Week Three, Day three:
Tiferet of Tiferet
I originally was going to blog this as a “wow, some good news for a change” post, but as I realized exactly where this all was taking place, that pretty quickly slid away. Ynet reports about a new green(er) energy production site for Jerusalem. Using methane produced by a local garbage dump, electricity will be produced for Jerusalem municipality. And this is good news, of course; it’s a far greener process than coal produced electricity.
But I can’t help but sigh over the whole thing anyway. The Abu Dis dump is actually one of the first places where i was involved with Israeli activism because of the Jahalin Bedouin living there.
Why, you may ask are the Jahalin living in a garbage dump?
As one can read at the Bustan website, “The Jahalin were settled by the Israeli government on lands of Abu Dis, after their dispossession from the Negev in the 1950s. This land was later declared ‘state land,’ and in 1975, the Ma’ale Adumim settlement in the West Bank was founded on the expropriated Palestinian lands of Abu Dis, Azzariya, Issawiya, A-tur and Anata.”
Although it was due to government forcible relocation that the Bedouin were living in Abu Dis to begin with, it took many years of a court case to get the government to even being to live up to its responsibilities. Well, all right, at least to recognize them, even if not to follow through. YOu know, little things, like providing water and electricity.
In the meantime, Maale Adumim continues to expand so that the Bedouin can see just over the hill beautiful houses with great city services, clean streets, and the other accoutrements of Jewish life in Israel.
I can’t begin to say how sad it was for me to see people living in shipping containers and struggling to maintain their way of life and their dignity under some very trying circumstances.
Due to the encroachment of Ma’ale Adumim, the Jahalin were forcefully evicted from their homes a second time. In addition to losing their homes, they lost their land, their animals, and their ability to farm or graze the lands. Subsequently the Jahalin were uprooted from their traditional sustenance and forced to find work without benefits as day laborers in low-income fields, often in one of the neighboring Jewish settlements. They are living in corrugated tin shacks without basic amenities, without health care, without electricity.
Ma’ale Adumim begins on the neighboring hill, replete with beautiful villas to house 35,000 settlers that receive tax breaks and other government subsidies to live there. There are new educational and cultural institutions; widely paved, fine-landscaped roads and traffic lights in and around the settlement; public gardens; swimming pools, restaurants; shops; and even a Meretz chapter. Juxtaposed with this suburban expanse, the Jahalin have been transplanted into a cramped corner of Azzariya, sandwiched between settlements and living next to Jerusalem’s municipal waste dump.
Well, I’m just so glad the residents of Jerusalem can be greener in their use of electricity. Maybe they can share some of it with the Bedouin now.