About Us

Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
UK architects, planners and other construction industry professionals campaigning for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.


Israel Fires Raise Burning Questions About the Occupation

by Amira Hass      28 October  2016   Haaretz

Question: Why haven't we heard about the arrest of Jews calling for the murder of Arabs?

Answer: Jews are exercising their right to free speech.

A resident of Halamish surveys the damage done to the West Bank settlement, November 26, 2016.
A resident of Halamish surveys the damage done to the West Bank settlement, November 26, 2016.  Gil Cohen-Magen
Is a fire started intentionally for political, or “nationalist,” motives worth more than an ordinary fire? Will the criteria for government compensation to Israeli citizens whose homes were damaged last week be set based on the source of the flames, creating a hierarchy of reparations and assistance?
Will a fire classified as a hostile terrorist act provide its victims with faster and higher reimbursement than those unfortunates whose houses, photo albums and computers were consumed by a fire caused by a police flare or a carelessly discarded cigarette whose combustion was fanned by the winds?
Why aren’t we hearing about the mass arrest of Jews whose social media posts called for the murder of Arabs and who expressed joy at their misfortunes, but have heard about a social activist from Rahat who was arrested for mocking those who welcomed the fires?
Some answers:

* Jewish incitement isn’t news.
* Jews say what they think and are exercising their right to free speech.
* Hatemongering Jews who incite to murder Palestinians aren’t arrested. Or they are in the governing coalition or Knesset.
* Declaring that arsonists’ citizenship will be revoked is not incitement, but part of a long-standing expulsion policy.
How is it that Israeli journalists hurried to quote the expressions of Schadenfreude posted on Arab and Palestinian social media sites? How is it that they can’t seem to find the press statements, reports from the United Nations and B’Tselem, and the Palestinian posts that report on the routine abuses and cruelty perpetrated against millions of people by the Israel Defense Forces, the Border Police, the Jerusalem Municipality, the Interior Ministry, the Civil Administration, the District Coordinating Offices, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Public Security Ministry, the Israel Land Authority, etc.?
Some answers:

* Because Israeli intelligence officials who hunt down suspects feed the information to journalists.
* Because Israeli journalists aren’t familiar with the websites of B’Tselem and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
* Because they don’t want to hurt their friends, comrades and children, who are the soldiers, judges and administrative personnel perpetrating the abuses.
* Because they are Israelis before they are journalists.
* Because they know what Israeli news consumers want to hear, and what they couldn’t care less about.
* All of the above.
* Because reporting on how Israel dominates the Palestinians wouldn’t leave room for any other news.
* Because what’s routine doesn’t make headlines.
We have to acknowledge that there were Palestinian arsonists, just as there were also false accusations. But if we want to prevent similar sabotage, we need to understand the motives.
These actions, no matter how reprehensible they may be, are closely linked to the policies of cruelty. Anyone who doesn’t want to know about these policies or recognize that they exist is signaling that he’s interested in continuing the problem in order to justify future expulsions and abuses.
Three maps

Where are Beit Meir, Nataf and Canada Park, three locations where fires blazed? One answer is that they lie west of Jerusalem. Another is that Beit Meir sits on the lands of the destroyed Palestinian village of Bayt Mahsir, which in early 1948 was home to 3,000 people. Nataf lies where the village of Beit Thul once stood, and which we also destroyed so that its 300 fleeing residents could not return.
Canada Park, which is run by the Jewish National Fund, is on the ruins of the villages of Imwas and Yalo, whose residents we expelled in June 1967.
And where is the settlement of Halamish? On the lands of the villages of Deir Nizam and Nabi Saleh.
Halamish is expanding; Israel restricts any new construction in Palestinian villages.
The fires last week sketched out three maps of the country. One is the imaginary map of pure Jewish territory from which Palestinians have been erased. The second is the painful map of the invader and occupiers, where we find the few arsonists who presumably caused some of the fires and those who were pleased by the conflagrations. The two maps are amazingly similar.
The third is that of people who are attached to their homes, who have lost or are losing them, of those who will return to them after they’re rebuilt, and of those who haven’t returned.
How many people does it take to evacuate entire Israeli neighborhoods? Only a few Palestinian arsonists whose society rejects them.
How many people does it take to make half a million Palestinians flee from one firetrap to the next in Gaza? Many Israelis – an entire government, the General Staff, senior commanders, and thousands of soldiers and pilots.
How many Israelis does it take to kill, in one summer, 180 children aged 0-5, 346 kids aged 6-17 and 247 women, as happened in 2014? The same entire government, General Staff, senior commanders, and thousands of soldiers and pilots – along with most of a nation that cheers and encourages them to continue.
Amira Hass
Haaretz Correspondent
Opinion:  It's Fun Being an Arab in Israel

Arabs in Israel demonstrate amazing restraint and loyalty, but are the victims of appalling treatment by the state and other Israelis. One day, this is all going to explode.
Gideon Levy Nov 27, 2016 1:35 AM
 A firefighting plane from Greece fights a wildfire over Haifa, Israel, November 24, 2016.
A firefighting plane from Greece fights a wildfire over Haifa, Israel, November 24, 2016. Ariel Schalit, AP
It’s fun being an Arab in Israel. If you’re a pharmacist at a high-street drugstore, you can wake up to discover that you’re a potential arsonist. A nursery-school teacher in Shfaram gets up and finds she’s a member of the Islamic State group. Every construction worker from Taibeh is part of a fifth column, and every nurse at the Hadassah hospitals in Jerusalem is a demographic threat. That hummus vendor may just be a hummus vendor, but he could be spreading poison, too; that dishwasher could come out of the kitchen with a knife. And you can’t even count on an Arab doctor, which is reason enough to ask for a Jewish one.
Whether they’re an educator, insurance broker, banker or technician, every Arab citizen on the street is considered an object of suspicion. Better that they not speak their language – and anyway, the day is fast approaching when it will be made illegal to speak it in public. It unnerves the Jews and scares them. Some are even disgusted by it. And then there’s that proposed bill to silence the Muslim call to prayer from mosque loudspeakers.
It’s fun being an Arab in Israel, a state the Arab citizens are a lot more loyal to than it is to them. Your country is abusing members of your people. It’s fun to be an Arab in Israel, because you can’t even define your identity as you would wish. You’re an “Israeli Arab,” and there’s no argument about it. Palestinian? That’s only if you live in the occupied territories. Even if he’s your first cousin, he’s not the same.
You can and must be an American Jew and work on Israel’s behalf. But you are not allowed to be an Israeli Arab and work on behalf of the Palestinians. You’re not a member of the same people. Just dare to think otherwise.
Also, you are not allowed to remember what you’re not allowed to remember: the past. Israeli Independence Day is a national holiday! Anyone who wants to observe the Nakba (or “catastrophe,” the Palestinian term for the establishment of Israel), should go to Gaza – or to jail. Anyway, if you don’t like it here, you can always move to Gaza. And just look what’s happening in Syria.
It’s fun being an Arab in Israel. Try flying on an Israeli airline – Arkia or El Al – and you’ll understand why. Try that encounter with the security guard who’s checking your accent at the entrance to Ben-Gurion airport. “Profiling,” as it’s called in security parlance. Try renting an apartment in Safed, or even Ramat Aviv. Try finding work. Send your résumé and wait for an answer.
It’s fun being an Arab in Israel. You can see other Arabs on television – after every domestic “honor killing,” but only then. No television repairman will come to your house, because “it’s dangerous.” And the television ratings bureau won’t include your viewing habits, because it focuses only on “Jewish households.”
It’s fun being an Arab in Israel and hearing about the demographic danger presented by the Arab womb.
There’s a danger that the Galilee “could be lost,” and we need to “Judaize” the Negev before it’s too late. That’s totally acceptable talk in Israel. Europe has a problem with foreigners, and so do we: the Arabs are our foreigners. People from Burma who are descendants of the Tribe of Benjamin get automatic citizenship. But your brothers, natives of the country who were expelled or fled in 1948, can’t even come for a visit.
It’s fun being an Arab in Israel because you’ll be able to see how your representatives in the Knesset are humiliated and excluded.
It’s fun being an Arab in Israel, because no Jew could imagine what you experience on a daily basis. Masses of people for whom leaving their ghetto means constant humiliation and suspicion, moments of hostility and insults both big and small. Think about the experience of a young Arab woman leaving Jaffa with her head covered, or that young Arab man going to the movies.
With the growing incitement by the prime minister and his cabinet colleagues, every Arab is now considered a potential terrorist, arsonist, murderer or rapist – unless proven otherwise. They are also voting in their droves.
And after the current wave of fires, their situation has gotten even worse: after all, they’ve already caught one Arab with toilet paper in his pocket. Rabin assassin Yigal Amir might not represent every Yemenite Jew, but every Israeli Arab going to fight in Syria represents all Arabs. This segment of the population, which demonstrates amazing restraint and loyalty and a desire to integrate, is absorbing blow after blow. This is all going to explode some day.
On Friday in Haifa’s Romema neighborhood, where a large number of homes sustained fire damage, the predominantly Arab sanitation collectors were collecting the trash. I tried to imagine what was going through their minds.
Gideon Levy
Haaretz Correspondent