December 20, 2012

Demolishing mosques "while they're small"

Every so often an aspect of the settlement enterprise in the West Bank or Jerusalem sums up the whole of the zionist enterprise throughout occupied Palestine.  The recent demolition of a mosque serving a Palestinian West Bank village is very informative of the triad of impairments which sets the State of Israel apart from other states, viz, colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and racist laws.

Here's Ha'aretz:
Supreme Court President Asher Grunis should be pleased. A mosque under construction in the West Bank, whose demolition he supported, was pulled down last Tuesday - another performance by the Civil Administration bulldozer, underreported in the media. As in an increasing number of cases, the demolition was a result of pressure applied by Regavim - a nongovernmental organization whose goal is preserving lands of the (Jewish) nation.
On November 15, the High Court of Justice considered Regavim's demand to demolish the concrete building under construction, covering an area of 97 square meters in the small village of Al Mufaqara - which Israel is trying to wipe off the map, like its other Palestinian neighbors in the south Hebron Hills. In addition to Regavim's demand, the High Court justices also considered a request by Mahmoud Hamamda, a village resident, to freeze the demolition order and grant the building a construction permit. For about 400 Muslims in the area, there is no place of worship within a reasonable distance, said the petition submitted by Hamamda via the Society of St. Yves - Catholic Center for Human Rights. A few weeks ago, though not yet completed, the building began operating as a mosque.
And now we learn from the website Hakol Hayehudi ("The Jewish Voice," whose tagline is "News for Happy Jews" ) that Justice Grunis expressed his viewpoint in the courtroom in a paraphrase of a well-known, vulgar expression: "You have to demolish them while they're small." The website for happy Jews, which interpreted Grunis' comments as relating to the mosque, rejoiced. The State Prosecutor's Office promised that demolition was imminent, and Regavim and Hamamda's petitions became superfluous.
Apparently the "justice" later claimed that his ruling applied to "both sides".

In its response to Haaretz, a spokesman for the court system clarified Grunis' comments: "These words do not reflect everything said by the president in the courtroom on this matter. His words were presented in a partial way that creates a distortion. We would therefore like to quote the words in full, as detailed below. The president did indeed say the words concerning the procedural question, but he later added that it refers to both sides. In other words, when it comes to petitions submitted in connection with illegal construction in the territories - whether by Jewish or by Palestinian groups - the demolition should be carried out before construction is completed."
There is no reason to doubt this statement and the fact that Grunis was referring not only to Palestinians. It's not his fault that nobody submitted a petition urging the authorities to demolish a synagogue under construction in the nearby illegal outpost of Avigail - a scion of the settlement of Ma'on, which is also illegal but nevertheless has authorization.
Sarcasm? Er yes:

Oops, but wait. Surfing the Internet led me to an article by Yossi Algazi in Haaretz from 11 years ago, where he tells about the beginning of the Avigail outpost, created under military camouflage of some kind and with ongoing military protection. The article indicates that there was, in fact, a petition, by attorney Shlomo Lecker on behalf of two Palestinians who own the land. And this is what Algazi wrote:
"In his petition to the High Court, attorney Lecker claims that the construction of the outpost at the Avigail site is taking place before the closed eyes of the political leadership, and particularly Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer [Labor], who is not doing anything to prevent the invasion of Palestinian land by settlers, and is thereby encouraging them. 'In recent months, the Defense Ministry has adopted a new and unacceptable method,' accuses Lecker. 'The ministry allocates money to construct buildings and outposts, and instructs the Israel Defense Forces to protect those who are doing the work, and the settlers who are preparing the ground and setting up means for protecting and guarding it. The work on the ground is being done without valid permits ... in order not to leave official fingerprints on the settlement activities that Israel promised in the international arena not to carry out, and which include, among other things, the invasion of private land and construction without a permit.' In response, the spokesman for the Civil Administration claimed this week that the water tower at the Avigail site 'was built on state land within the jurisdiction of the settlement of Ma'on, while the container was installed for the benefit of the guards at the site."
Cutting, as they say, to the chase:

 we have no reason to doubt that Grunis was referring to all "illegal" construction work.
A judge who creates symmetry between those who rule by force and their subjects who are denied their rights, knowingly and deliberately sides with the powerful.
What we have is a judge who supports colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and racist laws.

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