The demolition happened 2 months ago ~ 11 September to be exact. It’s not the first and it won’t be the last. This time the target of the bulldozers was the Jahalin Bedouin village of Az Za’ayyem (Aza’im) in the controversial E1 area between East Jerusalem and the illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. The Bedouin in this village are refugees from the early 1950s, having been driven out of the Negev by the Israeli government. This is not an isolated demolition ~ it is part of the plan to displace the approximately 3,000 Bedouin east of Jerusalem in order to expand the illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, a modern “city” of about 40,000 settlers.
Today, our EA orientation to East Jerusalem takes us to Az Za’ayyem. Two months have now passed since the bulldozers left 47 people homeless, almost half of which are children. But as we walk through the village, it is as if it had happened yesterday. Villagers are sleeping in tents. Children are playing in the rubble and suffering from asthma. People are afraid to rebuild as it will guarantee a return visit from the bulldozers. It is lambing season. Over 300 sheep have no shelter. And winter is coming. To add to this misery, the village has no sewer system, no potable water, no electricity, and no access to health care.
It seems surreal. One is left speechless. What can be said? How can this kind of inhumane action be justified? How can the global community allow Israel to commit such atrocities with impunity? ~ Angela Godfrey Goldstein, a courageous Israeli peace activist said to us today, “Israel as a state has lost its moral, ethical code ~ its heart ~ It needs to be saved from itself” ~ After accompanying Angela in East Jerusalem and E1 today, I think she is right ~ For it was Rabbi Hillel who said, “What is hateful to you, do not do to others” ~ And another first century Jewish Rabbi is thought to have said it like this: “Do to others what you would have them do to you” ~ Will we ever learn?