After being assaulted by an Israeli settler earlier this spring, Cassandra Dixon of Mary House of Hospitality (Oxford, Wisconsin) is preparing to return to Israel for the settler’s trial on September 7.
If the settler is convicted, she hopes it might make some in the United States rethink U.S. policy toward Israel.
“i don’t think that some white woman from Wisconsin going or not going to a trial there is going to change anything” fundamentally for the Palestinians who live there, Dixon told CatholicWorker.org last week. “But what could change? Maybe U.S. citizens, U.S. taxpayers, would have second thoughts about supporting this. These settlers act with impunity because Israel has impunity in the world, and they have that because of the U.S.”
Dixon suffered a fractured skull after an Israeli settler attacked her and another international observer on March 7 in the Masafer Yatta area, near the Palestinian village of Tuba.
Dixon was treated for her injuries while still in Palestine, but it wasn’t until she followed up with a medical professional back home that she realized how serious the incident had been. “The doctor that saw me said, ‘You do have a very hard head.’ That’s kind of true. I think I was also very, very lucky.”
Some of the people who provided emergency medical aid to Dixon in the wake of the March 7 attack were not so fortunate. They themselves were attacked by settlers in their own homes in mid-August, Dixon says—part of a larger attempt to depopulate the area using violence and harassment.
“My hope is that our support for this kind of vigilante violence and the demolition of schools by the military and the shooting of unarmed civilians and the the system of checkpoints that makes it impossible for people to get medical care and the harassment of ambulance drivers—all of these things, at some point, we will have had enough and they’ll be history.”
U.S. taxpayers “own” the unchecked harassment and violence of Israeli settlers toward Palestinians, Dixon says, because of the millions of dollars of support it provides to the Israeli military on a daily basis.
Dixon is asking supporters to help plant olive trees in the area “as a practical act of solidarity, and a means of helping families to hold onto their land.” You can read her personal appeal here: Dixon Appeals for Help Planting an Olive Grove in Tuba – Catholic Worker Movement
A press release prepared by the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project follows.
PRESS RELEASE (August 24)
Trial scheduled for Israeli settler accused in assault of Wisconsin Catholic Worker
A Wisconsin woman who was assaulted and seriously injured this spring while visiting Palestine will travel to attend the September 6 trial of the Israeli settler accused in the attack.
Cassandra Dixon, 64, was assaulted by Israeli settlers on March 7 while walking with another international on the outskirts of the Palestinian village of Tuba, in the occupied West Bank. The attack fractured her skull and broke an eardrum. The settlers fled back to the Illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Ma’on, however Dixon’s assailant was identified and arrested some days later by Israeli authorities. He has since admitted to being present, and is on house arrest pending trial.
Since Dixon was assaulted in March, settler violence against Palestinians has escalated dramatically across the West Bank. In the same area where Dixon was attacked, settler assaults have resulted in multiple hospitalizations after shepherds were beaten with sticks and bars and pepper sprayed at close range in the eyes. Tuba village is located in Masafer Yatta, an area comprised of multiple small villages at the southern end of the occupied West Bank. These villages are experiencing a sharp rise in settler violence aimed at driving them out, including physical attacks on farmers, land and home invasions, theft & injury of livestock, destruction of personal belongings, theft of land, and destruction of a water well, crops and olive trees.
In addition, the villages lie inside Firing Zone 918, an area claimed by Israel for use as a military training area. Israeli authorities have issued demolition orders for all structures, including homes, schools, animal barns and wells within the area after residents lost a legal appeal to remain on their lands last year. One school was demolished last April and another is slated for destruction by the military before the start of school this year.
The upcoming trial is an important test of whether the US government will hold Israel accountable for violence against American citizens. Earlier this year, US citizen Omar Assad, 78, of Milwaukee, died of a stress-induced heart attack brought on by being dragged from his car, bound, blindfolded, gagged and dumped on the ground in a cold construction site by Israeli soldiers in his childhood village in the West Bank. His family is still waiting for justice.
All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. Until recently, unauthorized settlement outposts have been considered illegal even under Israeli law. But the Israeli government, now controlled by the extreme right-wing pro-settler movement, has moved to legalize a number of them, despite objections from the Biden administration.
This rise in settler violence, along with the internal anti-democratic measures being put in place by the current Israeli government, is causing many to consider reevaluating the $3.8 billion US taxpayer funded aid given to Israel annually. The figure is more than 10 times the US aid given to Niger, one of the world’s poorest countries.
Cassandra Dixon works as a residential carpenter and lives at Mary House, a hospitality house for families visiting the federal prison at Oxford WI.
United Nations report on displacement due to settler violence (also available in English on the page):
Ali Awad podcast on land theft in Tuba:
Cover image: By שי קנדלר – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0