We've been chronicling the rising fury inside Europe toward the Israeli occupation; and one story I've put aside that relates to this trend involves a visit by Norwegian volunteers to help Palestinian farmers plant olive trees.
Settlers destroyed their efforts. The farmers have vowed to press their rights. (And Kate covered the attacks in her daily digest here.)
I focus on this incident because of the extremism. The Norwegian volunteers are doing loving work; and they were met by a zealot who call them Nazis. And one of the Norwegians' ancestors saved Jews during the Holocaust.
A Palestinian farmer seeks redress for his losses. He is forced into a hateful bureaucracy of occupation that is reminiscent of the airless desperation of a Kafka story. Will J Street describe these conditions at its conference, titled "Making History," next week?
At the end of the accounts below, you will find excerpts of a piece by that zealot, Nadia Matar of Women in Green, explaining why Palestinians have no place in the West Bank.
First, here is the International Middle East Media Center's report on the Norwegians' work at the village of Beit Iskaria, near the Israeli settlement Eleazar, on March 7:
On Wednesday morning a group of 11 Norwegian students and their teacher joined Yassin Da'doua on his land to plant 200 olive trees as part of the olive tree planting campaign organized by Joint Advocacy Initiative of East Jerusalem YMCA and YWCA of Palestine.
The group along with the Palestinian farmer and his family managed to plant half of the trees on Wednesday before the leader of the radical settler organization 'Women in Green', Nadia Matar, arrived along with two other Israeli settlers who started taking photos of the young Norwegians.
“Your grandparents have killed my grandparents in the holocaust and now you are helping the Arabs to steal our land. This is the land for the people of Israel. You are helping the wrong people. You are like the Nazis.” Matar shouted at the Norwegian students.
After some time Israeli soldiers, military police, and uniform police arrived at the scene and demanded the Palestinians and their friends stop planting the trees and leave the area. The military commander said that the land is owned by the state of Israel...
“How can they call me a Nazi? My grandparents fought the Nazis during the second world war,” said one of the Norwegian students responding to Matar comments.
Video is here, I can't get it to load.
Below is an interesting account of the encounter from Sensingtherabbithole, who I believe to be a European employee of the Joint Advocacy Initiative in East Jerusalem, which arranged the plantings. In the picture at left, you can see Nadia Matar pointing a finger.
The group had just started the planting of 200 olive trees when the leader of the radical settler organization ‘Women in Green’, Nadia Matar, arrived with two other Israeli settlers. Matar had an aggressive approach towards the international group and said loudly “your grandparents have killed my grandparents in the holocaust and now you are helping the Arabs to steal our land. This is the land for the people of Israel. You are helping the wrong people. You are like the Nazis.” At the same time, Israeli soldiers appeared, who counted a higher number of armed military compared with olive planting Norwegians. The military canceled the olive planting and ordered the group to stop their work and return to the bus which was escorted back to Bethlehem....
The group was invited to an Israeli settlement for a talk and a discussion with an Israeli settler. A Palestinian man, employed in our NGO joined the meeting in the Synagogue, but instead of screaming, he left the room due to the lack of common ground. ...
The next morning, 100 planted olive trees were uprooted and the land was prohibited from the Palestinian farmer. The nephew of the land owner was arrested due to his act of planting olive trees despite the order from the soldiers to stop working. In the case of this spesific farmer, this could be the first step towards a long lasting process in court. While facing the judge, the legal question is not “who is the right based owner of this land?”. The land is presumed to be Israeli state land, and the mission of the Palestinian farmer is to once again prove that it belongs to him.
In the case of the Palestinian people – this is no more radical than a continuous process of transmitting land from Palestine to Israel, which has been going on since 1948. The difference between now and than is that today the land grab violates international law, and the Palestinian people has no means to fight back. At the same time, the world community has an opportunity to influence the govern of Israel. But the problem seems to be that the world, through UN, gave Israel the power to form a state, but without enough restrictions. Criticizing Israel later is too sensitive because of the horrible history of the Jewish people.
Now here is a detailed report from the Joint Advocacy Initiative on the second incident of olive tree destruction. It emphasizes the Kafakesque system faced by a Palestinian farmer whose lands have been invaded. He must go to a settlement to file his complaint. And the complaint is filed against Nobody. (Kafka was inspired in his tales, some have asserted, by the treatment of Jews in central Europe.)
The same group of Norwegian students also planted trees on private Palestinian land east of Bethlehem [on March 4].
The land is near two settlements one of which is Nokedim, home to Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman.
A group of Israeli settlers came into the land of Aziz Tinih's family at 1:00 am on Sunday, 11th of March 2012. The settlers took their time destroying the land and uprooting nearly 190 newly planted olive trees. All the trees except of one were found cut and/or pulled out of the soil.
...In order to file a complaint about the destruction of his land, the Israeli Authorities sent Aziz to Etzion settlement then to Kriat Arba settlement then to the Nokdim settlement security. The Israelis told Aziz that the people who destroyed his land were not settlers but Palestinians, a claim was proved a lie because no Palestinians live in any of the settlements around the field and no Palestinian would find it safe to be there at the time of the attack (around 1 am).
Eventually the case was filed against nobody even though the Israeli authorities could easily find who attacked the land giving the fact that the area has camera surveillance covering all the settlements.
The land of Tinih family has been subject to various settler attacks, Settlers come out from the nearby El David and Nokdim Settlement and vandalize the property of the Palestinians land around the settlements, many land owners avoid going to their land fearing for their lives as several Palestinians were attacked by settlers from there including Aziz' brother as well as many Palestinian shepherds who used to herd their flocks there.
The uprooting of the trees has made Aziz and his family more keen on returning to their land regardless of the existing threats. Through the Olive Tree Campaign Aziz and his family will continue to receive olive trees from the campaign until the settlers attacks stop.
"Some of Israeli settlers in this area think they are shepherds. They try to follow the life of prophet Amos, somebody needs to remind them that; as a shepherd, prophet Amos had a stick rather than a machine gun and he was a person who respected his neighbors rather than using every opportunity to destroy their property, terrorize them and drive them off their land..." [There is no attribution for this quote, apart from JAI itself]
Now here is part of the response to the Norwegians by Nadia Matar of Women in Green. Wow, this is intense, but they believe this stuff. These are the messianic mad people controlling the West Bank. Notice the talk about "the Arab":
And now for the facts:
We, the Jewish People, are embroiled in an ongoing battle for reclamation of our land, our historic birthright, the Land of Israel.
The Jewish People are, and have been, the indigenous inhabitants of the Land of Israel for over 4000 years. We have been continuously present here, in greater or lesser numbers, despite enforced exile and dispossession by a series of foreign invaders and conquerors – with the Arabs and Moslems only the latest in a long line.
With the advent of the national liberation movement of Zionism, and with the help of G-d, the Jewish People have returned to our G-d given biblical Homeland, especially to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria,where the very first Jewish “settlers” lived thousands of years ago- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and later the Judges, Kings, Priests and Sages of our people. At a time when Europe was still a forested haven for primitive tribes, and Islam did not yet exist, Jews flourished in their homeland and developed the spiritual and ethical heritage that has transformed human civilization.
Today’s 750,000 Jewish residents living in Judea and Samaria should not be labeled “settlers”, which is a mistranslation of the Hebrew “mitnachalim”, but rather “heirs” or “inheritors” of the land. We have been here for over 4000 years and we are here to stay. In contrast, as Joan Peters points out throughout her lengthy and well-documented book “From Time Immemorial”, almost all the Arabs living in Israel or in Judea and Samaria, are not “native” to the land, but rather immigrants from Syria and Saudi Arabia attracted by the Zionist return and economic development of the Land of Israel....
The Arab claiming ownership of that piece of land is simply lying – his so-called documents are either non-existent or fabricated and forged. He is a dangerous and violent man, who was arrested a few months ago after he attacked a Jewish farmer with a hoe, and almost killed him.
The Arabs, and Moslems, of course, are fighting for far more than the possession of this or that piece of land – they aim for nothing less than the destruction of the State of Israel.
Great thanks to Ron Taylor.