'No Arabs, No Terror
Taking the bus to Salfit requires that you stop at the roadblock on the road towards Yasouf, get out of the bus, walk over the roadblock and then take another bus to Salfit. Just before this roadblock there is a turning that takes you to the Tapuach settlement, whose inhabitants are part of Rabbi Meir Kahanes Kach movement, an extremist settler-colonist movement, outlawed in Israel since 1994 and classified as a terrorist organization in the U.S.
There is a sign on the road opposite the settlement entrance. Behind the sign are a couple of stickers, the one in English reads No Arabs, no terror.
A little further along is some graffiti Kill all Arabs next to a skull and crossbones sign. Now the most immediate response is that the sticker and graffiti are racist, which is true, but there is more here. The settlement is built on occupied territory and is, according to international law, illegal. The settler-colonists arrive, initially park a few trailers on the site they intend to steal from the indigenous owners and patrol their redeemed land armed with machine guns in order to defend their claim. Ordinarily, no one takes it kindly when someone from somewhere else comes along and steals their property. People also ordinarily object when more and more land is taken to expand the colony-settlement.
Bad enough that their land is taken, but then the usurpers prevent the locals from farming their land threatening them with guns and dogs to get their point across.
Many of the newer settlements are built on hilltops. There are many hilltops in the West Bank and settler-colonists heeded the call of Ariel Sharon in 1998 to militant settler-colonists from the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours... Everything we dont grab will go to them. Them are the Palestinians who have been farming their land here for centuries.
Last Fall when the farmers wanted to harvest their olives in the area below the colony-settlement, they were confronted with violence from the settler-colonists. The defenseless Palestinians are shot at, beaten with rifle butts, have stones thrown at them and their olives stolen. Occasionally, settlers from Tapuach settlement throw stones at passing Palestinian cars.
Milder kinds of violence involve settler-colonists uprooting olive trees, poisoning olive trees, burning just-harvested olives, stealing olives, shooting sheep, stealing sheep, burning wheat in the fields, polluting the water source, cutting water pipes and allowing raw sewage to flow down the hillside into the Palestinian areas.
The settler-colonists can operate with relative impunity. The area has been under military occupation for almost 36 years so the army is in charge. If the army arrives on the scene, it is not to protect the farmers but to help the settler-colonists. They simply declare the area a closed military zone and the farmers can no longer pick their olives.
In most countries, such outright theft of land, threatened and actual violence, is not tolerated. Such acts are considered criminal acts and the perpetrators of such acts are arrested, brought before the courts and if found guilty imprisoned. The police force is there to protect you and your property. In the case of occupied Palestine though, if a Palestinian is able to appeal to the police and file a complaint, he will find that the complaint is rarely followed up. IWPS has registered complaints at Ariel police station against identified settler-colonists including evidence, but they have not been acted upon.
Most Palestinians have despaired of any justice being done and have no faith at all in Israeli or international law. Their reaction to mention of international law is to scoff and shake their heads in my simple-minded belief at such high-falutin ideals as human rights.
All the while, these violent, nationalist-messianic Israeli settler-colonists are convinced that they are fulfilling their obligations to settle the Land of Israel, as though God were some kind of celestial realtor. For most Jews, the commandment thou shalt not kill would deter them from taking the actions of these extremists.
With no international censure, no serious criticism of their behavior within Israel, no action on the part of the authorities, either the military or the police, and a government that is only too willing to turn a blind eye, the settler-colonists have every reason to believe they are free to operate with impunity. The sticker found on the signboard No Arabs, no terror and the graffiti Kill all Arabs is frightening. Firstly, its because the same sticker can be found within Israel on billboards, and the sentiment is shared by many in mainstream society. Secondly, because it suggests that the Arabs should be ethnically cleansed.
Al Awda, July 21, 2003