Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, November 2010
Ein Hod and the Israeli Sin
By Gilad Atzmon
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, December 8, 2010
Israeli press reported that the wildfire, which has been raging in northern Israel since Thursday, continued to spread on Saturday morning, burning houses in the pastoral artists' village Ein Hod.
Ein Hod which lies on the road to Haifa is an Israeli artists' colony. It is located at the foot of Mount Carmel, overlooking the Mediterranean coast. In the fifties, a group of Jewish artists decided to make Ein Hod into their home. They built studios and workshops. Ein Hod is the only artists' village in Israel, one of the few in the world. Israel and Israelis are very proud of their artists’ colony. Israelis are totally devastated by the impact of the fire on their beloved artist village.
Yet, there is something Israelis may prefer to hide. Ein Hod’s new artistic habitants are far from being innocent. Ein Hod is in factAyn Aawd, a 1948 ethnically cleansed Palestinian village. Unlike very many other Palestinian villages Ayn Awad was not destroyed. Though its habitants were brutally expelled, most of the houses remained intact. The Israeli Artists, are basically a bunch of plunders. They also turned the village mosque into a restaurant/bar, the "Bonanza". It is obviously clear that the Israeli artist community participated actively in the Zionist crime.
Those few uprooted Palestinian villagers who survived the 1948 invasion built a new village near by, also called Ayn Hawd. Far from being surprising, the new village is not legally recognized by the Israeli government. It is denied all municipal services (including water, electricity, and roads). In the 1970s the Israeli government erected a fence around this new village in order to prevent it from expanding. As it happens, Israeli artists dwell in Palestinian homes while the dispossessed indigenous owners are living in poverty around the corner with no running water or electricity.
In the last six decades the JNF planted millions of pine trees around Israeli villages and towns. These newly planted forests were there to hide traces of Palestinian civilization and the 1948 Nakba. Ein Hod also surrounded itself with pine trees. It helped the Artists to concentrate on creative matters and to evade the misery in Ayn Hawd. It allows the artists to engage with ‘beauty’ and avoid the sin they are entangled with. Seemingly, the forest between Ein Hod and Ayn Hawd is now burned. Nature found its way to confront the Israelis with his and her past and present. Yet, I am far from being convinced whether the Israelis can be morally awaken to the disastrous reality they are complicit in.
Ein Hod is just a symbol of Israeli morbidity. It is a symbol of ethical blindness. But it is also a symptom of Israeli hopelessness.
In spite of its military might, its ‘technological superiority’, its air force, its nuclear capacity, and AIPAC, Israel doesn’t know how to deal with fire. It fails to deal with the most banal domestic issues. Israel has been caught begging the world to come to its rescue. Zionism that was there to bring to life an authentic, self-sufficient, civilized and ethical Jew has failed all the way through.
Disaster in the North of Israel, at least 40 dead as fire rages across the Carmel Mountains. A mass evacuation has begun.
As I am writing these lines, Israeli Fire fighting crews are battling with the flames. They also express no hope of controlling the fire soon. "We lost all control of the fire," said the Haifa Fire fighting services spokesman. "There aren't enough fire fighting resources in Israel in order to put out the fire."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hurried to the scene of the fire on Thursday. He requested the help of the U.S, Greece, Italy, Russia, and Cyprus to send additional forces to aid the Israeli firemen. A normal country would probably ask for the help of its neighbours, but the Jewish state doesn’t have neighbours. It made all its neighbours into enemies.
But the story here goes far deeper. The fire in northern Israel is far from being a coincidence. Israel’s rural landscape is saturated with pine trees. These trees are totally new to the region. They were not there until the 1930’s. The pine trees were introduced to the Palestinians landscape in the early 1930s by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in an attempt to ‘reclaim the land’ . By 1935, JNF had planted 1.7 million trees over a total area of 1,750 acres. Over fifty years, the JNF planted over 260 million trees largely on confiscated Palestinian land. It did it all in a desperate attempt to hide the ruins of the ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages and their history.
Along the years the JNF performed a crude attempt to eliminate Palestinian civilisation and their past but it also tried to make Palestine look like Europe. The Palestinian natural forest was eradicated. Similarly the olive trees were uprooted. The pine trees took their place. On the southern part of mount Carmel the Israelis named an area as ‘Little Switzerland’. I have learned tonight that Little Switzerland is burned.
However, the facts on the ground were pretty devastating for the JNF. The pine tree didn’t adapt to the Israeli climate as much as the Israelis failed to adapt to the Middle East. According to JNF statistics, six out of every 10 saplings planted did not survive. Those few trees that did survive formed nothing but a firetrap. By the end of each Israeli summer each of the Israeli pine forests become a potential deadly zone.
In spite of its nuclear power, its criminal army, the occupation, the Mossad and its lobbies all over the world, Israel seems to be very vulnerable. It is devastatingly alienated from the land it claims to own. Like the pine tree, Israel and the Israeli are foreign to the region.
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