[This article was originally published in Hebrew in Matzpen no. 75, Nov-Dec 1975.

A few days after the end of the fighting in the West Bank, after the occupation by Israel was completed in June 1967,  there began the blasting of three Arab villages in the Latroun area: Yalu, Imwas and Beit-Nuba. The usual excuses did not apply in this case. It was impossible to say that “the inhabitans fled for their lives and left their homes” or that “exceptional things happened during the fighting…”

The occupation had been completed and the inhabitants remained in their homes. The Israeli authorities decided to expel the inhabitants and blow up the houses. And so they did. The common expression used to describe acts of barbaric destruction is “not one stone was left upon another”. And so it really happened. The systematic destruction left no stone upon another. The wreckage was levelled by bulldozers. The building stones were removed.

The three villages became a level field, so that after a while it was hard for anyone who did not know the story to tell that there had been villages in that place. Since then, the names Yalu, Imwas, and Beit-Nuba have become one of the symbols of the occupation (or, as it is described in Israel: “incendiary material used by Israel haters”; a phrase intended to imply that the story of Latroun, like many other stories, is a concoction of incitement, a figment of imagination , a lie in the chain of lies spread by haters of Israel, anti-Semites and all the rest).

And then, one day in September [1975], Israeli TV announced to its audience that a resort was opened near Latroun, and that on the first Saturday of its opening, thousands of Israelis came to vacation there, with their tents, in their cars, and with their picnic equipment.

But what TV concealed was revealed by Haaretz (September 26, 1975) as part of a service to its readers. In an article accompanied by maps, Eli Elad recounts:

“A new park, unusual in the mountainous-rural-agricultural landscapes… Canada Park… The park was established by the Jewish National Fund with money from Canada’s Jewish community… Its planners managed not to damage the pristine appearance of the area of hills and scrubland… Another uniqueness of Latroun Park is the fruit orchards, in the vineyard trellises and all that rural-mountain agriculture that has almost completely disappeared from Israel’s landscapes and whose atmosphere and character is preserved in some sections of the park… In the past, the village of Emmaus was here… The road continues to what was the village of Yalu… The area of the terraces… Fig trees, carobs, walnuts, hedges of prickly pear cactus and more…”

Beautiful, huh?!

The Haaretz reporter adds that it is imperative to “continue to preserve the pristine atmosphere of the park and above all to instil proper rules of conduct among park visitors, without leftovers in the polluting Israeli style.”

How eloquent! How civilised!

In various traditions and cultures there are rules for honouring the dead. We ourselves read in the Israeli press from time to time about the desecration of a Jewish grave, in this or that country. Then screams break out, and collective accusations are hurled against entire nations and entire cultures. A madman, or just an anti-Semitic, scribbled a swastika on a Jewish grave somewhere – and immediately there is an outcry: “The whole world is against us!”

But imagine an organised group holding an orgy of gluttony and debauchery on someone’s grave … the end of the world! But here it is happening before our eyes. Not desecration of the dead. Worse: desecration of the living. Not the act of a crazy individual – but a policy of a state authority. Not an anonymous scribble on a grave, but a mass dance on the graves of a mass of living fellahin.

Because the ruins of Yalu, Imwas and Beit-Nuba – like this park – are a gravestone to an entire people, living, working and struggling.  A people fighting for its human and national rights. And whoever hold a celebration over such a gravestone digs his own grave.

We do indeed need “proper rules of conduct” –  that is to say: equality between Israel’s Jews and Palestine’s Arabs. We also need a sweeping away of “leftovers in the polluting Israeli style” – that is to say: an end to the occupation and an end to the dispossession; in other words: a full restoration of human and national rights to the Palestinian Arab people.