A friend recently commented that when he read my article, "The Bedouins and the Bulldozers," in the July/ August issue of Peace, he was puzzled by the appeal for letters and faxes in support of the Jahalin, since the article stated that the Israeli High Court of Justice had "upheld a new petition on behalf of the Jahalin..." In fact, it threw it out.
When the article went to press the hearing had yet to take place. I assume the misunderstanding was based on the fact that, when asked about the situation in early June, I answered that I had not heard anything, and assumed "no news is good news"-that apparently no decision had yet been reached, but that had the Jahalin been moved from their encampment following the hearing, I would surely have been notified.
When I telephoned the Society of St. Yves on June 26 and July 25, I found out the following:
When the above-mentioned petition was heard on May 31, it was accompanied by a social worker's report by St. Yves staff member Dr. Ziad, and an environmental assessment by Moki Shefer, former member of the Ministry of the Environment. Both reports stressed the unsuitability of the relocation site proposed by the government, stressing the health and other risks attendant to living so near the area's major garbage landfill. The judges declared that this was not an issue for the courts at all, and ordered St. Yves to withdraw the petition. St. Yves was fined 6,000 MS (almost $3000 Canadian), and directed to apply to the "appropriate authorities"-the Ministries of Environment and Housing. This was done, but no replies had been received as of July 25.
Meanwhile, the Jahalin are still living in their encampment beside Ma'aleh Adumin settlement. Work on the school complex on the hill opposite the Abu Ghalia's tent has been halted for the time being, but infrastructure preparations continue at the eastern end of the encampment, with road-blasting and bulldozers disturbing life once again.
Yes, letters and faxes to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (Kiryat Hamamshalah, Jerusalem, Israel: Fax 972-2-664838) and protests to your local Israeli consulate or embassy are indeed wanted and needed.
Maxine Kaufman Nunn, Jerusalem
I was surprised at the tone and, in particular, some of the text of J. Taylor Wentges' "Decision '94 El Salvador" (Peace, March/April 1994, pp. 16-18).
The tone of the piece is explained by the fact that Mr. Wentges works for the Organization of American States (OAS), which still (despite mild improvement) is very inordinately influenced - not to say controlled -by the United States.
But what surprises me is that you would ask such a contributor, from such an organization, to write that misleading article.
The situation in El Salvador has improved, and is hopeful-thankfully. But there are many Canadians who could have said that without uttering the revisionist history about the U.S. role in the repression that Wentges purveys.
Why did you do it?
Carl Ridd, Professor of Theology, University of Winnipeg
Editor's reply: Wentges was not working for the OAS when he wrote the article, although he is now. Although Peace favors multilateral disarmament, we provide a forum for all opinions, even ones we may not agree with. We appreciate responses from our readers when they believe an author is wrong.
Shortly after the First World War, a veteran wrote a novel based on his war experience. He wrote about a soldier resting in his trench on a very quiet day at the Western Front, a beautiful sunny day. He noticed a butterfly at the edge of the trench, a colorful butterfly in a war-torn wasteland. As he moved to take a closer look, he was killed by a sniper. That day the German newspapers reported, "In Westen Nichts Neues"-"Nothing New in the West."
After the nostalgic D-Day celebrations, I realized that indeed nothing has changed in people's thinking. In this respect, "Nothing New in the West" is still true.
I was disappointed by our political and religious leaders as they celebrated D-Day.
Yes, the remembrance of ordinary people risking everything for a better society is a celebration of the spirit of the highest order, but this is not the end of the message. This is only half the truth.
The other half, criminal to omit, is that the sacrifice was misused. Foreign policy is still based on power politics leading to confrontation by the very governments we elect and suffer without protest.
There is not yet enough desire for cooperation. With this year's D-Day celebration glorifying war, the stage is set to make the next violent conflict acceptable. Peace has been aborted.
In the churches on D-Day we listened to a remembrance linked to a Christian faith with its heart cut out. The Beatitudes and the message of Jesus, "Love your enemies," were purposely omitted.
Apart from progress in the techniques of killing and laying waste, after 75 years there is still "nothing new in the West."
Jan Verkerk, Surrey, British Columbia