British Rabbis campaign against eviction of Bedouin
By Anna Sheinman, Jewish Chronicle
June 07, 2013
Sixty five British rabbis from across the community have written to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in protest against a Bill that could see 40,000 Bedouins evicted from their homes.
The British Friends of Rabbis for Human Rights (BFRHR), including rabbis from Orthodox, Masorti, Liberal and Reform denominations, called the Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev “a great injustice”.
They wrote: “The Bill’s proposal to resettle the Bedouin in development towns disregards traditional family and kinship ties of the Bedouin and the communal and social fabric of their villages and has already been shown to result in disastrous levels of unemployment, destitution and disillusion.
“As it stands, the Bill is likely to do serious damage to the international reputation of the state of Israel. A just and proper process will enhance Israel’s international standing.
The rabbis called for a halting of the bill and for “proper consultative process” with the Bedouin people to settle land claims.
A copy of the letter was delivered to the Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub. Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, chair of BFRHR said: “The ambassador listened carefully to our questions and concerns. Now what matters is that this Bill that could drastically alter so many people’s lives is challenged in the Knesset as it is being challenged throughout the world.”
By Rabbi Alexandra Wright, Jewish Chronicle
June 13, 2013
Last week, the British Friends of Rabbis for Human Rights (BFRHR) sent letters to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Ministers Lapid, Livni and Meir Cohen, protesting against the Knesset’s proposed Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev.
If the Bill is passed, it will result in the forcible eviction of thousands of Bedouin from their villages into existing townships.
Mohammed Aziz is one of those at risk. A visit to his Negev village of Al Araqib testifies to the reasons why the BFRHR has launched its campaign.
The very morning we arrived, his home had been demolished for the 50th time since July 2010.
All that is left is a pile of stones. He stands barefoot in a tent, barely able to contain his distress, yet apologising for the lack of hospitality.
A cemetery, dating back to 1913, is all that remains in the village. Mohammed swings his arms across the wasteland beyond the tent. “It’s all desolation and destruction,” he says.
There are more than 40 Bedouin villages in the Negev, unrecognised by the Israeli government. They occupy less than five per cent of the entire land of the region.
The families who live in them have no infrastructure: no sewage, water, electricity, roads, education or health services. The poverty and destitution is shocking.
The BFRHR is calling on the government of Israel to stop the Bill and settle the land claims of the Bedouin in a fair and just way, in the name of democracy and Judaism.
When we cease to protect the most vulnerable and weakest members of society, we are betraying the central tenets of Jewish ethics. If we care deeply about the Jewish state, we should be part of a vocal campaign to encourage the government to consult with the Bedouin over their long-term future. They are, after all, Israeli citizens.
By Rabbis for Human Rights UK
June 10, 2013
The Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev is expected to soon begin its legislative process through the Knesset. The bill is based on the Begin Plan, approved by the government on January 27, 2013, which effectively constitutes a modified version of the Prawer Plan for Bedouin settlement in the Negev, approved by the government on September 11, 2011. If passed it will result in the eviction of up to 40,000 Bedouins from their ancestral homes in the south of Israel. If you would like to read more information about the bill you can do so here.
65 UK rabbis have written to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Welfare Minister Meir Cohen to ask them to prevent the passage of the bill. A copy of their letter and the signatories can be found below.
We would like you also send a letter to these ministers protesting against the bill and to find a fair and just solution to the living arrangements and welfare of the Bedouin community in the south of Israel.
Please take action by clicking on this link here
Please read below the letter BFRHR sent to Benjamin Netanyahu
Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,
We write on behalf of over sixty UK Rabbis, drawn from Orthodox, Progressive and Masorti denominations, to protest in the strongest of terms against the continuation of the legislative process of the Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev. If passed, the Bill would result in the forcible eviction of 30,000-40,000 Bedouin residents from their villages in the Negev into existing townships.
The Bill represents a great injustice towards Bedouin citizens of the State of Israel. Why should the Bedouin, living in 46 towns and villages, occupying just 5% of the entire land of the Negev region, be denied fundamental human rights accorded to other citizens: recognition of ownership of their land, water, sewage systems, electricity, education and health services?
A democratic, Jewish state cannot discriminate against any minority, particularly an impoverished and marginalised minority. In the name of our Judaism and democracy, in the name of justice and fairness, we are writing to protest against the Bill and its assumption that it is somehow democratic and fair to evict a section of the Israeli population from their historic homes and lands. In addition, the Bill’s proposal to resettle the Bedouin in development towns disregards traditional family and kinship ties of the Bedouin and the communal and social fabric of their villages and has already been shown to result in disastrous levels of unemployment, destitution and disillusion.
We protest also in the name of our Judaism whose central values are justice and compassion. צדקה תרומם-גוי ‘Righteousness exalts a nation’ (Proverbs 14:34) is the principle by which a nation should exercise leadership.
Please stop the passage of the Bill through the Knesset. Instead a proper consultative process should be established with Bedouin men and women to settle land claims and recognise the Bedouin’s historic rights to their lands, leading to the provision of proper services for their villages. In addition, care should be given to the long-term needs of the Bedouin. Such a process will benefit the State of Israel as a whole.
As it stands, the Bill is likely to do serious damage to the international reputation of the State of Israel. A just and proper process will enhance Israel’s international standing.
Francis Ronald Berry
Frank Dabba Smith
Ariel J. Friedlander
David J. Goldberg
Laura Janner-Klausner (Chair)
Charles H. Middleburgh
Rebecca Qassim Birk
Danny Rich (Chair)
Elli Tikvah Sarah
Alexandra Wright (Spokesperson)