Sunday, July 02, 2006

Depressing news

Today Margo Okazawa-Rey, a Northern California friend who has lived in Palestine for the last year, passed along this depressing item, to add on top of the already horrifying news from Gaza:

Bulldozers start work on Wall to annex Bethlehem's Cremisan Monastery

While the world's attention turns to the dramatic situation in Gaza, the Israeli Army has begun uprooting ancient olive trees in Bethlehem's Cremisan area, marking out the path of the wall to be built through one of the regions most valuable heritage sites.

The Cremisan area is of significant heritage value, home to the only winery in Palestine and two monasteries. Some of the finest examples of the regions ancient terraced landscape can be found here. The Wall will carve through these terraces destroying agricultural landscapes that have survived for centuries.

An urgent appeal has been circulated by Beit Jala district council, calling for action to stop the bulldozers. The statement reads: "This morning Tuesday 27th of June 2006, the Israeli bulldozers guarded with armed personnel started cutting and uprooting olive trees in the Cremisan area in preparation for the construction of the segregation Wall. Cremisan area has the only remaining forest in the city, and the most fertile agricultural land, which is the main source of income to many farmers in the city."

When the Wall is completed, Beit Jala district will have lost access to two-thirds of its land. The Cremisan area is one of the very few recreational sites in the city where locals used to go on weekends and holidays. Full text of story.

My friend asked me, "why is Israel being so awful?" Maybe W.H. Auden knew:

I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

September 1, 1939

And then I remember that if one lives in the Arab world, the tale of wrongdoing goes much further back, at least to betrayal of those who the West urged to rise against the Ottomans in the First World War, and perhaps to the Crusades.

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