Mazin Qumsiyeh, scientist and activist, writes:
Yesterday morning [August 17] the army of the colonial new “Jewish state” of Israel, 68 years of mayhem in the building, destroyed 15 ancient olive trees dating back 2-3000 years old in Beit Jala. The reason? Israel is going to close off the most fertile valley of Beit Jala western Bethlehem (Wadi Abu Ahmed, Cremisan area). Closing it off from its owners (55 Christian families of Beit Jala) is a step in confiscating it as happened before in thousands of locations. The world community and the Palestinian authority ignore the continuing massacre of land and people while occasionally making meaningless “statements”. In practice though, the Western governments support Israel and have close working ties with it (thus are co-conspirators in the crime in the legal sense). But I do want to focus on the Palestinian authority (PA) and will argue that it is the biggest enabler of the occupation today.
Some of the land here is owned by a Christian monastery that has been there for centuries. It would appear that some of the trees are being prepared for replanting. As Jeff Halper has noted, olive trees that have been in Palestinian families for hundreds of years, providing sustenance, have been confiscated by settlements. This olive oil site says that ancient olive trees are typically hundreds of years old, not thousands; though a tree in Walaja very near Beit Jala is 4,000 years old. (Kate mentioned the olive tree destruction in her summary today).
And here is a snippet of Qumsiyeh’s critique of the Palestinian Authority:
The most damaging is the consolidation of a system of mental occupation among both the elites and large segments of the Palestinian population. This mental occupation is characterized by:a) Implicitly or explicitly accepting that Apartheid Israel is powerful and here to stay (basically accepting the sub-humanization)b) Implicitly or explicitly accepting that Apartheid Israel will alwqays be supported by western governments especially the USc) Believing that the only options for having a semi-comfortable life is either to work for the PA or for NGOs (we will deal with NGOs in a separate article). This illusion of manageable life under occupation without a struggle for freedom is mental occupation.d) The “why rock the boat” attitude combined with lack of belief in others (PA officials always tell me the Palestinian people are hopeless and tribalistic and weak etc).e) the widespread mistrust of all who claim they resist (but the examples of martyrs and prisoners on hunger strike remain a challenge to this skepticism).