On 24 May the Israeli High Court confirmed that the mass demolition and transfer of the Palestinian Bedouin community of Khan Al Ahmar can proceed. This Bedouin village is located on the outskirts of East Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank. From Israel’s perspective, it represents an impediment to the state’s intention to link and expand the exclusively Jewish settlement of Ma’ale Adumin into the area known as E1.
In human terms, the judgment means the demolition of dozens of Bedouin family homes along with a school in which 165 children study; that, and also the destruction of pens that shelter 850 sheep. The proposed transfer will move a rural livestock-dependent community to an urban site and life style unsuitable for Bedouin livelihood, culture and traditions. It is an attempt at the vanquishment of a community, body and soul. Eight homes were already demolished by Israel in 2016. Many in the international community are familiar with the story of the now doomed school, built in 2009 by members of the community out of a mere 2,200 recycled car tires, mud and falafel oil – an outstanding example of eco-building and community initiative. Israel, unsurprisingly, refused to provide the children of the village with a modern standard school.
Khan Al Ahmar is one of 18 communities located in or next to the E1 area. This area is critical to Israel’s intention, which it pursues with relentless brutality, to create a continuous built-up area between the Ma’ale Adumim Jewish settlement and East Jerusalem and expanding east to Jericho. Therefore this is part of the wider strategic goal to cut the Occupied West Bank in two thereby ending any possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state.
In a further twist of the screw, Israeli authorities have approved a scheme for the construction of 92 new housing units and an educational institution in the Kfar Adummim Jewish colonial settlement. This settlement, which is immediately adjacent to Khan Al Ahmar, represents yet another move to create a ‘fact on the ground’ notwithstanding their illegality in international law. And in a display of toxic neighbourliness that no longer surprises, the Kfar Adummim Jewish settlement petitioned the High Court to hurry along the outstanding demolition orders of these rooted, long-established Bedouin communities.
ICAHD and ICAHD UK have many times over the years raised awareness about the threat to Khan Al-Amar, but the Israel bulldozer state is immune to entreaties to act reasonably, still less ethically. However, in this context, it appears to be increasingly the case that Israel’s actions are yielding, for it, unintended consequences.
The state’s intention is clear: its goal is to create a majority Jewish state with no possibility of a vibrant, equal, and certainly not equal in numbers, Palestinian presence. Hence population displacements, dispossessions, apartheid laws, racist practices and institutionalised brutality, of which Israel’s killings and wounding of Palestinians Gazans is but one sickening example. And through these policies and practices Israel is close to achieving its tutelage over the area bounded by the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River – Greater Israel.
The current Israel regime believes it is creating for itself one state, a Jewish state, moulded to its current shape and image – the culmination of a settler colonial enterprise whose inception dates back to the 19th century. If there ever was a chance of a two state solution, it is dead now, whether one wishes it or not. It is therefore almost beyond argument that the reality we confront revolves around questions about the nature of the future one state, the state that will lie between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
So this is now the urgent task: to flesh out, argue for and demonstrate what an ethical, pacific, one-state of equal citizens – Palestinians and Jews – would look like. This task is central to the purpose of the One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC), a campaign that emerges – breaks forth into the day light – from the thinking and activism of Palestinians and Israeli Jews, in a mutual, rights-based, endeavour. This campaign will launch formally in the autumn.
As important, perhaps, as ODSC is and will be in terms of addressing in practical terms knotty issues of constitutional structure and statecraft, there is at the core of the campaign a metaphorical and psychological dimension.
Hitherto the orthodox discourse – a notionally pragmatic one – was rooted in a belief in the necessity and inevitability of division – of people, of religions, of individuals, one from another: the two state dispensation. It was always a false prospective, if only because an entity structured to be a specifically Jewish State must be, as is the current Israel state, a racist state. This must in principle be morally iniquitous and ultimately unsustainable – unsustainable, at least, according to common ethical precepts.
The ODSC offers a glimpse of a better future – a break in the clouds. As Leonard Cohen’s old song Anthem says: ‘There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’ A fine sentiment, but one that should not obscure that there is work to be done, here, now and with vigour, in support of Palestinians.
ACTION: Please contact your MP with the request to sign Early Day Motion 1169 DEMOLITION PLANS IN KHAN AL-AHMAR VILLAGE IN THE WEST BANK