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Save Susya campaign: Over 12,000 faxes annoy Defense Ministry

The Defense Ministry and Civil Administration complained Tuesday that the thousands of faxes calling on the government to cancel the demolition of the Palestinian village are disrupting their work and threatened to get the police to stop the campaign. 

Susya, West Bank (photo: Activestills)

Over 300 faxes were sent on Tuesday morning alone to the Defense Ministry offices as part of the “S.O.S. Susya”  campaign launched by several Israeli anti-occupation organizations to raise awareness and actively oppose the planned demolition of the small Palestinian village of Susya, in Area C of the southern West Bank. A simple click on the campaign’s website automatically sends 5 faxes to the relevant authorities. Thus far, 12,500 faxes have been transmitted to the Defense Ministry and the Civil Administration, which has apparently severely disrupted both institutions’ ongoing work. (When Haaretz‘s report in Hebrew came out earlier today, they were at 10,000 faxes.)

According to Israeli activist Sahar Vardi, the Defense Ministry is so annoyed by the inpouring of faxes that one of the secretaries there has even threatened to call on the police to intervene and put a stop to it. Vardi sent her fax this morning along with her personal contact information, in case someone at the ministry wanted to consult with her about how to solve the issue in Susya. Ten minutes after she sent the fax, she was surprised to get an email from a secretary asking if they could talk on the phone. She called Vardi and told her that they got over 200 faxes today alone that are jamming their machines and disrupting their work and told her it has to stop.

“I told her that I only sent one fax, and that the demolition of an entire village kind of disrupts people’s lives so maybe the Defense Ministry’s work ought to be disrupted a bit,” Vardi recounted to +972. “She demanded I tell everyone to stop sending faxes or she would involve the police. I asked her if she  was threatening to call the police because I sent a fax in a democratic country. She replied by commenting, ‘Isn’t it a waste of paper?'” Apparently the Israeli military complex does not grasp the notion of the right to grassroots activism and lobbying that are supposed to be granted by liberal democracies.

On June 12, the IDF Civil Administration issued 52 demolition orders for Susya based on the claim that Palestinians residents are building illegally without permits – a claim made practically everywhere in East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank – where  Israel has an explicit policy of  prohibiting Palestinians from building. (Read Amira Hass’ instructive article on the double standard of the application of this principle.

The faxes are part of a broader campaign launched last month by five Israeli anti-occupation organizations: Ta’ayush, Combatants for Peace, Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement and Rabbis for Human Rights. The coalition organized a large protest in Susya on Friday June 22 which brought together hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians in solidarity with the tiny village of only 350 residents.

The groups then launched a Facebook campaign asking people to take a photo of themselves inside or outside of their house (a place they wouldn’t want to be demolished either ) and then upload it to the campaign’s Facebook page: “I Stand With Susiya: No to Demolition!”  So far thousands of people have engaged in this action, and thousands more have been exposed to the campaign page, which has produced six different posters, like this one:

The faxes campaign launched a week ago is currently operating only in Hebrew, which means the 12,500 faxes are all from Israelis. The success thus far seems to indicate that more Israelis are becoming aware of the state’s policy of discrimination and land theft in Area C (60%) of the West Bank, which may have gotten an extra push after a report Monday that Defense Minister Barak ordered the demolition of eight villages in that area to make way for IDF training exercises.

The coalition told +972 it is talking about extending the campaign to foreigners.


Hundreds protest plan to demolish entire Palestinian village
Call to action: Protest the demolition of entire Palestinian village
Palestinian from Area C describes a life in constant need of rebuilding
South Hebron Hills: A military regime for none or for all

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    1. Ansje Roozeboom

      Please extend the campaign to foreigners, because it’s a great initiative and there will be millions more of these e-mails to the Defense Ministry!

      No way they can do this with the eyes of the world watching them and “calling the police” won’t help anymore!

      Reply to Comment
    2. aristeides

      The police can’t stop faxes from outside the borders.

      Reply to Comment
    3. sh

      “The coalition told +972 it is talking about extending the campaign to foreigners.”
      Good. I was thinking only today how unfortunate it was that a draft fax in English wasn’t made available too.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Piotr Berman

      Hm. In an unlikely event of IDF launching an attack on Iran, hundreds of thousands of Iranians and others could send irate faxes, thus disabling IDF communications as all their faxes will be running out of paper. A soft underbelly of the most powerful military force in the Middle East.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Kolumn9

      Technically, they could start legal proceedings against the organizations that are behind this annoyance. This is the equivalent of a denial of service attack used by hackers. There are almost certainly laws on the books to deal with this.

      The right to freedom of the speech or organization does not extend to operations designed to damage the work carried out by the government, military, corporations or individuals.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Jerusalemite

      If I’m not mistaken, Kolumn9, these groups just provided a way for individual citizens to express their opinion to various branches of their elected government. The organizations themselves didn’t send a single fax. Why would it be illegal for individuals to send faxes to the authorities?

      Reply to Comment
    7. Jerusalemite

      Eli – Obviously, European jews have been in Susya for millenia. If I’m not mistaken, the original language of Susya was Yiddish.

      But if you want to read something that isn’t absurd settler propaganda, you can take a look at the many links in Hebrew and English on the following page. http://sos-susya.org/

      Reply to Comment
    8. Jerusalemite

      Ansje (and others) – It would be much more effective if you would mail or fax your own representatives, whether in the EU or in the States or wherever, and ask them to appeal to the Israeli ambassador/consul to stop the destruction of the South Hebron Hills villages and to oppose the annexation of Area C Palestinian lands.

      I don’t think there’s much point in foreigners bombarding Israeli authorities, to be honest. The whole point of the present action was to show the Israeli authorities that a significant number of israelis oppose land theft and ethnic cleansing. However, your mileage may vary, and if there’s a real demand for making it possible for non-Israelis to appeal directly to Israeli authorities, that could definitely happen.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Arib

      Jerusalemite, Where do you get off asking Eli if European Jews were in Susiya even for a day. It is an extremely racist comment. What does it matter where a Jew comes from. I am sure you are aware that there was an extensive ancient Jewish town found in Susiya and that the Jewish town of Susiya is mentioned in ancient Jewish Texts dating back 2000 years. This is not propaganda, like what you sprout, only the truth, do your research better next time.
      Now with regards to the Arab squatters, guess what, they and their lawyers had multiple opportunities to prove, in court, ownership of the land and although Akiva Eldar wrote in Haaretz they have proof, none was provided to the courts on these multiple opportunities. So Akiva Eldar lied as does anyone who says they have such proof, because if they had the proof, they obviously would have shown it.
      However there is proof, that these illegal squatters are herders from the city of Yatta who have decided to “branch out” settle and take land that is not legally theirs. The High Court ruled as such and allowed the CA to apply demolition orders against these illegal actions of these squatters.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Jerusalemite

      Arib – I guess I just don’t connect to a notion of justice that privileges the rights of the people who lived somewhere over 2000 years ago over the rights of those who live there now. I find historical justice to be less important than justice for real, living, flesh and blood human beings. But you know, maybe you think that the lives and rights of human beings are just less important than the ability of messianic fanatics to live where they think that their forefathers did.

      I also don’t connect to a notion of justice which can even begin to discuss these lands as somehow belonging to Israel in any reasonable sense. These are Palestinian lands, and the very concept of (Israeli) “state lands” is absurd in this context. I don’t think that Israeli sovereignty over these people and their lands is legitimate or just.

      Finally, appealing to some sort of legalistic argument (“but the High Court ruled!”) is a joke. Palestinians don’t exactly get a fair shake at the hands of the legal Israeli authorities.

      But you know, everyone can have their own moral code, and not all of them have to make reference to universal human values or a belief in the inalienability of human rights (dignity, movement, self-determination, etc.). You can also turn colonialism and racism into a moral code if you want. It tends to work out badly for all involved, but hey, whatever.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Piotr Berman

      Eli: It is an extremely racist comment. What does it matter where a Jew comes from.

      The comment in question was in reply to another comment that alleged that Jews came from Susiya and it was a remark that the original inhabitants of Susiya apparently spoke Yiddish. That could be expanded to an even more sarcastic remark, that the earliest inhabitants were Neanderthal, hence they surely spoke Yiddish. Where would that be on Eli’s scale of racism?

      However, if it does not matter were Jews came FROM, why they have to go to TO Susiya?

      Kolumn9: perhaps you are right that faxers could damage IDF, but what kind of military force lacks defenses against this method of attack? For that matter, IDF does not have to print all those faxes. Not too mention that 12,000 is not such a high number. It really puzzled me what damages can be done by relatively few faxes, but after collecting some data, I got an idea.

      One data point is that allegedly IDF does not have idea what to do with all the female conscript that it has, as the command is reticent in assigning them all to combat duties. This leads to overstaffing of clerical positions with young female conscripts who would have to sort faxes and dump the faxes that are annoying to the command.

      The second data point is that on occasion the young female conscripts may be influenced by unfriendly messages and they loyalty can be somewhat compromised. That could describe the case of Anat Kamm.

      On one hand, IDF has almost unlimited womanpower, and if they are short, they can extend conscription to Haredi girls, thus there is no resource problem to organize a fax brigade with the capacity of sorting up to a million faxes per day. And I assume that the operational capacities of IDF command cannot be diminished even by all Iranians faxing all day long. On the other hand, the loyalty of the fax brigade (or fax platoons etc.) could be susceptible to messages that are well formulated and in Hebrew.

      Reply to Comment