April 5 Amherst Club meeting

 Guest: Peter Snedecor. 

Susie Lowenstein is better but does not want any  more cards. 


            Sherrill Hogen, our speaker, spoke about the situation in Israel/Palestine, which she called "the situation we love to hate." Having been to the West Bank many times since 2002 she sees much change in the situation in the last few months. As citizens of the country which gives more money ($3 billions annually) to Israel than to any other country, we need to be informed. Also, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is causing distress in the Muslim world. Admittedly speaking for Palestinians, having lived with a Palestinian family, having accompanied Palestinian farmers and schoolchildren, Sherrill has returned several times to show the people that they are not alone.  She has also works with both Palestinian and Israeli groups working to end the occupation.

            Sherrill then showed us a variety of maps, including one of the Green Line armistice line, brokered by the UN (1949) around the West Bank and Gaza and pointed out that the Separation Wall is being built well within that line. Since the war in 1967, Israel has occupied the West Bank, despite UN Resolution 242 which says that it must withdraw. She reminded us that in 1988 the Palestine Liberation Organization  was willing to recognize Israel as a nation, taking for Palestine only 22% of its original territory; as that time 150 countries recognized Palestine. This year also the Palestinian Authority wants Palestine to be recognized as a state and will take this to the UN. 

Sherrill claimed that the Oslo Accords have not been helpful to Palestinians, have just led to the acceleration of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. She drew our attention to cards on the tables showing that Palestine today only comprises 8.3% of its original land.

            To given an example, Sherrill chose the village of Al Walaja near Jerusalem whose inhabitants fled their village in 1948 under threat of Israeli occupation; 10% of its people returned in 1953; in 1967 Israel annexed their land to Jerusalem and in 1988 started destroying their homes with all the inhabitants' belongings. The occupants have rebuilt several times, only to be destroyed again. She cited the particular case of Abu Nidal; the Separation Wall is being built between his house  and his olive trees, his sheep and his wells, leaving him no access to any of these.  He has grown children living upstairs in his home;  it is under threat of demolition because the second floor was added without a permit, a permit which was unobtainable from the Israeli authorities.

            Sherrill concluded by saying that the problem is not with Jews; it is with the occupation and Zionism. She stated that if Americans knew the situation as it is, the occupation would end now.                                             


Ruth Hooke scribe