In appointing itself the gatekeeper of historical memory, Israel has shackled the promotion of its own narrative to the suppression of the Palestinian narrative. A few years ago I took part in a class about the Armenian genocide at Toronto University with students from around the world, including several Armenian and Turkish participants. Three of the Armenian students were sitting opposite me during the seminar. Within about 15 minutes of the lecturer beginning to speak, they broke down crying, one by one. Seeing their distress, one of our Turkish classmates, A., also began to weep. It was a stark visual…Read More... | 5 Comments
A new book examines the ways in which Israel's policies of displacement in the Negev are also drastically changing the environment where hundreds of thousands live. By Tom Pessah What do you think of when you think of a desert? An area with little precipitation, mostly uninhabited except perhaps by nomads? An empty place with no history, waiting to be filled with people and vegetation? A new book by professor of architecture Eyal Weizman and photographer Fazal Sheikh unpacks these assumptions, and exposes how they are being used by Israel in displacing its Bedouin citizens in the Negev. The…Read More... | 5 Comments
Demonstrators march outside Be'er Sheva court, calling on the government not to evacuate two unrecognized Bedouin villages. Text by Yael Marom, photos by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org Over 300 demonstrators marched outside the Be'er Sheva District Court Thursday against the planned demolition of two unrecognized Bedouin villages, Umm al-Hiran and Atir, in Israel's Negev Desert. Two villages are slated to be replaced by a Jewish-only community and a Jewish National Fund forest, respectively The protesters, Arabs and Jews, accompanied by members of Knesset from the Joint List and Meretz's Issawi Freij, chanted "We will not move from Atir and Umm al-Hiran," and…Read More... | 6 Comments
The Negev comprises two thirds of Israel's territory, but only 10 percent of citizens lives there. It is thus no coincidence that the Jewish settlement of Hiran is being planned directly atop the ruins of the Bedouin village Umm al-Hiran. This is a test for all Israelis, and I really hope we do not fail. By Michal Rotem On January 17, Israel’s Supreme Court judges decided not to hold an additional hearing on the future of the Bedouin villages Atir and Umm al-Hiran. Legally speaking, this means that the court’s May decision, according to which there is no barrier to…Read More... | 9 Comments
The Israeli government approves a plan for five new settlements in the Negev/Naqab. Rights group says the plan, like Israel's overall policy regarding its Bedouin citizens, is discriminatory. The Israeli government on Sunday approved a plan for five new Jewish settlements to be built in the Negev (Naqab) in the south of Israel. The plan, which was submitted by Housing Minister Yoav Galant of Kulanu, threatens to displace thousands of Bedouin from their homes. [tmwinpost] Two of the settlements are due to be built where Bedouin villages already exist, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). The…Read More... | 36 Comments
Things have been quiet in the Negev lately. So the authorities decided to take advantage of this period of relative calm and, while everybody’s attention was elsewhere, sent the bulldozers to destroy the unrecognized Bedouin village of Al Araqib — for the 90th time. By Avi Blecherman Bulldozers returned to the Israeli Bedouin village of Al Araqib on Wednesday, along with police officers and someone from the Israel Land Authority. For the 90th (!) time, bulldozers destroyed the shacks and lean-tos the villagers have been living in since the authorities destroyed their original brick homes just over five years ago. They…Read More...
Israel's 'new' policy of shooting stone throwers is directed exclusively against Arabs from East Jerusalem and the Naqab (Negev), while ensuring that customary rules of engagement are applied to Jewish stone throwers. By Mohammad Bassam The Israeli security cabinet, backed by the attorney general, recently approved a series of measures that, according to the government, are meant to deter Palestinians from throwing stones. Along with the collective punishment of East Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents, the government permitted the police to use open gunfire with live bullets, to ignore the distinction between adult and child stone-throwers, and to use .22 caliber “Ruger” sniper…Read More... | 1 Comment
Using haunting aerial photographs of the Negev Desert, American artist Fazal Sheikh challenges the notion that the desert was an unpopulated land before Zionism made it bloom. By Tom Pessah In “Caravan Song,” the late Arik Einstein sings of a caravan of Zionist immigration and settlement that began in the 19th century and continues to this day. Most of the song is in his own voice, apart from one line in which he lovingly imitates David Ben-Gurion promising that the Negev will bloom. It is less acceptable today to talk of a people without a land populating a land…Read More... | 1 Comment
Israel is moving forward with a controversial plan to outright replace a Bedouin village with a Jewish town in the Negev/Naqab. About 200 Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel took part in a demonstration on Thursday in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in southern Israel, where the state plans to destroy the village and replace it with a new Jewish town called ‘Hiran.’ The protestors chanted slogans, such as, “No to demolitions,” and “No to racism,” and some took to social media to share images and posts under the hashtag #Save_UmAlHiran. A number of members of the Knesset Joint…Read More... | 1 Comment
The Israeli media has time to talk about Iran, the security budget, and Beit El. That means that when Arab women are murdered, there are always more important issues to cover. Six Arab women have been murdered in Israel since the beginning of the year — four of them in the last month alone. I know that some of you are probably thinking that Arabs are a primitive, violent and shallow people. Well, yes. Unfortunately there are many of those kinds of people in Arab society. These creatures usually come in the form of men. They exist in Hebrew and…Read More...
As the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran prepares to be replaced by a Jewish town with a near-identical name, its residents are offering solutions based on real co-existence. By Ariel Dloomy In July 2007 I witnessed one of the saddest events of my life. Hundreds of security force personnel descended upon the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in order to evict the residents and demolish their homes. The police removed cradles together with the infants while bulldozers razed the homes and uprooted olive trees from the yards. Dozens of Jewish youth hired by the demolition contractor loaded residents’ personal belongings…Read More... | 10 Comments
The impulses that drove the dispossession of the 1948 war are still acted on today, on both sides of the borders it forged. “Did you know I’m afraid of sleeping? … I’m scared of sleeping and waking to find myself in a strange land whose language I can’t speak. I’m scared I won’t wake up.” —Elias Khoury, Gate of the Sun There is an old Palestinian house on Ba’al HaTurim Street in Jaffa that sits quietly behind the trees. It is the kind of building that one could walk past every day and not see. I failed to notice it until…Read More... | 1 Comment
Atir is hardly the first case in which forestation has been used by the Israeli government and the JNF as a method of displacement and land grabbing against Palestinians — on both sides of the Green Line. “Apparently in Israeli democracy, the state is permitted to uproot Arabs from their homes and plant trees in their place.” At first glance, Ali Abu Al-Qi’an’s comment would appear to be a joke or an exaggerated statement – but it is neither. In one sentence, Ali, an Arab Bedouin citizen of Israel, summarized the grim fate of his village of Atir, located in the…Read More... | 4 Comments
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