The Writing on the Wall

The Writing on the Wall

During the last month I was in Karmiel more than through the previous twenty years.

Karmiel is a small sleepy town in the Galilee, located on the Akka-Safad road, some 30 kilometers from Haifa. It was built in the 1960’s, as part of the Israeli governments drive for the Judaization of the Galilee, confiscating large chunks of Land from all the neighboring Arab villages and townships.

Unlike many other Israeli cities in the periphery, Karmiel is mostly well-to-do and Ashkenazi (of Jews from European origin). It is late to become a mixed city, maybe also because its better economic situation keeps house prices high. As I attended this Monday a lecture on “Arabs in Karmiel” in the municipality’s auditorium, there was an argument whether Arabs constitute 3% or 6% of the population (in a region where the Arabs are a clear majority) – most of them well-to-do families from nearby villages where living conditions are miserable and it is very hard to legally build a house.

Ramiya

Ramiya is a very small village that is now wholly surrounded by Karmiel. I wrote a short history of the struggle of Ramiya’s people in Free Haifa. Here I can just say that after long years of “sumud” – sticking to their land in spite of endless attempts to uproot them – now the people of Ramiya face an immediate danger of expulsion and that they renewed their mass struggle for their right to stay on their land.

In those visits to Ramiya I started to know its people and to admire and love them. They remind me of the small village of Asterix that is still resisting the Roman Empire, even as the whole of their Gaul country is occupied. Seeing how those people are enduring harsh conditions for a whole life is putting our easy life in perspective.

The existence of the small village, mostly made of tin shacks, as the residents are not allowed to build, is a live reminder for Karmiel of all the land-robbery and discrimination through which is got its reaches. Yet Karmiel’s municipality and the “Israel Land Authority” are sized by their own racist attitudes and grid and prevent Ramiya’s residents from building an orderly neighborhood inside Karmiel – they still want them to go away.

The struggle to save Ramiya is now becoming the center of struggle against Israeli apartheid for the people of the region. After the success of the mass struggle in stopping the Prawer plan for ethnic cleansing in the Naqab (even though the government now say that they will still continue to pursue this plan) – Palestinian youth are convinced of the need and possibility to go out to the streets to stop farther evictions.

The Chinese Tent

On Wednesday, 18.12.2013, there was a vigil in solidarity with Ramiya’s people on a main crossroad on the western entrance to Karmiel. On the same night the people of Ramiya built the solidarity tent that should be the center of the struggle over the next months.

Today (Thursday 19/12) we went to see the tent and help with the last preparations for tomorrow’s public meeting – the first even to which the wide public is invited to come and take part in the struggle.

We found a very big tent, maybe with the capacity to hold an activity for two hundred people. It has Chinese writing on its walls.

Being curious, we took a picture of the obscure Chinese writing and sent it to a friend that is learning the language. The answer was not late to come: “Take care, inflammable materials”!

Believe the Chinese, Apartheid in the Galilee is becoming unsustainable.

A positive story for these cold days

A positive story for these cold days

One of the classic stories that I was brought upon is Maxim Gorky’s short story about the commemoration of Lenin. It speaks about the decision of the Communist Party to commemorate Lenin’s birthday by erecting his sculpture in every city and village. The heroes of the story are the workers in some remote village that took the money allocated for Lenin’s sculpture and used it to eradicate mosquitoes which were spreading disease in their region.

My story here is much more trivial – it is about the fate of a medium size red “polygal” plastic board.

After many a demonstration, as my car would be parked nearby, I would collect the placards with the slogans and take them with me. They might be needed for some other demo. I have a room full of them at home.

After some demonstration, long before the Arab Spring, I found in my newly acquired stock this red polygal with the writing “The Revolution is Inevitable!” I placed it on some high shelf and forgot about it. Probably it was written by some Trotskyites… We were demonstrating in support of the prisoners, against house demolition, for family unification, against the wall and the war… The revolution didn’t seem relevant.

Then came the Arab Spring, toppling within a few week the formidable tyrants of Tunisia and Egypt and shaking half a dozen other oppressive regimes. While collecting slogans for one demonstration, my eye exposed the red banner at the top of the shelf. Suddenly it seemed to be the most relevant of all, conveying the spirit of the period. It became my favorite banner.

Later Assad’s regime succeeded to stop the inevitable march of the revolution and convert the Syrian conflict into a prolonged and bloody civil war. This summer the betrayal of many liberals and leftists in Egypt enable General A-Sisi to stage the coup and return the reins of government to the old DeepState, stain the streets with the blood of demonstrators and fill the prisons with political prisoners.

This week we witness the coldest, longest Arab Winter in living memory. Cairo was covered with snow. The people that warmed their hears with the hopes of the Arab Spring feel a cold fever now thinking about the millions of Syrian and Palestinian refugees from the civil war, spread all over Syria and the neighboring countries in inhuman conditions, prey to the cold and floods. Gaza is devoid of electricity and flooded with sewage water as A-Sisi tightens the siege around it, preventing the entrance of basic equipments, in collusion with the Israelis.

We also experienced our small winter suffering as we waked up in the first rainy morning to find half the house flooded. We have an attic above the bathroom that we never use. It has an open eastern window. Every year more water enters the attic and leak through the bathroom’s ceiling. Just before the winter came I requested a friend that works in house repairs to close this window – but, like in previous years, nothing was done. So, after I finished cleaning the water from the floor, and as the rain seemed never to stop, I took this red polygal and stuck it in the open attic window.

The revolution, for the time being, is not inevitable, but the house is almost all dry.