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Palestinians get bulldozed for doing what the U.S. State Dep’t is doing


The news from Israel Tuesday was that the finance minister had waived all building permit and rezoning requirements so as to allow the U.S. State Department to ramp up construction on a consular building in South Jerusalem that is to become the new U.S. Embassy, perhaps as early as May.

The Times of Israel reported that Minister Moshe Kahlon said he would sign the waiver because moving the embassy is such a political priority:

“As we promised, we won’t let unnecessary bureaucracy delay the move of the American embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital,” he said in a statement. “…This is a strategic diplomatic move for the State of Israel.”

Israel’s i24 channel said this would save months or years of delays, and Yaacov Lozowick, the Israeli archivist, celebrated: “The elected politicians have succeeded in twisting the arms of the bureaucrats. This is no small feat.”

The green light for the Americans only highlights the red light that Palestinians almost invariably get under the same system. They can’t even wait months or years; their plans to build are routinely denied because Israel is seeking to frustrate the growth of Palestinian areas. And when they do build, Israel often comes in with bulldozers to demolish the construction. A whole organization, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, arose to fight this pattern; nearly 1000 Palestinian buildings are destroyed every year. The phrase that appears most frequently in its reports is this:

 The house was demolished on grounds of lacking an Israeli-issued building permit.

The human rights organization Adalah reported last year that permits are unobtainable to Palestinians, whether in Israel or in occupied Jerusalem:

official permits … are technically unobtainable to [Palestinians] due to decades of systematic discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel in land allocation, and deliberate neglect of the land and housing rights and needs of the occupied Palestinian population in Jerusalem

Adalah said that a law passed last year “gives the state expanded administrative powers to demolish homes and seek prison sentences and more severe financial penalties as punitive measures for breaches of the state’s discriminatory planning and building laws.”

The building-permit process is an administrative figleaf for unequal treatment; and worse, the process is an instrument that is used by the state to stifle Palestinian life, economy and culture. This is not the “rule of law,” which means that the law is applied evenly to everyone. Because the law is always applied differently when it comes to Palestinians.  Though if you’re in the right group you get rubber-stamped, because you’re in the “strategic” interest of the state.

So the good news for the special relationship between Israel and the U.S. illuminates something else: the bureaucracy of apartheid.

Thanks to Allison Deger. 

Scott Roth and Phil Weiss

The authors are publisher and co-editor of this website

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2 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson on March 29, 2018, 4:42 pm

    RE: “The news from Israel Tuesday was that the finance minister had waived all building permit and rezoning requirements so as to allow the U.S. State Department to ramp up construction on a consular building in South Jerusalem that is to become the new U.S. Embassy, perhaps as early as May.” ~ Scott Roth and Phil Weiss

    MY COMMENT: I wonder if Israel is doing likewise for Jimmy Morales and Guatemala, or does only the U.S. get this special treatment? I also wonder whether Sheldon Adelson has offered to pay for Guatemala to move its embassy. He certainly should! Or, is the U.S. somehow paying for it?

    In nod to Trump, Guatemala sets Jerusalem embassy move two days after the U.S.
    Mar 5, 2018 – Guatemala plans to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in May, just two days after the U.S. embassy makes the same move from Tel Aviv, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced …

    ■ ALSO SEE: “Kosher Industry’s Woes Reach a Poor Village in Guatemala” | By Summer Harlow | | December 24, 2008

    [EXCERPT] San José Calderas, Guatemala — While working 15-hour days, six days a week at a kosher meatpacking plant in Iowa where machines could chop off a finger at any moment, Marco Tulio relied on one thing to keep going: thoughts of his Guatemalan hometown of San José Calderas.

    He pictured his wife and children moving into a new four-room home made of adobe, on a street where real houses of brick or cement were slowly but surely replacing the one-room shacks of sheet metal and bamboo. He pictured his son in school, with money to buy his uniform and all the books and supplies he needed. He took comfort knowing that if his aging parents got sick, they would have money to see a doctor.

    He thought of all the new tienditas, or little stores, that had sprung up in town, selling cookies and sugar and dishes and toys, items that he and his fellow townspeople had never been able to afford.

    But Tulio, 42, never imagined that when he returned home he would find, rather than the growing and prospering village he had left behind, half-built homes where construction had been halted, overstocked stores empty of shoppers, and children — including his 17-year-old son — roaming the streets because they had to quit school.

    For more than a decade, Agriprocessors, thousands of miles north, in Postville, Iowa, acted as this dusty village’s guardian, patron and largest employer. But in the months since a May immigration raid and the arrest of Tulio and nearly 300 other undocumented Guatemalan workers, the kosher meat company is now proving to be the undoing of San José Calderas.

    “This is what deportation has done,” said Tulio, who was deported October 12 with more than 100 other Agriprocessors workers, all handcuffed at the wrists and ankles for the plane ride to Guatemala City. “It’s a disaster for the village. It’s gone down since the raid. All the houses people were building have stopped, so there are these unfinished houses everywhere. How can you live like that?”

    An estimated two-thirds of the 300 undocumented Agriprocessors workers deported to Guatemala in the past two months are from the municipality of San Andrés Itzapa, which includes Tulio’s village of San José Calderas. Officials say this town has become emblematic of the economic and social crises that the record-high deportations to Guatemala are provoking in this Central American nation of roughly 13 million people. . .


    ■ P.S. AND SEE: “Trump and the Meat Tycoon: Backstory to a Commutation” | by Martha Rosenberg | CounterPunch | December 25, 2018
    After he served 8 years of a 27-year sentence for money laundering, Agriprocessors meatpacking executive Sholom Rubashkin had his sentence commuted by President Trump.
    LINK ➤

  2. CigarGod on March 30, 2018, 10:33 am

    “…unnecessary bureaucracy delay…”
    But, for everyone else we will leave the unnecessarily crippling system in place because it serves a dual purpose. Institutional bribery and ethnically punitive.

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