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Cartooning in Conflict
Chicago Nov. 4-6



Robi Damelin

Each day we allow on the deserted ghost-town streets of Hevron, each cremated market place now a shell, each bicycle belonging to the Israeli settler children thrown into a courtyard claiming ownership and each insulting piece of graffiti scrawled on long closed shops, just serves to hammer another nail in the coffin of our collective morality.

 We can no longer afford to ignore the fact that less than one thousand settlers are holding thousands and thousands of Palestinians to ransom in the old city of Hevron.  We can no longer deny the caged in homes where a few brave Palestinians remain living like prisoners in fear of stones and other acts of deliberate and cruel violence.  No matter what edicts we claim or where our forefathers lived, it can not expiate the daily crimes committed by Jews on the streets and in the houses of Hevron.
How have we as a nation allowed so few to orchestrate a way of life in Hevron which can only lead to more and more hatred laced with a never ending sense of revenge.  Ho do we allow so few to dictate policy to the powers that be, to maintain soldiers to protect the Settlers and the Police to protect the Palestinians.  It should also be noted that the Authorities are totally intimidated by the settlers.
Walking down the deserted main street of the Old City of Hevron, I was actually struck by the fact that no one enjoyed the wonderful possibilities it offered.  All the shops are closed, there is a quiet that is ominous and the once busy market place is now deserted.  Palestinians  have to shop in another market , to get there one walks through a guarded door from the main street, something like "Alice in Wonderland" from the frightening quiet into a busy market Place . It is easy to imagine how exciting and busy the Old City of Hevron was .  When the Palestinians return with their shopping they have to walk up the very steep hills of Hevron as only the Settlers are allowed to drive on what they call the "sterile" streets.
We inspected many of the old Jewish landmarks, but did not meet any Settler whose family came originally from Hevron and I wandered, who gave them the right to claim property in the name of the original Jewish families who lived there.  Are they not doing something illegal.  I am not sure that the original families of Hevron passed on the title deeds of their homes to these recent residents.  No matter how hard the settlers wish, or how many walls they paint with murals of biblical themes,  hundreds and thousands of Palestinians will not disappear.
Perhaps they should consider reconciliation as an alternate tactic, perhaps compassion which is supposed to be an integral part of the Jewish ethic or even understanding and empathy.  This could neutralize some of the hatred which is surely growing in the area.  Nothing can justify the behavior of the settlers and nothing can condone our apathy, and lack of caring about what is happening next door.
It seems that only the Palestinians buried in the cemetery overlooking the Old City in Hevron are enjoying rights and a sense of peace.
Robi Damelin
Parents Circle-Families Forum.


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