FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dame Janet Suzman among eminent UK Jews appalled at Israeli law displacing Bedouin
British Government urged to insist Israel complies with international human rights law
5 November 2013: On the anniversary of the 1917 Balfour Declaration that led to the founding of the State of Israel in Palestine, over 150 British Jews have funded and signed a half-page display advertisement in the Independent newspaper [now published on 7 Nov], expressing their repugnance at a law going through Israel’s parliament now (the “Prawer law”) which threatens to wipe up to 40 Bedouin villages off Israel’s map.
And in a letter to The Times Monday 4 Nov, sixteen prominent Jews including Dame Janet Suzman, Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC and film directors Mike Leigh and Peter Kosminsky, call on Israel’s government and people to “abandon this cruelty and injustice against defenceless, law-abiding citizens”, and urge the British government to “demand that Israel complies with international human rights law”. 18,000 American Jews and 65 Rabbis in Britain have petitioned against the Prawer law, and there are plans for a Bedouin speaking tour around Britain in the New Year.
The Law for the Regulation of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev,widely known as the Prawer Law, will result in the forced removal of 30–40,000 people from their traditional lands and livelihoods into squalid government townships. More than three dozen Bedouin villages in Israel’s Negev region are at risk of total demolition.
The Bedouin are supposedly full and equal citizens of Israel. But they have long been denied basic services, have limited voting rights, and their land rights and many villages have never been recognised. This new law, much like white South Africa’s Group Areas Act, will consolidate their exclusion and status as second-class citizens.
The Prawer law presents itself as a “tidying up” of Bedouin land rights. But the Bedouin are overwhelmingly opposed to it: it will tear up all their original land ownership documents, giving the government a pseudo-legal cover to carry out mass evictions and forced transfer to overcrowded dumping grounds.
Spokesperson for Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Richard Kuper, says: “If a Westminster law said that all Sikhs in the UK should be internally deported to special reservations, or if the Asian communities of Leicester or Leeds were to be cleared out, or the Jews from Golders Green — imagine the outcry! The Prawer plan is unacceptable.”
The UN has condemned the plan as racist. The European Parliament has urged Israel to withdraw it. Adalah (who promote the legal rights of Israel’s Arab minority) said it was a “declaration of war” against the Bedouin.
“There is no pretence that this is about security”, says Kuper. “It is a land grab, part of an ongoing policy openly called ‘Judaising’.”
New Jewish settlements planned on the Bedouin lands will, like the settlements on the West Bank, be racially exclusive and will alter the ethnic character of the region. That is the expressed intention of the Bill and its promoters.
For information about jfjfp, the anti-Prawer campaign or interviews with signatories, contact:
Richard Kuper firstname.lastname@example.org 07985 575768
or Deborah Maccoby email@example.com 07928 812825
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. Full text and signatories of letter signed by Dame Janet Suzman and 15 others
“We write as Jews, appalled by the “Prawer” law in Israel which will enable the internal deportation of 30-40,000 Bedouin from their villages into designated townships.
The Bedouin are Israeli citizens. They have been living in the Negev region for generations, from long before Israel existed. Their villages will be demolished and their lands given for new, racially exclusive, Jewish settlements and farms.
The Jewish National Fund will take control of lands as their owners are evicted. Its “Blueprint Negev” aims to move 250,000 Jewish residents into the area. Expansionist settlers call it “the next frontier”. One village, Al Arakib, has already been demolished over 50 times, and re-built in a dogged resistance. Meanwhile, in place of their destroyed olive and datepalm groves, the JNF plant environmentally damaging eucalyptus trees.
Many Jews are disgusted by what Israel is doing to its own citizens. 18,000 American Jews petitioned against it. 65 British rabbis have condemned its “great injustice”. And 170 Jews signed and funded a display ad in the Independent. The EU parliament and UN say the Prawer bill contravenes international human rights law. In Israel it’s been met with strikes and demonstrations.
We call on Israel’s government and people to abandon this cruelty and injustice against defenceless, law-abiding citizens. We call on the British government to take up the Bedouins’ case with Israel and to demand that Israel complies with international human rights law. We urge people to write to their MPs , and hope that many more Jews will join us to stand with the Bedouin for the cause of justice.”
Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC; Prof. David Epstein FRS; Moris Farhi MBE; Dr Julian Huppert MP; Prof. Francesca Klug OBE; Nobel laureate Prof. Sir Harry Kroto FRS; Peter Kosminsky; Mike Leigh; Miriam Margolyes OBE; Prof Susie Orbach; Prof Laurance Pearl FRS; Michael Rosen; Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead; Alexei Sayle; Dame Janet Suzman; Zoe Wanamaker CBE
NOTES FOR EDITORS
2. Sample Images
All images © Negev Coexistence Forum 2013. To use these images and for a selection of other high resolution images, contact www.dukium.org
NOTES FOR EDITORS
3. Links and Organisations
* Rabbis for Human Rights
The Israeli campaigning group Rabbis for Human Rights is making a priority of defending the Negev Bedouin. Its spokesman Arik Asherman believes the Prawer Plan is the worst human rights abuse he has seen. http://rhr.org.il/eng/
* Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Jfjfp is a UK pressure group supported by over 1700 Jewish signatories who believe that the humanitarian values of Judaism have been corrupted by Israel’s human-rights abuses.
Many of us descend from Jews driven out in the 1890s by Russia’s racist pogroms. Slandered and persecuted, their homes and communities were destroyed. Today, such displacement of a whole people is a crime under international law.
Jews who stand for Justice for Palestinians feel they have the right and duty to say: do NOT do this to the Bedouin, and do NOT do this in the name of Jews.
Full information at www.jfjfp.org
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org 07985 575 768
* The Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality
The NCF is based in Beer Sheva, in southern Israel. Meet the Bedouins on its site, which has publicity tools, photos and newsletters, updates and a record of all demolitions, crop destructions and invasive tree planting. NCF is UN-recognised and does legal and political reports and advocacy, education, social and support projects, emergency help with tents and building materials, protests and promotion of “Arab Jewish partnership”.
PHOTO: Stop the JNF Campaign
* Stop the JNF
In 1901 the worldwide Jewish National Fund (JNF) was set up to buy land for settlement in Palestine. After 1948 when most of Palestine’s original population was displaced and prevented from returning, their lands were handed “in trust for the Jewish people” to the JNF, now a quasi-state body. Some 530 Arab villages were then demolished and the JNF planted over them. Today the JNF (a Registered UK Charity) is still fundraising for exclusive Jewish settlement, still taking over demolished villages and still planting forests over them. Its “Blueprint Negev” is spearheading the move to clear out and replace the Bedouin. Stop the JNF, an international campaign, highlights their role and wants to end their Charity status.
www.stopthejnf.org and http://goo.gl/01GrrU
* Max Blumenthal, author of “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel”: https://jfjfp.com/?p=50288
* Seth Morrison in +972: http://972mag.com/lying-by-omission-the-jnfs-role-in-setting-negev-land-policy/80885/
*Dan Gazit in +972: http://972mag.com/the-historical-truth-about-bedouin-expulsion-from-the-negev/78404/
* Rabbi Alissa Wise in Huffpost: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-alissa-wise/prawer-plan_b_3438201.html