By LINDA COHN
This article was written by a friend of mine who just recently returned from Israel from a fact-finding mission of hers. It's full of current truthful information.
The facts on the ground in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) are very different from what our president talks about and very different than what the mainstream media report.
I recently returned from my fifth trip to Israel. This was the second time I visited the so-called settlements in the West Bank. The word settlement is very misleading because it is used to describe established towns built 30 years ago, as well as trailers on hilltops.
The settlement of Tekoa, for example, was built approximately 30 years ago. The children of the host couple I stayed with were born in Tekoa and have lived their whole lives there. There was a big tree out front and hundreds of birds sang every morning and every evening. The husband said that when they came to Tekoa, there was not one tree and not one bird. These are the people who are expected to leave their homes in order to create a Palestinian state.
We visited Hebron—site of the tombs of Abraham, Sarah, Jacob and Leah. Jews are allowed in only 3 percent of Hebron, while Arabs are allowed in 98 percent of the city. Jewish families there are heavily guarded by the Israeli army.
Under the Oslo accords, the West Bank was divided into Areas A, B and C. Areas A are under Palestinian Authority control. They do not allow any Jews there. If racism is a form of violence, the left is certainly quiet about the racism of Muslims who do not allow Jews to live among them.
It is a crime punishable by death in both Palestinian and Jordanian territories for an Arab to sell land to a Jew.
We visited Rachel’s tomb in Bethlehem. There are two walls around Bethlehem, which were depressing to see. The liberal Christians who blame Israel for the walls choose to ignore the fact that barriers and checkpoints are the least lethal method of combating suicide bombers and that there were no walls or checkpoints when Israel administered the territories. Only after the Palestinians took control of Areas A (during Oslo) and did not control terrorist bombers were the walls and checkpoints built. When I lived in Israel from 1978 to 1980, there were no walls, fences, or checkpoints. The roads to the West Bank were wide open, with only a warning sign posted at the side of the road.
Some of us visited Nablus, the site of Joseph’s tomb, although I did not. Nablus is in Area A. The group met at 10 p.m. and went in sometime between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. under cover of darkness. Still, the Palestinians stoned the bus.
One of the provisions of Oslo was that holy sites under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority would be protected and open to all, but that’s not happening. The Palestinians are in violation of every stipulation they signed on to at Oslo. Never mind that our president insists they get a state no matter whether they abide by Oslo, no matter whether they desecrate Jewish holy places, no matter whether they commit murder or advocate ethnic cleansing.
We also visited hilltop settlements consisting of a few trailers and poor people eking a living out of the land. These trailers on hilltops are considered to be a threat to world peace, while rockets from Gaza are not.
We visited the homes of some of the Jews evacuated from Gaza. The government has not fully compensated any of them for their losses. A woman in her 60s who built her home with her husband when she was 27 has to start over. The stories are endless.
We visited Sderot, the Israeli city 1.5 miles from the Gaza border that has been attacked 8,000 times by rockets from Gaza. I was a little apprehensive about being there, but I wanted to support the people who live there. It was quiet the half-day we were there. Surprisingly, this was one of the most inspirational parts of the trip. I saw a yeshiva with a beautiful and very rich looking platform with the Ten Commandments and 450-500 post-high school yeshiva students from all over Israel who came to Sderot to study and give support to the city. I was touched by the courage and dedication of the rabbi who founded the yeshiva.
The other inspirational part of the trip was Yom Yerushalayim day, Jerusalem Reunification Day which was observed May 22 (Iyar 28) this year. There were thousands of children marching with Israeli flags—a beautiful sight.
Israel is a miracle, which I hope will last.
These are the facts on the ground that I witnessed.
Linda Cohn lives in Portland. She is a member of Americans of For a Safe Israel.
Update 2012: Linda now lives in New York
Resource: Jewish Review Newspaper: Sept. 1, 2009 issue; page 23