‘We came to school and found the school destroyed’: Israeli forces demolish West Bank school hours before children’s first day

Israel/Palestine
on 72 Comments

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Israeli military jeeps came barreling down towards Jubbet al-Dhib’s first and only primary school late Tuesday night, terrifying locals who had been finishing preparations for the school’s grand opening set for the next morning. Soldiers shot tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets as they cleared the way for bulldozers and flatbed trucks brought in to take the school.

The school, located between four Palestinian villages on the outskirts of Bethlehem, was built with caravans on a concrete foundation by local authorities and international NGOs partnered with the European Union, hoping to mitigate the myriad of challenges facing students in the area.

Israeli soldiers quickly cleared the area with crowd control weapons, and within an hour of the soldier’s arrival the caravans had been loaded up and taken away along with the tables, desks, construction equipment and everything else other than the concrete foundation, bathrooms and tiny chairs brought for the seven-to-nine-year-olds that were expected to attend their first day of  school the next morning.

Palestinian activist Munther Amira writes ‘Jubbet al-Dhib School’ on the front of the tent that he, and other local activists, set up to act as a make-shift school for the children of the remote Jubbet al-Dhib village. (Photo: Yumna Patel)

The only other school in the area, Hateen Primary and Secondary School for Boys and Girls, located in the middle of Ta’amra village on the outskirts of Bethlehem city, is actually a shoddily refurbished home rented by the Palestinian Authority to serve the children of four local villages.

The landlord lives in a home on the upper floor.

If it was not for the faded cartoon paintings etched along the wall of Hateen School, one might think they were passing a car garage instead of the main educational institution in the area. The front of the school opens to three large garage-like doors. Each door takes up an entire wall of each room, leaving the children’s cramped classrooms exposed to the main street some meters away.

In the first room boys and girls sat nearly shoulder-to-shoulder on their very first day of kindergarten. These children live closest to the school, so they were given priority to attend class there. The rest of the children from the surrounding villages have to travel from up to six miles away.

There are no school buses and many people living in the rural village, not connected to electric grids or water mains, have no means of transportation and little money to afford daily trips to and from the school — leaving most of the children with no other choice but to walk.

The classrooms are not anywhere near large enough to hold the students it serves, which is only a small fraction of the children in the community.

Standing inside one of the classrooms in the basement of the home-turned-school, the principal, Nesreen Duwayb, explained that twenty students were supposed to be taught in the tiny room.

“It’s too hard to study in this kind of room, it makes it so the students aren’t able to focus very well, because look at the conditions,” she said, motioning to the small room around her, whose peeling walls were decorated from floor to ceiling in art and projects made by the children — an attempt to brighten the dreary room.

The new school, which would have served more than 60 children, was built to help relieve the situation for the students, but while the old school is located in Area B under joint Palestinian-Israeli control, the new school was located in Area C, which falls under full-Israeli control.

Any construction in Area C, which comprises more than 60 percent of the West Bank, requires a building permit, 98.5 percent of which are denied.

The European Union and the Palestinian Authority had hoped to get the school approved retroactively, as the two bodies have been pressuring Israeli authorities to approve a “master plan” for the villages, which would also allow them to be hooked up to electricity grids, water mains, garbage facilities and more.

A Palestinian employee with one of the NGOs involved in the project, who asked to remain anonymous, told Mondoweiss that building the school in Area C was a calculated plan.

“We are persuading the planning regime,” the employee explained, referring to the pressure put on Israel to approve the master plan. “We can’t leave Area C, this is the PA and EU’s policy, otherwise it’ll be confiscated later for settlement expansion. Having a school in Area C is a way further to support a master plan and to convince the community not to leave.”

A spokesperson with Israel’s Coordination for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the body charged with administering the occupied West Bank, said the school was confiscated after stop-work orders were issued days previously, however local activists said stop-work orders were only issued to the concrete bathrooms built next to the caravans. The bathrooms were left, while the caravans were confiscated.

Palestinian school children from Jubbet al-Dhib sit and wait on the remains of their school that was destroyed by Israeli forces, as activists set up a tent for teachers to conduct classes in for the day. (Photo: Yumna Patel)

The morning after the confiscation, the children still came. All 64 students who expected to start class at their new school gathered on the barren concrete foundation as part of a symbolic protest.

The children sang the national anthem to politicians, activists, parents and teachers before receiving brand new backpacks to take home with them.

For their second day of school, some of the children will return to the dilapidated school in the village, while most will continue taking the long walk to schools in other areas, where they are treated differently and made fun of, both for being from a rural area and for often showing up late in sweaty, dirty clothes from the long walk.

While very young, the children told Mondoweiss they understood very well what was happening around them.

“We came to school and found the school destroyed,” one young boy said. “It is the first day of school and we are just sad because the soldiers took our school, but we want to build it again and study here, we hope.”

About Sheren Khalel

Sheren Khalel is a freelance multimedia journalist who works out of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. She focuses on human rights, women's issues and the Palestine/Israel conflict. Khalel formerly worked for Ma'an News Agency in Bethlehem, and is currently based in Ramallah and Jerusalem. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sherenk.

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72 Responses

  1. eljay
    August 23, 2017, 1:32 pm

    Once again, Israeli Occupation and Colonization Forces goons operating in not-Israel do evil to not-Israelis. These goons – and their “Jewish State” masters – can’t seem to keep it in their pants.

    • Kay24
      August 24, 2017, 7:14 am

      If this was Iran, you can bet even Nutty would be feigning outrage at how mean and evil they are.

    • Misterioso
      August 24, 2017, 10:26 am

      Monsters digging their grave.

      • genesto
        August 24, 2017, 12:15 pm

        Took the words right out of my mouth, Misterioso! Kudos to all the courageous soldiers and government officials who saw fit to attack a bunch of nine-year-old children by destroying their school! Meanwhile, our fine government is denying aid to Egypt for human rights abuses while continuing to turn its back on things like this, just because it’s our ‘special friend’ that’s responsible.

        Makes me sick to my stomach!

      • Jack Green
        August 24, 2017, 5:28 pm

        genesto

        Would it be better to allow children to attend a school that was built without a building permit & then in a few years while the school is full of children it collapses or catches fire because it wasn’t built to code?

      • just
        August 24, 2017, 6:07 pm

        “Would it be better to allow children to attend a school that was built without a building permit & then in a few years while the school is full of children it collapses or catches fire because it wasn’t built to code?”

        LOLOL! Your faux concern is absolutely fantastical and you are so incredibly deluded.

        The IOF would much prefer to bomb schools and hospitals and innocents with continued impunity.

        “US ‘appalled’ by ‘disgraceful’ Israeli shelling of Gaza UN school”

        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/03/us-appalled-disgraceful-israeli-shelling-gaza-un-school

        (not “appalled” enough, though.)

        “(Jerusalem) – Three Israeli attacks that damaged Gaza schools housing displaced people caused numerous civilian casualties in violation of the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said today. In the first in-depth documentation of the violations, Human Rights Watch investigated the three attacks, which occurred on July 24 and 30, and August 3, 2014, and killed 45 people, including 17 children.

        “The Israeli military carried out attacks on or near three well-marked schools where it knew hundreds of people were taking shelter, killing and wounding scores of civilians,” said Fred Abrahams, special adviser at Human Rights Watch. “Israel has offered no convincing explanation for these attacks on schools where people had gone for protection and the resulting carnage.”…”

        https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/09/11/israel-depth-look-gaza-school-attacks

        “GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli forces fired a tank shell at a hospital in Gaza on Monday, killing at least four people and injuring 40 others, health officials said.

        It was the third hospital Israel’s military has struck since launching a ground offensive in Gaza last week.

        The four people killed at al-Aqsa Hospital on Monday included one patient and three visitors, health officials told NBC News….”

        https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/middle-east-unrest/another-gaza-hospital-hit-israeli-strike-four-dead-40-hurt-n161086

        ETC……..

        btw, aren’t you similarly concerned about these settler illegals and thieves?

        “Israeli settlers set up illegal caravans on Palestinian village lands near Bethlehem

        … Since the occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967, between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis have moved into Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, in violation of international law.
        The estimated 196 government recognized Israeli settlements scattered across the Palestinian territory are all considered illegal under international law.

        Meanwhile, although Israeli settler outposts — unapproved by the Israeli government — are considered illegal even under Israeli law, earlier this year, Israel passed the outpost Regularization law, which would pave the way for the retroactive legalization of dozens of Israeli settler outposts.”

        https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=778132

    • Elizabeth Block
      August 24, 2017, 9:56 pm

      1. The Israelis didn’t destroy the school. They stole it.

      2. If this isn’t an attack on academic freedom, what is?

      • Mooser
        August 25, 2017, 12:08 pm

        “The European Union and the Palestinian Authority had hoped to get the school approved retroactively…”

        And Israel slaps the EU in the face.

  2. Kay24
    August 23, 2017, 4:09 pm

    What a sad story, and a hopeless situation. The zionists have consistently shown nothing but arrogance, and disregard for basic human rights for those they occupy. They steal the lands, water, collectively punish them, and show their mean streak quite often, this time to prevent children from getting an education. While they brag of being educated people, it seem they want to prevent the Palestinians from succeeding in their own lives. I am ashamed that the US congress does nothing and keeps enabling these deplorable people to continue these inhumane crimes, and shame on Saudi Arabia and other nations that now hold hands with the vicious zionists., instead of helping their own.

    • lonely rico
      August 24, 2017, 9:49 am

      Kay24

      [the zionists] show their mean streak quite often

      When do zionists do otherwise than MEAN?

      Never ! – MEAN is an integral part of zionism.

  3. JosephA
    August 23, 2017, 7:05 pm

    Where is Fat Bastard? Where is Jack Green? Defend this madness. You two ought to be ashamed of yourselves, apologists for such a terrible regime.

    • DaBakr
      August 25, 2017, 8:02 pm

      what’s mad? saying the temple mount is an exclusive muslim land. that the Jews have nothing to do with Abrahams tomb. that askinazi jews (many who trace their ancestors move across Africa into spain then up through france into poland and russia) are really khazzers.

      you know I read something very interesting the other day. it was either a formal or possibly informal (it doesn’t matter. it’s still opinion) survey of the owners of radical websites. both right wing and left wing. apparently there are many owners of sites that try to remain serious that absolutely LOATH their commentary sections with other owners rarely reading or engaging them. wonder which owners they might be. they didn’t say.

  4. RoHa
    August 24, 2017, 12:28 am

    When I saw the headline, I wanted to make a sarcastic quip, but, as I read on, even the most sardonic humour dried up.

    All the politicians in the EU should have their noses rubbed into this.

    • Jack Green
      August 24, 2017, 12:13 pm

      RoHa

      The school was built without a permit. Permits are important.
      If a structure is not built to code, it could collapse or catch on fire &
      people could be killed or injured.

      • eljay
        August 24, 2017, 12:39 pm

        || Jack Green: … The school was built without a permit. Permits are important.
        If a structure is not built to code, it could collapse or catch on fire &
        people could be killed or injured. ||

        Yessir, we can’t have structures built by non-Jews in not-Israel killing non-Jews in not-Israel – that’s the job of Jewish supremacists (Zionists).

      • John O
        August 24, 2017, 12:49 pm

        @Jack Green

        Truly, one would have to have a heart of stone not to laugh at your pretended concern for the welfare of Palestinian schoolchildren.

        So why did they not appoint building inspectors to see if it presented any safety hazards?

        More to the point, the school is not in Israel. The Israeli authorities have no right to do anything in Bethlehem.

      • oldgeezer
        August 24, 2017, 1:22 pm

        @jack

        Spare us the utter hypocrisy jack. When the criminal Israelis build without permits they are granted retroactively. When they steal land it is legitimized retroactively.

        You have zero concern for the welfare of the Palestinians so don’t pretend otherwise.

        The criminal racist state of Israel targets children. As it always targets children. the idf is the most cowardly terrorist force on the planet and it takes a very dark heart and twisted mind to support the zionist enterprise.

      • Misterioso
        August 24, 2017, 3:04 pm

        @Jack Green

        Bottom line: The school was located in belligerently, illegally, brutally occupied Palestinian land. By destroying the school, Israel is also in flagrant violation of the “Fourth Geneva Convention,” which is binding on UN member states and has also been ratified by Israel.

        You should be hanging your head in shame!! Then again, what can we expect from you and your disgusting, cowardly ilk?

        No wonder Israel is increasingly viewed by peoples around the world, including more and more Jews, as a rogue/pariah.

      • Jack Green
        August 24, 2017, 5:10 pm

        John O

        Scenario #1
        You want to build a house.
        You apply for a building permit.
        You are told that your plans are good except
        you have to use wire X rather than wire Y &
        pipe A rather than pipe B.
        You build your house.
        The building inspector comes & says that everything is up to code.
        He gives you your Certificate of Occupancy & you move in.

        Scenario #2
        You don’t apply for a building permit.
        You just go ahead & build your house.
        The building inspector comes &
        tells you that you should have used wire X instead of wire Y
        & pipe A rather than pipe B.
        You now have to tear down the walls, pull out the wrong wires & pipes,
        & install the right wires & pipes.
        Your house is finally finished, but weeks late & $100,000 more.

        So, is it better to require a building permit or not?

      • RoHa
        August 24, 2017, 8:10 pm

        From the photos and the description given in the article, it seems that the school consisted of a concrete apron, a concrete brick toilet block, and large caravans as classrooms.

        The Israeli authorities knew about the project ahead of time, but waited almost till completion before issuing a stop-work order on the toilet block. If there were concerns about the safety of the caravans, why didn’t the Israelis take action earlier?

        Why not issue a set of instructions to make the caravans meet the safety requirements?

        Why confiscate everything moveable except the chairs?

        Why wait until the night before the opening to stop the project.

        Your talk of safety concerns is just nonsense. The aim of the Israelis was to block the whole project, and to do it with the well-practiced Israeli nastiness calculated to have the maximum psychological effect.

      • DaBakr
        August 25, 2017, 8:39 pm

        just based on the hypocrisy of the eu towards Israel is reason enough for the illegal(that’s right. illegal as any settlement the left calls illegal ) school to be torn. palestinians should be receiving billions for education from their government but everybody (really. who in the world doesn’t know) knows abbas steals most to be divided up among family and cronies and his private security. does anybody also believe the PA wants their citizens to be educated? if they were Abbas would be dead or deep in Russia or KSA.
        as if anybody needed proof, Israeli Arabs can access and receive the best primary educations in the me. Now, the Hamas and the PA are more concerned that their people keep up the hatred from birth until martyrdom or escape. Israelis sacrifice more then you mw Zionist haters ever have spouting off bds mantras. we fight but we know we’re locked together. only radical extremists push for unacceptable terms with a fake love for equality as if any of you live in nations with actual equality. phonies on the right and left.

  5. Vera Gottlieb
    August 24, 2017, 9:16 am

    Shamefully, I am of Jewish background and yet I will say this: israel needs to be finished.

    • Misterioso
      August 24, 2017, 3:05 pm

      @Vera

      Israel is finishing itself. It’s only a matter of time.

      • DaBakr
        August 25, 2017, 8:46 pm

        It may make you feel better to fantasize about Israel’s impending doom. zionists have to constantly remind the haters that we’ve been hearing this for much longer then 75yrs. much longer. it doesn’t phase most of us and hasn’t for years. but it’s useful to remind people how badly anti zionist pray for our demise. maybe Israel needs an advocacy organization.

      • Annie Robbins
        August 25, 2017, 11:07 pm

        we’ve been hearing this for much longer then 75yrs. much longer. it doesn’t phase most of us and hasn’t for years.

        gee, how old are you anyway?

        it’s useful to remind people how badly anti zionist pray for our demise.

        how so? how do you use these so called prayers for demise? just to make yourself feel better about the notorious israeli atrocities? do tell. and 75 years isn’t a very long time relatively speaking. about as long as another stint at a jewish kingdom as i recall.

        maybe Israel needs an advocacy organization.

        it already has hundreds of them.

    • Jack Green
      August 24, 2017, 5:25 pm

      Vera Gottlieb

      Arab women in Israel live longer than Arab women in any Arab country.
      If Israel were finished, the Arab women in Israel would die younger.

      Arab babies in Israel have lower infant mortality than Arab babies in any Arab country.
      If Israel were finished, more Arab babies would die.

      Arab women in Israel have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion & the vote.
      If Israel were finished, Arab women in Israel would lose their freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion & the vote.
      Also, if they are raped, their brothers & fathers would be allowed to murder them (honor killings.)

      • Mooser
        August 24, 2017, 7:45 pm

        “Jack Green”, there’s no doubt your comment has relieved, nay, eradicated any sense of shame a Jewish person may have feel about Israel and replaced it with justifiable pride. The informed and impartial way you approach the subject, and the context you select is in itself, oh, so edifying.

      • Kaisa of Finland
        August 24, 2017, 9:14 pm

        Jack:

        “Arab women in Israel live longer than Arab women in any Arab country.
        If Israel were finished, the Arab women in Israel would die younger.

        Arab babies in Israel have lower infant mortality than Arab babies in any Arab country..”

        But wasn’t this school in West Bank??

        You can’t honestly be defending people destroying schools for children.

        You might know their motive though: Someone might teach these kids about their civil rights and rights to exist and to be treated as human beings!! (And that could surely be too scary for someone..)

      • just
        August 24, 2017, 10:23 pm

        You have no shame at all, Jack.

        “Arab women in Israel live longer than Arab women in any Arab country.
        If Israel were finished, the Arab women in Israel would die younger.”

        They already do.

        “Arab-Jewish gap in life expectancy in Israel.”

        (a bit of the old blame- the- victim included, too.)

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26612884

        “Arab babies in Israel have lower infant mortality than Arab babies in any Arab country.”

        Yeah, right. Ask the odious, racist Revital Smotrich, the wife of MK Betzalel Smotrich, about their feelings.

        About the folks in Palestine, Occupied Gaza and the West Bank that Israel is responsible for under International Law(s), how come those stats aren’t included here???

        “WORLD HEALTH RANKINGS
        LIVE LONGER LIVE BETTER”

        http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/life-expectancy-middle-east

        I think that honest and good people know the answer.

        As for “honor killings” in Israel, some Jewish folks have their own issues.

    • DaBakr
      August 25, 2017, 10:18 pm

      @v

      According to @ej and others here jewish is a choice. what do you have to feel ashamed of. Israel is not your fault

      • eljay
        August 25, 2017, 11:43 pm

        || @aBr: @v

        According to @ej and others here jewish is a choice. what do you have to feel ashamed of. Israel is not your fault ||

        You’re right: She shouldn’t feel ashamed. She chose to be Jewish, not a Jewish supremacist. That was the choice you made.

      • RoHa
        August 26, 2017, 8:09 am

        Thinking of yourself as a Jew is a choice. Telling other people you are a Jew is a choice. Adhering to Judaism is a choice.

        Having a Jewish mother is not a choice.* Being classed as a Jew by other people, even if you do not class yourself as Jew, is not a choice.

        So the question is whether you think being a Jew is decided by yourself or by other people.

        Which do you choose, DaBakr?

        (*Unless, as some claim, we choose our parents in our between-lives state.)

      • Mooser
        August 26, 2017, 1:09 pm

        “So the question is whether you think being a Jew is decided by yourself or by other people.”

        One of your best. Thank you, “RoHa”.

      • yonah fredman
        August 26, 2017, 2:53 pm

        Roha-assertions like yours- considering yourself a jew is a choice, is valuable if only to stake out a position based upon an ivory tower definition of identity, asserting philosophy’s command that the individual can choose to defy psychology, sociology and history.

      • Mooser
        August 26, 2017, 5:38 pm

        ” can choose to defy psychology, sociology and history.”

        And physiology, too. If a man is born without a foreskin, what choice does he have? He must be Jewish.

      • just
        August 26, 2017, 6:21 pm

        Exactly, Mooser! You made me actually have to hold in my tea from escaping my mouth! Merci.

        (The First Cut is the Deepest)

        Formally Cat Stevens. Now Yusuf… Always himself.

      • RoHa
        August 27, 2017, 12:51 am

        Yonah, of course many people do not realise that they can choose. Many do not think about it at all. They simply accept what they have been brought up with. Others think that there is some sort of essential Jewishness that they have inherited and cannot lose. Others, perhaps, think that they have some moral obligation to call themselves Jews.

        But none of these affect the reality. One can choose to accept or reject Jewishness.

      • Annie Robbins
        August 27, 2017, 3:06 am

        i can’t really imagine what it would have been like growing up as part of a 1mil+ ethnic tribe think commitment, although i recognize this is not uncommon. it’s not just a jewish thing. but as an adult i certainly do appreciate my freedom, my not having to be behoven to an ethnic tribal group think/emotion. i don’t have to accept or reject some group think or religion imposed on me. others before me paved the way and for that i am grateful.

        i am sure there are benefits of being part of some inclusive tribal thing. many benefits i am sure. but the guilt of being part of (responsible) some groups’ ethnic cleansing (yes i have that with my southern ancestors, and also have ancestors hung for being abolitionists. both a long long time ago.. no awareness of ancestors contributing to genocide of native americans)? only as an american am i responsible for the ethnic cleansing of palestine/iraq/native americans and so many others. only as part of a 3mil+ american “tribe” do i regrettably contribute to these ongoing atrocities.

        i don’t think choosing jewishness is at the crux of the issue, for jewishness is not on trial. zionism however is. choosing zionism is dangerous for the victims and perps. beware.

      • yonah fredman
        August 27, 2017, 3:44 am

        Roha- Are you white? Is it a choice?

      • Annie Robbins
        August 27, 2017, 3:20 pm

        Are you white? Is it a choice?

        yonah, i think you are confusing someones self identity (how they identify themselves) with how others (like you) may identify that person. people can self identify at will, consciously. but i don’t know if that’s always the way it works out. ie, how many people think of themselves as fat, ugly and/or boring? just generally low self esteem? probably a lot. but is that something they want to feel or choose to feel? how people self identify depends on many factors. yes, i do believe we all have the power to self identify however we want, and that ultimately we do choose our own self identities. but asking someone a question about some physical attribute or their families origin doesn’t mean the answer is necessarily related to how that person identify themselves.

      • RoHa
        August 27, 2017, 6:33 am

        Yes, I am. *

        So you are arguing that Jewishness is a matter of DNA configuration. If a baby with that configuration were adopted by a family of Mexican Catholics or Mongolian Buddhists, and grew up to become abbot of a Catholic or a Buddhist monastery, that person would still be a Jew. Even if he knew nothing about his ancestry, and there was no reason to regard him as being notably different from the other monks, he would still be a Jew.

        That seems to make Jewishness no more significant than hair colour.

        It also means that converts to Judaism who do not have that DNA configuration aren’t Jews, unless you are going to add a clause that conversion also makes someone a Jew. But of course, for those people, Jewishness is a choice.

        (*Since my wife isn’t, trying to establish white supremacy in my household is a tough, lonely, and futile business.)

      • amigo
        August 27, 2017, 7:09 am

        “Roha- Are you white? Is it a choice?”YF

        Yonah , it,s not a choice .It,s the White bread and mayonnaise that makes us white. My Mother ate copious amounts of White bread and mayonnaise.She left me no choice.

        http://mondoweiss.net/2017/07/israeli-solomon-schechter/#comment-886259

      • eljay
        August 27, 2017, 8:39 am

        || yonah fredman: Roha- Are you white? Is it a choice? ||

        Jewish is a religion-based identity, not a skin colour.

        I was raised with four identities: Croatian, Italian, Roman Catholic and Canadian. I chose to relinquish the first three identities and to keep the fourth (because I’m a citizen of Canada). And I chose to acquire a fifth (atheist).

        Jewish is no different from any of these identities, no matter how supernatural or other-worldly you Zionists insist on making it seem.

      • Sibiriak
        August 27, 2017, 8:43 am

        RoHa: Thinking of yourself as a Jew is a choice.
        —————————–

        Thinking of yourself as “black” ( “white”, “Latino”, “Asian” etc.) is also a choice. Just sayin’….

      • catalan
        August 27, 2017, 11:06 am

        “chose to relinquish the first three identities and to keep the fourth (because I’m a citizen of Canada)” eljay
        I think I know what you are saying. I feel for me that my identity as a manager in a local government, as an investor, or an American is somehow illusionary. Rather, I mostly still feel I am a little boy from downtown Sofia, running around with my friends and exploring the nooks and crannies of the old and decrepit stores, climbing roofs, picking cherries. It’s like life after I am ten years old is a dream and all these things that matter on the outside, like money and power and looks and so on are just some silly cover that I put on. I am as innocent and ignorant now as I was then but have to appear knowledgeable…although Bulgaria is a big country and Sofia is a big city and I still mostly feel I am from this old city center area which is now completely changed.

      • Jack Green
        August 27, 2017, 11:17 am

        Annie Robbins

        You are not guilty because of what your ancestors did or what other members of your group did. Considering someone guilty because of what another member of the group did is racism.

      • Mooser
        August 27, 2017, 11:43 am

        “Thinking of yourself as “black” ( “white”, “Latino”, “Asian” etc.) is also a choice. Just sayin’….”

        Don’t be stupid. Those delineations are imposed from the outside, in a way that ‘Jewishness’ is not, at present. Except in Israel, of course.

        And BTW, any of those people (black white latino, etc) could be one of many religions or none.

      • eljay
        August 27, 2017, 12:13 pm

        || catalan: … I think I know what you are saying. … ||

        You may think you do but, evidently, you don’t.

      • yonah fredman
        August 27, 2017, 12:36 pm

        Roha- I posed the question regarding whiteness not because it is a perfect analogy, but firstly to get you to comment regarding yourself and your categories rather than myself and my categories.

        Upon further consideration I agree that being Jewish is a choice and the best way to prove this is regarding the extreme example of conversion to Christianity. Although Christians who were born Jewish sometimes cite their Christianity as the ultimate expression of their Judaism, Jews as a rule reject this idea and consider the conversion to be a choice to remove oneself from the category of Jews.

        There is a category of formerly religious Jews known as Off the Derech, which means literally off the path, and some of those who belong to that group refer to themselves as ex Jews or former Jews. When someone has the name Moshe Goldstein and refers to himself as a former Jew, I cannot help but laugh and suggest that if he considers himself an ex Jew he ought to change his name.

        I recently watched the documentary: “OJ, Made in America,” and in it, OJ, many years before the murder of his ex wife and the Jewish bystander, reported attending a fancy sports dinner and OJ had been seated at an all black table and one of OJ’s white acquaintances commented loudly, “what is OJ doing with all those n*****s?” and OJ was so proud to hear this question which implied that he was no longer black. He no longer considered himself black and Robert Lipsyte, a Jewish sports reporter, recalling OJ’s telling of the story, said, “That’s when I knew OJ was fucked.” (Of course when trial time came OJ reupped with the black people and race was the key element of his exoneration by the mostly black jury.)

        When thinking about your assertion of choice, I thought of two people: Madeline Albright and Billy Joel. Madeline Albright’s parents decided to shield her from the disadvantages of Jewishness by never informing her of the fact that they were born Jewish and thus Albright emerged into adulthood (and success) utterly ignorant of her roots. Billy Joel’s mother, after divorcing Billy Joel’s father, took Billy and his siblings to a nearby church and had Billy baptized and kept Billy ignorant of his roots. Recently in protest against Trump’s outrageous “there are very nice people on both sides” (paraphrase), Billy Joel at one of the encores of a recent concert emerged wearing a Jewish yellow star sewn to his jacket.

        The upshot of the three examples: OJ, Albright and Joel, regarding identity and choice seems to be: One can choose one’s self definition and change it according to one’s whims. But the illusion that this choice is unaffected by history is illusory. Albright’s parents choice was based upon their conviction that Jewishness was a curse and their daughter would best be spared that curse, so they deprived her of the knowledge of her roots, so as to spare her of the curse. They also spared her of the choice, taking it upon themselves to choose, but lying to her regarding where she came from. Billy Joel’s mother chose to shelter Billy from his roots. OJ, when it was to his advantage considered himself above his roots, and when it was to his advantage embraced his roots.

        A choice made to deny one’s Jewishness or to opt out of one’s Jewishness based upon a world that makes Jewishness into a (potentially) fatal condition is a coerced choice. When a choice is made by parents to deny their child the knowledge of their roots, they are obviously denying the child the possibility of choosing for themselves.

        (I am reminded of Peter denying Jesus three times before the cock crowed. He was lying and knew he was lying and so the analogy is inexact.)

      • Sibiriak
        August 27, 2017, 1:01 pm

        Mooser: Don’t be stupid. Those delineations are imposed from the outside…
        —————-

        Don’t be stupid. From the outside–in part. You may not be able to prevent that, at present, but you don’t have to accept it, let alone embrace it.

        And again, don’t be stupid. Identities like “Latino” etc. are not simply imposed–they are embraced as well. You know that.

      • Mooser
        August 27, 2017, 1:03 pm

        This is fantastic! It just occurred to me, for the price of a ream of paper and a little ink, I could print out “yonah’s” archive. That way I won’t have to pay $39.95 when “Yonah’s Excuse” comes out in hardback. Oh shoot, better make it two reams and buy extra ink cartridges.

      • amigo
        August 27, 2017, 1:11 pm

        “You are not guilty because of what your ancestors did or what other members of your group did. Considering someone guilty because of what another member of the group did is racism.”JACKO

        Are we to infer that you are opposed to “collective punishment” of any kind on anyone???.

        Hint—House demolitions.

      • Annie Robbins
        August 27, 2017, 2:50 pm

        jack

        You are not guilty because of what your ancestors did or what other members of your group did. Considering someone guilty because of what another member of the group did is racism.

        it’s not necessarily racism. ie, in civil wars both sides might take revenge on any and all soldiers and civilians from the other side for the actions of members of the group based on the political positions of those groups. collective punishment is not always limited towards people based on their race. wars are often fought for other reasons.

        that said, i agree with you that a person is not guilty because of what others do. even if those others commit atrocities in your name or supposedly for the benefit of you. where i draw the line is when one actively and consciously supports and empowers others to commit atrocities/collective punishment. for your review:

        but the guilt of being part of (responsible) some groups’ ethnic cleansing…? only as an american am i responsible for the ethnic cleansing of palestine/iraq/native americans and so many others. only as part of a 3mil+ american “tribe” do i regrettably contribute to these ongoing atrocities.

        ultimately i believe we all have choices over what we feel and experience. but like other (most) people, i can’t always control my emotions (yes i feel a sense of collective guilt because of native american genocide and slavery and it is partly this guilt that makes me support reparations). when i read about american drones killing whole wedding parties, i can’t help but feel a sense of guilt that my country is doing that. and if someone were to take revenge on my country (collective punishment) or my fellow citizens or god forbid a member of my family for the actions of my state, i don’t think i would necessarily consider it as motivated by racism.

      • Mooser
        August 27, 2017, 1:11 pm

        ” One can choose to accept or reject…”

        Farewell, the shofar,
        I shall hear it no more…

      • Sibiriak
        August 27, 2017, 1:36 pm

        Mooser: “ Those delineations are imposed from the outside”
        ——————–

        Oh, and btw, who are you claiming imposes the “white” “delineation” on “whites”?

      • catalan
        August 27, 2017, 2:41 pm

        “You may think you do but, evidently, you don’t.” Eljay
        That’s probably true – I think that I see where you are coming from with people “choosing” their identity. I want to add though that identity is more like calculus than discrete mathematics – i.e. more like you can approach it but not reach it. You say you were Croatian and Italian – but if you delve in that you will find that these are illusory identities. For example, Italians can be Venetians and Romans and Sardinians and Neapolitans and sometimes they speak different languages. Now they are in the same country but in the future they may not be. There are Italians in France and Austria and other countries. Same with Croatians – if you looked into that origin, I bet there is German, or Serb, or Romanian, or Hungarian, or Turkish mixtures. In other words, you are thinking, my father is “Italian” or my mother “Croatian”, but beneath it all there is other and other unlimited identities. For me, I am a dual citizen; I am New Mexican (which is so different from an Oregonian). I am Bulgarian, but within that identity, there are so many others, geographic ones, ethnic ones, even linguistic ones. My dialect from Sofia is completely different from some other regions. I do get a warm feeling when I think of Judaism but I am also incredibly bored during services and don’t like nationalism. You say you are secular but I can’t make up mind if I am secular or religious. On good days I am secular but on bad days I could use a little help from the powers that be. I am a mutt I guess.

      • Mooser
        August 27, 2017, 3:05 pm

        “Oh, and btw, who are you claiming imposes the “white” “delineation” on “whites”

        I didn’t include “white”, did I?

      • Mooser
        August 27, 2017, 4:38 pm

        “with how others (like you) may identify that person”

        And the power-relation between the identifier and the identified.

      • eljay
        August 27, 2017, 6:11 pm

        || catalan: … I think that I see where you are coming from with people “choosing” their identity. … ||

        I doubt it.

        || … I want to add though that identity is more like calculus than discrete mathematics – i.e. more like you can approach it but not reach it. … ||

        I didn’t think so.

        || … I am a mutt I guess. ||

        You’re something else, that’s for sure.

      • Sibiriak
        August 28, 2017, 12:13 am

        Mooser : [Sibiriak:]“Oh, and btw, who are you claiming imposes the “white” “delineation” on “whites”

        I didn’t include “white”, did I?
        ————————–

        Yes, you most certainly did.

        I wrote: Thinking of yourself as “black” ( “white”, “Latino”, “Asian” etc.) is also a choice.

        You replied: Don’t be stupid. Those delineations are imposed from the outside…

        “Those delineations” obviously refers to the ones I listed– including “white.”

      • RoHa
        August 29, 2017, 12:20 am

        Yonah,

        “firstly to get you to comment regarding yourself”

        What on Earth for?

        “and your categories”

        Categories?

        “But the illusion that this choice is unaffected by history is illusory.”

        Congratulations on writing that sentence without a comma after the subject clause.

        I don’t think I denied that the choice could be affected by history. But afected or not, it is still a choice.

        And could you help me with the concept of an illusory illusion? Is this a tautology, or a way of saying that it isn’t an illusion after all?

        “A choice made to deny one’s Jewishness or to opt out of one’s Jewishness based upon a world that makes Jewishness into a (potentially) fatal condition is a coerced choice.”

        I thought I made it clear that there is voluntary and involuntary Jewishness.

        “When a choice is made by parents to deny their child the knowledge of their roots, they are obviously denying the child the possibility of choosing for themselves.”

        My wife and I denied our son the possibility of choosing to be illiterate. We just made him learn to read English and Japanese. He’s stuck with it now. What bad, bad parents we are!

        But Albright and Joel had exactly the same possibility of choosing as any Gentile. They could convert.

      • RoHa
        August 29, 2017, 12:33 am

        “how many people think of themselves as fat, ugly and/or boring?”

        Annie, I certainly don’t think of myself as fat!

      • Mooser
        August 29, 2017, 11:00 am

        So Jewishness descended from Billy Joel’s father into Billy?

  6. jsj
    August 24, 2017, 12:12 pm

    This act by Israel brings tears to my eyes and sorrow to my soul. Palestinian I have met in the West Bank and in Israel raise their kids with hope. Hope founded on equipping their children for an education for membership in a just society. It seemed to me that this was one of the most palatable forms of fighting the occupation… We will not give up!

    I believe this is a calculated effort by Israel to break that resolve. This is one the international community working shoulder to shoulder with Palestinians can win. Destroying educational facilities is just plain wrong and can not be defended.

    JSJ

  7. Kay24
    August 24, 2017, 12:38 pm

    Maybe it is time someone informed the most important peace maker in the world, Jared Kushner, about this outrageous crime by the zionists. He speaks of peace for both people, but it seems the violence and viciousness, always comes from ONE side. How can there be any kind of peace when these crimes keep getting committed by the occupier?

    • John O
      August 24, 2017, 1:22 pm

      Good idea. Property development is the family business, after all.

  8. Maghlawatan
    August 24, 2017, 2:10 pm

    Israel is a complete failure. It is of couse possible to be a cruel, vindictive ####. But you can’t be Jewish and a ####.

  9. mcohen..
    August 27, 2017, 10:15 pm

    building does not look safe.ngo’s could have done a better job

    https://www.nrc.no/news/2017/august/israel-demolishes-palestinian-schools-days-before-reopening/

    norwegian refugee council posted this.the link below takes you to a donate button.interesting way of fund raising

    http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/33249

  10. mcohen..
    August 27, 2017, 10:18 pm

    The Norwegian Refugee Council has spokespeople in Palestine available for interviews and can also facilitate visits to the affected areas.Photos of the affected schools can be downloaded for free use and distribution from here.Press contact:  Karl Schembri, Media Adviser, +962 790 22 0159, [email protected],  Media hotline, +47 905 62 329, [email protected]

  11. mcohen..
    August 28, 2017, 4:03 am

    in the smugmug photo a pic of….

    spainish and italian flags in background and the “pope mountain” poster.

    whats going on here.are they actually trying to help these kids or are they using them.bethlehem of all places.what exactly is the catholic church trying to achieve.

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