According to an Arab proverb, “Michael’s farts don’t bother anybody.” Michael was the village dignitary, and some of those in his presence would clap their hands when he gave the signal, in order to hide the sound of the passing gas. Common folks, on the other hand, had to leave the living room before they could do like Michael, because if they didn’t, they would be upbraided for the unpleasant smell they emitted.
People are treated in accordance with their social status: A poor man is not treated the same way as a rich man. And a Jew in Israel is not treated the same way as an Arab. Jews can’t find any place to build their homes except on the mountaintops. They wound the earth with huge bulldozers, and overnight a highway cuts through the heart of the mountain for 20 families who are seeking quality of life. But this massacre of nature, like Michael’s farts, is not harmful.
Trees are cut down, huge areas are devoted to the spacious homes, with a garden of course, and if possible a swimming pool, which usually remains unused. All this in addition to a huge kindergarten, which serves perhaps only 10 cute toddlers, and if the settlement council is an active one, a tennis court as well. On the other hand, if part of the forest is allocated to Arabs because of natural increase, and not so the pampered ones will enjoy quality of life, that arouses a major commotion, and the Zionist institutions object vociferously.
But Arabs are a part of nature, and before they learned the modern art of eliminating mountains from the face of the earth, they built their homes in harmony with nature. When it came to mountains, their grandparents and parents built the house in accordance with the hilly topography. They didn’t abuse the mountain’s area and didn’t shave its slopes down to a straight vertical line from the peak to the base, as is done today.
Arabs cared for the mountain with love; the mountain remained a mountain, the house adapted itself to the ridges, and the combination was lovely. That’s also how they created beautiful farming terraces, which blended into the surroundings. But everything has changed. Today Arabs are the object of abuse on the part of none other than the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. Incidentally, Arabs are human and thus a part of nature, and instead of the SPNI giving them a proper human living space, it cooperates with the government in its harassment of Arabs. It turns out that the SPNI has more empathy for wild animals that for Arabs.
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The advance team of the SPNI has worked and is still working to prevent expansion plans for Arab towns, including Iksal on the outskirts of the Jezreel Valley. The size of the disputed area is 450 dunams (111 acres), but the society has already brought about a reduction of the area included in the plan to 300 dunams, of which only 170 dunams are part (1.6 percent) of the adjacent forest. Although the area of the plan has been reduced, as of now the SPNI still objects to advancing it, and it is liable to get stuck, in which case the young people of Iksal can wait until the Messiah comes.
Decades ago, when I visited my parents’ village of Maalul as a child of 5 or 6, I came across lots of stones. A few years later the stones had disappeared. Recently I decided to check, and behold, I found the stones covered with huge pine trees, whose job is to cover up what happened in 1948. Those involved are promoting the forestation of everything that doesn’t move, in order to declare that Arabs, the enemies of nature, are taking over the forests – some of which didn’t even exist in the past – and to leave them in ghettos.
In his day the great spiritual leader Gen. Rafael Eitan, who lived a few hundred meters from Iksal, wanted the Arabs to be like “drugged cockroaches in a bottle.” Next to Iksal there is a tunnel named after Eitan. To remind Arabs of the fate that the state has in store for them.