SIR – The letter by Maerton Davis entitled ‘Seems more concerned about Palestinians than pandemic’ (April 11th) was full of inaccuracies as well of course as personal insults which are his forte. Strangely, Davis never then went on to talk about the pandemic threat himself.
The UN has warned that Gaza as one of the most densely populated areas in the world and under Israeli occupation has a health system which was overstretched even before the disease emerged. The Israelis are making conditions on allowing medical aid into the enclave in an effort to use the emergency to weaken its administration. Israel which continues to besiege the Gaza Strip, must be held legally responsible as occupier for the health and wellbeing of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.
It is worth looking at Davis’ home town Kfar Vradim because it gives us an example of the racism and colonialist agenda which Israel inflicts on Palestinians in their everyday lives.
Kfar Vradim was built in 1984 as part of that government policy to ‘Judaize the Galilee.’ When Arab citizens of Israel recently won 58 of the 125 tenders to build on land for expanding the town, the process was stopped. Council head Sivan Yechiel made the excuse that he was ‘responsible for safeguarding the Zionist-Jewish-secular character of Kfar Vradim.’
The leading Arab citizens’ rights leader declared the policy as one of apartheid and said, ‘This is racism against upstanding citizens who just want to live. It is not only racist, it is stupid because the (Kfar Vradim residents) could benefit from multiculturalism. Those who don’t want the Arabs have a lot to learn from them.’
It keeps happening over and over again. A Jewish town somewhere in Israel finds a way to prevent Arab citizens from buying homes, using its swimming pools, or playing on its professional soccer team.
The media reports about the discrimination, there is some public outrage, a few left-wing politicians issue condemnations — and yet nothing seems to change.
Israeli history shows that racism drove its colonial policies since the creation of the state, which have always benefited Israel’s Jewish, and primarily Ashkenazi population, at the expense of Palestinians and other marginalised groups.
Kfar Vradim was built on land expropriated from residents of the nearby Arab village Tarshiha as well as land expropriated from Palestinians who fled due to Israeli terrorist intimidation in 1948. It is one of 900 communities where Arabs are not allowed to live and fulfils the government’s belief that Israel’s future rested, first and foremost, on Jewish demographic and geographic domination requiring segregation of Jews from Arabs.
Those kicked off their lands and homes are not allowed to return even as Israel continues to recruit new settlers from around the world. This ongoing segregation is a result of a long, violent process, whose ultimate goal is to Judaize — to take what belongs to Palestinians and hand it over to Jews. In this sense, colonialism inside Israel is far from over.
For Palestinians under occupation, the situation is much worse and their movements are greatly restricted so that the pandemic controls have made little difference to their lives.
All Israeli settlements, including those in occupied East Jerusalem, violate international law (Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Conventions) which forbids the occupying power to deport or transfer parts of its population into those territories. Israel continues to legally challenge the International Criminal Courts investigation into war crimes committed by both itself and Palestinian resistance, while the Palestinians welcome such international scrutiny.
The new government of Israel is likely to be formed by the allegedly corrupt Netanyahu and Gantz the force commander that murdered 551 Gazan children in their 2014 onslaught.
They will bring more suffering and, as our government here is formed and post Covid-19, an urgent look at the outstanding Settlements Bill to prohibit trade is needed.