A year ago in the New York Review of Books, in “Israel in Peril,” David Shulman was still holding on to the ideal of a Jewish state and seeking to convince American readers that dramatic action was needed to preserve a Palestinian state. But Shulman, who moved to Israel from the U.S. as a young man many years ago, does not live in denial; he goes out often into the occupied territories with Ta’ayush and sees what Israel has created in the West Bank. And in his latest piece, at +972, he states that partition is finished.
On the way back to Jerusalem, Gabi asks me if I still think there’s some possibility for the two-state solution. I shake my head. Guy, who’s in South Hebron all the time, says, “Yes, of course, that’s what Israel wants. They want the Jewish state here, on the ground, all of it, and the Palestinian state can be somewhere else, maybe on the moon.”
I believe Shulman’s movement fulfills Rabbi Hillel’s question, If not now, when? That question is about honoring reality, honoring the moment. Partition and the ideal of a Jewish state are gone forever.
Read Shulman’s piece for a description of his group’s failed efforts to protect a way of life for Palestinian shepherd-based communities in the Hebron Hills, which are filled with settler colonies. The soldiers keep moving Palestinians out of Area C.
[T]here’s been a wave of further annexations. The settlers are paving new roads, which become de facto boundaries, far beyond the settlements’ periphery. Plots of land that the Palestinian owners have worked for some years, or have reclaimed, often with our help, have been declared “in dispute” — which means that settlers have access to them, but the rightful owners don’t. All over South Hebron there are attempts from above and from below to roll back the gains we’ve made in recent years. Probably officers in the Civil Administration have been devising creative schemes. And there have been the usual, routine detentions, harassments, lethal threats, arrests — more, in fact much more, than before. Add to this a wave of pure nit-picking and pestering, for example by handing out tickets to activists, Israeli and Palestinian, for absurd traffic violations; several of our people have recently been fined large amounts for crossing the road while not on a marked pedestrian crossing. Remember we’re talking about the vast open spaces of a desert; the nearest pedestrian crossing is either in Jerusalem or Beersheva, 40 miles away. I myself witnessed the police administering just such a fine the last time I was in the area, some three weeks back.
In short, things are tightening up. Here’s what it looks like on an ordinary day. From Beit ‘Imrah we head down over the terraces to the grazing grounds where the shepherds are clustered with their sheep. An army jeep is waiting for us. A fat, balding officer heaves himself out of it and informs Fadil: “You see this path. It’s the border. You can’t cross it.” The path is an arbitrary line, deep inside the wadi where, in the last months, they’ve been able to graze — after many years during which this wadi was completely out of bounds. We start filming. By now more soldiers, clutching rifles, have clambered out of the jeep. They prod us, driving us over the line and then farther uphill, and they’re jamming our cameras with their cell phones, which they literally thrust in our faces. The commanding officer doesn’t speak again. We protest, we talk of the law, we talk of the crimes he’s committing. He doesn’t reply….