Saturday, October 25, 2008
Today, Jeff Klein and I arrived in Qalansawa, a Palestinian village in the Little Triangle just north of Tel Aviv. Qalansawa is one of the Palestinian villages that remained west of the Green Line after 1948. Its citizens are part of the 20% Arab minority population of Israel. The story of Qalansawa is a study of the expropriation of Palestinian property that resulted from the Israeli military victory. While the people of Qalansawa were not driven from their village in 1948, primarily because of the presence of the strong Iraqi military forces, their village lands were greatly diminished by a combination of tactics. As is the case with many Palestinian villages, the people live in the village and their land surrounds the village. When the Israeli military pushed closer, the people were afraid to farm the land and pulled back to their village; using the absurd but effective concept of "present absenteeism", the Israeli government declaredd the farmlands abandoned and immediately moved new Jewish settlers, mostly from Yemen, onto the land. Also, after the armistice was declared, the Israeli government pressured landowners to "sell" their land at very low prices or "traded" smaller plots of land close to the village for the larger tracts outside. The Israeli government convinced the people that they would never be able to return to farm those lands because of the new settlements and the new borders of the Israeli state. The Israeli governement also sent teams of "buyers" to refugee camps in Jordan to get deeds signed for small amounts of cash that the refugee owners desperately needed for survival.