“if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed-if all records told the same tale-then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'” George Orwell, 1984
Over the years, a recurring reaction I receive to my articles is: “It is the same here.” Following that statement appears a description of how the crimes committed by the State of Israel have a copycat in the country of the sender.
Sometimes this is mentioned as a justification of the crime, mainly by Jewish writers. “America is no better, they robbed the Indians!” “Bolivia is not better, they are institutional thieves, they gas like Nazis!” Yet, you can’t justify a crime by its being committed also by others.
On April 23, 2013, Israel announced that it will recognize ownership of land by Palestinians in Jawarish, Ramleh. It took the State over 60 years; in sharp contrast, illegal* Jewish settlements get recognized and get help from the State immediately. Same same? Not the same!
Ramleh is the Zionist zenith. Until 1948, it was a Palestinian town; after its conquest, most of its denizens were expelled and the name was sanitized into a proper Hebrew one: Ramlah. Nowadays, even the 80% of Jews comprising its population call it Ramleh. This is not enough to award it the title “Zionist zenith,” a similar situation exists in other places.
The town hosts several military bases, including the headquarters of the IDF Vertical Bypass division. Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport is just across the road from it. Even all these are not enough to award it that title. What distinguishes Ramleh from other Zionist outposts is the presence of five prisons within its borders; an additional military prison is nearby. This includes the Ayalon Prison (better known as “Ramleh Prison”), where Israel’s infamous X-Wing is located. This makes Ramleh a microcosm of that large prison known as State of Israel, and thus the zenith of the Zionist enterprise.
On one of Ramleh’s forgotten corners is the neighborhood of Jawarish, which Jews fear due to a very good reason: they are attempting to scare away its lawful denizens for over a generation.
In 2007, about seventy families appealed to the Supreme Court in a process called bagatz.** The legal process led to an announcement by the municipality in 2009 that an agreement to transfer the ownership of the land from the Israel Land Administration to the Palestinians had been reached. This would have opened the way for them to apply for construction permits from the municipality. However, in 2013, this decision had not been implemented. As it invariably happens in such cases, the government did not explain its failure to comply.
Today, Minister of Housing and Construction Uri Ariel called for a meeting of the Israel Land Administration governing committee in order to transfer the land, approve the 400 houses existing in the neighborhood, and approve the construction of almost 300 new houses. In contrast to what is favored by Palestinians, the new houses would raise significantly above the ground level, resembling the Jewish neighborhoods in the area.
“That’s wonderful news,” the Israeli government would probably claim. However, that’s not the case. Since the houses had no permits, they had no infrastructures. That’s why the government waited so long; they don’t like providing minority settlements with water, sewage, and electricity. This is unlikely to change anytime soon. Then, after the land is awarded, the citizens would be asked to pay 12% of its value, despite that they were not indemnified for the theft of their original land in Kafr Katara. Moreover, citizens oppose to the building of a dense neighborhood of high apartment complexes, the area is already void of green spaces.
Obtuse as any other Israeli government organization, Israel Land Administration released a statement ahead of the meeting explaining that the denizens had not been consulted regarding the plan to construct high apartment complexes, since this is “a general design and not a detailed plan.” Can Israel keep claiming that it is the country of all its citizens? Can a discriminating regime claim to be democratic? Same Same, but not the Same! What a shame!
* The United Nations Security Council, the International Court of Justice, and most countries (Israel being the obvious exception) agree that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the West Bank. This Convention prevents an occupying power from transferring its own population into occupied territory. Thus, settlements and outposts are both illegal under international law; under Israeli law, settlements are legal and outposts are illegal. Yet, the Israeli government supports both, violating its own laws.
**Israel’s Supreme Court of Justice usually operates as the highest appellate court in the country, but it features also a special operational mode as a court of first instance, called in Hebrew bagatz (acronym for High Court for Justice, not to be confounded with the formal name of the court: The High Court). In this instance, everybody under the jurisdiction of the Court can initiate a process against the State of Israel if he feels one of his rights has been legitimately oppressed by the State; this is the result of Israel lacking a Constitution and formal recognition of Human Rights.
Roi Tov is a graduate—among others—of Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition to his memoir, Tov is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Physics and other scientific journals. He won various travel writing and photography awards.
In his writings, he tries to reveal life in Israel as a Christian Israel Defense Force (IDF) officer—from human rights violations to the use of an extensive network of underground agents. He was recognized first as a refugee and subsequently as political prisoner of Bolivia.