AT-TUWANI: Havat Ma'on--a perfect cover for bullies

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CPTnet
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December 22, 2004
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<P>AT-TUWANI: Havat Ma'on--a perfect cover for bullies
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<P>[Note: the following is an excerpt from a longer report that CPTer Jerry
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Levin wrote as part of his &quot;From the Inside Looking Out&quot; series. People
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wishing to receive the full report or to get put on Levin's direct mailing
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list may contact him at guest.993507@MennoLink.org.]
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<P><P>Ethnic as well as religious survival has never been certain in At-Tuwani
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since Israel wrested control of the Hebron hills from Jordan in 1967. And
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the downhill slide in hopes and expectations took a steep precipitous turn
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for the worse in 1980, when an ultra-nationalist group from Israel showed up
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one day and started planting trees on top of a hill one rise over from
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At-Tuwani. Twenty-four years later a tall thick evergreen forest shrouds
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what became Havat Ma'on, an outpost of the settlement of Ma'on, which was
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established two years later, a bit further on--one hill top over--from
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At-Tuwani.
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<P>Havat Ma'on provides perfect cover for settlement toughs and bullies who
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have been perpetually swooping down to prey on the villagers in a variety of
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menacing ways. In fact, a second generation of settler children is now
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following in the mean-spirited, aggrandizing footsteps of their fathers and
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mothers.
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<P>For instance, off and on for a generation, settlers from Ma'on have been
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attacking defenseless shepherds and small children walking to and from
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school, as well as the pregnant and elderly. They have been uprooting olive
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trees, preventing village farmers from preparing, plowing, planting,
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cultivating and harvesting--or burning--their crops. Then, they eventually
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have been following up those discouraging harassments by extending the
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fenced-in boundaries of the settlement onto and around those fields and
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orchards--stealing them in other words--in order to cheekily and sneeringly
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retain them for their own use and profit.
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<P>Then at night and sometimes during the day the settlers have formed
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vigilante posses to descend on outlying houses to stone and shoot at windows
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in order to try to frighten families into leaving.
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<P>The scare tactics worked perfectly at two other villages, much closer to
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Ma'on than At-Tuwani. In 1997 the frightened residents of Kharruba and
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Serora, after fifteen years of constant and often violent pressure, finally
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abandoned their homes and their long-standing way of life. There is a law on
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the Israeli books that allows the state to take over agricultural land,
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which has not been worked in three years. Recently settlers from Ma'on began
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plowing some of Kharruba's abandoned fields.
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<P>There's nothing that makes an ardent militant, acquisitive Zionist see red
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more quickly --than someone claiming that what has been happening in the
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Occupied Territories resembles the persecution of Jews in Europe. I will
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not get into that, because I don't want the argument to center around how
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many dead Palestinians compared to dead Jews does it take to make a
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holocaust. It would dishonor the murders of both to get involved in that
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kind of numbers game.
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<P>However, I do know a pogrom when I see one.
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