Last Sunday, heavily armed Israeli soldiers entered the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar to deliver notice to each family requiring them to "self demolish" their own homes — and their school — by Monday, October 1st. The bizarre notice read as follows:
"Inhabitants of Khan al-Ahmar
By the High Court decision you must demolish all buildings within the Khan al-Ahmar no later than 1 October 2018. If you refuse, the authorities will enforce demolition orders as per court decision and the law.
Any citizen who wishes to receive help in demolition or transporting goods must go to the liaison office and call this number..."
But that's not what Israel's High Court decided. On Sep. 3rd, as the court itself clarified, it specifically did NOT order demolition but merely removed the injunction preventing it. The next steps are a political decision, entirely up to the Government of Israel, so this is the time when Congress may be the only ones able to weigh in. Why Congress? Frankly, demolishing villages and schools are the political equivalent of drunk driving and friends don't let friends drive drunk.
Email your Senators and Representative NOW: https://actionnetwork.org/lette…/ask-congress-to-take-action
The villagers have already made clear that they have no intention of complying with the self-demolition orders — and they continue to bring forward a just solution through their own master zoning plan, a solution that deserves fair review and consideration. Though hard-liners in the Israeli government will press to forcibly remove them from their homes, demolition is not a fait accompli.
Rabbi Arik Ascherman, Israeli human rights activist and founder of Torat Tzedek, noted, "The judges took care to mention the fact that the State has committed to 'only' demolishing Khan Al Akhmar, but not expelling the residents. The court also wrote that there is nothing preventing them from continuing to try to get a master plan approved."
As Wendy Greenfield from Jewish Voice for Peace - South Bay noted in her letter to a Congresswoman's senior staff, "We know that the voices of Congress carry great weight with the Israeli government and we urge you to take advantage of these precious days before October 1st to communicate on this particular issue."
- Calls from Congress to the Israeli Embassy are very important. With staff on three floors dedicated to Congressional engagement, when Congress calls they get answers — and constituents (that's you) can expect to get a call or letter back. Those calls to the Embassy ripple up and down the line in Israel, empowering voices that otherwise are not heard.
- In addition, Congress' calls to the U.S. State Dept. are now more important than ever. Calls from Congress give State Dept. staff permission to make such inquiries their top priority — and I've been told that calls from members of Congress are noted all the way at the top at State.
Here's the message to your Representative and Senators: Ask them to intervene by making two calls to stop the demolition of the village of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar and to urge Israel to work with the villagers to accept their own master plan. If you can, please give them a call
Please, send your emails, make your calls — and on Sunday, join the twitter storm and tweet to your members of Congress to push them into action to keep Khan al Ahmar safe and standing.
Founder and Executive Director, Rebuilding Alliance