Israeli policies are unjust for neighbors

T By Sana Ansar

the heartache of the present day Mideast conflict lies in the tiny strip of land popularly known as the Holy Land. Believed to bear testimony to the existence of sites of religious significance mentioned in Bible, Quran and Torah, the people of the Book – Christians, Muslims and Jews – each lay claim to numerous sites of reverence and worship in the region. Ironically, from this philosophy stems the reprehensible, dehumanizing barbaric crusade to claim of land, water and destroying of life and environment – all under the specter of hope and peace.

Since 1948, Israel has thinned into discontinuous patches of Palestinian-controlled land known as the Gaza Strip and West Bank, which are more like crowded refugee camps than livable areas. These Palestinian-controlled patches are surrounded by Jewish settlements, most in defiance of international law, and are constantly under curfews imposed by the Israeli government that monitors all Palestinian activity. The bulldozing of “illegal” Palestinian homes, the homes of suspected “terrorists” and suicide bombers displaces families and leaves the Palestinian areas in rubble while the Israeli settlements are given the go ahead to build. This tiny controversial strip, no larger than Maryland, is believed to be the promised land of the Israelis and thus, the land of the people of Jewish descent. Land is finite; it is neither practical nor logically possible for Israel to claim to accept people of Jewish descent from all over the world in this tiny strip while willfully humiliating and undermining the existence of a present indigenous Palestinian population in the region. As much as a coexistence is an enticing and pacifying thought, unfortunately, the fight for land in the Holy Land will see one population, most likely the Palestinian population, slowly diminish as it is engulfed by the voluminous appetite of the Israeli population.

The pursuit to claim the Holy Land, build more settlements and expand does not cease at a terrestrial level. The surrounding bodies of water and flowing rivers in the region are not spared. The state of Israel claims rights to the waters and openly threatens war with bordering nations like Lebanon and Jordan if and when water is channeled to nearby villages for drinking and irrigation purposes. It is ironic and hypocritical that Israel is willing to go to war over water with neighboring nations, but Israeli authorities are reluctant to impose restrictions on the domestic use of water, even for irrelevant uses such as watering gardens and filling swimming pools. According to BBC News’ World Edition, Israelis use far more water per head than Palestinians or citizens of neighboring countries. The Palestinians and the neighboring nations have to live with the fact that Israel controls the water distribution network and can turn the taps on or off at will; in summers the supply to Palestinian areas has been reduced. Despite past agreements, Israel has also cut the amount of water supplied to Jordan. In a land where water is scarce and despicable water politics bountiful, by default, the environment suffers. The hardy olive trees of Palestinian livelihood and economy are being desecrated and destroyed in the name of security for Israel and its settlements.

Olive output is one of the most important agricultural products of the Palestinian Authority. Last month, a BBC business report stated that the Palestinian economy is regularly disrupted by roadblocks, curfews, bulldozing of homes and farms, destruction of wells, and confiscation of land to build new Jewish settlements is in violation of international law. Furthermore, olive groves along roads have been declared security zones by the Israeli government. Apparently to prevent Palestinian terrorists and soldiers from hiding in the olive groves, groves within 200 meters of the road networks have been bulldozed for the security of Jewish settlers. In fact, settlers insist that Palestinian farmers must stay back 500 meters of cleared olive groves for such security reasons. It is reported that on either side of the road to Jerusalem in the West Bank are burnt olive trees.

The whole world watches as the security of Israel is paramount to the systematic obliteration of an indigenous people, as the Holy Land is desecrated, as the waters are not allowed to flow freely and the symbol of peace, the olive branch, right now means anything but that. Regardless of what our holy books preach in relation to the promised land and God’s chosen people, what is wrong and unjust is wrong and unjust. We should see and analyze the issue for its face value.

Sana Ansar is a recent University graduate. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]