This is Jana Hannoun. I met her after a Palestine Literature Festival event at the British Council in occupied east Jerusalem. We were at the British Council because our original venue, the Palestine National Theatre, had been closed down by the Israeli occupiers. The British Council is just down the road from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, where Jana lived, and which Israel wants to Judaize.
At five o clock in the morning on August 2nd, the Hannoun and al-Ghawe families were physically thrown out of their homes by Zionist troops. 53 people, including 19 children, were made homeless, and their toys and clothes were strewn in the street. They were made homeless because they are members of the wrong ethnic group – because they are Arabs, the natives of Palestine, and not invading Jews. Their homes were immediately occupied by foreign settlers.
This, of course, is fascism. Because of a myth of national origin (and it is a myth – the vast majority of Jews originate from eastern Europe and north Africa, not from Palestine, not even two thousand years ago), the Canaanite-Arab Palestinians are designated untermenschen to be driven out. The Sheikh Jarrah families have experienced this before, as they are refugees from Haifa and west Jerusalem, ethnically cleansed by Zionist terrorist militias in 1948. The UN built homes for them in east Jerusalem after 1948, and that half of the city fell too in 1967. In this report, Jana is interviewed. More videos of the theft can be viewed here.
Shaikh Jarrah’s al-Kurd family were forcibly removed from their home in November 2008. In all, 28 family homes in the area are threatened with racist expropriation. Homes in the Silwan area, meanwhile, are being demolished, and settlers are building a network of tunnels under other buildings. In these so-called archeological sites, skeletons and other remains from the Islamic period have been removed without informing Palestinian authorities, and have now ‘disappeared.’ (I once knew a Spanish archeologist who had worked all over the Middle East. Israel, he told me, is the only country where a foreign archeologist must be accompanied by security officials.) Palestinians in east Jerusalem frequently have their identity cards confiscated and so find themselves forced to leave the city. Others leave because conditions are so appalling. Very little public money is spent on Arab areas, and permission to build is almost never granted. Already there are 200,000 Jewish settlers living on top of 250,000 Palestinians in the occupied half of town. To restate, west Jerusalem, which the West and its Muslim clients consider to be Israel proper, was ethnically cleansed in 1948. For Israel there is no distinction: it has annexed east Jerusalem and considers the entire city (in typically fascist language) to be its ‘eternal undivided capital’.
The UN condemned the expropriations in Sheikh Jarrah in reasonably strong terms. So too did the British Consulate in Jerusalem, saying: “These actions are incompatible with the Israeli professed desire for peace.” Hillary Clinton managed to say the words “deeply regrettable.” And I suppose we should be grateful. Under the Bush administration nothing would have been said, or perhaps the crime would have been celebrated.
But it isn’t nearly enough. Obama and Mitchell have spent eight months asking for a settlement freeze. American and Israeli officials quibble over the definition of ‘natural growth’ in the settlements. The American administration has assured its ally that no economic pressure will be brought to bear, and restated its absolute committment to the Zionist state’s defence. The Arab regimes, which in 2002 offered a warm peace in return for a withdrawal to the 1967 lines, have been told to further ‘normalise’ relations with Israel before Israel takes a step towards justice.
People who think the talk of settlement ‘freeze’ or ‘natural growth’ offers any hope should visit Palestine. They’ll see that nothing of Palestine is left, that every hilltop is occupied, every Palestinian village surrounded. If America really wants a viable two-state solution it must demand not a freeze but a dismantling of all settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. When Israel refuses, America must cease all funding and arming of the Zionist project, criminalise private fund raising for Israel, and impose sanctions on Israeli goods and businesses. It must refuse to defend Israel from its potential enemies until Israel withdraws from the occupied territories. Obviously, this isn’t going to happen.
Some say that Obama is doing all he can, which is to make gentle demands he knows will be refused and so demonstrate to the American people that Israel is not the ally they think it is, preparing the ground for a more serious breach with Zionism in the coming decades. But by then the two-state solution will be dead in the water. In fact, it already is, drowned back in the Oslo years.
The other solution is the one state solution, the South African solution. The Palestinians are a generous people. They know that two or three generations of Jews have been born in Palestine, that there is now a specifically Israeli, Hebrew-speaking culture. Many Palestinians even understand the desire for a Jewish safe haven. George Habash said that he aimed to return to his home, and that if he found a Jewish family living there he would build a second storey for himself. He didn’t say he’d kill the Jewish family. When I asked the PA’s chief of staff Rafik Husseini what he thought of the one-state solution, he said, “If they would live with us as equals, if they would accept it, yes, of course I agree with the one state solution. But they wont accept it.”
This is true. So brainwashed are Israeli Jews by their own brand of fascism, so victimised by history, less then five per cent would be happy to live in a democratic state, as equals with the natives of the land.
Perhaps in ten or twenty years massive international disapproval and isolation of Israel will rob Zionism of its financial and military strengths, and Israeli Jews will change their minds. Perhaps this process is beginning now with the boycott movement. Perhaps mainstream Western media will stop pretending that Israeli fascism is liberal democracy, and perhaps Western tourists will stop taking Holy Land holidays in ethnically-cleansed Jerusalem. Otherwise, it’s down to the Arabs and Muslims. The path to liberation will be a bloody path of necessary revolution and war.
Please use Jana’s photograph and story. She looks like a human being, does she not? Not like a terrorist or a representative of the ‘Arab mind.’ Take her picture to your local MP’s office, or send it to your country’s embassy in Israel and demand that they do something. Take it to your local supermarket manager and explain the link between this girl’s homelessness and the presence of Israeli fruit on the supermarket shelves. Don’t leave Jana in the street.
3 thoughts on “Untermenschen”
Great article. I myself also stayed with the Hannouns while in Palestine and I’m extremely saddened by the recent events, though they came as little surprise. Thank you for your incisive article, and for telling it like it is.
Thanks for the article and insightful remarks. Only the last sentence could be easily misinterpreted:
“She looks like a human being, does she not? Not like a terrorist or a representative of the ‘Arab mind.’”
People can disagree with their motives but Palestinian terrorist are human beings. Israeli terrorists that are ethnically cleansing Palestine are viewed as human beings too.
Well, obviously, Nihal, I don’t agree with the ‘terrorist’ designation. I’ve recently started using it sometimes to describe Israeli troops, but only as a counterblow against the mainstream media. It’s a thoroughly ideological word. I don’t see a moral distinction between a man with a suicide belt and a man who pushes a button because the state tells him to. The distinction comes from whether they are using violence to oppress or to resist oppression. The line above was resisting the stereotyping of Palestinians as ‘terrorists’.