Discussion Forum
Message from a Palestinian Village

From Ron Taylor
Friday, 14 March 2008

At the Trades Club, on Jan 20th, I organised a film-show to raise money for the Palestinian village of At-Tuwani, which I first visited in October 2007.That night raised just short of 500 pounds and a further donation of 160 pounds (sorry there is no pound sign on my keyboard) came from the 1 in 12 club in Bradford.

I am now back in the West Bank of Palestine and recently visited At-Tuwani again, partly to hand over the money but also to take part in a demonstration against the erection of a roadblock by the Israeli army. This roadblock meant that the only road in and out of the village was impassable, causing major difficulties for the people living there; which ,of course, it was meant to do.Thankfully the demonstration,which succeeded in removing the earth and rock barrier, passed off quietly, and for once, perhaps because there were about 20 international peacemakers in attemdance, the army did not attack the demonstration.

However, since my last visit,there have been numerous incidents involving the army and armed Israeli settlers.These have included the poisoning of a spring used by Palestinian farmers and live rounds of ammunition fired at shepherds and international activists.

But the village lives on and the head of the local campaign of non-violent resistance asked me to send his thanks to all those who contributed to the money raised.The cash will be used to buy water when it is needed as the Israelis refuse to allow them access to mains supply, readily available to the neighbouring Israeli settlements which are attempting to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from their own land.

From Essie D of Leeds
Friday, 27 June 2008

As a recent visitor to be charmed by Hebden Bridge I turned to your discussion forum and noted the statements made by Mr. Ron Taylor regarding the above.

I am rather disturbed at the allegation that the Israelis have poisoned a Palestinian spring. Can Mr. Taylor be more specific, please, and define the poison which was used. Also, it is further alleged that "barley (supposedly grown by the villagers) has been coated with a blue poison." Categoric details of the poison that was used would be helpful to establish crediblity.

Bearing in mind that during the middle ages many Jews were massacred ( at Strasburg for example) after being accused of poisoning the wells, and therefore blamed for the plague, it ill behoves Mr. Taylor to make these allegations without including definitive evidence, and could in fact be interpreted as anti-semitism.

I await assurances from Mr. Taylor that I have misinterpreted his motives.

From Ron Taylor
Sunday, 29 June 2008

In my posting of 14th March, 2008 I stated that a spring in the village of At-Tuwani had been poisoned. The incident took place on 9th December 2007 and involved a water cistern rather than a spring, used by a Palestinian farming family (cisterns have to be used to collect water for domestic use as under the Israeli occupation Palestinians living in this part of the West bank are not allowed to have connections to the water network).

That day a group of Jewish settlers and some of their supporters walked through the village and one was spotted emptying something into the cistern. A sample which was analysed for an international NGO, Action for Hunger, which operates in the area, confirmed that the water was indeed contaminated. Results from the laboratory test showed that the water had a pH level of 2.4 (safe water has a pH of approx. 7) and contained a high number of solubles. It is not clear exactly what the substance introduced into the cistern was but it was probably a bleach product. Action for Hunger determined that the water was not fit for human or animal consumption. This was by no means the only incident of its kind. Previously, Palestinian residents have found their cisterns contaminated with dead chickens and soiled nappies.

Poisoned barley. In an earlier posting on Hebweb I wrote that 'local shepherds found barley coated with a blue poison nears wells and grazing land'. Essie has inserted the phrase 'supposedly grown by the villagers.'

If she had read the posting more carefully she would have noticed that I did not say anything about the barley being grown by people in the village. In fact it is probable that the barley came from the illegal settlement, impregnated there with the poison and then placed on the land owned and used by Palestinians.

Two forms of poison were used in these incidents of March and April of 2005. University lab analysis determined that one was the compound 2-fluorocetamide, very small quantities of which are lethal for both humans and animals. The other was a rat poison called brodifaucum.The poisons were ingested by livestock belonging to Palestinians and local wildlife; scores of creatures died as a result.

These incidents constitute a small part of the campaign by these violent settlers to ethnically-cleanse the Palestinian population from their land. Fortunately, the people are supported by a number of international and Israeli groups; the Christian Peacemaker Team(CPT), Operation Dove, the World Council of Churches, the International Solidarity Movement, Rabbis for Human Rights, Taayusch etc.

The Christian Peacemaker Team, which has a full-time presence in At-Tuwani, has a website which details the events in the village and the surrounding area. If you want to know more about what goes on in the South Hebron Hills just Google 'Christian Peacemaker Team At-Tuwani.'

Incidentally, At-Tuwani is very close to another community which is under constant threat from settlers. This is the tiny Palestinian farming community of Susiya which had its moment of international fame just a couple of weeks ago when the BBC broadcast a video of settlers brutally attacking shepherds with baseball bats.

Essie D more than hints that my motive for writing about such events is anti-semitism. Unfortunately the charge of anti-semitism is used widely by many Israeli and their supporters to condemn anyone who dares to criticise the behaviour of Israel and Israelis.

I can assure her that I am not in the least bit anti-semitic and never will be. My motivation is to support Palestinians who are the victims of the right-wing racist ideology of Zionism. There are many Jewish people both within Israel and without who are deeply opposed to Zionism and the behaviour of the settlers, and who are ashamed that the Israeli government still operates outside international law and denies Palestinians basic human rights.

From Essie D of Leeds
Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Thank you Mr. Taylor for your response. The incidents you have described are regrettable and cannot be condoned. I am not an Israeli, I was born in Hull and have lived in England all my life. Neither am I particularly a "Zionist," in fact, I'm not quite sure how you can define a "Zionist" - any more than you can define a terrorist. I am, however, a very keen gardener, although I grow mostly flowers (some from seed) I only grow a few vegetables, and I honestly don't think barley could be transplanted easily and would then take root and continue growing - but perhaps I am just nit-picking.

I am not a pacifist, but I would not attack first. and I know there are faults on both sides. I believe "In the hands of men who are truly great the pen is mightier than the sword." If only that principle could be applied to the Middle East, and other parts of the world too.

It is easy to sneer at people who suggest anti-semitism. I am now 70 years old, and I was an only child. Although I have two children and four grandchildren I have no family tree, just a few sepia photographs and no other knowledge of any family - just as if they never existed - because my parents couldn't bring themselves to speak of what had happened.

I don't intend to write any further on this subject. I am satisfied with your explanation, for which I thank you.

See also

Hebweb News (January 2008)
Fundraising event for Palestinian Village