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Twinning with Palestine

The Britain - Palestine Twinning Network - "promoting twinning and friendship links"

Activities for the network in 2011 include * Women's visit - March * Twinning Conference in Palestine - April * Visits to Palestine April and October * Conference in Liverpool - November.

Twinning Info. / Visit reports - Falkirk to Jayouse

Falkirk and District - Antonine Friendship Link (2003)

www.antoninefriendshiplink.co.uk

Contact - cate.mowat at hotmail.co.uk

Latest news (August 2007) - We moved our Friendship Scroll which has been on display in Falkirk's Muncipal Buildings for over a year, to the Scottish Parliament for a week long exhibition last week. Luckily for us we attracted the attention of a BBC reporter, John Knox and he suggested a 'live' radio link up with our contact in Jayyous - this was broadcast last week on the BBC Radio Scotland programme 'Sunday Live.

www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/mainframe.shtml?

www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/scotland_aod.shtml?scotland/sundaylive

Or go to the BBC Radio Scotland website and 'Listen Again' to Sunday Live.

News from an Ecumenical Accompanier sent to the Jayouse group.

The tears of Jayyous

One can shed tears every day in Jayyous. It is easy to do so. But tears are a luxury. To shed tears is to find consolation in despair, to believe that there is nothing we can do.

Two days ago, after completing my watch, where soldiers had refused to allow one man to cross to his farm because his permit was for the North Gate rather than South, instead of retracing my steps to the village, I walked into the olive groves, heading north and aiming for the high ground where I hoped for wide view of the 'separation barrier' snaking across the farmland.

It was a hot and sunny and, though I had still to get back for breakfast, I stopped every now and then to take my bearings. Looking across the barrier fence, I caught my first glimpse of Zufin. It was an 'aha' moment! "Zufin, I have read about you. I have heard about you. But now I have seen you with my own eyes!"

Central Zufin was founded in 1989 and by 2005 had a population of 1,000 and this is expected to treble. Two further developments, closer to Jayyous and impinging on its farmland, could accommodate a further 6,000 people. And there is also to be an industrial zone.

The construction of Israeli settlements, like Zufin, within Occupied Palestine, breaches international law, which forbids an occupying power from transferring its own citizens into the occupied territory.[1] But the Israeli Government continues to allow and encourage the growth of these illegal settlements on Palestinian land.[2]

The 2005 Report of the Israeli Human Rights Group B'Tselem, Under the Guise of Security, draws attention to the influence of these settlements upon the choice of route to be followed by the separation Wall. It concludes: 'many sections of the separation barrier's route were not based on security considerations ……. but on the settlements' expansion plans. ……. Had settlement expansion not played a role in dictating the route, Israel would have been able to achieve its purported security objectives …. without causing nearly as much harm as the chosen route has caused.''[3]

The construction of the barrier in the Jayyous area involved the destruction of 200 acres of farmland, mostly olive trees. Five of the six water wells that belonged to Jayyous and 2,000 acres of its most productive land have been cut off from the village.[4] The chosen route reflects a desire to separate Jayyous from its land and water resources in order to allow the development and extension, of Zufim.[5]

In the centre of the first phase of the extension, there is a plot of land excluded from the plan. It contained about 350 olive trees planted by Tawfik and Jamil Salim some 30 years ago. In December 2004, a bulldozer, protected by the Israel Defence Force uprooted these trees. It was accompanied by an armed settler who claimed the land as his own, intended as a religious Jewish school.

Chris Gocke, an Ecumenical Accompanier, recorded what he witnessed:

'And now Tawfik, accompanied by a soldier, is allowed to see the destruction done to his olive grove. The moment we reach the hilltop, he gets into a state of desperation. He raises his arms, crying out loud, pointing desperately to the ripped up soil. He tumbles among the uprooted olive trees, pressing the leaves to his face, running from one tree to another.'[6]

On Sunday morning I walked the 2½ miles to the Gate at Falamiya, the next village to the north, in time for the opening of the gate at 0600. Part of the route took me through the olive groves of Jayyous and I began to understand a little of the pain that the destruction of their trees must cause the people.

'Did you receive any compensation for the loss of your land and your trees?' I asked one of the village men. 'Not at all,' he replied, 'And we would never take anything from them. Land is not something we can sell.' [7]

Among the men of the village there is no sense of surrender but there is a mood of resignation, despondency, sadness.

I spoke at length with one of the storekeepers. He has not always been a storekeeper. He was a farmer. But two years ago the Israeli Army withdrew his permit to cross to the farms where he owns about 50 acres of land, on which there are many big olive trees. He has five children, a girl of sixteen and four boys aged between nine and fifteen. He finds it hard to make a living. He has to employ men, who have their own permits, to look after his land. His small store is struggling – government employees have not been receiving regular wages for more than a year and have been depending on credit – but that is another story. With his five brothers he helps to support his widowed father.

There is real anxiety about the future - fear. What if they should be 'transferred'. Empty-handed, how will they survive as refugees?

On television his children see how the rest of the world lives; they want to make a life for themselves, but it is not possible. They live behind the Wall. His young son says that he feels miserable. "Go to the school and play football, Dad says. "I am afraid," the boy replies, "Maybe the soldiers' jeep will come and take me. I am afraid." His daughter has completed her school education and wants to attend the university in Qalqiliya – a 75p bus ride away. How can he find £900 a year for her fees – and the daily fares?

"Maybe you see me smile," he says. "I smile from my mouth, not from my heart."

It is easy to shed tears in Jayyous – every day.

But instead, there is always something we can do.

Tom Patton

I work for Quaker Peace and Social Witness as an Ecumenical Accompanier serving on the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). The views expressed in this email are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer (QPSW) or the WCC. If you would like to publish the information contained here, or place it on a website, please first contact the QPSW Middle East Programme Manager (floresca@quaker.org.uk) for permission. Thank you

[1]The fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1949), Article 49 paragraph 6, states that an 'Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.'.

[2] The Israeli NGO, Peace Now, has shown that nearly 40% 0f the land owned by Israeli settlements in the West Bank is privately owned by Palestinians. See Breaking the Law in the West Bank - One Violation Leads to Another: Israeli Settlement Building on Private Palestinian Property. (2006)

[3]B'Tselem Under the Guise of Security (2005)  p.18

[4] Former Ecumenical Accompanier, Iain Common, in a draft note addressed to the EAPPI Communications Officer in Jerusalem 30.03.2007

[5] Iain Common op.cit.

[6] Iain Common op.cit.

[7] Shades of Naboth and his vineyard (I Kings 21:3)

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Events in 2011

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Women's Tour March 2011

Conference Palestine April 2011

Conference - Liverpool November 2011

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The Israeli Apartheid wall "security barrier"

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