Adonis Diaries

Archive for July 25th, 2012

Israel orders demolishing 8 more Palestinian villages. Why?

This is the year 2012, and Israel is still demolishing scores of Palestinian villages and town…since 1948…Time for international outrage…

Israel daily Haaretz published this article:

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the demolition of 8 Palestinian villages in the South Hebron Hills because the territory is needed for Israel Defense Forces (IDF) training exercises, the government of Netanyahu told the High Court of Justice on Sunday.

The residents of the targeted villages will be moved to the town of Yatta and its environs. Why to Yatta?  The government claims that most of these people have permanent homes in that area.

Yatta - Nir Kafri - Archive

The State will allow the residents to work their lands and graze their flocks there when the IDF is not training — on weekends and Jewish holidays – and during two other periods of one month each during the year. (And if the training sessions are purposely scheduled during the sawing and harvesting periods?)

Barak agreed to leave four villages that are in the northernmost part of the area, even though this would reduce the dimensions of training area and prevent the use of live fire. (Oh, how generous of this Barak…)

The villages slated for demolition are the larger villages in the region: Majaz, Tabban, Sfai, Fakheit, Halaweh, Mirkez, Jinba, and Kharuba, which have a total of 1,500 residents. The villages to be spared are Tuba, Mufaqara, Sarura and Megheir al-Abeid, which have a total of 300 residents. (Has Haaretz correspondents double checked what the government is presenting as data?)

The IDF and the Civil Administration regard all of these residents as squatters in Firing Zone 918, even though the villages have existed since at least the 1830s.

Evacuation orders were issued against the 12 villages in 1999, but were frozen by an injunction issued by the High Court of Justice in response to two petitions that were united: One by attorney Shlomo Lecker and the second by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, who together represented some 200 families.

An effort to reach an agreement on the status of the residents in the area by a mediation process failed in 2005.

At that point, the Civil Administration started to issue demolition orders against cisterns and restrooms that several families had added, claiming that these additions violated the status quo as set by the court.

This past April, after 12 years of various proceedings and delays, the High Court held a preliminary hearing on the petitions, with the State submitting its final position on Sunday.

Attorney Hila Gurani, a senior deputy state prosecutor, wrote in the response to the petitions that the IDF has been forced to limit its military exercises in the area because of the people living there and the illegal construction that has taken place there.

For the same reason, no live-fire training is conducted there.

In addition, wrote Gurani, during the second intifada, operational activity came at the expense of training, but the Second Lebanon War exposed weak spots that substantially increase the need for training and firing zones.

Gurani noted that there was a risk that residents of the firing zone would collect intelligence on IDF methods, or take weapons or equipment that the forces might leave behind, and use them for terror purposes. (Yes, right)

The village residents, ACRI and the B’Tselem human rights group present the issues differently. According to them, all 12 villages were natural outgrowths of cave-dwelling communities that are widely found in that area. In some of the villages, homes of unchiseled stone were built even before 1967.

The connection to Yatta is natural – and characteristic of many satellite communities that developed over the centuries in historic Palestine.

For generations the cave-dwellers were farmers and shepherds, producing milk and cheese, and they have preserved their way of life to this day, while integrating into Yatta as a result of contemporary demands, such as the need to send their children to school.

The IDF had declared some 30,000 dunams (7,500 acres) in the area a closed military zone back in the 1970s. Under military law, only permanent residents are allowed to remain in a closed military zone.

Until 1997, the cave-dwellers continued to live in their communities undisturbed – which the petitioners say is clear evidence that they were regarded at the time as permanent residents. However, as happened in much of the West Bank that, under the Oslo Accords was deemed Area C (under complete Israeli control), the Israeli authorities did not allow the residents to build more structures, including schools or clinics, to accommodate their natural growth.

These communities were not included in the master plans that were prepared for the building of the area settlements, and thus to this day these villages are not connected to the road system, the water system or to the electrical grid. (Are the soldiers in training happy not to enjoy those facilities…?)

In August and November 1999, most of the area’s residents received eviction orders due to “illegal residence in a firing zone.”

On November 16, 1999, the security forces forcibly evicted more than 700 residents, and the IDF demolished buildings and wells and confiscated property, leaving the residents with no homes and no livelihood.

As noted, the High Court, in response to the petitions, issued an interim injunction, allowing the villagers to temporarily return to their homes. However, because the army had destroyed many of the buildings, many residents had nothing to return to.

Moreover, the security forces interpreted the interim injunction as narrowly as possible, allowing reentry only to the named petitioners and denying access to their relatives.

As a result, the examination conducted by the Civil Administration that is quoted in the state’s response to the court on Sunday found that in 2000 “there were no permanent residents in the area,” and that anyone living there was there only on a seasonal basis.

On the other hand, the Civil Administration identified most of the petitioners as living in and around Yatta, as reported in the affidavit of Raziel Goldstein, who was the Civil Administration’s inspection coordinator in the region.

Goldstein wrote in his affidavit that, “This examination was conducted with the help of three local residents, who were presented with the names of the petitioners and aerial photographs of Yatta.”

The state also claims that, in recent years, residents have been repeatedly violating the status quo by expanding structures illegally, adding that the number of people entering the area under the interim injunctions is far greater than the number of petitioners.

“The petitioners cannot build on the development of these illegal phenomena and now claim to be talking about permanent residency,” the government wrote.

Thin-Slicing analysis and visiting your dorm room: The best of Big Brain power…

You are given a questionnaire to rate the characteristics and behavior of an individual’s “personality” that you never met, seen, or heard of.

The only feedback to rely on is a peek to the person’s bedroom, dorm room, or kitchen…

You are let in without prior notice to the person…Your are an investigator assigned to thin-slice the knowledge of whatever pieces of intelligence the room is offering and exposing the impressions and evidences of the person’s habit, inclinations, behavior…

Obviously, all pictures of the person, his name or anything material that might send information as to the gender or color or age of the person will be removed so that you don’t start of with any instant and natural discriminatory impressions

Don’t you think that your first impression of a person if you saw him or heard him or smelt him…could distort your judgment, giving lenient rates or harsher rates?

Do you think that you will be able to confidently rate the person that you invaded the privacy of his dwelling on the following Big Five Inventory characteristics:

1. Extroversion tendencies such as sociability and fun-loving

2. Agreeableness such as trusting and cooperative

3. Conscientiousness such as organized and self-disciplined

4. Emotional stability such as secure and calm person

5. Open-mindedness such imaginative, or down-to-earth and conformist…

If you enter a room and the CDs are ordered alphabetically, the dirty cloths are stacked in a specific laundry basket, the bed is neatly made…how would you judge the anonymous person?

If the room is dirty, the pizza pieces thrown any which way on the floor and on the bed…

If the room is filled with books and ordered according to material and field of studies on shelves…but the floor is heaped with dailies and magazines, waiting to be removed at the end of the semester for the Big Clean up

If the room is spec clean of dirt and sprayed with nice odor, and incense burning in a corner, but no reading materials around…

Do you think that you can rate the person better than his closest friend, a friend who knew your anonymous individual since grade one, witnessed all the mood swing of the friend, experienced many powerful moments, and many more boring events and…?

Do you think that you can rate the person better than he rated himself?

Psychologist Samuel Gosling thinks that he proved that you can do a better job of judging the anonymous person than the person himself and even better than his friend.

Samuel Gosling has been conducting experiments that show people are greatly effective in the thin-slicing method of generating comprehensive knowledge from bits and pieces of data (short recording of conversation, short videos, glimpses of interactions…)

The trouble with Gosling analysis, and psychological experiments in general, is: “What is the reference“?

1. Is my judgment of the anonymous individual’s personality better than the friend’s, the person concerned, the expert opinion of the psychologist, the consensus judgment in the psychology profession, textbook definitions of behavior…?

Mankind emotions and feeling are not something objectives that can be measured and compared with a standard object. All we can compare with are data from what we call “Normal people” behavior, or how the vast majority of people behave in particular communities and social setting…

The comparison is a well-defined “within community” and any generalization to other cultural environment is fraught with dangerous pitfalls…

2. Am I not judging a personality by matching the anonymous individual to my own world view, characteristics, and criteria?

Is this  not the same as the individual rating himself in another setting or perspective?

In order to have a better lever on the judgment rating, it is advisable that more than one person rate the anonymous person, and the raters must be classified between groups of judges such as by males, females, Asians, blacks, whites, wealth classes, professional classes… an undertaking that is very extensive in order to extract any generalization of the dorm room experiment.

A process that is called modeling extensive data analysis

I believe that our brain does an excellent job thin-slicing pieces of intelligence, but when it comes to judging another person we are stepping in a mine field, no matter how we control the experiment…

Note: Article inspired from a chapter in “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell




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