Tag Archives: The Banality of Evil

Restrooms and Sanitation at Umm-Al-Kheir (a story for Shavuot)

Mohammed Salem is about 30 years old. He lives in Umm-Al-Kheir, in a home inherited from his late father right next to the fence of the Carmel settlement (sometimes spelled “Karmel”; see picture on right).

In 2005, when Carmel built an expansion neighborhood, Mohammed was beaten by settlers involved in the construction. Since this assault, he has suffered from post-traumatic stress (PTSD). He has stopped functioning, fears and runs away from any stranger, and even from some family members.

Mohammed’s home, one of the few still standing in that part of Umm-Al-Kheir – a village suffering continual destruction from the Occupation authorities – does not have a restroom. Therefore, residents must perform their bodily functions outdoors. On Wednesday, May 25 2011, while Mohammed was outside for that reason, he was harrangued by settlers yelling, cursing and making threats. These new, government-backed residents living in fully-connected homes have had enough with this ongoing sanitation problem placed not far from their doorstep.

This story crosses paths with another story: about two years ago, Ta’ayush activist Ezra Nawi initiated a campaign to build outhouses at Umm-Al-Kheir. Shortly after work commenced, Carmel settlers complained to the Occupation’s “Civil Administration” about the travesty of restrooms being built for their neighbors. The “Administration” quickly geared into action, its men arriving on site, confiscating materials and posting work-stoppage order signs on those structures already standing. This government action has caused a European organization that provided most of the funding, to pull out of the project. In particular, Mohammed’s outhouse had never been completed; the floor was laid out, but the walls and ceiling are still missing (see pictures).

In these days, in view of the plight of Mohammed and his family, we intend to resume Ezra’s initiative, completing that one outhouse and building a second one in the same part of Umm-Al-Kheir. Cost is estimated at NIS 4,000. For details, feel free to contact Ehud Krinis: ksehud “at” gmail.

We hope that this time around, the good citizens of Carmel will allow the residents of Umm-Al-Kheir to complete the construction, and thus resolve the sanitary problem that is so irritating to them.

[ A note from Assaf
Ehud sent me this story with the title mentioning Shavuot, a Jewish holiday taking place right now, from Tuesday night through Thursday. He did not explain why the reference, but here is one possible explanation:

On Shavuot, we read the Biblical Book of Ruth. Ruth was a foreigner – a Moabite widow who arrived to Bethlehem, Judea, with her Israelite mother-in-law Naomi. Naomi’s family had lived in Moab for ten years, and then all men in the family had died. Naomi, about to return home, offered her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab with their families. Ruth refused and accompanied Naomi to Bethlehem, where she – a young foreign widow living in a man-less household and having no male offspring – would find herself on the lowest rung of the social ladder.

They lived in poverty subsisting on aid. Then, the wealthy landowner Boaz got to know her, fell in love and they lived happily ever after. King David is said to be descended from them.

The settlers of Carmel, observant Jews sitting in Judea, no doubt read the story today. They also spend – as is the custom – all night in Tikkun studying and discussing the ancient scriptures and their moral lessons.

All the while, they are willfully blind to the plain fact that they are playing a lead role in a twisted parody on the story of Ruth. Like Ruth, Mohammed and his fellow villagers are Gaerim – non-Jews in a territory controlled by Jews. Unlike Ruth, the villagers have lived there long before the Jews came. Like Boaz, the settlers are wealthy. However, unlike him their wealth has no legitimacy save in their own blinded eyes. The government robbed the land from the locals, handed it over to them – and they, supposedly moral and observant, couldn’t care less. They believe in a different law for Jews and for non-Jews, rather than in treating Gaerim with justice.

Finally, unlike Boaz who opened his heart to the foreign woman and went through all the legalistic moves, some of them unpleasant, in order to make her his lawful wife rather than exploit her as a mistress – the Carmel settlers manipulate and control a “law” enforcement apparatus, the “Civil Administration”, whose chief purpose is to keep non-Jews discriminated, humiliated and robbed of their rights and property. In short, the Book of Ruth is about individuals doing the right thing under difficult circumstances imposed on them. The settlers and the Israeli government, by contrast, impose themselves on the locals, and insist on continuing to do the wrong thing at every turn, as long as they can get away with it.

The settlers assauge their doubtlessly unclean conscience, by occasional acts of charity – all the while complaining about their neighbors’ unsanitary ways and low morals.

Happy Shavuot. Please help end this disgrace to Judaism and to Jews everywhere, before our lifetime is over.]

Umm al-Kheir Home Demolitions 29.10.2008

For nearly sixty years, several Beduin families of the Hazlin-Jahalin tribe have been living in Umm al Kheir, near Carmel colony (Jewish settlement). These are refugees of the 1948 war, originally from the vicinity of Arad.
Over twenty-five years ago, the Carmel colony was built adjacent to the farming plots of some of the Hazalin families. Ever since, the Occupation authorities have prevented the families – who found themselves living right next to the colony – from building or permanently developing any further necessary structures beyond the meager housing they already had. Over the years, a considerable part of these families’ privately-owned land was confiscated in favor of the colony, and demolition of both houses and temporary dwellings takes place on a regular basis. Previously, the last demolition took place in February 2007.

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Now, on Wednesday October 29th, 2008, another massive demolition of homes was carried out. The greatest damage was done to the families located in the southern cluster, next to the new expansion of Carmel colony. Here four shacks were demolished as well as two stone houses of Hajj Salam Hazalin, that had served as dwelling for twenty-four persons.
In the heat of its action, the bulldozer also demolished an old stone house dating back to the Jordanian rule of the area, a house for which no demolition order had been issued.

Another house demolished nearby  is that of Suleiman and Maliha Hazalin which was home to ten persons. Apparently this demolition action focused on the dwellings closest to Carmel’s new neighborhood whose residents, recently moved in, complain of noise and messiness on the part of the Beduins (a-la ‘not in my back yard’). Beside the massive demolition in teh southern cluster, demolition on a smaller scale has also taken place in the northern cluster of the Hazalin families next to Carmel’s fence. Here the tin shack of Salam Mohammad was demolished, that had housed ten persons, as well as his brother Ali’s new stone house where he resided with his wife and baby-daughter.

Umm-Al-Kheir resident and his ruined home. In the background the Carmel settlement

Umm-Al-Kheir resident and his ruined home. In the background the Carmel settlement

The demolition operation took place in the morning, in the presence of heavy army and police forces, while the only residents present were the elderly, women and small children. The older children were at school, a few hundred meters away. Sagher, Salam Mohammad’s nine-year-old son, told us that as he came out of the school house for a moment, he looked over to his home and went back in to report to his teacher that sicne his home had disappeared suddenly, (the tin shack that was demolished), he needed to get back to his home immediately. We arrived at Umm al Kheir only that afternoon. We brought with us two tents which we had purchased at a discount (courtesy of the shop owner) in the Beduin town of Rahat near our residence. Earlier still, Red Cross staff arrived and provided the residents who had remained homeless in the early winter rains and cold, tents, mattresses, cooking gas tanks, etc.
Extensive damage was dealt to the meager belongings of the residents, and they need urgent material and financial help. Furthermore, legal aid is needed for – among other things – filing a damages charge following the unlawful demolition of the above-mentioned stone building. In these matters, please contact the undersigned at ksehud@gmail.com .
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Ehud Krinis

Demolition orders to a Mosque and two other structures in Mufkara

Last week, on June 26, the IDF “Civil Administration” handed to Mahmud Hammada, the Mukhtar of the cave-dweller village Mufkara, demolition orders for three structures in the village – the Mosque, the generator shed and the residence of Mohamed (the sole conventionally built structure in the village). Mufkara is one of the cave communities that the occupation authorities included in the “firing zone #918, whose residents were expelled back in November 1999. A Supreme Court order however allowed the villagers to return (April 2000) however it refrained from a decision regarding their basic right to dwell there.

Following a lengthy legal procedure since that decision, the army approved de-facto (through an affidavit to the Supreme Court) the status of Mufkara as an existing community. Due to the long time passed since the expulsion, Mufkara residents finally gathered the required courage and built a tiny mosque for their own use (area about 120 square feet), and a shed sheltering the generator that supplies electricity to the community (3 hours a day). The recent demolition orders pose a threat to the basic survival of the community.

It should be noted that just several hundred meters to the south-west of Mufkara, a Jewish outpost was established in 2001-“Abigail”. The outpost lacks legal authorization, however it was connected by the Israeli authorities to the water and electricity grids, and a paved asphalt road over 1 km long links it to the main road. It is needless to mention that no demolitions where ordered at the illegal outpost, which continues to thrive and expand on the Mufkara residents’ grazing grounds.

Ehud Krinis,

The Villages Group