WILLIAM WALKER WRITES FROM JERUSAELM THIS CHRISTMAS By Kevin A. Stoda, Kuwait I received a note from William B. Walker who is in Israel taking photos of the Great Barrier Walls being built around Palestinian communities all across that troubled Middle Eastern land this Christmas 2007. In the letter, Walker writes that there are many important details not being shared about the matter in the American press. Below are some of Walker’s findings: Finding #1: Prior to the completion of the 36-foot high Monster Wall which went up near Bethany—not far from the famed Mount of Olives—there was an increase in thievery of livestock, especially sheep. One cloister reported that a whole herd of sheep was taken. This increase in crime was explained by one of the cloister’s residence who stated, “This was to be expected. When people have their access to jobs and livelihood cut off, they are forced to resort to stealing.” Finding #2: One resident of a neighboring cloister also noted, “It was shameless. The Israelis began bulldozing the property of our brothers in the nearest cloister in the middle of the night. Then they put up a Wall taking land from the other Christian brother’s cloister.” Next, Walker went to verify this same story at the land from the cloister, i.e. the land which had been taken in the dark of night. At the property of the Orthodox Patriarch near the new Barrier Monster Wall, Walker made confirmation of the Israeli government’s midnight thievery of long-held (i.e. for centuries) church property. Finding #3: An architect and manager at that cloister of the Orthodox Patriarch reported that at least 8000 square meters of property were stolen by the creation of the Wall. This Christian stated, “When we took our complaint to the Israeli government, all they gave us was the finger.” The architect explained, “The Israeli government claims that they have not seized the property; ‘the government of Israel is simply borrowing the land for the duration’, i.e. with no compensation for the duration.” Finding #4: Prior lawsuits and loss of property to Christians and Muslims have occurred in other parts of the Holy Land, whereby the government of Israel has laws on the books stating that any absentee landlords will have property confiscated—usually within a year or two. One local Palestinian Christian stated, “The cloister could soon lose all rights to its 8000 square meters of farming and grazing land.” Another long-time resident and foreign-born priest stated, ”Only Israeli Jews have rights in this country. Muslims and Christians who were born here or have lived here for decades have little fair treatment or equal access under the domain of law enforcement in Israel.” Finding #5: Israel receives billions of dollars of aid from the United States government each year, but the U.S. has yet to even firmly threaten to cut-off aid, even if the Israeli government were to continue to seize and not compensate property owners throughout its territories for these thefts against peoples and properties. Finding #6: The sons and families of Ariel Sharon who own construction firms are earning millions and millions of dollar in these dead-of-night Barrier Wall Constructions. Ariel Sharon dreamt up the idea of the Wall decades ago. Many of the cement and construction contracts are going straight into Sharon family pockets. Finding #7: Back at the Orthodox Patriarch Monastery, the architect shared more information about the views of the landscapes beyond the mammoth barrier walls. He said, “On your left, observe the crowded village where the Arab Palestinians are congregated with steep vertical housing and narrow streets. The Wall here was not built because those particular peoples had been causing any trouble for the Israelis. The Wall was built to preempt their urban sprawl or encroachment towards the valley between Jerusalem and their settlement.” In short, it was a property land grab by the Israeli government—replacing redlining with actual barrier walls sanctioned by a racist government to keep balanced the property values level where Israelis lived. I.e. to protect Israeli property values from being affected by a growing population of Arab Palestinians. Finding #8: Back to the right across the new barrier wall to the south from the monastery, the architect pointed a clear contrast to the Palestinian settlement to the left. He explained, “Here is an illegal Israeli settlement. Notice the horizontal drift of the development across a wide swath of territory.” The placement of the Wall here near the cloister is set up to protect this bad use of public space in a region that has very little land for agriculture. It again was not set up to protect Jerusalem but to protect a bad form of development, more reminiscent of Southern California than of traditional land usage in the Middle Eastern Holy Land. NOTES The Israeli Apartheid Wall, http://www.auphr.org/thewall/ Photos of Security Fence Contest, http://www.pbase.com/yalop/fence Stoda, Kevin, “Apartheid Maps—Israel & Palestinian Bantustans”, http://tinyurl.com/394x3a
Stop the Wall, http://www.stopthewall.org/
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