structures which were the subject of the case at its outset until the Court gives its ruling. Until May of this year, the Court had imposed an injunction preventing any demolitions in Susiya. However, on 4th May 2015, the Court declined to issue a further injunction to prevent demolitions, on the basis that the petitioners had continued to build illegally in violation of judicial rulings intended to facilitate the Court’s examination. Nevertheless, the Government of Israel has decided to remove only those structures built in violation of the judicial rulings while legal proceedings were ongoing. The Government will not remove the remaining illegal structures before the Court reaches its decision, and then only with the Court’s permission.

No matter the outcome of the case, it is important to note that the petitioners will not be rendered homeless. The Government of Israel recognises their traditional lifestyle and has proposed solutions appropriate to their needs. They have been offered plots of similar or better quality in a nearby area which already conforms to planning and zoning laws, and which would provide access to infrastructure and educational facilities that are not available in their current location. In addition, they would be able to continue agricultural activities on the lands they currently claim.

We hope that the foregoing addresses your concerns, and highlights the necessity of possessing the facts of a sensitive situation before drawing any conclusions. Ultimately the resolution of this matter will be determined by the Court, and we thank you for your patience in awaiting its decision.”

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