Bill to displace Bedouin proceeds through Knesset

July 8, 2013
Sarah Benton

Theodore Bikel: It Hurts that the Descendants of Anatevka Expel Israeli Bedouin, here. This is the ‘nasty’ video from Rabbis for Human Rights, to which Annie Robbins, 2nd, refers.

Rabbis for Human Rights are raising money to fight the Prawer plan. See Action Alert on the left of this page for a link to their donations page. Their letter is below, followed by a statement from ACRI and a comment from Mondoweiss.

Rabbis for Human Rights – Financial Appeal

Dear Friends and Supporters,

“I don’t really want to talk to you. But, because you are causing us some damage abroad, I have to” (Recent comment from an architect of the Prawer/Begin Bill).

When we called upon you to write letters protesting the Government’s apparent intent to demolish tens of Bedouin villages, move up to 40,000 Israeli citizens from their homes into 7 artificial poverty-plagued townships, and dispossess them of most of their lands, thousands of you acted immediately and sent out letters. You have watched, and spread our video clip. Rabbinic movements have spoken out publicly. We are thankful for your efforts, and they are being noticed.

Now we need your immediate action again because the fight against Prawer is not yet over. This fight requires funds. To tell you the truth, it requires way more funds than we budgeted. Our recent public opinion poll, still uncovered by the major Hebrew language media, shows that Israelis hold wildly exaggerated beliefs about how much of the Negev the Bedouin claim. When they hear that the Bedouin only claim 5.4%, they realize it is a fair claim. Your support of a suggested $100 will help us change the tide of opinion in support of the Bedouin.

Your support of $100 will enable Rabbis for Human Rights to continue its fight to overturn the Prawer Plan. With your support we can:
· Engage in advocacy work with members of the Jewish community abroad, alerting them about the dangers of the Prawer Plan and what it means for 40,000 Israeli citizens to be uprooted from their homes;
· Take journalists and groups to see the unrecognized Bedouin villages to better understand the implications of the Prawer Plan;
· Organize and finance busloads of people whose lives will be affected by the Prawer Plan so that they can come to the gates of the Knesset to protest.
With your support, we will be able to continue protesting loudly and clearly to stop the forcible eviction of Israel’s Bedouin citizens from their homes.

Your support means a lot to us, and to the 40,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel whose lives will be aversely affected by Prawer.


Rabbi Arik Ascherman

Palestinians and Bedouins from the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev Desert in a mass solidarity demonstration in Rahat against the “Prawer Plan”, an Israeli government master plan aimed to displace more then 30,000 Bedouins from their native lands, after parliament voted in favor of its implementation earlier this week, Negev Desert, June 28, 2013. Shiraz Grinbaum/

ACRI Expresses Dismay as Knesset Passes First Reading of Bedouin Settlement Bill

ACRI statement
June 25, 2013

MK Mohammad Barakeh of the Hadash party tears up a copy of the Prawer bill in the Knesset.

The Knesset plenary on June 24 voted in favor (43 – 40) of the Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev, known as the “Begin-Prawer Plan” in its first reading. The bill will now proceed to committee.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights reiterate their strong opposition to the plan, which in its current form will only aggravate the alienation and discrimination of Bedouin residents of the unrecognized villages in the Negev.

The Begin-Prawer Plan, as it currently stands, will cause the displacement and forced eviction of dozens of villages and tens of thousands of Bedouin residents, dispossessing them of their property and historical rights to their lands, destroying the social fabric of their communities, and sealing the fate of thousands of families into poverty and unemployment. All of this while the government simultaneously promotes the establishment of new Jewish communities, some of which are even slated to be built on the ruins of Bedouin villages.

ACRI and Bimkom call on the government to promote planning and recognition for all the unrecognized villages in order to secure the basic rights of Negev Bedouin citizens of Israel.

Attorney Rawia Aburabia of ACRI: “For years, the Bedouin citizens have lived in villages without basic conditions while around them more and more Jewish communities are built. The government must decide whether to seek a true and just solution that facilitates the inclusion of Bedouin in the Negev as equal citizens or a belligerent plan, that only increases the alienation, hostility and poverty in these communities.”

Urban planner Nili Baruch of Bimkom: “The key to a solution to the issue of the unrecognized villages in the Negev is planning. A plan to formally recognize the unrecognized villages (such as the one initiated by the village residents themselves) will afford them their rights to education, health, adequate infrastructure, and sources of employment. Such a process would not only be the most likely to succeed, but also the most just, coming after years of neglect of the unrecognized villages, most of which have been in existence since before the state of Israel was established.”

Israeli Embassy tries to deflect protest over Bedouin relocation — it’s for their own good

By Annie Robbins, Mondoweiss
July 02, 2013

The diplomatic prowess of Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs is… mind-numbing.

A recent action alert from Jewish Voice for Peace expressed horror over plans to force tens of thousands of Bedouins from their homes, and in response our friend Betsy Taylor sent an email to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren to “warn Knesset members from taking further steps forward, while there is still time to avoid this human rights catastrophe.” The Prawer plan entails the destruction of dozens of Bedouin villages and the relocation of the villagers, for the purpose of building Jewish only towns, in effect Judaizing the Negev.

Imagine Taylor’s surprise when Aliza Tzuriel, assistant to the director of public affairs at the Israeli embassy in Washington, shot off a brief “Thanks for your email” response accompanied by a link to Israel Hayom, Sheldon Adelson’s rightwing Israeli daily fishwrap, to “shed some more light on the matter”!

The opinion piece, titled “A win-win for Bedouin and the Negev”, characterizes a human-rights catastrophe for the Bedouins as “the most comprehensive attempt to address the issue [“transition of nomadic societies to 21st century lifestyles”] anywhere in the world.”

But Israel’s “comprehensive” plan is to corral the Bedouins, who have lived on their land since before the state of Israel even existed, into reservation compounds. From Alice Rothchild’s “A visit to Al-Araqib, the desert village that refuses to be erased”:

“We are people. We have zero unemployment. We live from the fields.” He says it is amazing that the Israelis want to change them from independent farmers living in the desert to poverty stricken factory workers controlled by Jewish bosses in reservation towns. Another round of coffee and tea.

But here’s what upsets David Weinberg, the author of Israel Hayom’s ‘light-shedding’ article sent out by Oren’s assistant. He says the Rabbis for Human Rights video above is “wildly over-the-top …nasty” because it dares to speak of historical persecution of Jews:

Actor Theodore Bikel (who starred as Tevye in the “Fiddler on the Roof” stage show more than 2,000 times) complains in the nasty video that “it hurts that the descendants of Anatevka may expel 40,000 Bedouin, just as the czar did to the Jews of Russia.”

Imagine that.

Below: Bedouin women from the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev Desert chant slogans during a mass demonstration in Rahat against the Prawer Plan after parliament voted in favor of its implementation. Photo by Shiraz Grinbaum/

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