It’s not happening to the residents of Khan al-Ahmar because they refused to accept the UN partition, or because the Arab states launched a war against the new state or because they listened to their leaders and fled. Nor did these people ever call for a boycott of Israel, or even of the settlements.
And, if like Abd el-Hadi in the poem by Taha Muhammad Ali, they were to encounter the crew of the aircraft carrier Enterprise they would serve them “fried eggs and labaneh, fresh from the bag.”
Despite all this, Israel is expelling them from their land. Meanwhile, we can expect my Haaretz colleague Dan Margalit to explain in a detailed op-ed that the residents of Khan al-Ahmar chose to be refugees.
And this expulsion won’t take place following a questionable military order, or following a hand gesture by a founding father that led to the expulsion of more than 50,000 Arabs from Lod and Ramle, or because of the extreme right’s desire to cleanse the country of Arabs, or because of evil bureaucrats. This has been approved by the judges of Israel’s Supreme Court, the symbol of justice and compassion. So if this is what the symbol of justice does, what’s left for evil to destroy?
Beyond that, the problem is the role of the neighbors, residents of the settlements that were built on Arab land in violation of international law. It turns out that they’re the driving force behind the expulsion of their neighbors. “The neighbor comes before the house,” they say in Arabic. In Hebrew, the slogan is “we settle and expel the neighbors.”
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It’s the settlement Kfar Adumim that petitioned the High Court of Justice, along with the nonprofit group Regavim, to demolish the homes of Khan al-Ahmar. The chairman of the Kfar Adumim community council, Danny Tirza, who’s also a reserve colonel, told the television program “Ulpan Shishi” that part of the mission is to build and settle there, and “part is to preserve state land.”
For Tirza, “a settlement is like a military position.” In other words, the settlements are a tool to conduct the government’s anti-Palestinian policy, and when you’re a tool, nothing will awaken your humanity; it’s already dead.
The cry by Hodaya Friedman, a Kfar Adumim settler who asked “why do you want to demolish in my name?” left no mark on Tirza. Friedman’s question is the heart of the tragedy of both sides: the demolished Arab side and the demolishing settler whose name will be remembered for eternity as someone in whose name a second Nakba was conducted against a neighbor who wasn’t an enemy.
“Everyone in Kfar Adumim knows Eid,” Friedman says. Eid is the earth-mover driver with the charming smile who stands firm against the difficulties of nature in the mountainous desert terrain where he lives. His parents, from the Jahalin tribe, were expelled from Arad in the northern Negev in 1951. After wandering around they settled in their current location, in the Palestinian village of Anata, with the consent of the local people. Until the lords of the land arrived.
According to “Ulpan Shishi,” Eid and his earth mover built the houses’ foundations in Kfar Adumim, along with its sewage, electricity, water and infrastructure for the Bezeq phone company. But when the order is enforced, he’ll be expelled. Redeeming the land doesn’t take into account tears and compassion. And then they complain about evil.
Incidentally, Friedman’s call “Why do you want to demolish in my name?” is aimed at the overwhelming majority of Israel’s people, both Arab and Jewish. Yes, the crime of ethnic cleansing is being carried out in your name. And it’s happening now, in real time.
So move it, you lazy silent majority. Go to Khan al-Ahmar and say this in the name of the Jewish people, or at least the sane part of it, and in the name of the Arab community: We will not allow ethnic cleansing!
Wake up from your complacence for once. Translate your humanity into action!