As we face the news of a renewed demolition threat for the tire school of Khan al Akhmar, a Jahalin Bedouin community located on the outskirts of the Jerusalem, along with forty other structures in in the village, this week we also worked to raise awareness of the village in the Knesset….
From Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann, director of organizational development at Rabbis for Human Rights:
On Thursday, February 15th, I participated on behalf of Rabbis for Human Rights in a special event at the Knesset. The headline of the invitation read: “Not In A Democracy: 50 years of Occupation” and it was the initiative of members of the Knesset – Ayman Odeh, Dov Khanin, Kasnia Saftoleva and Michal Rosin (from whom we received the invitation). The room was absolutely full of human rights activists and their supporters and members of Knesset from the leftist opposition parties. Present also were a number of foreign diplomats and journalists, amongst them the ambassador of the E.U. who spoke in praise of the Israeli human rights NGOs and their crucial contribution to democracy in Israel.
One after the other, representatives of the human rights groups and members of Knesset described the injustices of the occupation, with the help of slides, short films and difficult —sometimes tragic — personal stories spelling out a reality of suffering, arbitrary arrest, collective punishment, repression, torture, killings, and the grinding daily life under the Israeli occupation that has now continued for almost fifty years (in June it will be fifty years old). I also spoke briefly. I focused on my experiences in Khan al Akhmar – a microcosm of the occupation. I spoke of the initiative to build a school there in which we were involved, in a reality in which some of the children – especially the girls – were not receiving any formal education at all. I described the wonderful experience of seeing the excitement of the kids as they arrived that first day – some of them barefoot, some on donkeys, from the surrounding Bedouin encampments, how proud they are of their school. I also related the narrow, selfish attitude of the neighbouring settlers from Kfar Adumim who called the army in an attempt to prevent their neighbours building themselves a school and refused all attempts at dialogue or contact between their children and the Bedouin children, despite bragging and being so proud of their own educational achievements. The irony of Jews -“the People of the Book” preventing the educational development of their neighbours is extreme, I pointed out, and tragic. “The occupation is corrupting our Judaism, as Leibowitz predicted in the past.”
Want to get involved? Volunteer this summer with Rabbi Grenimann as he helps organise summer camps for Jahalin Bedouin children in multiple encampments outside Jerusalem. Click here for more information!
Learn more about the renewed threat to Khan al Akhmar here