The rumbling sound of bulldozers.
That’s the noise that the Palestinian residents of Susya fear waking up to. Susya, and Palestinian communities throughout the West Bank, are at risk of demolition by the Israeli authorities.
Shockingly, some of the settler movement groups targeting them for destruction are funded in part by tax-deductible charitable donations from the US.
One of these groups, Regavim, has been systematically mapping out Susya’s houses and lobbying the Israeli authorities to demolish them. It’s all part of its mission to “protect national lands” from “foreign elements” — and to steadily take over areas that should form part of a future Palestinian state.
By destroying Susya and villages like it, the leaders of Regavim and the “Greater Israel” movement hope to slowly destroy the prospects for a two-state solution and a peaceful end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
We cannot let them succeed.
That’s why J Street has been standing up for Susya. After our hard work over the past few weeks — petitioning the State Department, reaching out to American Jewish leaders — we’ve seen some truly encouraging results. The State Department has publicly made clear to the Israeli government that demolition would be unacceptable. Major American Jewish organizations, including the Union for Reform Judaism, have urged Israel to negotiate a solution that keeps the village intact.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Lieberman have felt the heat — and delayed their decision until November 15.
Over the next few months until the decision, we’re going to keep the pressure going — and focus on combatting the broader process of creeping annexation in the West Bank. Just this week, Israeli authorities granted permission for the expansion of the controversial settlement in Hebron, which already makes life incredibly difficult for the city’s Palestinian population. And today, bulldozers demolished three homes and a cultural center in another village nearby.
The situation is getting worse — and we need to act.
It’s outrageous that groups acting to undermine Israel’s future — and in direct contravention of US policy and possibly US law — are benefiting from American tax deductions. So we’ll be pushing the US government to investigate whether the activities of Regavim and groups like it meet the existing rules for benefiting from tax-deductible donations.
We also know that while some of these groups receive financial support from segments of the American Jewish community, their work runs counter to the goals and values of the huge majority of our community and its leaders.
That’s why J Street U is going to keep asking communal leaders to speak out against home demolitions and settlement expansion in Susya and the West Bank — and to make clear that they refuse to support groups like Regavim.
While the two-state solution is imperiled — and families in Susya and across the West Bank fear for their homes and their livelihoods — we have to do what we can to fight for it.
In the days to come, we’ll be providing you with more information on the creeping annexation crisis in the West Bank — and asking you to take action with us to push back.
That rumbling in the distance endangers the better, peaceful future that Israelis and Palestinians so deeply need and deserve.
We can’t let the rumbling come any closer.