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

December 22, 2004

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

[Note: the following is an excerpt from a longer report that CPTer Jerry
Levin wrote as part of his "From the Inside Looking Out" series. People
wishing to receive the full report or to get put on Levin's direct mailing
list may contact him at]

Ethnic as well as religious survival has never been certain in At-Tuwani
since Israel wrested control of the Hebron hills from Jordan in 1967. And
the downhill slide in hopes and expectations took a steep precipitous turn
for the worse in 1980, when an ultra-nationalist group from Israel showed up
one day and started planting trees on top of a hill one rise over from
At-Tuwani. Twenty-four years later a tall thick evergreen forest shrouds
what became Havat Ma'on, an outpost of the settlement of Ma'on, which was
established two years later, a bit further on--one hill top over--from

Havat Ma'on provides perfect cover for settlement toughs and bullies who
have been perpetually swooping down to prey on the villagers in a variety of
menacing ways. In fact, a second generation of settler children is now
following in the mean-spirited, aggrandizing footsteps of their fathers and

For instance, off and on for a generation, settlers from Ma'on have been
attacking defenseless shepherds and small children walking to and from
school, as well as the pregnant and elderly. They have been uprooting olive
trees, preventing village farmers from preparing, plowing, planting,
cultivating and harvesting--or burning--their crops. Then, they eventually
have been following up those discouraging harassments by extending the
fenced-in boundaries of the settlement onto and around those fields and
orchards--stealing them in other words--in order to cheekily and sneeringly
retain them for their own use and profit.

Then at night and sometimes during the day the settlers have formed
vigilante posses to descend on outlying houses to stone and shoot at windows
in order to try to frighten families into leaving.

The scare tactics worked perfectly at two other villages, much closer to
Ma'on than At-Tuwani. In 1997 the frightened residents of Kharruba and
Serora, after fifteen years of constant and often violent pressure, finally
abandoned their homes and their long-standing way of life. There is a law on
the Israeli books that allows the state to take over agricultural land,
which has not been worked in three years. Recently settlers from Ma'on began
plowing some of Kharruba's abandoned fields.

There's nothing that makes an ardent militant, acquisitive Zionist see red
more quickly --than someone claiming that what has been happening in the
Occupied Territories resembles the persecution of Jews in Europe. I will
not get into that, because I don't want the argument to center around how
many dead Palestinians compared to dead Jews does it take to make a
holocaust. It would dishonor the murders of both to get involved in that
kind of numbers game.

However, I do know a pogrom when I see one.