Sunday, June 20, 2010

Signs of the Times

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the increased Arab signage on the roads in Eastern Gush Etzion. This blog continues that report.
If you make a left out of Efrat's Southern Exist, you can see the sign (left) hanging right past Wadi Nis.
It's from PAZ, the European Union's "Assembly of Cooperation for Peace." Yes, the European Union is investing quite a lot of money in Gush Etzion's Arab villages, or rather what it calls "Bethlehem District, West Bank Palestinian Occupied Territories". "Assembly of Cooperation for Peace (ACPP) is a non profit, lay and independent Spanish NGO, defender of democratic values from a perspective of social and economic justice." It is funded by the Spanish autonomous community of Valencia - Generalitat Valenciana.
PAZ is investing in a water project (2009-2010), implemented and supervised by Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG), for the improvement of the access to water for domestic use for 4,380 inhabitants of the communities of Jorat Al Sham'a, Merah Muala, Khalet Al Hadad, Al Masara and Wadi An Nis.
"The Palestinian Hydrology Group is a non-profit, non-government organization that protects and develops the water resources of Palestine [my emphasis]. We strive, through community participation, to achieve justice in the service, allocation, and protection of the water resources of Palestine, since the sustainability of this resource is vital for the protection of the Palestinian nation, the protection of future generation, and the protection of the planet."
I remember years ago when Italy put down water pipes to direct water from Herodion to the Arab towns in Gush Etzion.
Another sign, to the East of the T-Junction proclaimed the earlier much ballyhooed water project – "Palestinian National Authority, Palestinian Water Authority. Emergency Water Project Southern West Bank, East Herodion No. 2 transmission Pipeline, ProjectMidmac."In December 2004 the Midmac company undertook an Emergency Water Project to "help alleviate the chronic shortages of safe water supplies… (a) supply and installation of electromechanical works for the existing East Herodian well #2 (EH#2)" and the installation of piping for transport of that water to the Arab villages.
Across from the new water sign on the southern side of the road leading to Eastern Gush Etzion is a set of signs with the Eagle symbol of the Palestinian Authority with the words Palestinian National Authority, Ministry of Education. Project Um Salamonah Coed Basic School. The donor in this case is the Islamic Development Bank. Asfour Consultant Design, Engineering Office Supervision. It is expected to take one year at a cost of $869090.90.
"Financer, the Islamic Development Bank (also known as IsDB), is a multilateral development financing institution located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia." It is financed by Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Kuwait, Libya, Turkey, UAE, Iran, Egypt, Indonesia, and Pakistan; and it is an observer in the United Nations.
So, we've got Valencia, Spain, on one side of the road and a multi-national Arab conglomeration on the other.
I think the PA has done a terrific job in raising international monies to create projects in many areas. Its aim is to use these projects to gain a stronger hold on the lands on which these projects stand. Unfortunately, in these cases, they are trying to grab a greater control of Gush Etzion, the region in which I live.
(And I'm not even talking about their attempts for a land grab in Shdema or Netzer.)
I once heard Gush Etzion Mayor Shaul Goldstein explain that 96% of Gush Etzion is Arab, and 4% of Gush Etzion is Jewish. If so, the Arabs are doing a yoeman job developing their 96%, and trying to spread that 96% into Jewish Gush Etzion as well. I wish we were doing as well to develop Gush Etzion and post signs everywhere to strengthen our presence here.
You may say, "Oh, what's the big deal about signs?"
Well, whether the Arab projects these signs describe are underway/finished/real, the signs give them legitimacy. They give respectability to these projects.
We need that legitimacy and stability in regard to our own projects, foremost our towns.
At left, next to the sign pointing to Nokdim, or "oqedi" is a graffitied cement block that says "Tekoa", "Kfar Eldad" and "Nokdim."
Immediately at left is another cement block that shows the way to the towns of "Maaleh Amos" and "Ibay HaNachal."
Now, are these respectable signs for our Gush Etzion towns?
Lastly, at the bottom left is the road sign that leads the way to Pnei Kedem and Meitzad. Tell me the truth, if you look at the three signs on top of this blog and you compare them to the three signs at the bottom of the blog, which ones look more credible?
Gush Etzion and all Jewish areas can begin to strengthen their areas first by simply erecting respectful signs that designate the nearest town's name. It's time to declare our pride in our towns and our determination to hold on to, develop and foster our Jewish presence in Gush Etzion.

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