. . . The Bedouins of al-Khan al-Ahmar halted the bulldozers.
By David Shulman | The New York Review of Books | Oct 26, 2018
Already it can be said that a small group of unarmed, ordinary human beings, appalled by the injustice about to be inflicted upon innocents and prepared to face reckless violence without flinching, have achieved a moral victory that cannot be measured in purely instrumental terms.
Something extraordinary has happened this week at the Palestinian Bedouin village of al-Khan al-Ahmar, on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem and adjacent to the main road going south toward Jericho and the Dead Sea. First, there is the remarkable fact that the village still exists — after months of waiting, day by day, for the bulldozers of the Israeli army to arrive to demolish it. But even more astonishing is the fact that, for several days, over a hundred activists — Palestinians, Israelis, and a few internationals — faced the heavily armed soldiers and the riot police, not known for their gentle ways, and triumphed, at least for the moment. The imminent demolition of the entire site and the violent expulsion of its inhabitants have now been postponed for some weeks, according to the Israeli cabinet’s decision on October 21.
There is even a chance, however slight, that the Bedouins of al-Khan al-Ahmar will in the end be moved to a site only a few hundred yards from their present place, according to the plan that they themselves proposed, long ago, to the Israeli authorities, who rejected it at the time out of hand. Sometimes, it happens that a certain place, like this rocky hill, becomes a battleground between opposing value systems and opposing forces, each of which recognizes what is at stake. For the Israeli right, the Bedouins of al-Khan al-Ahmar are one of the last obstacles to a far-reaching annexationist program. They also have the incorrigible flaw of not being Jews in a Jewish state now run on exclusionary ethno-nationalist principles.