Why aren’t our congressmen hearing from this victim of endless Israeli expansion?

on 23 Comments

jaber 2

Now that Israel has made clear that the endless colonization process will continue, you’d think we might hear from the victims of that process.

Meet Atta Jaber, a farmer whose house outside Hebron has been destroyed four times by settlers but who rebuilds and hangs on, rarely leaving his property, because he has no choice but to defend his livelihood and ancestral lands for the sake of his children. Last week, Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions took me down to the occupied hills to meet Jaber. You see him above, standing next to his half-plowed zucchini and tomato field, left. And just past the tomatoes you can see the gas station that the Jewish colony Kiryat Arba built on his stolen land, and a hillside beyond that with settler “outposts” on it (not visible in my pic; but erected this year, Jaber says, in complete defiance of the alleged freeze).

On the way back to Jerusalem, Halper said he has continually urged American congressmen to have face-to-face conversations with Jaber, as I did– in which I asked this weathered farmer in his 40s questions about his experience and aspirations, and he answered me with eloquence and sincerity, in English. Just see for yourself. This man has greater political sophistication about the issue than just about anyone you will meet inside the Beltway. Halper shook his head over the fact that hundreds of our congresspeople visit the region at the behest of AIPAC, but never make this simple journey to see the victims of Israeli expansion. No: they sign letters saying that Israel is blameless and they put pressure on the Palestinians.

I made four videos of my visit with Jaber, and I thought it best to just post them all here, and give some descriptions of them so you can jump around and listen to this man tell you about his life. 

In Video 1, Jaber points out the landscape of the occupation: the new buildings that Kiryat Arba is putting up and pouring cement for right across from him and the outpost buildings they’ve established on the bare hill to the right. And he says that just yesterday the illegal colonists tore down Palestinian grapevines. (Salim Shawamreh and Jeff Halper of ICAHD both appear on this video.)

Then Jaber explains the settlers’ motivation: state ideology and religious ideas, their deed from Abraham. As if Muslims are not also sons and daughters of Abraham. And he tells the story of his own nephew’s arrest for trying to stop the settlers from tearing out his irrigation pipes.

The best part of this video is about halfway through when Jaber tells me how afraid he is for his life and crops, and I ask him who is helping him, and he tells me: ICAHD and Rabbis for Human Rights. That’s all, folks. Later on Jaber told me that B’Tselem is also helping him, but this is the sorrow and the pity: an honest man is terrorized by Jewish religious crazies on his own land, his lands are stripped of water, in the most important political terrain in the world, and just a few brave people are helping him. But Anthony Weiner and Barney Frank and Rachel Maddow and Jerrold Nadler and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are nowhere to be seen. Oh my. This will be an exhibit in the Nakba Museum some day.

Video 2. This one’s short. You’ve heard about the separate roadways? Jaber shows me the old Palestinian road right next to his lands and then the wide settlement road that was put in, on his family’s land, stealing hundreds of acres of Palestinian land in the supposed Palestinian state. You see the roads side by side, you see Kiryat Arba across the way. And while Jaber may use that road locally, I believe that if he tries to travel any distance on it, he could be arrested.

Video 3. We were in Jaber’s house and I asked him whether he’s ever attacked a settler, and why not. I apologize for my tone now; I think violence will get us nowhere. I was shocked by what Jaber had told me about the attacks on him. Jaber repeatedly tells me this idea is not in his mind, and tells me about the dangers of taking up arms– to his own humanity and to his family. He also tells me about settlers who have been kind to him. Then at about 5:36 he starts talking about the two state solution, which he supports– if only the occupation were gone.

The highlight of this video is Jaber’s insistence that Palestinians want to be left alone to make their own future. “We are a clever people. We are not beggars. We have muscles. We have minds.” And a few millionaires too. And note Jaber’s analysis that in the years 1970-1990 or so, it was one country and Palestinians had freedom, but that Israel didn’t want one-state because it didn’t want Palestinians. In his analysis, you see the logic of the slow Judaization that is taking place across the country.

Finally, in video 4, he shows me a tomato/zucchini field from which the Israeli civil administration and water company, Mekorot, tore out his irrigation pipes. On his own land. Right next to a water meter that records how much he owes Mekorot. You can see the desiccated tomatoes.

I forgot to mention that it was after the Civil Administration tore out water pipes from Jaber’s family land in August, that we got that incredible video of the five-year-old boy screaming in anguish as his father was arrested. The boy is a cousin once removed of Jaber, who told me that his nephew, who was arrested in that video, is still in jail, two months later. What do Barney Frank and Howard Berman have to say about that? Diddly.

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23 Responses

  1. zebra
    September 28, 2010, 11:24 am

    Great post. This site keeps getting better and better.

  2. Dan Crowther
    September 28, 2010, 11:29 am

    Wow. Cheers Phil, very well done indeed. I will focus on your last, before the first video:

    “But Anthony Weiner and Barney Frank and Rachel Maddow and Jerrold Nadler and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are nowhere to be seen. Oh my. This will be an exhibit in the Nakba Museum some day.”

    Guys like you, and I do mean Jewish, are the only people that can tackle persons 1-4 on this list. My message to you, and all other like minded Jewish men and women of conscience, is really get after them. Maddow’s show should be protested on most nights, in my opinion, for a complete lack of any substantive reporting on this issue. Even when she does bring a Glenn Greenwald on, and he steers the conversation to I/P, she quickly brings it back, usually with some quip about how scary Sharon Angle is.

    The last three on the list are simply “bought,” I don’t think you can with a straight face say that Obama and the Clinton’s views on the subject are driven by any principle- if person’s 1-4 begin to change their tune, or are REPLACED, 5-7 are sure to follow.

    • Dan Crowther
      September 28, 2010, 11:30 am

      Ooops, Bill wasn’t mentioned. 5&6 as it were. I must have Bill on the Brain. haha

    • Dan Crowther
      September 28, 2010, 1:23 pm

      Check this out, video from The Guardian on Juan Cole’s blog:

      link to juancole.com

      • annie
        September 28, 2010, 4:49 pm

        from your link:

        “Americans, who rebelled against King George for taxing them without representation and for billeting troops in their houses without permission, ought to be able to sympathize with Palestinians, who are being treated by Israel the way King George III treated George Washington and the other Virginians.”

      • Citizen
        September 28, 2010, 10:25 pm

        King George reasoned that the colonies should help pay for the benefits they got from the British, for example, it was the red coats
        who protected the settlers from the French and “Indians.” George sought compensation by imposing the Stamp Act and forced billeting of his troops. What quid pro quo argument does Israel use to rationalize its conduct concerning the native Palestinians?

  3. Seham
    September 28, 2010, 11:35 am

    Can’t wait till I get home from work so I can watch these.

  4. eljay
    September 28, 2010, 11:36 am

    >> Later on Jaber told me that B’Tselem is also helping him, but this is the sorrow and the pity: an honest man is terrorized by Jewish religious crazies on his own land …

    “Humanist” talking points:
    – Jaber’s fears are insignificant compared to the “generation to generation” fear-scarring felt by Holocaust survivors…and their families…and other Israelis…and sympathetic Zionists the world over.
    – Can Jaber prove that he owns the land he claims to own? Or is this all just polemic, designed to distract?
    – Complaining is just lazy dissent. Rather than be destabilizing and revolutionary, Jaber needs to make “better arguments” and “humanize ‘the Other'”.
    – “Justice” is better served by accepting the now, looking to the future and not inflicting harmful punishment on the settlers.

    Self-righteous “humanist” tripe makes me ill.

    • Pamela Olson
      September 28, 2010, 11:54 am

      I know you’re being facetious here, but it’s truly amazing what convoluted lengths some people will go to to fool their own basic conscience.

      • occupyresist
        September 28, 2010, 2:45 pm

        “but it’s truly amazing what convoluted lengths some people will go to to fool their own basic conscience.”

        That, in a nutshell, is Richard Witty-explained.

    • justicewillprevail
      September 28, 2010, 1:22 pm

      Self-righteous, duplicitous, lying tripe like yours makes everybody ill.

      • eljay
        September 28, 2010, 2:15 pm

        >> Self-righteous, duplicitous, lying tripe like yours makes everybody ill.

        I guess I should’ve added a “winky” emoticon, but I thought it was pretty clear that it wasn’t my tripe, it was “humanist” tripe.

      • Dan Crowther
        September 28, 2010, 2:41 pm

        I think eljay was parodying dick witty.

  5. annie
    September 28, 2010, 12:19 pm

    wow, i’m only partially thru the first video but this is incredible. these need wide distribution. great work phil. someone posted this beinartarticle here this morn but the ptb needs to all realize:

    But the problem—or at least a crucial problem—is settlements. Creating a contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank could easily require moving 100,000 settlers—ten times as many as Israel removed in Gaza, on far more theologically charged land. …. Many will have to be violently confronted, a terrifying prospect given that militant settlers comprise a larger and larger share of the Israeli officer corps. (Yitzhak Rabin, remember, was assassinated for merely contemplating the removal of West Bank settlements).

    these fanatics need to be extracted. totally. no if buts or ands.

  6. Mohammad Alsaafin
    September 28, 2010, 12:28 pm

    What an inspiration, a true hero. Atta Jaber has moved me, his lonely struggle against fanatics supported, financed and bolstered by powerful forces across the world has broken my heart. His slender frame and old face belie his age (he’s only in his 40s? He looks at least 65), but in this man we see the strongest spirit of human perseverance and dignified resistance. Atta Jaber’s name deserves to praised across the world, amongst all people of conscience.

    • annie
      September 28, 2010, 4:52 pm

      i know, he’s really got gorgeous energy doesn’t he.

  7. MRW
    September 28, 2010, 1:40 pm

    What a great post, Phil.

    [I have one word for you in future: GorillaPod. Google it. It could go on your shoulder. ;-) ]

  8. Les
    September 28, 2010, 2:40 pm

    You Only Get the Truth From Former Officials

    ‘Warning us about the Obama administration’s submission to Israeli pressure, in an interview with Lebanon’s OTV, Michael Scheuer, a former senior CIA officer, said: “Three hundred million Americans could wake up tomorrow to discover that a foreign leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, led them to war with Iran, which might lead to war with the rest of the Muslim world”. He added, “Israel has no value whatsoever when it comes to American interests. It does not produce or give us anything we need. The only thing we get from it is that it is leading us to a religious war it seeks with Islam”.’

    link to counterpunch.com

  9. Citizen
    September 28, 2010, 2:56 pm

    “We don’t have enough power” to protect our land. The IDF and Israeli police just come and take what they want. Thank you, America–brotherhood from sea to shiny sea. We need to give even more of those new F-35s for free to Israel so the poor thing can protect itself from this Atta Jaberwocky.

  10. Hugh
    September 28, 2010, 4:50 pm

    Dear Ms. Maddow,

    You’re first rate, no question. I admire your work on domestic politics when I can bring myself to watch television which is lamentably rare. I say lamentably because of what the mainstream media’s potential could be if it were subject to a new, focused generation of anti-trust legislation.

    Phil Weiss (Mondowiess) issued a challenge to you today in an article about a wise, English speaking Palestinian farmer just outside of Hebron. I understand the overall corporate environment always contains many unspoken does and don’ts, but perhaps you can respond to him however briefly on the air on the merits of his comments addressed to you.


    Hunter Watson
    PO 14
    Lake Linden, MI 49945
    [email protected]

    cc: Mondoweiss

    • Citizen
      September 28, 2010, 10:28 pm

      Asked a similar question in person, Chris Matthews just responded that he was not in charge of the programing.

  11. sherbrsi
    September 29, 2010, 1:46 am

    Meet Atta Jaber, a farmer whose house outside Hebron has been destroyed four times by settlers

    Don’t you mean been “exchanged” at “arms length” four times?

    At least, that’s how the resident “humanist” here describes such settler actions.

  12. Avi
    September 29, 2010, 2:43 am

    Jews of the world, you have created Israel in your image.

    And it’s ugly.

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