Thursday, June 14, 2007

They Couldn't Ask My Opinion?

CAMERA reports:-

Day Four, Thurs June 7, 2007 "Land Ownership Disputes Arise"

This NPR segment supposedly focused on the Six-Day War is actually just another NPR critique of settlements, advancing uncritically the positions of Peace Now that Jewish settlements are built in substantial amount on private Palestinian land. NPR's Linda Gradstein interviews an Arab who claims his land was taken to build Shiloh. Once more, the segment relies on the anecdotal charges of an individual which are unanswered.

But is this fully correct?

Here's a transcript extract:-

In the West Bank, Israel confiscated large chunks of agricultural land where settlements were eventually built. For some Israelis, the occupation meant a chance to return to the homeland of their ancestors.

The Palestinian village of Turmus Aya and the neighboring Jewish settlement of Shilo were among those areas affected. As in other areas, land ownership disputes are many.

"My land is where the pine trees are that you can see right here," says Mahmoud Hazameh, 68. "These pine trees I planted myself. There's also another piece of land on the other side of the mountain, which has been taken also from me."

Hazameh said he grew grapes, chickpeas and wheat on that land, before the 1967 war – and continued to farm it after. He takes out yellowing documents dating back to the Ottoman Empire that he claims prove his ownership.

But in the mid-1970s, Israel confiscated most of his land, he said. Hazameh hired a lawyer and tried to get it back. Even after he lost in court, he still tried to farm the land that was no longer his, he said.

"I didn't stop," Hazameh says. "I started taking six and seven tractors with a lot of workers and I started marching towards my land — the land that had fed my whole community and my ancestors."

But the settlers uprooted his crops and the police refused to help him, he said. Eventually, he gave up.

Even today, 40 years after the 1967 war, the question of land ownership in the West Bank is one of the most highly charged and complex issues.

An Israeli government spokesman says the land of Shilo was built exclusively on what is known as "state land." That means it either belonged to the Jordanian government before 1967 or to Palestinians who fled the West Bank during or after the war.

But there is a response from Shiloh:-

Shilo has grown to 250 families, and the settlement now has its own yeshiva, or rabbinical training institute. One of Shilo's founders, Shevach Stern, said the settlers always hoped to have good relations with their Arab neighbors. At the beginning, the villagers of Turmus Aya welcomed them, he says.

"They liked the idea that we were here," Stern says. "Because they knew, from other places, that wherever the Israel comes, progress comes. They knew that the village would get electricity and water – they would get work here and that's how it was for quite a few years."

Settlers say that all changed with the first intifada. Since then, eight settlers from Shilo and five Palestinians from Turmus Aya have been killed. Dozens have been wounded, among them David Rubin. Five years ago, he was on his way home from Jerusalem when his car came under a hail of bullets. Both he and his then 3-year-old son were gravely wounded.

Today, Rubin spends his days teaching Christian groups about the Biblical importance of Shilo. Living in the settlement means a daily connection to Jewish history, he says.

"When my children walk down to school every day, they go down the hill and every day I think, 'Wow. This is amazing. My children are walking down the same rocks that Samuel the prophet walked on when he grew up in Shilo,'" Rubin says.

Rubin, and many other settlers, say the entire West Bank should be placed under permanent Israeli sovereignty. But their Palestinian neighbors in TurMus Aya say there can be no peace unless all of the Jewish settlers leave.

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