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Yesterday at Ein Rashash

Occupation is made up of so many places and moments of evil and cruelty. Each is a world in itself.

I came to Ein Rashash, yesterday – a Palestinian shepherd community that has been living for decades on one of the ranges descending towards the Palestinian Jordan Valley, just half an hour from Jerusalem. This is a poor community living mostly off its sheep and goat flocks. It is not connected to either electrical power or water.

The colonists, fully backed up by the Israeli army, have significantly reduced their grazing grounds and deny them access to the water springing out just a short distance from their modest homes. In the name of racial supremacy, violent Jews have been denying the Palestinians access to water, the most basic of all human needs. Consequently, the Palestinians have to drive their tractor and hanger to purchase drinking water, for about two hours each way. Moreover, because of the reduced grazing grounds, they have to purchase feed for their flocks, double the quantity necessary in the past. The community’s children walk whole kilometers every day just to approach their school, located in Duma village on the opposite hill. Yes, that same Duma where the Dawabsheh family was incinerated and died by that Jewish terrorist whose release from prison Knesset Members are now negotiating, turning him into some kind of martyred saint.

Lately, adding to all the trouble specified above, the Palestinians are suffering violent attacks by their colonist neighbors. The aim is clear – expel them from their land and take it over. Just as the colonists have managed to expel quite a few Palestinian communities in recent years. Ethnic cleansing perpetrated with the full backing of the Israeli army and state institutions.

Ethnic cleansing performed in our name. All of us.

Good organizations and individuals have been taking turns as “human shields” for the past month. In all hours of the day and night Israelis are there with the Ein Rashash community. The villagers say very explicitly that when colonists see Israelis present, they back off.

I was there yesterday for only six hours. Occasionally nice community members came to speak with us, explain their situation to us, how they just wish to live in peace, no more than that.

In all of this darkness and shame, I also found some spots of light. Good Israelis who are doing something, a basic human deed. With me on my vigil were two women in their early twenties, and a young man in civilian service. These youngsters can teach us all a lesson in humanity and morality. A practical lesson. I was ashamed to admit it, but they thrilled me, at their young age. I looked at them admiringly. When I was their age, I was still holding a rifle in the Occupied Territories, protecting the cursed colonists. I wish I had had their wisdom back then. A moment before nightfall arrived the vigil that replaced us, Israelis of various ages who came to spend the night there.

These words are being written in great pain. This is a terrible, shocking reality – most Israelis have no idea that it is taking place. Ein Rashash is located a mere hour and a half away from Tel Aviv’s Kaplan Street protests, from the hundreds of thousands of Israelis screaming “De-moc-ra-cy!” and insisting on ignoring the military occupation ongoing in their name. I write here so that – firstly – we will not be able to say “we didn’t know”, but also to call out for action.

We live in a time in which our duty is to help the weaker and more oppressed. This is a duty that obliges every Jew who learned humanity’s lesson in Europe of the 1930s. Even a single vigil of several hours is a huge contribution to uphold the rights of the Ein Rashash community. A contribution to people who only wish to live in dignified peace.

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