Politically Incorrect in Palestine

Why don't BDS activists and the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry remove from the shelves products made in the settlement Tekoa?

Plastic bags bursting with garbage are the first thing framed by the window of my apartment in El Bireh. After that is the magnificent guest palace of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which, happily and to the relief of many, was recently turned into the Palestinian National Library. And this is the time for some politically incorrect questions.
1. Why the hell are some of my neighbors, in a neighborhood that is not luxurious but certainly not neglected, too lazy to walk a few dozen meters up or down the street and throw their garbage in the bins that the municipality empties every dawn? Instead, they befoul the still open ground between the buildings.

“If you don’t throw your garbage into the bins, you’re garbage,” reads a sign one of my neighbors put up in the elevator. It didn’t help. His children went from door to door and urged people to do the obvious. Everybody swore it wasn’t them, but the piles of garbage rise higher and higher until the municipal workers come and scrape them up, then it starts all over again.
If it was only our problem, never mind. But it’s not. Too many people, here in the Palestinian enclave, treat the street, the roadsides, the area around the springs that the settlers haven’t yet stolen and the open fields as their private garbage can. As I was sitting on the balcony of a friend of mine in Nablus one day, a bag of garbage came flying from the floor above, and landed in the vegetable garden someone is trying to cultivate. That happens all the time, they tell me. I’ve read and heard theories, especially about the Palestinian alienation from the public sphere because of Israel’s domination (in 1948 and 1967 areas). But, as the owner of my neighborhood grocery store put it regarding the garbage bags rolling around in the street: “Not everything is because of the occupation.”
2. And from the garbage to the checkpoints – not a major change of subject. How is it that a young woman – a member of the Military Police or a security company – is stationed at a checkpoint and her line of cars is always longer than the nearby line, where a young man is stationed? The young women do everything intentionally more slowly. The most politically incorrect thing to say is that when the young woman checking the cars is of Ethiopian origin, the line gets even longer. We’re talking about the checkpoints where only cars with Israeli license plates are allowed to pass. That is, checkpoints from which people drive into Israel (mostly built deep in the West Bank, so it can’t be said they’re separating the West Bank from Israel). The soldiers and security people stationed at the checkpoints must develop skills in the realm of racial doctrine and a canine sense of smell to distinguish between a Jew and an Arab. It’s not hard when the woman is wrapped in a hijab. It’s harder when she’s a crop-topped redhead or a tie-wearing lawyer. But leave it to the young women at the checkpoints. They’ll check the accent, slowly open the trunk or send the car for a check for explosives, stare with hostility at the occupants, all the while chewing gum with their mouths open, talking on their cellphone and giggling.
3. Back to the heart of the enclave. Why in blazes do the fine stores in Ramallah (I haven’t checked other cities) sell products from the settlement of Tekoa? I brought this up with a salesman. I said: “The settlement of Tekoa is stealing water and land from the neighboring villages.” He answered: “The Palestinians steal too, and I have customers who ask for these products.” Is it simply impossible to live without the mushrooms from Tekoa or the endives that are worth their weight in gold? And how is it that the BDS and local anti-normalization activists, who are so good at scaring the municipality of Ramallah such that it cancels the screening of a Lebanese film, skip over the mushrooms from Tekoa? How is it that the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry, which from time to time comes to the markets and confiscates products from the settlements, misses these prestige stores? Because their customers are from the elite classes?
4. And another thing I wonder about: Why must Palestinian men show their manhood by driving fast with their blinding bright headlights on, right in the middle of a narrow road, and not move aside for an oncoming vehicle? It’s clear. They know that the oncoming driver will move to the shoulder at the last minute praying that he or she won’t end up down in the wadi. The occupation is clearly to blame. Israel plans, built and builds separate roads in the West Bank so the Palestinians will be diverted from the wide roads (that gobble up private and public land), and Gush Etzion will be a neighborhood of Jerusalem on the south and Beit-El on the north. All the drivers – especially taxi drivers – have to make up for lost time and the length of the road by speeding, and to hell with fatal accidents. But why in God’s name in the middle of the road, and why blind the oncoming traffic at night?
5. We’ll end with the settlers. I heard a rumor that some settlers see a shared future with the Palestinians. There are those who are continuing the path of the late rabbi from Tekoa, Menachem Froman, and there’s a group that supports two states in one homeland. So until the wolf lies down with the lamb, why, in addition to their messianic visions, don’t they establish a surveillance and action group of their own, deploying between the violent outposts that are multiplying like Tekoa mushrooms on the shelves in Ramallah, and act as a human shield between the hilltop pogromchiks and the Palestinian farmers and shepherds?

Amira Hass

Haaretz Correspondent

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Politically Incorrect in Palestine

Tags: #BDS, #Occupation

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The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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