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E1 is not a 'land without a people'

Text by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org

A recent New York Times article ran under the misleading headline, “West Bank Land, Empty but Full of Meaning”, referring to the E1 area where the Israeli government recently announced new settlement building in spite of international opposition. Strangely, the photo appearing in the online edition underneath that headline pictures a Bedouin man who owns land in E1.

The Times headline is especially troubling for its resonance with the Israeli national myth that the land was “empty” before the Zionists came and “made the desert bloom.” Such language reinforces decades-old misconceptions to the casual reader, while the disconnect between the headline and the photo illustrates the internal contradictions of Nakba denial and Zionist mythology: there was no one here, and they all need to leave.

A sheep shelter constructed out of old furniture in a Bedouin camp in the E1 area, situated between Jerusalem and the Israeli West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim (background), on December 11, 2012. Israel has approved the building of 3,000 settler homes on the patch of land; a development that has been on hold for years due to pressure from the US and EU. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

In the interest of demonstrating that E1 is not “a land without a people” for a people planning a land grab, here are a few more images of people currently living in E1–namely, the Jahalin Bedouin. No, there are not many modern permanent structures in E1, owing partly to Bedouin culture and their relative poverty–but more specifically due to Israeli control that bars building by Palestinians and has placed demolition orders on even the most humble structures built by the area’s inhabitants. Here is Al Jazeera’s headline on the same topic: “Israel expansion threatens West Bank Bedouin.”

Bedouin children near their home in the E1 area, which is between Jerusalem and the Israeli West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim (background), December 11, 2012. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

But the latest announcements by the Israeli government aren’t even the beginning of troubles for the Bedouin in and near E1. According to Amira Hass:

…[E]ven if Israel continues the freeze on the development plans in the area known as E-1, these ten communities and another approximately ten communities living in the area – some 2,300 people – face displacement. Israel has been planning to resettle the Bedouin communities living in the West Bank, starting with the areas surrounding Jerusalem, in permanent settlements, against their will.

A Jahalin Bedouin woman stands inside her tent, which like all the structures in her village which are under demolition orders by Israeli authorities. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

More background on E1 and the Bedouin from Hass:

Some 80 percent of Bedouin who live on the eastern periphery of Jerusalem are registered as refugees, from families that Israel exiled at the beginning of the 1950s from Tel Arad in the Negev. Until 1967 they continued to live a traditional lifestyle, of raising and herding livestock in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. Since the occupation of the West Bank in 1967 the areas in which the Bedouin are allowed to move and herd has been greatly reduced, as Israel has declared certain areas of the land as fire zones, and set aside other areas for settlements. Over the past twenty years, the situation of the Bedouin has gotten worse as West Bank settlements have expanded, access to Jerusalem – the main market for their produce – has been blocked, the West Bank separation barrier has been built and the, Jerusalem-Jericho road expanded.

Israel does not allow the Bedouin to building and connect to infrastructure, and does not even allow them to put up tents to match the natural growth of their population. For the expansion of Ma’ale Adumim in 1997, some 150 families from the Jihalin tribe were forced to move to an area in Abu Dis that is next to a landfill site.

A Jahalin Bedouin girl stands near the Khan al-Ahmar Mixed Primary School which is under demolition orders by Israeli authorities. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Could E1 be the trigger that sparks a new round of violence?
Resource: What is the E1 area, and why is it so important?
Following E1 decision, Israel is more isolated than ever but not likely to change course 

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    1. About the power of myths (and this was written by a Zionist):
      “For a number of years we have been hearing that the population of the country exceeds 600,000. Assuming that this number is correct, even if we deduct from it 80.000 Jews , there are still over half a million Arabs in our its land, 80 percent of whom support themselves exclusively by farming and own all the arable land. The time has come to dispel the misconceptions among the Zionists that land in Palestine lies uncultivated for lack of working hands or laziness of the local residents.”
      Yitzhak Epstein in 1905

      Reply to Comment
    2. The US pushed populations out in its westward expansion from Kentucky to California. The process was slow, with multiple rights and wrongs, but what was ultimately not tolerated were deviations from developing American economic life; Native American reservations were the final “compromise.”

      I think forms of economic livelihood have become intangled with “security.” Nomadic life is considered suspicious, able to hide the unwanted (“terrorists”) along the way; even sedentary life not integrated into the Israeli economy is viewed this way, I suspect. The push is to the river, and I suspect growth in that direction is now just seemed as natural and deserved.

      The US would not have stopped, either. In fact Thomas Jefferson, as President, said that those natives unwilling to take up American agriculture must be pushed beyond the Mississippi–some were, others placed in Indian Territory (later the State of Oklahoma).

      No one even thought of stopping the US; I have come to the conclusion that Israel may be unstoppable too. There is, at any rate, little evidence of resolved political opposition in Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Arieh

      “The Times headline is especially troubling for its resonance with the Israeli national myth that the land was “empty” before the Zionists came and “made the desert bloom.”

      Really? Is that the Zionist myth?

      You dudes better make up your minds then. Only yesterday I had this crazy argument with a self righteous anti Zionist by the name of Andrew, who claimed that Zionist leaders openly declared that they will get rid of the native population of Palestine.

      Which is it then? Did they openly declare that there were Arabs living in Palestine whom they would get rid of? Or did they declare that Palestine had no people?

      I am just curios. The two claims are self contradictory. Can someone clear the issue up for me? Please?

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      • Propagandists for the Zionist Colonization of Palestine don’t care that statements conflict, their job is to spread BS, never retracting, never admitting when they’re shown conclusively to be wrong.

        e.g., in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel it says “WE APPEAL – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions. ”

        Are we really to believe the Jewish Agency/Jewish People’s Council were not aware of Plan Dalet escalating the civil war and dispossessing non-Jews in the territory slated for a Jewish state in the weeks preceding declaration?

        And after making this “APPEAL”, Israel refused the dispossessed part of a minority their right to return, because this part of a minority would be a demographic threat.

        It defies simple maths as well as logic. The BS never adds up, because it’s just BS.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Mikesailor

      Arieh: There was a thriving population of Muslims, Christians and Jews living in Palestine prior to the Zionist invasion. Even the Zionist’s acknowledged that fact, until they began their incessant lying about Palestine and Palestinians. As to the Zionist’s ethnic cleansing: look up Ben Gurion’s statements about using terrorism against the Arabs, or Deir Yassin, Plan Dalet etc. You would be surprised how accurate Andrew’s statements really are.

      Reply to Comment
      • Arieh

        “There was a thriving population of Muslims, Christians and Jews living in Palestine prior to the Zionist invasion. Even the Zionist’s acknowledged that fact”

        I don’t know about the “thriving” bit but contrary to the claims of this article, the Zionists never denied the fact that Arabs lived in Palestine.

        Now, here is what the Zionists DO claim: In the late 1800s, there was plenty of room in Palestine for two peoples. There is plenty of room for two peoples even NOW.

        Just think about it. Today there are about 13 million people living in what used to be Palestine. In 1948, there were 1.5 million people living in the same area. And in the late 1800s? I think there were maybe a few hundred thousand people.

        As for the rest of your post, Mikes, you are being as one eyed as Andrew was. Stop pretending that the Arabs were innocent babes in the wood. Go read up on what their leaders said about driving the Jews into the sea. Leaders like the Mufti of Jerusalem, Arafat’s uncle. And they didn’t just say it. They massacred Jews. Go read up about the 1929 Hebron massacre. Go read up what they did to Jews in the Arab revolt of the 1930s.

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        • David

          >There is plenty of room for two peoples even NOW.

          Thanks for support the Right to Return for all the Nakba refugees.

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          • Arieh

            “Thanks for support the Right to Return for all the Nakba refugees.”

            Support? Nope! Where did you get that idea from?

            Room for two states for two peoples. One Jewish state (the only one in the world). and one Arab/Muslim state, the 25th Arab/Muslim state.

            And no, it does not mean that Israel’s Arab citizens need to leave. They won’t, so long as they stay loyal law abiding citizens. They can be a minority with full rights in the same way that there are minorities living in other democratic countries with full rights.

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        • Deborah

          Agreed that there is plenty of room for both Israeli Jews and Palestinians. That’s why Palestinian refugees should be able to return, not to their literal homes but to inside the Green Land with compensation for lost property.

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          • Arieh

            Why should Israel let them return to within the Green line?

            They should return to the Palestinian state. Otherwise the Palestinians would get one and a half states while the Jews would only get half a state.

            As for compensation. First of all, in ALL other conflicts it is not customary to compensate those who started the war instead of accepting the two state solution in 1948.

            Secondly, even if despite what I said above, there is to be compensation, then there should be compansation to Jews who were kicked out of Arab countries too. Otherwise, you support the kind of injustice that forced the Zionists to return to our ancestral homeland. What do I mean? No justice for Jews while demanding justice for non Jews.

            I don’t know why you so called “progressives” can’t digest this very simple principle? Or are you just trying to annoy us with your one sided demands? Ok you are succeeding, but you are not helping the prospects of peace.

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        • “Go read up on what their leaders said about driving the Jews into the sea”

          Uh huh. The statement was made by one leader, in an un-official statement.

          The Mufti was Mufti of nowhere at the time he met Hitler. He’d been booted out of office in 1937.

          He was never elected by the Palestinians, but appointed by Sir Herbert Samuel, (who was BTW Jewish).

          No Palestinians served in the Balkans. None of today’s Palestinians had anything to do with him. A tiny number of Palestinians of today were at best only babies when he met Hitler. The vast majority weren’t even born.


          I guess simple maths isn’t a strong point for some folk

          Reply to Comment
      • Arieh

        As to what Zionist leaders said. They said lots of things, including this:

        “It goes without saying that we shall respectfully tolerate persons of other faiths and protect their property, their honour, and their freedom with the harshest means of coercion. This is another area in which we shall set the entire old world a wonderful example.91”

        None other than Herzl said it. I assume you know who Herzl was? In case you don’t, he was the father of the modern Zionist movement.

        Reply to Comment
          • Arieh

            Yes Directrob, as I said, all sorts of leaders said all sorts of things on both sides. Here is one such threat from one Arab leader:

            “Of the countless threats of violence, made by Arab and Palestinian leaders in the run up to and in the wake of the November 29, 1947 partition resolution, none has resonated more widely than the warning by Abdul Rahman Azzam, the Arab League’s first secretary-general, that the establishment of a Jewish state would lead to “a war of extermination and momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacre and the Crusades.”


            There are plenty more similar statements from the infamous mufti of Jerusalem who conspired with Hitler to program the extermination of all Palestinian Jews.

            Do you want to persist with this tit for tat quotes? I am game if you are game.

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          • directrob

            Arieh, thank you for the link. You again show how important reading the full quote is.

            It is clear from the text that Abdul Rahman Azzam Pasha was upset by the horrific war he saw coming.

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          • Arieh

            “It is clear from the text that Abdul Rahman Azzam Pasha was upset by the horrific war he saw coming.”


            You mean to say that he was upset about what the Arabs would be forced to do to the Jews of Palestine? And the Mufti of Jerusalem too was upset that he was forced by “the evil Zionists” to conspire with Hitler to exterminate all the Jews of Palestine?

            I am glad you cleared that up. And here I was thinking that Assam and the Mufti were just hate mongers. I don’t know what came over me.

            Reply to Comment
          • Arieh

            You know what, directrob? It isn’t about Azzam or Herzl personally. But it still is about what Azzam said. Even according to your source he clearly said that in the war that would ensue, the Arabs will aim to exterminate the Jews. That is the crux of the matter, not how he himself felt about it.

            Of course that still leaves the Mufti of Jerusalem who was personally keen to conspire with Hitler to exterminate all the Jews of Palestine. And he had a track record to prove that he meant it.

            As for distortions. Just google some sources about that much revered Palestinian scholar, Edward Said, who specialised in quoting Herzl out of context, selectively and even by changing his words.

            So like I said to mikesailor , Andrew and you. If you want to play the game of who said what, I can play it too.

            Reply to Comment
          • Arieh

            And my original question still stands too about the assertion of this article which claims:

            “The Times headline is especially troubling for its resonance with the Israeli national myth that the land was “empty” before the Zionists came”

            How could such a myth be attributed to Israelis/Zionists? Given the myriad of accusations against Zionist leaders claiming that they planned ethnic cleansings of the Arabs? Isn’t that a contradiction?

            But look what I did find who did make such claims:

            “Although usually assumed to have been a Zionist slogan, the phrase was used as early as 1843 by a Christian Restorationist clergyman and it continued to be used for almost a century by Christian Restorationists.[1]”


            What do you make of it directrob? Personally, I feel that it makes this article sound like a bit of a propaganda piece.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kiwi

            Wow quoting such propaganda sites? You consider that proof?

            What Golda said was there never was an independent sovereign nation called Palestine. Do you dispute that? She said that Arab Palestinians historically considered themselves as part of the Arab people. Do you dispute that?

            If you do, then what do you make of this?

            “It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria”. – said to the UN Security Council in 1956 by Ahmed Shukeiry, who later founded the PLO – the Palestine Liberation Organization.

            “There is no such country (as Palestine)! Palestine is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria.” – told to the peel Commission in 1937 by Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, a local Arab leader.

            ” There is no Palestinian nation! There is an Arab nation, but no Palestinian nation. This was invented by the colonial powers. When are the Palestinians mentioned in history? Never.” – Azmi Bishara, former Arab Knesset member, on Israel television.

            Reply to Comment
          • Problem – context – At the time Shukairy was talking about the Armistice Demarcation Lines. http://www.undemocracy.com/S-PV-724.pdf

            “44. This is an amazing plea to make. When sovereignty is claimed, a reminder becomes imperative. It is
            common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria.”

            3. The Armistice Demarcation Line shall be as delineated on the map attached to this Agreement as annex I.(3) The Armistice Demarcation Line shall follow a line midway between the existing truce lines, as certified by the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization for the Israeli and Syrian forces. Where the existing truce lines run along the international boundary between Syria and Palestine, the Armistice Demarcation Line shall follow the boundary line http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/arm04.asp#3

            Reply to Comment
          • It is irrelevant that a State of Palestine never existed.

            The State of Israel didn’t exist until it was declared (effective 00:01 May 15 1948). What lay outside of Israel was and still is simply NOT Israeli

            Israel has never legally annexed any territories to its Internationally recognized sovereign extent. Neither the territories it illegally acquired by war in 1948/49 or those captured in the ’67 war.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kiwi

            I don’t know what point you are trying to make.

            I just responded to what you said about Golda. I told you what she meant when she said that there were no Palestinian people.

            What she never said was that there were no Arabs living in Palestine. She never said that.

            No Zionist ever said that Palestine was a land without people for a people without a land. That is just a myth bandied about by anti Zionists against Zionists.

            End of story. I don’t know what else you want to argue about?

            Reply to Comment
          • directrob

            To spread myths and rumors you do not have to believe in them or even be a party in the conflict.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Domenico Morelli

      (il cielo è con voi!)

      Reply to Comment
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