Text size

In the villages of Bil'in and Na'alin, on the Green Line near Modi'in, we can see some touching cooperation between Jews and Arabs, a "non-violent struggle against the occupation" as it is called by some contributors to this newspaper.

Every Friday, the lovers of humankind from both sides gather to throw stones at Border Police units who are there to guard the construction of the Security Barrier. A barrier, remember, that is meant to serve as an obstacle to Arab terrorists.

In the same area, there is another intricate form of cooperation under way between Arabs and Jews. Garbage trucks - both Jewish and Arab - pass easily through the military checkpoint on the road and deposit their contents - domestic, construction and industrial waste - at illegal dumping sites nearby.

These sites are operated by criminal clans from the abovementioned pastoral villages, clans which are apparently so scary that no one wants to deal with them, not even the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria.

There is a regulation that prohibits transporting garbage from one side of the Green Line to the other, so that the Jews cannot exploit the Arabs. In this case, there's no problem, because both sides gain: The Jews because they don't have to travel all the way to the legal garbage dumps (or get rid of their hazardous waste in other ways ), and the Arab clans who are making a fortune.

What harmony! The future of the Middle East is here. Both sides are cooperating in polluting the water and the air, which are, well, pretty basic needs for life.

How are they polluting? Well, if waste is not handled correctly, the toxins it carries seep through the ground into the Mountain Aquifer, one of Israel's most important water sources.

This seems to me the right time to point out that there's no Green Line deep under the ground. This water everybody drinks. Even Tel Avivians. Even the members of Ta'ayush, the "Arab-Jewish partnership."

In these beautiful spots, it is also customary to burn garbage. The resulting smoke, containing all kinds of noxious particles, reaches the lungs of the residents of Nili and Na'aleh, Modi'in and Modi'in Ilit.

The air too has no Green Line. Every day, environmental protection NGOs like Yarok Ahshav (Green Now ) get complaints about air pollution and breathing problems in these areas.

So what do I want? First of all, for members of Ta'ayush to check who they are protecting with such great self-sacrifice. I want them to consider that perhaps their coughing isn't caused only by the security forces' tear gas, but also by the smoke from the garbage dumps' perpetual flames.

But Ta'ayush isn't the main problem here. I am demanding that the Civil Administration act firmly and resolutely against this hazard, exactly as it does, if not more so, against any cardboard box that settlers put up at, say, the outpost of Ma'aleh Butterfly Yud Gimel.

These egotistical polluters have a direct and immediate effect on the lives of all of us, which we will not tolerate. The Civil Administration is supposed to keep the law in Judea and Samaria. It has the authority and it has the means. Replies like "we are doing our best" are not enough.

We will continue drinking and breathing for a long time the stuff convenient to ignore today. We can't see it. It's on the other side of the barrier, over the hills of darkness and of garbage. It is so easy to look the other way. Perhaps when we understand that air and water are basic needs for all of us the damage will already be too great.