Sunday, August 13, 2006

Jayyous Village

I spent a week in the Village of Jayyous - or more correctly, I spent a couple of days in Jayyous and four days on the farm of Sherif and Siham.

Jayyous is an agricultural village with a population of 6000. Over the years at least half have left and live abroad. The situation in Jayyous is similar to the rest of Palestine:

Closure - villagers spend hours travelling even to nearby cities and villages due to the constantly evolving system of Israeli checkpoints and barriers. Produce trucks from farms, cement trucks, everything has to go through and often is turned back. For instance, the way to Jayyous is through the village of Azzun. When I arrived, soldiers had blocked the road into Azzun with concrete barriers. So you have to take a taxi to the barriers, get out, walk 5 feet to the other side, and get in another taxi. That's fine, though two taxi's is more expensive than one. But what if you are trying to move water, diesel or food in? Or farm products out to market in the cities? It becomes an expensive proposition. One of my hosts in Jayyous needed to bring in a cement truck to work on a house. He had to pay an extra 500NIS (about $110) to route the truck through some circuitous route around the blockated. Meanwhile, cheap Israeli farm products flood the markets via Israeli vehicles, which are free to travel on the settler roads. The closure allows Israeli goods to out-compete local Palestinian goods, further depressing the farms. It's part of the "economic warfare" against the population.

Sanctions - Essentially, the US has led a sanctions regime against Palestine since the election of the Hamas government. People tell me that it is now very hard to even bring in money for business or personal use - they say that the international banks, out of fear of US and European reprisals, won't transfer money into local accounts from abroad. And of course there is a total suspension of aid to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). Israel won't even give the PNA the taxes it collected from Palestinians - so Palestinians are being taxed but are not receiving services. Virtually all municipal and government employees, including hospital and school workers, are receiving only token amounts of pay. I met an English teacher in Jayyous who has received about $200 in pay since February.

The Wall - Aka the "Separation Barrier" or "Apartheid Wall." Jayyous is severely affected, and has lost 70% of it's agricultural land behind Israel's wall. Supposedly for security, another function, if not the main function of the wall is to annex land for Israel around it's settlements. Of course, this is all illegal under intatational law, and sometimes even under Israeli law. There are two outstanding websites that are a MUST SEE for information on the separation barriers:

B'tselem: Internationally recognized as providing objective and fact-based reports on the separation barrier and many other human rights issues. It's published reports always publish a response from the Israeli government for "balance." It is often quoted in newspapers and is the leading human rights organization in Israel. So I'm trying to say: they are highly credible by any standard.

Stop the Wall Campaign: This is an overtly activist group, but I know them and their information is very accurate and fact-based. However, due to their overt political positions, it's probably not as acceptable as an "academic" source of information, though again I feel that they are 100% credible. They are unparrallelled in day to day reporting of the situation "on the ground" and are the leading voice today in the campaign against the Wall.

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