My 99 year-to-be Uncle Jessie Zel Lurie, Journalist, former editor-in-chief of Hasassah Magazine
Delray Beach, Florida writes a monthly column for the Jewish Journal in Florida.
Column for 10.31. 2012
Palestinian college entrance exams canceled by Israel
By J. Zel Lurie
“I write this for my grandchildren so they will have an inkling to what Israel was like before they were born.”
There was a time many years ago, under Prime Ministers Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir, when Israel abided by the international rules of warfare codified in the Geneva Convention and helped the Arab residents of the occupied Territories live normal lives according to the Geneva rules.
There were West Bank Departments of Education and health and other services. I recall seeing an ambulance with a three-line title across its flank reading “West Bank Department of Health” in English, Arabic and Hebrew.
The West Bank (which was the west bank of Jordan from 1948 to 1967) was translated into Hebrew, It has been replaced by the Jewish settlers with inaccurate Biblical terms of Judea and Samaria.
Before the advent of Jewish settlers and the cancellation of the regulation prohibiting Israelis from acquiring land in the West Bank, the West Bank Department of Education published a fancy brochure listing its achievements in its first ten years. The Department was proud of the number of classrooms that had been built for Arab children. It boasted that illiteracy in the Arab population had been substantially reduced.
Sitting in my office at Hadassah Magazine, I shared in their pride as I read how there lives of the former citizens of Jordan had been bettered under Israeli occupation.
General Moshe Dayan happened to be visiting Hadassah at this time. I showed him the report of the West Bank Department of Education and told him how wonderful I thought it was.
But I suggested an improvement. The next report, I said, should not be signed by a Jewish Israeli director. An Arab educator should head the Department.
General Dayan agreed. “I don’t care how much autonomy the West Bank Arabs get. All I care about is that the emdot remain in our hands.”
He was referring to the underground fortifications and sensors that line the hills facing the Jordan River. .”
The value of these emdot has been diminished in today’s missile warfare but there are still part of Israel’s security apparatus protecting Israel from the east. They remain an obstacle that needs to be solved when negotiations for a two-state solution are resumed.
My conversation with General Dayan occurred in 1977, when Jewish settlement in the West Bank was just beginning. Since then the occupation has been turned on its head. The army was given the job of protecting the settlers, not helping the Arabs. The West Bank Department of Education was liquidated in favor of the newly created Army branch called the Civil Administration.
Instead of building new classrooms for the growing number of Arab children, the Civil Administration has been bulldozing schoolrooms which Arab villagers have built without permits. Securing a permit to build from the Civil Administration is an almost impossible task.
For a quarter century I have described on these pages how the Army has created an apartheid society on the West Bank with highways reserved for Jewish settlers and Arabs confined to back roads.
Jewish settlers have been armed by the Army to protect themselves from their Arab neighbors. But attacks on settlers are rare while the Arabs need protection from the Jewish settlers. Most of the violence on the West Bank today is perpetrated by Jewish settlers. They attacked the livelihood of Arab farmers by uprooting their olive trees. They spend Sabbath marching through Arab villages and come at night to vandalize parked cars. They burn and deface village mosques while The Army humiliates them at checkpoints. Under a different Israel Minister of Defense, Israeli soldiers could be trained to treat the Arabs at checkpoints with dignity and respect just as our inspectors are performing the same function at all American airports.
A couple of years ago I described on these pages a strange sight I witnessed at an Arab village in the Southern Hebron hills.
After school, a score of kids gathered on a dirt road outside of the village. At a cry of “tzava” the kids fell behind a covered Jeep which never stopped, never greeted the kids. This was their escort for a mile or two past a Jewish outpost which had been attacking them. The Supreme Court ordered the Army escort and the Army reluctantly agreed after a long delay. To these Arab kids, a Jew is either a chicken farmer who forced them to make a five-mile detour over a hill to get to school or a soldier with a gun whom they can’t see or talk to.
This is bad but not shocking. The Arab kids are getting an education. They continued to go to school when they had to walk five miles to school and another five miles to their homes before the Army provided protection from the evil Jewish settlers.
No one could deprive an Arab child of an education, I thought. I was wrong. It was not the Army. It was not the Jewish settlers that perpetrated this foul deed. It was the Israel Government itself.
The Crimson, the daily newspaper of Harvard University, of October 16 tells the story.
Early this month, countless high school seniors all over the world took the October SAT tests, a prerequisite for admission to any college in the United States.
The tests are multiple choice questions which are checked with a No. 2 pencil. The tests are supplied by the American College Board and given on the same day in every country including Israel.
And here is the shocking news. This Israel Customs Service held up the test documents addressed to the West Bank testing service for weeks and forced the cancellation of the tests on the West Bank.
No reason was given. In an e-mail to the College Board, the West Bank testing service, which is asking for make-up tests, called the strange action of the Israeli customs “administered delay.”
Since the Crimson article was published the State Department has announced that make-u[ SAT tests will be supplied to Palestinian students.
I have my own theory on the reason for the “administered delay.” Every fall Israel gets mad at the President of the Palestine Authority Mohammed Abbas for going over Israel’s head to the United Nations. Last year Israel held up the customs fees which Israel collects at its ports for the Palestine Authority for goods destined to Palestine.
This public action aroused the ire of Washington and Israel was forced to hand over the money.
This year Customs quietly held up the SAT tests. No one noticed except the Palestinians and UPS which guarantees delivery. It was a successful ploy. Until the State Department got into the act no American publication except for the Crimson published the story.
Mohammed Abbas, who has downgraded his request from statehood to observer status has asked for a vote after the election next week.