The Prawer/Begin plan to drive the Bedouin out of ‘unrecognised’ villages into permitted centres is a poor reward for these Israeli citizens. Bedouin, like the Druze, were regarded as loyal to the new state (at least, those staying in Palestine had no loyalty to any other state). No wonder treating them as subject to separate laws causes such disquiet even among loyal supporters of Israel.
Here’s a peculiar thing about the JNF (Jewish National Fund). It always claims to be acting in the interests of the environment, or in honour of various Others, from Herzl to countries to individual ambassadors. Having gained its funds from thousands of humble Jewish homes it can thus bestow on its grandiose schemes and land seizures the simple idealistic hopes of many ordinary people. Two articles of protest.
British friends of Rabbis for Human Rights have sent a letter, signed by 65 rabbis from judaic communities in the UK, to PM Netanyahu protesting against his government’s plan to move Bedouin from the Negev and disperse them in towns. They have also produced a petition (see post) to be sent to Netanyahu.
The Israeli claim that it is a democratic state based on law is shown to be laughable in a new report and film from Adalah on the forced displacement of Palestinians. When the Israeli government or the IDF or the Jewish National Fund or settlers want land where Palestinians live, they almost invariably get it and there almost no laws which Palestinians can use to assert their right to their homes or free movement. Adalah questions whether trying to use the notion of rights to protect Palestinians – who may be Israeli citizens – is effective.
The Israeli government has long been determined to corral all Bedouin into official towns in the West Bank and as few towns as possible in the Negev. The cost of following through the Prawer and Begin plans is estimated to be NIS 6.8 billion. Many voices have been raised in protest at this deprivation of the Bedouins’ freedom of movement and self-government, including by Rabbis for Human Rights, the UK’s Union of Jewish Students and Pro-Zion which say the plans are un-Judaic..
One of Israel’s best-paid celebs, TV host Avri Gilad, returns from a tour of the Negev organised by the aggressively Zionist Regavim, declaring that “There’s no more Negev. The Bedouin have taken it over completely. By force…” By buying into Regavim – which uses the law and propaganda to maximise Israeli land and minimise non-Jewish inhabitants – he could have uttered his judgment without leaving home. Particularly given Gilad’s view that “Islam today is the most terrible disease raging around the world”. His views cause no uproar in Israel.
Once a nomadic people herding animals and transporting goods throughout the Middle East and the Negev, the Bedouin tribes have been forcibly moved by successive governments to urban shanty-towns. The Jahalin were shifted to the E1 area of Khan al-Ahmar on the edge of East Jerusalem in 1967. The Israeli Ministry of Defence now plans to move them again into blocks of 800 units near Jericho, to allow settlement expansion and the break up tribal self-government.
Much of the Sinai is now ruled by criminal gangs who capture Eritrean refugees, hold them for ransom – and rape and torture them, either to exert pressure on families, or because they can. Those who escape and cross the Israeli border are then automatically imprisoned for 3 years as ‘infiltrators’. Lucy Newman calls for a change of mind in Israel; reports from Human Rights Watch and Jadaliyya. Sign the petition!
The Bab al-Shams encampment in its brief life inspired and enthused people in Palestine and round the world. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad praised the activists saying that “the Palestinian steadfastness make the most important part in resisting the occupation and settlement.” PA personnel including Saeb Erekat and Hanan Ashrawi were prevented from reaching the ‘village’. The protesters were removed on the orders of Netanyahu/Civil Administration, but as a form of resistance which does more than say no, the image has taken wing.
Local affairs in Israel are run by regional councils, required by law to hold elections every 4 years. One of just 3 non-Jewish councils is Abu Basma, representing the Bedouin of the area. Except it doesn’t represent them. A 2009 amendment allows the Interior Ministry to postpone elections – which it has done. The Supreme Court has ordered elections. They still haven’t taken place.
ACRI’s annual report covers all people in Israel and the OPT, noting, e.g., the threat to Israelis’ right to protest and the effect of privatisation of police services. We post here the section on the Arab minority. It deals with the everyday aspect of rights, such as the power of planning rules, to which Arabs have no access, and the refusal to accept that Arabic is the other national language in Israel.
Research in the Istanbul Archive has found petitions on all matters sent to the Ottoman rulers of Palestine. Amongst much else they reveal the profound difference towards property between the European Jews, for whom it could be bought and sold, and the Arab villagers, for whom right to land usage was customary.
‘The term “Bedouin” means, “those in bādiyah” or “those in the desert”. Which is exactly where Israeli authorities have decided they shall not live, fearing that the Bedouin would constitute a solid Arab belt. Ben White describes the relentless drive to force Arabs out of the Negev.
One lot of Israeli citizens is to be expelled from its village in the Negev to make way for another lot of Israeli citizens. The first is made up of Bedouin who cannot get building permits and whose village is to be demollshed. It will be replaced by a new-build settlement for Jews. Adalah’s appeal against the decision by the National Council of Planning and Building was rejected. Reports from Ynet and Adalah.
The Israel Land Administration ordered the demolition of an ‘unprecedented’ number of Bedouin homes last week (including El Araqib for the 41st time). It will band together with the Ministry of the Interior and police to speed up demolitions and evacuations of Bedouin villages in the coming weeks. AIC keeps count.
In a text-book case of how to exterminate a way of life, settlers and the IOF have taken the water storage tanks as well as most of the land, killed sheep and ‘confiscated’ the cattle on which Bedouin people have susbsisted for hundreds of years. The occupiers no longer bother to hide their aim. “The soldier looked at me and said: ‘You can leave’.” Three news items.
Once upon a time, generous American Jews gave unstintingly to the Jewish National Fund who would use their money to make Palestine – an imagined barren, unpopulated desert – bloom. Now it is clear that the clearance of people, flora and fauna and over-use and abuse of fresh water, has created massive degradation of land and water as well as Arab displacement. Ben Lorber provides a shocking account.
Posted here is the whole of Adalah’s new campaign to raise support to block the Prawer Plan – the programme to move tens of thousands of Bedouin from their unrecognised – by the Israeli state – homes in the Negev to concentrations in set areas. JfJfP supports the rights of the Bedouin to stay in their traditional homes.
Three Bedouin families living in the Jerusalem area again lost everything when the army evicted them from their caravans and tossed away all their belongings on Sunday night. Their previous built homes were demolished last November. They were instructed to move their caravans to an unspecified somewhere else – but a legal challenge is being prepared.
The Bedouin way of life – nomadic and pastoral – is gradually being destroyed in Israel as land-use authorities (in effect, the national government) decree that these Palestinians must leave the West Bank – and set up camp on Israel’s waste spaces. Fresh air and freedom of movement, central to the Bedouin tradition, are thus destroyed. Yet they are touted as a tourist attraction for their romantic freedom. Plus link to ‘Nowhere left to go’, a film from the Jahalin Association.