Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Going Back to the Bible: Jews As Taskmasters

The BBC's Heather Sharp went to Maale Adumim and found a true Bible story - Jews as taskmasters. Almost as good as that Herod's slaughter of the innocents story in Bethlehem.(*)

Dilemma of Palestinian settlement builders

"I feel like a slave," says 21-year-old Palestinian Musanna Khalil Mohammed Rabbaye.

"But I have no alternative," he says, [actually he can become a terrorist and be applauded and supported by many]as he waits among a group of sun-beaten men in dusty work boots outside the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim.

The phrase comes up again and again as the labourers try to explain why they spend their days hammering and shovelling to help build the Jewish settlements eating into the land they want for a future state of Palestine.

..."I'm not the only one. My whole village works in the settlements," says Mr Rabbaye.

"Everything, all the settlements - even most of the Wall - was built by Palestinians," he says, referring to the barrier, detested among Palestinians, Israel is building, sometimes looping deep into the West Bank to stop, Israel says, attacks on its citizens.

The settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank are illegal under international law. [what judgment was that?]

...with about 30% of West Bank Palestinians out of work, and average earnings in the territory little more than half Israel's minimum wage, labouring in the settlements has its appeal for Palestinians. Some 12,000 Palestinian construction workers get Israeli permits to work in the settlements each year.

...some of the Palestinian workers blame their own leaders. Mr Rabbaye says simply: "Our president should give us jobs."

...Mr Levi has worked in construction for about two decades and remembers the days when tens of thousands of workers came from the Gaza Strip and West Bank to build homes right across Israel.

"The salary was very good, they used to build their houses, have cars, make very good progress for their families," he said.

But since the intifada that began in 2000 brought a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings, the number of workers allowed into Israel has plummeted, along with the wages they are paid.

...So the workers keep coming, and the settlements keep growing - though many people believe Maale Adumim will end up in Israel under an eventual peace deal.

"It's hard to describe the feeling, it's a very bad feeling - you can see how we're losing our land, bit by bit," says Hossam Hussein, 26, as he mixes mortar to put the finishing touches to a home with sweeping views from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea hills.

All the workers I spoke to said they wanted a settlement freeze, even if it meant losing their jobs, although none seemed to have a clear alternative plan.

But most did not believe it would happen.

"We should go on strike," said Mr Rabbaye.

But an older labourer quickly interjected: "And then what are you going to live on?"

One friend remarked to me upon reading this:

"okay, i'm convinced. i'm going to stop wanting to build in Yesha and give 10% of my income to Arab causes".


In 2001, the BBC's then chief Jerusalem correspondent Hillary Anderson began a report by saying: "Deep underground in Bethlehem are the remnants of an atrocity so vile, so far back in history, King Herod's slaughter of the innocents." (The camera then shows a pile of skulls without identifying them.) Then Anderson moved on to the deaths of Palestinian children, evoking Herod's Massacre of the Innocents, to remind the viewer that Jews, who tried to kill the infant Christ, are busy killing innocent children once again.

The allegation that Israel deliberately kills Palestinian children is horrible and deeply upsetting to anyone who cares about the truth. But equally upsetting is the possibility that Hillary Anderson and her producers at the BBC, are so ignorant of the history of anti-Semitism, that they do not know that the myth of Herod's slaughter is the original anti-Semitic blood libel, which arguably gave rise to centuries of persecution and pogroms, culminating in the Holocaust.


Suzanne Pomeranz said...

About Herod and the slaughter: IF he did it, two important notes:

1) he did it as the Roman KING (not as a Jew) as he was afraid of being usurped by another supposed king...

2) he slaughtered JEWS as Bethlehem was a JEWISH town at the time!

Yacov said...

you flatter yourself- you are not really going back to the Bible
if you did you would have a real handle on the events
Yeshua was born in Bethlehem -that is why satan through Herod wished to kill the children
The wise travelers knew it but to everyone's great loss- the people of the Book dont

yoni said...

"actually he can become a terrorist and be applauded and supported by many"

i'm assuming that was your interjection, mr. medad. surely you could come up with some better alternatives.