THIS ONE HITS THE HOME-FRONT!!

I had not planned on posting again today.

It is after midnight already and I was about to retire when I checked for the last time my e-mail … and found this letter! I want to share it with you.
Actually I should post it on our other blog but I take it very personal, in other words, it does hit the homefront!

Sam Bahour is Palestinian/American, a very dear long-time friend of mine and married to Abeer with two sweet girls, Areen(12) and Nadine(6). He resides in e-Bira, sort of a suburb of Ramallah in the West Bank, some twenty minutes north of Jerusalem, without checkpoint-harassments that is! I met him some twelve years ago during my time in the States – he’s originally from Youngstown, Ohio – and we’re in touch ever since.

He is the (retired) CEO of the only mall in the entire West Bank, built it under most difficult conditions – and as well a co-founder of Paltel, the Palestinian telphone-company.

I am upset, worried sick, utterly disgusted. This can only be called “silent ethnic cleansing“, hoping when he’ll have to leave, the family will leave as well. MANY people there suffer the same problem! Sam is no terrorist, never threw a stone nor held a gun, no troublemaker. He’s as peaceloving as you and I. All he wants is remain with his family, on the land of his father and grandfather – and the area his wife and children were born.

Needless to say, he has my FULL support – and the world a right to hear the truth! Here’s his letter …

Well friends,

The mighty State of Israel has spoken. Well, to be specific, the Israeli soldiers maintaining Israel’s 39-year military occupation and who are fortified — draconian style — in an illegal settlement called Beit El (which is built on confiscated Palestinian land, partly my family’s) located on a hilltop north east of my city, El-Bireh, have spoken.

Drum roll please….

The Occupying State of Israel has decided that I have been living with my family and two daughters long enough. After being given a one month tourist visa when I entered through the Israeli border to reach the Palestinian areas (which is the only way to enter), the Israelis have responded to my request for a 3 month extension by saying 1 more month would be more than enough. Not only that, but they were kind enough to relieve me from the humiliation and agony of requesting another extension to remain with my family by hand writing, in Arabic, Hebrew and English, LAST PERMIT, on the visa. See attached copy of visa (with my passport number whitened out by me).

What does this mean? Well, if you have been following my posts and reading Amria Hass’ articles on the topic*, you know it means I will need to bid farewell to my wife and two girls, leave home, exit Israel and attempt to reenter in order to get back to the Palestinian areas under occupation by Israel. Sounds simple enough, given I’ve been dancing to this routine for 13 years now.

But, as you are all aware, Israel has been denying entry to thousands like me, foreign nationals who do not have a Palestinian I.D. card (I applied for family unification 1994 but Israel refuses, to date, to issue me a I.D. card too). So telling me, like the many before me ever since Hamas was elected into government, to leave Palestine/Israel by not providing a serious visa extension while I’m in the country, is an off-the-radar way of silently transferring Palestinians living here out of Palestine. Of course, Israel is betting that on every family it can break this way, the remaining family members will voluntarily leave to relocate in order to join their exiled loved one(s).

The final result of this transfer policy – A land with no people, for a people with no land. Finally, the original myth that Israel was created on can be made to come through. After creating scores of refugees by numerous war, killing scores under occupation, deporting scores more, detaining yet scores more, making life under occupation miserable for scores more, and now by refusing to allow Palestinians that come from around the world to contribute to a better future, Israel would have finally succeeded in emptying the land from the majority of Palestinians, opening the way for more illegal settlement, land grabs and annexations.

I have much more to write about this, and will, as I wage the battle to remain with my wife, with my girls, in my home, in my father’s and grandfather’s homeland. I will soon write an essay to make my case and that of all Palestinians prohibited from reaching their homes and families.

If I only had the email of the multi-lingual occupation soldier that wrote “last permit” on my visa, I would send him the attached pictures of my two girls, Areen, 12, and Nadine, 6. I wonder if his/her children look any different on the first day of school.

I thank all those who are assisting in this issue, especially the many Israeli friends who understand that those being DENIED ENTRY are those that have come to build bridges, not walls. We have come to invest and create a new reality – a reality that ends this racist occupation and brings a brighter future, a joint future, to both Palestinian and Israeli children.

I end by passing to you the link to yesterday’s bold article by Amria Hass, that never-tiring Israeli journalist living in Ramallah who forces us to always remember that peaceful coexistence is not a pipe dream, but rather a historical inevitability.
Can you really not see? http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/756413.html

Steadfast (like never before),
Sam

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