‘The Bedouin will not live on his land with his flock, but rather will be part of the urban class that comes in the afternoon and puts on his slippers,’ Moshe Dayan said in 1963. In the 50 years since, not much has changed regarding Israel’s efforts to justify its policy in the Negev: as many Arabs as possible on as little land as possible and as few Jews as possible on as much land as possible.
By Avner Ben-Amos (Translated from Hebrew by Mairav Zonszein)
Two quotes in the same newspaper, excerpts from interviews with two former military figures, 50 years apart. Both discuss the Bedouin in the Negev, and from both we can learn about the deeply ingrained relationship of the State of Israel to the most disenfranchised population in its territory. One is an interview with Moshe Dayan, former chief of staff, who became agriculture minister in Ben-Gurion’s government in 1959. The other is an interview with Doron Almog, a former chief officer of the Southern Command, who became head of the implementation team for resettling the Bedouin (the Prawer-Begin plan) in 2011, in Netanyahu’s government.
Moshe Dayan in an interview with Haaretz, July 31, 1963:
Doron Almog in Haaretz, Dec 2, 2013
These are seemingly two totally distinct issues. One, which Dayan talks about (let us ignore for a moment his blatant Orientalist approach), is advancing the Bedouin residents by converting them from farmers to the urban proletariat. The other, which Almog talks about, is the “security threat” posed by contiguous territory the Bedouin want to create together with the Palestinians of the south Hebron Hills in the West Bank. But in fact, these are two aspects of the same policy, designed to realize a very basic formula: on the one hand, as many Arabs as possible on as little land as possible; on the other hand, as few Jews as possible on as much land as possible. The Negev is one of the areas in which this policy is most clearly apparent.Read More