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Palestinians protest as Israel attempts to erase their presence in Lod

Palestine Monitor

11av100_0106.jpg

Palestine Monitor, March 11, 2011

A demonstration took place Tuesday evening in Lod, one of Israel’s mixed cities, provoked by the most recent spate of house demolitions there. The demonstration, organised for International Women’s Day by the Coalition of Women for Peace and the Popular Committees of Lod and Jaffa, was a show of solidarity by those outraged at the flagrant persecution of the Arab community in Lod and the village of al-Ariqib, where similar policies of demolition are pursued.
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Demonstration in Lod on 8 March 2011

'It’s a national problem, not specific to Lod’, says local activist Riveka. 'This is the face of Israel that the world must know. Our government is racist and aggravates relations between Jews and Arabs.’

Explaining the impetus behind the protest amidst a chanting crowd, Jamah, an affiliate of a local Arab women’s organisation, said 'The overall motor behind the protest is anger at the unabated torrent of racist policies directed at Israel’s Arab citizens.’

The crowd yelled, 'You can arrest us and beat us but we will not leave Lod’. The most recent victims of home demolitions in Lod are the Abu Eid family, comprising seven families in total, whose homes were demolished three months ago. For two months, the families lived in tents on their land. Last week, they laid the foundations for temporary cabins but those too were torn down on the orders of the police.

'We have been living on this land for generations; it was given to our displaced ancestors in the fifties’, Simah Abu Eid, a member of the recently dispossessed families, explains. Since there is no official documentation with which to base a claim, the municipality can take the land from them legally. This is a pattern repeated by the Lod municipality in an attempt to marginalise the Arab community, figuratively and literally.

Simah says her family is desperate. She is now living with her mother in a small, overcrowded house. 'Both my daughters are due to be married next month but have been left homeless. My husband wants to leave Israel all together,’ she said.

There have reportedly been unofficial discussions between the families and Lod’s authorities, who have tried to placate them with land elsewhere. This only serves, in the eyes of the family and their sympathisers, to cement the guilt of the municipality. If the family was living illegitimately on the land they would not be offered compensation. The authorities say they will use the Abu Eid’s land for development of a Jewish cemetery.

Home demolitions are one aspect of a wider housing problem in Lod wherein the Arab community are never granted building permits for their own land and find it extremely difficult to buy apartments; 'Jewish families are boycotted if they sell property to Arabs and the arrival of Arabs to a Jewish apartment complex drives the prices down,’ Jamah explains. 'Illegal settlements in the West Bank are left undisturbed while Arab people that have been living on their ancestors’ land for generations are kicked out or not permitted to build on it’, she reflects.

The pattern of demolitions in Lod is a reminder of the logic of Israel’s ideological make up, which will continue the project started in 1948 by suppressing the remaining Palestinian people. The Israeli state does not want Jews and Arabs living side by side and is attempting to render the latter either completely invisible in the Jewish state or to provoke their departure. The fuel behind the Zionist project is not abating, evidenced by the recent spate of racist legislation designed to reaffirm Israel as a "Jewish" state.

The presence of the Arab community is a threat to Israel, embodying a contestation of national myths and suggesting a state built upon the dispossession and subjugation of another people. Policies have not altered radically since 1948: ethnic cleansing still goes on, but gradually so that it escapes the notice of the world. Such logic is manifest in racist policies that are arrogantly transparent in their treatment of Arab citizens as secondary to their Jewish counterparts and, worse, as aliens in their own land.

 

:: Article nr. 75772 sent on 11-mar-2011 23:20 ECT

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