For One Democratic State
in the whole of Palestine (Israel)


FOR One Man, One Vote



St Barbara of Aboud

By Israel Shamir


“Aboud is one of the prettiest Palestinian villages, strongly reminiscent of Tuscany. Its time-mellowed stone houses grow on the gentle hills. Vine climbs up their balconies, leafy fig trees provide shadow to its streets. The prosperity of this well-established village is seen in the spaciousness of the mansions, in the meticulously clean roads. The old men sit in a small and shady, walled enclosure, on the stone benches, like the aldermen of Ithaca gathered by young Telemachus. That is the biblical ‘gate of the city’, or a diwan. Kids bring them coffee and fresh fruits. Local people are not the refugees of Gaza and Deheishe; here, as in a time warp, one can see the Holy Land as it should and could be.

Three millennia old Aboud received the faith of Christ from Christ himself, says the local tradition, and there is the church ready to prove it, one of the oldest on earth, built in the days of Constantine in the 4th century, or maybe even older, as some archaeologists claim. The church is a dainty thing, carefully restored and well taken care of. The Byzantine capitals of its columns bear the image of cross and palm branches. They recently discovered a plaque in old Aramaic script immured in the southern wall of the church.

Aboud has more than one church: there is a Catholic, a Greek Orthodox and an American-built Church of God. There is also a new mosque, as Christians and Muslims of the Holy Land live together in great harmony. On December 17th all of them, the Muslims and the Christians, go to venerate the village patron saint, St Barbara. She was a local girl who fell in love with a young Christian and was baptized. It happened in the rough days of Roman emperor Diocletian, and she was martyred in the persecutions. The ruins of the oldest Byzantine church of St Barbara are still seen on a hill a mile away from the village. At the foothill, there is her burial cave, and there the peasants lit their candles and ask their wishes to be fulfilled”.

I wrote these lines above almost a year ago, when the Israeli army began its campaign of devastation in the hills of Western Samaria. Now, on 31 of May, they dynamited St Barbara, a rare relic of Christian past of the Holy Land. It was one of these bittersweet ruins of churches that still attract worshippers, together with St Anne of Safurie and Emmaus of Latrun. I do not know whether the sappers were the same soldiers who for proverbial forty days and forty nights, from Catholic to Orthodox Easter besieged the Nativity and whether they said the prescribed by Shulkhan Aruch blessing, Blessed you are, God of Israel, the Prince of the World, Who destroys the temples of Goyyim. I have no doubt this destruction is connected with Bethlehem siege: it passed so quietly, with so little attention, that it would be strange not to continue.

My friend Miriam Reik from New York, a wonderful person and a friend of Palestine, wrote to me, “I intuit that you are writing a piece about this example of replacing the Judaic paradigm of revenge for the Christian one of sacrifice and redemption… but don't. That's not what it's about - it's about destroying everything meaningful”.

For a change, I am going to agree with Miriam. It is true, the Jews can’t stop trying to undo Christianity. Our worst enemy is the Church, wrote Freud, and Gretz the historian seconded, Christianity must be destroyed. It is better to serve Hitler than Christ, concluded the most prominent modern Jewish Israeli theologian. One can quote hundreds of such one-liners, but Miriam is still right: they indeed destroy everything meaningful.

Not only churches. In nearby Nablus, they destroyed the Green Mosque, the oldest extant building, build above the cave where Jacob lamented his lost son Joseph. One of the great shrines of Palestine, contemporary with St Barbara, it was a Byzantine church, and later served as a Samaritan synagogue, the centre of worship for local Israelites-not-Jews. Samaritan priests pointed it out to me. A holy place is always attended in the Holy Land, and it again was converted to a church and beautified by Queen Melisende, the pious flirt and the builder of the Holy Sepulchre. It reverted to a mosque eight hundred years ago, when the cathedrals of Chartres and Köln were erected. The mosque celebrated its fifteen hundred years anniversary, when an Israeli tank ravaged it. Just to show their impartiality, they also bombed St Philip Episcopal church in Nablus and put under curfew St Luke Hospital.

Some traditional old-fashioned anti-Semite would see it as a sign of hatred to Gentiles in toto. But Miriam is right. They destroy everything. In Jerusalem there was a great spring, the biggest spring of Highlands. It gave birth to Jerusalem, and it is the reason for the city’s existence. It has a plethora of names: Gihon (in the Bible), Ein Sittna Miriam, after the Virgin, Ein Silwan, as the nearby village.

Many events are connected with this living spring. King David’s soldiers climbed up its pier, Jesus healed blind men at its pool, King Hezekiah bored a half-kilometre long tunnel to keep its waters within the walls, away from the reach of Assyrian army. It is forever venerated, and an old mosque stands at its lower exit. Many times in the hot days of July I waded breast-deep the tunnel’s cool length, drinking its sweet water and biding time to emerge at the fig tree above broken Roman columns of the pool.

Then, over a year ago, Ehud Olmert, self-styled ‘Mayor’ of Jerusalem, the great destroyer of Palestinian homes, seized the spring. He locked the entrance, put a Russian guard, a few soldiers, and transferred it lock, stock and barrel to settlers. The Palestinians were not allowed to approach it anymore. Nowadays, the Gihon spring is dead. Instead of pure water, sewage of the city flows by its tall tunnel. It joined many other springs of Palestine. Some were fenced, others covered with concrete, some eliminated by pumping stations, and others poisoned by sewage, all killed by the Jews.

I hear voice, Oh no, say: Zionists! I would, but it seems unfair to the Jewish people abroad. They work so hard, they demonstrate in support of Israel everywhere from Brussels to San Francisco, they collect funds for Israeli soldiers, they sue everybody who supports Palestine, they keep news about blown up Byzantine churches out of your newspapers – don’t you think they deserve to be considered as full-blown partners in the Zionist enterprise?

- “They make life so miserable that the Palestinians will leave”, wrote ever-so rational Miriam. Here I tend to disagree. A year ago, I saw just outside the village of Aboud two giant American-built Caterpillar bulldozers slowly devouring the olive trees. “They were huge, covered from every side by armour plates. They appeared impregnable, like moving fortresses. They towered above the landscape as the mechanical monsters of Evil Empire attacking Ewocks”. That is their purpose: to destroy. Not just churches, not only mosques, but everything alive, from olive to spring, as their service to the Faceless Destroyer. Expulsion of Palestinians is a part of the task, as Palestine can not survive without Palestinians. It will wither, as sure as the spring of Gihon did. Forget the line, ‘Palestine next to the Jewish state’; it is ‘the Jewish state or Palestine, for native and adopted Palestinians’.

A few days ago, the lady wife and guiding light of Conrad Black, Barbara Amiel, whined, “the Jews and Israel are increasingly presented as Evil Empire”. Well, dear Ms Amiel, Israel and the Jews are not the Evil Empire, but they will do, until real Evil Empire will show up.

P.S. As an anticlimax, I propose to my readers to calculate the ratio of Jewish influence in their newspaper, as follows: divide the coverage of a synagogue wall being dirtied with graffiti (in square inches) by the coverage of the venerable Byzantine church of St Barbara destruction (in square inches). Just to remind you: a ratio with denominator zero equals infinity.

Israel Shamir is an Israeli journalist based in Jaffa. His articles can be found on the site In order to subscribe to this list or to be removed from it, please write to No copyright for electronic transmission, but please ask for permission in order to publish as hard copy.


Dear Israel Shamir;

I read with sorrow and longing your beautiful piece below on Aboud. I know the village quite well from the period after the Gulf War when I was working on residence rights and family reunification there and other places for the Palestinian Federation of Women's Action Committees (Zahira Kamal), and from 1989, when our then press office (Sanabel, at which Rayna Moss was assistant editor) spearheaded a campaign to counter the middle-of-the-night deportations of people whose right to live there had been denied.

I currently work with destitute AIDS patients in Cambodia, so it is impossible for me to be in Palestine now. It is good to know that someone with your loving heart is working on behalf of people I still love and miss.

In solidarity,

Beth Goldring


Dear Mr. Shamir,

Thank you for going to Aboud. I knew this had happened, but didn't see anything in print about it. Recently I "gained" a critic who told the EWTN network that I am too "one-sided". Reading your reports always makes me feel that I'm not anti-semite, just trying to get the other side of the news out there. This article really helped me even though it is about such violence to people and to the environment.


Sr. Mary

One is so outraged to read your articles. One feel impotent. But at least you are one voice in the wilderness. And the most important thing. Arabs are also Christian. Thank you for your article. NAILA.


Dear Israel,

I loved this piece; it tackles the often overlooked issue that people, good, solid people, have been living on the land for millennia. Best.



Israel: It is very difficult not to feel a profound pain upon hearing your testimony. The most pitiful victims of the Shoa are not the men and women of who were railroaded to their death, but the men and women who survived only to become Nazis.

Miguel Bedolla (we were Jews five hundred years ago, but now we are Catholics).


Mr. Shamir:

For some time I doubted your intentions. This goes back to an exchange that took place earlier on between the two of us. Perhaps I misunderstood your intentions. It is not that I do not think that Israelis are capable of caring about what is happening to the Palestinians....for I know there are some very good Israeli people who are working hard for peace. Also, some of your recurring themes deeply disturbed me and made me feel that somehow you were not genuine. I am still confused about what and who you really are but what would impress me the most is when you go physically out to stop the aggression against the Palestinians....which I believe you have started doing.

It is not that you are not eloquent, for you are. But what I mistrusted for some time was your sincerity. I asked many people about you. Some did not know, some told me good things, some felt you to be a fake. If I have misjudged you, forgive me. If we are both on the same side, I would be delighted more than you could ever know.


Dear Lena, The Abboud Article is so beautiful. I was touched! and to be written by someone called Israel Shamir, Wow.... Mary

Habibna Shamir, it is good to hear from you as always. Many thanks for your concern about my favorite place on this planet Aboud. As my cousin Hiam said to me this past Sunday when I talked to her "we are lonely here, send friends to visit us". Her Mom, my Aunt Um Munier asked her to tell me that they are living a life of "a mouse in the trap". This really summed up the situation pretty good. As for Aboud, what I understand is that about two weeks ago a settler was killed or injured about a kilometer outside Aboud in the direction of Bir Zeit which was used by settlers as an excuse to grab the surrounding land for the start of a new settlement. They moved in and the Army is protecting them and no one in the village is allowed to even check their property. The Land of at least three of the village families are affected but no one is sure how much damage to the olive trees has occurred. Two of these families are my relatives. No one in the Village is allowed to use this main road to Bir Zeit and Ramallah and are forced to take a 2.5 hours route (one way) through Shoukba and round about. Real nice life. Salamat, Mousa


Amazing and sad. Thanks for sending me Olives of Aboud. When will it end? Warm regards, Builder


Dearest Issi, This is really such a beautiful piece.... Wallah mabrouk wa alf shookur! I've fallen in love with the village through your words and I hope that I visit it one day and help to plant new olive trees with the villagers. Genie


Your account of another example of shameless Israeli brutality has to reflect the dichotomy of Israel's way of life which allows you to write such things without fear of persecution, yet lacking respect for their Palestinian neighbors' rights, is baffling proving once more that Israel's democratic system must only be for Jews. My question then is, are the Israeli authorities allowing you to express your views just to show the world how fair minded they can be to their Jewish population or is that their way of attempting to ferret like-minded people like yourself for some nefarious reasons? Regardless of Israel's intentions, your courage to express your opinions to the world is very much appreciated and we hope will awaken the conscience of those Israelis who are blindly following the policies of their previous rulers, the British during their ignominious mandate of Palestine which saw my father incarcerated twice for defending Palestinian freedom fighters during the 1936-39 riots!! Salams and keep hope alive !! Cecil


In passing Shamir's article alludes to an aspect of Zionist destruction that often escapes notice or mention. In the early 20th century anthropologists discovered Appalachia as a storehouse of 17th century British folk culture, linguistics and music.

Likewise, the Palestinian villages that Zionist destroyed in 1948 and the population that the Zionists ethnically cleansed were a treasure of at least 2000 years of anthropological, cultural and linguistic information. It will probably require at least another century to comprehend exactly what Zionism destroyed beyond all recovery in Palestine.

To be fair, I should note that the Zionists had equally murderous intention toward Eastern European Jewish folkculture and probably would have happily worked with Nazis for its demise if a reasonable understanding could have been achieved (as it might have been if Arlosoroff had not been assassinated -- Arlosoroff and the Nazis had a good working relationship and basically spoke the same language).

Joachim Carlo Santos Martillo Ajami


Dear Shamir, - A great account, very powerful.

If it is not a final version, may I suggest that you replace the word "Jewish" either with "Zionist" or if you don't like that word something else such as "Israeli"?



From Ezra Ounce to Israel Shamir:

As a result of posting your article to Free Republic, I have been banned from that site.... I can no longer post, there. It would appear that "Free" Republic is available only for the discussion of non-sacred cows.... Here is the discussion on the site.



Give me one example of different people living in harmony and I'll give you 100 examples of different people trying to destroy each other.

How about the Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Church of God Christians, and Arab/Palestinian Moslems living in Aboud ? Israel's report reads to me as though they were living in perfect harmony for more than nineteen hundred years..... until the 'holy' Israelis, aided and abetted by the American 'Government' interposed

Ezra Ounce


And doubtless those "olive trees" were only PLO stunt men dressed up in paper mache and wearing fake branches on their helmets. Those darned A-rabs.



I'd like to see a second source on this. The Israelis have their hands full right now without having to busy them with destroying a peace loving Christian village. Something is missing from this story.


Ezra Ounce: Arafat is a criminal of global proportions.... no doubt about that...... But that doesn't justify the destruction of ages-old olive trees!!! Or the pauperization of non-adversarial, peaceful and harmonious people!

Calm down, newwahoo, don't blow your keppa! Take a valium, and regain your composure and coherence!


To: newwahoo

Don't whine about 'anti-Semitism', you don't even follow the meaning of the word and for someone who gets so much mileage out of a term, you sure do ask for it with your mouthy, arrogant attitude. Is it really that Israeli murder of Palestinian kids and destruction and trespass of Arab property is such a small problem, globally speaking, or is it that Jews just can't deal with ANY criticism at all?