[News] The struggle for al-Araqib is the struggle for Palestine
news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Mar 4 12:03:28 EST 2011
The struggle for al-Araqib is the struggle for Palestine
Ameer Makhoul, The Electronic Intifada, 4 March 2011
Al-Araqib was the last village I visited before my arrest.
<http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11453.shtml>Al-Araqib is not
just a village, but the very heart of a nation and a people. On 5 May
2010, I was there under the tent of Sheikh Sayah, a local leader.
There was a big crowd after the destruction and the reconstruction of
the village. We met there until late at night, taking advantage of
the desert darkness.
Al-Araqib is a small village in the southern part of historic
Palestine known as al-Naqab but which Israel calls the "Negev." Since
mid-2010, Israel has bulldozed the village more than a dozen times.
We had come at the request of
Salah but especially in answer to the call of our duty and our
responsibility as a nation. Before the evening gathering of the
activists in al-Araqib, we had visited the village of Houra where we
then Liqyeh and activist Alayan Sane. Our delegation from the Popular
Committee for the Defense of Political Freedoms, in the framework of
the High Follow up Committee for the Arab Citizens of Israel,
included Abdel Hakim Moufid, Raja Aghbariyeh, Qadri Abu Wassel,
lawyer Abd al-Raouf Mouassi and myself. Forgive me if I have left anyone out.
This was my last visit before
security forces raided my home and arrested me one hour after I
arrived back in Haifa after midnight. I can no longer follow the
evolution of events except for the biased information available here in prison.
At that meeting in al-Araqib, we knew that the eyes of the Israeli
forces of uprooting were upon us under the convenient cover of the
desert, hiding their criminal face and hands in its darkness. Just as
the saying goes, that the "people of Mecca know their territory
better than anyone else," so the people of al-Araqib know their
territory and its night-time environment better than anyone. However,
the uprooters have usurped the friendly obscurity of the desert. They
invade the land and the night, bringing with them injustice,
blackness, uprooting, expulsion and forced exile. The Zionist project
has cast this darkness throughout its history.
The darkness of the plan has cast its dark shadow over al-Araqib, the
Naqab, the Galilee, the coast, the Triangle, Jerusalem, Gaza, West
Bank and has travelled across the ocean, preventing the light of
liberty from reaching Gaza, besieging it. The darkness has stretched
out over those in exile in a vain attempt to hide the homeland, cut
it off from light and hope, hidden from the option of return.
But the people in our homeland know what they are doing and know who
is watching them. They know their right to their homeland as well as
the rights due to them inside it.
Neither the Israeli eyes watching us nor the bulldozers of
destruction and ethnic cleansing can change our minds. They have been
active every minute for six decades. But we, the masses of the people
inside, have been growing in strength every day since the Nakba --
the ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine in 1947-48 -- and during
Nakba. We have become stronger in our resistance to oppression and
the system of ethnic cleansing, and our will has broken free.
At the meeting in al-Araqib, we prepared an emergency plan of action
and confrontation to resist and hold our ground. We divided up the
tasks and shared our concerns while planning how to face the imminent
destruction with our bodies by mobilizing people backed by efficient
local and international solidarity. We determined that every single
house destroyed would be rebuilt and every single tent torn down set
up again, no matter what the price. The reconstruction would take
place immediately after such crimes of destruction. Our visit was not
the beginning of our existential struggle. It was a planned
additional step to gain momentum in the knowledge that it is a
decisive battle, not a local problem, but a strategic stand. The
battle for al-Araqib is a fundamental event in defense of the nation
and what is left of the land in order to protect Arab existence in
the Naqab and to recuperate as much stolen land as possible. This is
a battle for our homeland, a test of our willpower and an expression
of the direction our popular struggle has taken over several decades.
If we see this battle as just one more incident, we will deliver
al-Araqib and all it represents into their hands. We cannot.
Al-Araqib is an integral part of the nation at a key moment when
national duty and the spirit of defiance and steadfastness call upon
the people to resist, bearing in mind the initial battle for land and
home, on 30 March 1976: Land Day.
On that day, Israeli forces killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel
protesting against a government decision to confiscate thousands of
dunams of their land in the Galilee. Palestinians everywhere annually
commemorate Land Day as a protest against Israel's discriminatory
policies towards its 1.2 million Palestinian citizens and to
underline their collective and individual rights.
Today, we face a plan for ethnic cleansing from the same system, of
the same nature, but focusing on al-Araqib.
There is an intimate link between popular resistance in al-Araqib and
in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, Nilin, Bilin, in the Triangle and in
al-Rawha, the fight against house demolition and Judaization in the
Galilee, the fight for Umm Sahali and all the struggles of The
Association of the Forty of Ein Hod and the Regional Council of
Unrecognized Villages in the Naqab,
fight for the defense of his land and his right to live on it, the
Palestinian and international movement against the blockade of Gaza,
the fight to preserve the Arab character of Jerusalem and its holy
sites and other popular resistance movements.
The energy of these struggles, born of grassroots and local
solidarity movements and taken up by international supporters, is
growing every minute. This solidarity constitutes a powerful force of
dissuasion against those invading al-Araqib and elsewhere and acts as
a protection for the people of this country and its landowners
whether living here at the moment or refugees from here.
It is important to realize that Israel has now understood that the
Arab peoples are a strategic force of which, at this stage, the
Palestinians are the best organized. They are able to defend their
rights, their existence and all the rights due to their people. They
are as capable of recuperating rights they have been denied, such as
their national inheritance and their land, as they are of waging
legal battles, where our position is much stronger than Israel's. The
system intent on uprooting al-Araqib, like the entire process of
uprooting and expulsion, must be ever vigilant to justify its
legitimacy, while we in turn need to question its legitimacy every
day in order to put a halt to all its illegal actions.
This system will stop at no crime unless we challenge its every move.
The dynamics of this confrontation prove that neither al-Araqib nor
its population needs any recognition from its oppressors and
uprooters since the land and its history acknowledges their presence:
the nation knows its own people and their legitimacy derives from
this unbreakable tie.
All honor to the High Follow up Committee for the Arab Citizens of
Israel for making the correct connection between the
Jerusalem/al-Quds and al-Aqsa uprisings in 2000 and the fight for
al-Araqib and the defense of the homeland by calling for major action
in the Naqab and on the land of al-Araqib in the Naqab on the eve of
Land Day. They send a message to us and to the world that our cause
is indivisible, that our people stand united for our cause.
Ameer Makhoul is a Palestinian civil society leader in Israel and
currently in Gilboa prison. This edited essay was translated from
Arabic to French by Rim al-Khatib and from French to English by Carol
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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