Dozens of the world’s literary stars have added their names to an Israeli writers’ petition urging the army and the Netanyahu government not to destroy Palestinian villages in the southern Hebron hills.
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Renowned Israeli author David Grossman penned the petition, which has now also been signed by Nobel laureates in literature J. M. Coetzee, Mario Vargas Llosa, Herta Mueller, Orhan Pamuk and the Irish poet Seamus Heaney, who died last Friday and signed the petition before his death.
Other signatories include Julian Barnes, John Le Carre, Michael Chabon, Junot Diaz, Dave Eggers, Neil Gaiman, Nathan Englander, Aleksandar Hemon, Yann Martel, Colum McCann, Ian McEwan and Philip Roth.
The petition, which Grossman wrote in late June, was signed by Israeli writers such as Yoram Kaniuk (before his death), Sami Michael, Meir Shalev, Yehoshua Kenaz, Etgar Keret, Zeruya Shalev and Ronit Matalon. It reads in part: “For the past 20 years, Israel has been actively expelling and displacing the inhabitants of the villages of the southern Hebron hills. These villagers have always practiced a unique lifestyle: Most of them are cave dwellers and find their livelihood in sheep and goat herding and farming."
Over these years they have suffered from constant abuse by the army and by settlers. Homes are destroyed again and again, their cisterns are blocked and their crops are destroyed. One thousand people, adults and children alike, who live in eight villages in the area designated in 1980 as Firing Zone 918, are now threatened with immediate eviction from their villages. They live in constant fear, helplessly facing a ruthless power that does everything to displace them from the home they have inhabited for centuries.”
The petition continues, “We cannot bring peace today. But the least we can do is to expose and condemn ‘small’ local outrages. In a reality of ongoing occupation, of solid cynicism and malice, each and every one of us bears the moral obligation to try and relieve suffering, to do something to bend back the occupation’s giant, cruel hand.”
On Tuesday, a hearing on the petition submitted by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel against the eviction will take place in the High Court of Justice.