Why we are standing up to stop demolitions by Pandora Yadgaroff
The Jewish Chronicle, 09 March 2018
It was hot when I visited Umm al-Kheir. Very hot. Meeting people my age whose biggest worry was as basic as whether they would have a roof over their head tomorrow brought to life the harsh realities of life under occupation.
In Area C, where the 150 residents of Umm al-Kheir live alongside an estimated 298,000 other Palestinians, the civil administrative branch of IDF decides what can be built. Without a legitimate permit any construction – whether a home, toilet, or community centre – is liable for demolition. According to Civil Administration data, 98.5% of building permits in Area C were arbitrarily rejected between 2010 and 2014. Residents face the choice between homelessness, overcrowding homes or ‘illegally’ building somewhere in which to live, learn and teach their children. It is fundamentally unsustainable.
My Zionism – which comes from years in my youth movement Noam, holidays, and a gap year in Israel – teaches me that in order to see a safe and secure Israel, I must oppose these demolitions. This policy is a blatant obstacle to peace, an injustice that creates instability in the West Bank, fueling resentment and pushing both Israelis and Palestinians further away from each other, and consequently, peace.
However, when it comes to the occupation, organised Anglo-Jewry is often apathetic. Diaspora Jews are not monolithic and community voices don’t always speak up on issues important to young people. That is why Jewish students from 17 campuses have reached out to inform those in power to say that our generation will not settle for the unjust demolitions policy. If we succeed, we will give Palestinians living in Area C a chance at a stable and peaceful life, and ultimately take constructive and important steps towards a meaningful and secure peace for both the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Pandora Yadgaroff, 21, is an International Relations and History student at the London School of Economics and is Education Secretary of LSESU Voices of Israel-Palestine. Pandora has been involved with Noam Masorti Youth since 2012 and will be leading Israel Tour in July 2018.