The Arab population in occupied Jerusalem was granted the “privilege” of participating in the municipal elections. This did not mean that they were deprived of other so-called “privileges” such as the “privilege” of being arrested without trial, the “privilege” of sharing what is known as “collective punishment” or the “privilege” of losing their demolished houses, etc.
Political commentators assumed that the Arabs would not exercise this privilege and would not vote, but the big surprise came on election day, October 28, 1969. Mr. Teddy Kolleck, the former Mayor of Jerusalem, retained his office with 16 seats out of 30: the decisive majority was won with 7,000 Arab votes, 7,000 who did not waste their privilege to vote. An investigation is not needed. Facts are well known, for the papers were full of them a day later.
Headlines in Maariv (October 29) demanded a public inquiry; their reporter describes:
“Whilst polls in West Jerusalem were nearly empty, the one on the border of East Jerusalem was crowded with hundreds of Arabs pushing, shoving and begging to vote. Buses packed with Arabs, decorated with the slogan ‘We want Teddy Kolleck’ were flocking in continuously. Arabs whose names were not on the voters’ list would not leave the place without written confirmation that they had come to vote.
“Apparently it was found out later in the day that this was a well-organized operation and that the organizers were none other than the Ma’arakh [alignment of center-left zionust parties led by the Labour party] activists at Kolleck’s headquarters. The whole operation was secretly organized (so that other parties would not interfere or share the benefits), just like a military operation. Transport was supplied, and Arabs were furnished with Ma’arakh voting tickets. Activists of other parties trying the same system were violently driven out by Kolleck’s men. The operation was so successful that police were required to keep Arabs out. When I asked an Arab youth what would happen if he did not vote, he replied, ‘We were told that those who could not produce evidence that they had voted would not get work’.
“Professor Klinghoffer (GAHAL party) remembered the naive Yemenites were dragged like this to the polls at the first general elections. ‘We thought this period was over and forgotten, but what we have seen today is even worse’. Mr. Benbenisti, the head of the operation, did not share Klinghoffer’s opinion. He said: ‘This is a great achievement for Israel; it will embarrass the Arab leaders. We worked very hard on this operation; I am proud of it. I am not taking any responsibility for the Arabs’ behaviour. What is important to me is the fact that they came to vote; this is an important political victory for us… I worked on it for the past few months; I spoke to Arab notables and they promised to bring along all their families and so they did. I do not see anything wrong in it’.
“Later in the evening, before the poll closed, the place was in total hysteria. Arabs would not leave the place unless they could vote.”
That was an account given by Maariv. Other papers gave a similar description. Even Davar wrote on October 29:
“Many Arabs who could not vote asked to have their identity cards stamped to prove that they wanted to vote”.
But the usual patriotic hypocrisy came out as early as October 30, and Mr. Yustus wrote in Maariv:
“The fuss about the ‘Arab elections’ is a disgraceful one, furthermore it is hypocritical, and worse, it lacks responsibility”.
Dr. Rosenbloom summed it up in Yediot Aharonot:
“The circumstances in which they voted are well known and we shall not deal with them here, for patriotic reasons”.
Two years ago Alian Muhamed’s family, who has been living in Beit Safafa as Israeli citizens since 1948, received a notification from the municipality of Jerusalem that part of its land had been confiscated. It so happens that on this land, about an acre in area, there is a house with five families, an orchard, and a well. The public works engineer told them that the land is part of a through road. He offered no compensation, but threatened: “We can get you off by force”.
“Ruhi El-Hatib, the exiled mayor of East Jerusalem, told a UN commission that apart from the annexation some 3,345 dunams of land have been seized in the northern part of the city. The seizure was followed by demolition of houses and expulsion of their inhabitants”.
Muhammad Farah Saadan Kablani, 70, of Sheikh Jarah, was detained by the police in Jerusalem on July 27, 1969. His fate is unknown. The authorities claim they do not know where he is. On August 24 his family was notified by a sergeant of the special branch of the Jerusalem police that Kablani had been transferred to the Ramallah jail. Later it turned out that he was never there. He has disappeared without a trace”.
“For a long time the authorities refused to allow Yussuf Abdallah Udan’s lawyers to visit him. The lawyers, Mrs. Felicia Langer and Ali Rafa suspected foul play as the reason for this. The detainee later told his lawyers how he was beaten up, lost consciousness for days, and was unable to move. His cell mates wept when they saw him after interrogations. The names of those who tortured him are known. His crime was that he was a member of the Communist party. His torturers employed electricity and matches”.
“During a trial in Lydda on August 28 of five Jerusalem youths accused of possessing arms and of membership of guerrilla organizations, the court heard about torture employed in interrogation. One, Abu-Diab, was beaten with wire and hung up by his feet. A bullet was pushed into his rectum until he fainted. Another, Abd-El-Latif, was beaten with a club full of nails and hung up by his wrists. He too was given the ‘rectum treatment’. The prosecution claimed these were ‘lies’.”
The UN Commission for Human Rights which investigated many of these charges last summer heard of the expulsion of 138,000 people from the Golan Heights. Derek Cooper, a British employee of UNICEF, stated: “There was a systematic pressure to make the inhabitants leave the country. The pressure consisted of terrorizing acts, incessant searches of houses by day and night, demolition of houses and destruction of sources of livelihood on various pretexts”.
Matzpen, December, 1969.
Travel agencies which are helping anyone who is willing to emigrate to South America have been active in the last few months in the Gaza strip. The agencies are offering to finance the journey and all other expenses for people who cannot afford it. The emigrants are asked to sign declarations that they will repay the money from their wages in the host country. It is not known who is behind these agencies or who insures them against the risk of not getting their money back.
Haolam Haze, 7.1.70.
Speaking in a meeting in the south of the Golan Heights, the Minister of Defence, Mr. Moshe Davan said:
“During the last 100 years our people have been in a process of building up the country and the nation, of expansion, of getting additional Jews and additional settlements in order to expand the borders here. Let no Jew say that the process has ended. Let no Jew say that we are near the end of the road.”
Translated from a report in the evening paper Maariv, 7.7.68.
“Today we have undone the shame of the desolation of Mount Hebron, and avenged its defenders in the War of Independence. For twenty years the anguish of this defeat burned in our hearts. Our returning here and the establishment of a new Hebrew settlement – this is the greatest, the most moral, vengeance”.
Deputy Premier Yigal Alon, on the occasion of laying the foundation stone for a regional centre in Mount Hebron, quoted from Yediot Aharonot, October 13, 1969.