Friday, February 01, 2008

Village of Turmos Ayya from top of Shilo

A beautiful photography by a resident of Shilo. In the horizon you can see the mountain "Baal Hatzor". The foreground is Shilo's upper level neighbourhood. Between the two is Emek Shilo. You can see the village of Turmos Ayya nestled in the middle of the valley. In the far upper right corner is the village of Sengle, so named after the French Crusaders who lived there during the second crusades.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Palestinians Must Get Out of Mental Imprisonment

The following has noting to do with the relationship between Shilo & Tumos Ayya, yet in a way it has everything to do with it. The two communities will continue to be worlds apart, although their respective municipal boundaries touch each other, as long as the "Mental Prisons" both sides create remain.

I will be the first to admit, that as long as Arabs seek to kill me and my family I refuse to intentionally purchase any goods or services grown, created or delivered by them. I see no point in providing those who wish me harm with the capital they need to purchase weapons and explosives.

Having said that, if some form og co-existence ever does come about, primarily as a result of the Arabs accepting our right to live in the land of our ancestors along side of them - as equals - I will be amongst the first to suggest joint economic projects to provide a livelihood with honor for both communities here in Emek Shilo.

Yoel Ben-Avraham
Ray Hanania, Arab News

JERUSALEM, 9 December 2007 — Palestinians I meet always point to the Israeli occupation as the main stumbling block preventing them from achieving independence and driving their oppressive lives. But I think far more obstacles exist that Palestinians are afraid to acknowledge, most that begin right in their own back yards.

Maybe because I was raised in America where tyranny is far more subtle and less violent than the real threats and physical dangers facing people in the Arab and Muslim Worlds. Or, maybe it is also because I am a realist, a state of mind that apparently continues to elude Palestinian society. Palestinians live in the past. Even when they emigrate to the Western countries, they may live physically in their adopted homelands, but they remain mentally imprisoned in “the balad. “The heaviest chains of this self-oppression may in fact be something Palestinians call “normalization.”

“Normalization” is a state of mind in which Palestinians prevent themselves from living in the present so they can dwell in the long lost past. Normalization is the act of refusing to accept reality, insisting that Palestinian existence is not in the present but in the past In this “unreality,” fading memories are more important than the clarity of the present.

Palestinian activists use “Normalization” as a bludgeon to keep Palestinians in line like sheep. Extremists pull the strings of suffering and frustration, throwing down the “normalization” card whenever a Palestinian tries to break free of the mental bondage and address the reality of the Israeli occupation.

By working with Israelis, Palestinians argue, they might some how undermine their rights. Maybe Palestinians haven’t looked around, but they are dealing with Israelis in every circumstance, every location and on every level humanly possible.

Earlier this year, a group of mostly Israelis involved in a movement called “OneVoice” sought to organize an event that would showcase Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace. Music. Speeches. And “normalization.” Of course, the extremists spoke out against OneVoice, and so did the so-called moderates like Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas reportedly spread the word that he did not support OneVoice, and the plans for the music festivals were canceled.

Had Abbas trashed the movement because of Lubetzky’s personal failings as a leader, I might have sympathized. But that was not the reason. The reason was that they are against anything that might allow Palestinians to start thinking outside of their self-imposed imprisonment.

Visiting the PNA’s “Ministry of Information” a few years back, I was handed a business card from one of the officials that had a chuckling error. The card did not identify him as a “Public Relations” specialist, but rather as a “Pubic Relations” specialist, an unfortunate typo with embarrassing meaning. I didn’t have the heart to explain how stupid the card made him look.

During this trip through Palestine, I worked closely with many Palestinian journalists, trying to help them find ways to navigate through this real tragedy of Palestinian immobilization. All said they wanted to attend a journalism conference in which editors and reporters of several prominent Israeli newspapers were also scheduled to speak. But, they said they were pressured to stay away. “Normalization,” they said, means Palestinians are not yet ready to, well, deal with Israelis as regular people. Only as enemies. That didn’t stop many Palestinians from coming to my standup

I leave Palestine and Israel this trip recognizing that Palestinians are suffering from several layers of occupation, and a self-imposed oppression that has become the excuse for their failings. They say they want peace with Israel, but many deep down can’t accept the damage to their pride that compromise means accepting that their efforts over the past 60 years have been an utter failure caused by their own failed leadership.

While Palestinians are stifled in their aspirations, only miles away, Israelis are enjoying life, growing as a people and flourishing as a people. The ability of Palestinians to establish their own state continues to erode. That the people driving this erosion are Palestinians themselves is most troubling to me. Imprisoned in a wall of ignorance constructed by their own foolish failure to see through the rhetoric and the hatred of the past to the reality of today, Palestinians have only one option. They can either start living in the reality or they can disappear in the past.

— Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian columnist and author. He can be reached at

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Palestinian Land Ownership

Shalom Barbara NYC,

You ask of me:
I am also hoping Ghanem can give us some documentation about the claim that land was confiscated and the Shilo sits on Tumos-Ayya land. And I am hoping Yoel can give us some background on Israel's claim that the land was owner less or "state-land" whatever that means.
Let me provide you with the following up-to-date links to information that might help you understand. The Palestinians seek and receive a great deal of support in their efforts to thwart the continued existence of Jewish communities throughout the Land of Israel from Peace Now (Shalom Achshav). Recently Peace Now came out with a bombastic claim that 86% of the land Jewish communities were built on were stolen Arab lands. Recent revelations from the IDF's data base of land usage/allocation appears to put the lie to these allegations.
IDF shows flaws in Peace Now report
JPost March 14, 2007

The Civil Administration noted that the Peace Now report was full of
inaccuracies, and implied that it had included in its figures outposts that the state considered illegal.
"For a number of years, the Civil Administration routinely examined the status of land prior to approving planning procedures and/or prior to allocating land," the letter stated. "This is done carrying out an in-depth re-examination of the status of the land in order to ensure that no harm comes to or use is made of privately held Palestinian land for the needs of Israeli settlement."
To better understand why the discrepancy between Arab (and Peace Now) claims and how the law abiding Israeli government agencies see it, it might be insightful to read the explanation published in a number of places. You see in Ottoman Law there are several different concepts to what we would call "ownership".

Peace Now is calling “private Palestine land” is under the Ottoman Code at best miri land, and it is therefore not privately owned. Rather, it is land in which a person is granted by the state a limited right of use (whence the term usufruct). The rights include, for example, that once registered someone else cannot try to cultivate the same land. This is similar to the rights one has in renting an apartment – someone else cannot come and try to live without permission in the same apartment, but that doesn't mean the renter owns the apartment.
... contrary to Peace Now, the land remains the property of the state, and therefore it does not revert to the state only if there is a failure to cultivate. Miri land – the land of the Emir, or equivalently, of the sovereign – is state land, period. If there is a failure to cultivate the limited rights granted by the state are withdrawn, not ownership of the land, which was never granted in the first place.
Of course the emotional issues are not as rational and cut and dried as legal issues, but for the most part, at least for certain since 1979, no Arab land was confiscated unless for dire security reasons, and then full compensation was provided. Moreover, there are many cases where Arab property was damaged as a result of their direct and active involvement in anti-Jewish activities where none-the-less Israel's champions of civil rights, the Israeli Supreme Court, granted the Arabs compensations for the damage they sustained. Difficult to believe they'd let the Israeli government steal vast tracks of land against the law when they are willing to compensate Arabs involved in endangering Israeli lives.

I'm certain Ghanem doesn't see it this way, but then it is rather clear that to him Jews have no claim to any part of the Land of Israel and no rights in it, so it is rather difficult to find a common middle ground when everything is his and nothing is yours.

Looking forward to everyone's response(s).

Yoel Ben-Avraham
Shilo, Benyamin

Future of Palestinian Youth

I just read the article by Steven Erlanger in the March 12th New York Times titled "Years of Strife and Lost Hope Scar Young Palestinians " . I question how representative this is of youth in Turmos Ayya or Luban.

My personal experience with residents of Turmos Ayya in particular, but also Luban to a smaller extent, is that there isn't a family that doesn't have at least one relative in the US. Chicago seems to be a popular place, Cleveland a close second.

So what do you say Ghanem? Are the youth of Turmos Ayya despairing of seeing a decent life? Are they ready to leave in search of "normalcy" somewhere else?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Response to "Miracles"

Written by Ghanem on 3/9/07

Theodor Hertzel, the father of modern Zionism, was secular. He wasn't really a Jew. So therefore he had fooled thousands of people to believe that Palestine was the land of the Jews.

Now I understand the Hebrews and Arabs have lived on this land for thousands of years. But miraculously there weren't problems between the two until the rise of Zionism. So that leaves one question the motive of Zionism. After the holocaust Jews came into Palestine by the thousands and more and more problems started to rise. I think that Zionism is the enemy here!

Did you know that this first terrorist attack in Palestine was when a Jew came into a mosque and opened fire on innocent civilians?

I personally don't understand why you support settlements. How can you live on land that was confiscated from Palestinians? Shilo is partially built on Turmos Ayya land, and you support that? I think that if you just opened you eyes you would realize what is going on! Look at the situation between Shilo and Turmos Ayya. People from Turmos Ayya can't even freely move about the town. How many times have we been harassed by the Israeli army? How many times have Israeli hummers entered Shilo and invaded your guys homes? How many times has the hummer entered Shilo and made all the boys at school line up and get searched? Don't you think that something is wrong with the Israel's policies and how the treat Palestinians? How can you be so blind and silent about a crime this big??

Monday, February 26, 2007

You want miracles? I'll give you a miracle!

“By the way do you think that any miracle can happen and you guys leave Shilo and return the land to its original owners?”
In a manner of speaking, miracles have already happened. You just need to be able to open your eyes to recognize them for what they are.

A people who lived on this land since the beginning of recorded history; a people who never gave up on their connection and ownership of this land; a people who persevered under the hardest circumstances to return to this land in every generation; this people has finally succeeded in restoring their sovernity over much of what the Western world calls “the Land of the Bible.” If that isn’t miraculous, I don’t know what is.

You ask if a miracle can happen that the Jews would leave Shilo and return the land to its original owners?

Amazing! Long before Mohamed started the Islam religion, a thousand two-hundred years before the conquest of Jerusalem by Islam in 638, the Jewish People lived here in this land. The more appropriate question would be, do you think that a miracle can happen and that your people will finally recognize the true owners of this land and return it to its original owners – the Jewish People!

... leave the land to its original owners

Well, thanks for posting my comment!

I will tell you the meaning of my comment! I meant that we are going to fight now and then nothing that neither me nor you can decide when to start or to stop!

[Why?], because this is our land! I know its complicated that I want dialog but we are living side by side for many years already, you stealing more land everyday and expanding, no one knows how long it will take from our lives until the day we free Palestine will come! So its not bad to know how you guys think!

In my comment I said "I wonder how you guys see us from that side? I would like to see some photographs of Turmos Ayya taken from Shilo's side." meaning pictures!!!

By the way do you think that any miracle can happen and you guys leave Shilo and return the land to its original owners?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Challenge from Tormos-Ayya

I am an American citizen born in the United States brought up in Tormos-Ayya. I met one person from Shilo who happens to be the Security guard, his name is Mark. He isn't a bad guy, whoever he is, he is still an occupier. If I run into a Shilo resident in the States we'd probably meet for lunch or something, but I highly doubt that could happen in Palestine.

I'd like to know what the Shilo residents think of Turmusayya and its residents. Given the history of settlers and the Israeli government before and after the 1948 war, Palestinians just can't trust these settlers, because we know they harbor nothing but distrust and hate for us. If any open-minded people reside in Shilo "which parts of belong to Tormosayya" Will they admit that they wronged the people of Tormosaya? Wronged as in confiscated lands, and killed some of the residents. Can they apologize to the Palestinians and make genuine Peace offers?


Monday, December 11, 2006

New Group for this Dialog

The hope that the blog and associated group will act as venues where people who are not capable of meeting face-to-face due to the hostilities between them today, can share thoughts, insights to lifestyles and ultimately what connects them to this place, the Shilo Valley and the communities in and around it.

Please keep in mind that these information resources, the blog and the group, are public and the material in them accessible to every human being who has access to the Internet. Please do not use them to post information which might potentially damage the safety and security of any party. But do use them to reach out and share insights and exchange "snapshots" of lifestyles that might potentially build bridges of understanding, or at least demarcate the boundary of misunderstanding.

To make it equitable, I've set the posting limit at 3 photographs per day, but anyone who is a member of can post. Hopefully this will encourage contributors from residents of all the communities surrounding the Shilo Valley.

You can find the site at :