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New Jewish settlements planned 'on top of' Bedouin villages

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.

A man from the Zanoun family sits on the ruins of his house a few hours after it was demolished by the Israeli Land Administration, in the unrecognized bedouin village of Wadi Al Na'am, Negev Desert, May 18, 2014. The family of seven people was living in the house demolished for being illegaly built. Wadi Al-Na’am is the largest unrecognized village in Israel, with about 13,000 inhabitants, most of its inhabitants are internally displaced. The village is not connected to electricity and its inhabitants are subjected to Israel's house demolition policy. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

A man from the Zanoun family sits on the ruins of his house in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Wadi Al Na’am a few hours after it was demolished by Israeli authorities, Negev, May 18, 2014. Wadi Al-Na’am is the largest unrecognized village in Israel, with about 13,000 inhabitants, most of whom are internally displaced from elsewhere in Israel. The village is not connected to electricity. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

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.

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 new town of Daya is to be established on top of the unrecognized village of Katamat, which would displace its 1,500 Bedouin residents. Neve Gurion, meanwhile, is meant to be built on part of the land of the recognized village of Be’er Hadaj, home to 6,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel.

“This decision is a mere continuation of the government’s unequal planning policy, which attempts to move the inhabitants of Bedouin villages to urban or semi-urban settlements or existing townships, which are ranked at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder and are already under significant stress,” ACRI wrote in a statement on Sunday.

The government’s announcement comes just weeks after the unrecognized Bedouin village of Al-Araqib in the Negev was demolished for the 90th time. Israel’s continual razing of Al Araqib began in 2010, and the village has become a symbol of the ethnic discrimination that characterizes the state’s policies in the Negev.

Since the founding of the State of Israel, Jewish settlement in the Negev has been considered Zionism’s final frontier — an impression largely instilled by the vision of David Ben-Gurion, the country’s first prime minister. “It is in the Negev that the people of Israel will be tested,” Ben-Gurion said in the 1950s.

“Only with a united effort … will we accomplish the great mission of populating the wilderness and bringing it to flourish. This effort will determine the fate of the State of Israel and the standing of our people in the history of mankind.” Several years later, he reiterated: “The Negev is a great Zionist asset, with no substitute anywhere in the country.”

A Bedouin child leading a camel is seen behind barb wire placed to separate the unrecognized Bedouin village of Amra-Tarabin from the Jewish village of Omer (seen in the background), May 22, 2009. (Photo: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org)

A Bedouin child leading a camel is seen behind barb wire placed to separate the unrecognized Bedouin village of Amra-Tarabin from the Jewish village of Omer (seen in the background), May 22, 2009. (Photo: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org)

Sixty years later, the wheels of Ben-Gurion’s dream have been firmly set in motion. The Prawer Plan, a government framework for forcibly moving thousands of Bedouin living in unrecognized villages in the Negev into impoverished townships, seemed dead in the water until the last elections. During coalition negotiations, the plan was resuscitated as a bargaining chip between the Likud and Jewish Home, with Naftali Bennett leveraging its revival as a condition for joining the government.

Israeli is also expropriating large tracts of Bedouin land – either for “greening” (i.e. planting forests on top of the ruins of demolished villages) under the auspices of the JNF, or for building new Jewish settlements on top of Bedouin towns, as is the state’s wont.

Israel has systematically refused to recognize many of the Negev villages and towns in which Bedouin citizens live, meaning that they have no connections to electricity, water or sewage infrastructure, and are in constant danger of demolition. The new suburban settlements the state builds in the Negev are generally designated for Jews, whereas Bedouin are encouraged to move to Bedouin-only townships that lack economic opportunities and are not designed with Bedouin social structures in mind.

The Negev village of Umm el-Hiran is perhaps the most blatant example of how the state hopes to displace Bedouin citizens for the benefit of Jewish citizens. The Israeli Supreme Court recently upheld plans to demolish Umm el-Hiran and build a Jewish town, named Hiran, in its place. Umm el-Hiran’s Bedouin residents would be forcibly relocated to the nearby township of Hura, according to the state’s plans.

Adjacent to Umm el-Hiran is the village of Atir, which also faces destruction — so that the JNF can expand a manmade forest, named Yatir, over its ruins. (Notice the pattern of only slightly altering names to Hebraize them?)

Housing Minister Galant on Sunday evoked Ben-Gurion when praising the government’s passing of his plan [Heb]: “It is our responsibility to settle the Negev … to turn it into a desirable and thriving area, in keeping with the Zionist vision,” he said.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Ben

      If Galant says that about this particular plan, and his government acts on it as Roth describes, then that hoary old UN resolution that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination will have been proven true in practice. Does the government of Israel and its people want to show Chaim Herzog, father of the current head of Israel’s so-called “opposition,” to have been a liar and a hypocrite when he famously tore up the text of UNGAR 3379 at the podium? Apparently they do. Apparently they do.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        “Zionism is a form of racism”

        Say racists like Ben. Yet in a rare moment of sanity, they repealed that stupid resolution which was originally inspired by the KGB.

        Now, Benny the racist who says that Israelis are unembarrassable, wants to revive that notion.

        Benny is a hypocrite but he IS amusing.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          “Zionism is a form of racism”

          Nah. I didn’t say that, Gustav. I said something much more complex and nuanced. And you know it. But you are not embarrassed. Your cynicism and lack of honesty here matches, on a petty scale, the spirit of the occupation.

          Reply to Comment
          • Israel

            “I didn’t say that, Gustav. I said something much more complex and nuanced.”

            Sometimes it’s necessary to cut to the chase, Ben, and just say it like it is: Zionism is racism, and Zionists are racist oxygen thieves.

            “But you are not embarrassed.”

            …or even Israeli.

            You can’t embarrass a Zionist oxygen thief. 😉

            Reply to Comment
        • Peter

          I guess this is why we need BDS.
          Israel will not end apartheid and expansionism … even to save itself.

          Reply to Comment
      • Israel

        “…then that hoary old UN resolution that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination will have been proven true in practice.”

        Zionism is racism, and this was “proven [to be] true in practice” in the latter part of the 19th century.

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          Idiot.

          Why is this guy and idiot? Coz he is obviously not Israel or Israeli. Yet he pretends to be.

          Reply to Comment
          • Israel

            Racist oxygen thief.

            Why are you a racist oxygen thief? Coz Zionism is obviously racism. You’re obviously a Zionist mouth breather. And Zionists are racist oxygen thieves.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            LOL

            Muslim Jew AKA Benny is back again. Take your medications, Benny dear.

            Reply to Comment
          • Israel

            Me Tarzan, you Zionist oxygen thief.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Yes Benny dear.

            Have ya taken your medications yet?

            Oh… as if by magic. Suddenly Benny appeared here too as none other than Benny rather than as the obviously falsely named “Israel” who is none other than Benny in a clown outfit. Hiya Punicello…

            Reply to Comment
          • Israel

            No, me Tarzan, you Zionist oxygen thief praying in tongues.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Ok if you say so, Tarzan/Benny. You Tarzan, LOL.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            If you are this paranoid and illogical in real life you must be something to deal with. Is the paranoia a pose (troll behavioral display) or is it the real thing? I can’t tell.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ray

            I think it’s been pretty clear that our friend Gustav posts his comments with at least a partial desire to inflame or anger others (e.g. “Benny,” assuming you are unemployed/mentally ill/etc.). This is pretty much what a troll does.

            Reply to Comment
        • Israel

          From the article that Ben linked to:

          Thomas Blom Hansen…Why I Support the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions:

          “an entire people robbed of their land, history, livelihood, political rights, dignity, life and future—by a powerful and wealthy state, with the strongest military in the region, backed by the major Western powers.”

          David M Rosen and Alex Weingrod…Anthropologists against the BDS Boycott:

          Israel rocks, you suck.

          Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            The backlash is coming Benny are you ready for it? The BDSrs and people like you will be made to face the music. And yes, we know who you are.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Please explain.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Explain? Why should I? I owe the likes of you no explanations

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Okey doke, if you can’t or won’t explain then it’s dismissible as paranoid crypto-fascistic mutterings inside the bubble or something equally weird: “the backlash…made to face the music….” Oohh kaaaay…it’s like talking to a cult member

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Okey dokey Benny. Crypto fascist huh? Yavvvooool, Benny-leh. LOL.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            You can’t even explain what “the backlash” is! LoL. Sounds pretty crypto- and pretty paranoid to me, and the “made to face the music” added weirdness sounds pretty fascist to me. So you can feel free to issue bizarre apocalyptic utterances but no surprise then when asked to explain yourself and you can’t that people think that you’re missing a few cups in the cupboard.

            Reply to Comment
          • Israel

            “I much prefer my account of these two essays, ‘Israel’:”

            I didn’t realize it was a competition, ‘Ben’.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            It’s not.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            You just keep on saying that to yourself, Benny-leh.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ray

            Like I said earlier, Gustav is an obvious troll. I recommend not commenting back and forth with him.

            Reply to Comment
          • Araby

            “Robbed of their land”? How was it only “their land”? Because we the Arab people invaded the land of the Jewish people who lived in those lands way before we conquered those lands in the sixth century? How does that make those lands exclusively Arab lands?

            Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Utter nonsense. Watch this bideo…

        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AcEL-NlxBk0

        Israel is not SA. Only the nostalgic old farts who had a warm inner glow in their youth (rightly so) fighting against the injustice against the blacks in SA try to revive those old feelings with Israel. But this time, they bear guilt for once again trying to smear their old bogey-men, the Jews, with a new blood libel. They should take the trouble to really look at the history of this conflict.

        In some ways I don’t blame some of them. They may think that once again they are right coz too many extreme leftist Jews have taken it upon themselves to self flagelate and blame us for everything bad that happens here. To put it bluntly, those Jews/Israelis are at best just fools. At worst, they are ideology driven and they want to eradicate the Jewish culture coz they have had enough of being Jews. They have given up to the haters and they want us Jews to voluntarily eliminate ourselves by assimilation. They won’t have their way. Not as long as people like me exist. I will always speak up against their cultural cringe.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          One tries in vain to reread Hansen’s essay and find in it a trace of old fartery or nostalgia or wishes to “smear their old bogeymen the Jews with a new blood libel”–good grief–and any honest person, having read Hansen, can see that you just made that vicious item up, Gustav, by deploying stock tropes, and that in fact what you made up out of whole cloth is a very dishonest smear against Hansen. This is where you just discredit yourself as a partisan hack willing to say *anything* to deny some painful truths. It is unconscionable the slander you engage in.

          Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            The trouble Benny is that you don’t try hard enough. You wilfully ignore the video by the SA MP who calls the allegation that Israel is an apartheid state a malicious slander.

            So you don’t like ma calling your quoted darlings nostalgic old farts? So what would you call their lies?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            As to your video, that man labors under the mistaken notion that historical SA apartheid is the exclusive model of apartheid as defined by the Rome statute, rather than one example of apartheid defined by that statute. And under not a little ignorance about what actually goes on in the territories.

            The apartheid analogy is not perfect because It misses unique characteristics of Israel’s military regime in the occupied territories but it is useful in illustrating some aspects of the occupation, especially but not limited to the separate legal systems for Israelis and Palestinians.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            But I maintain that at this point in time in Israel taken together with its occupied territories indeed constitute a kind of apartheid state. It meets the definition of an apartheid state laid out in Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the ICC: a state that commits inhumane acts in the context of an “institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”

            The mistake many make–including the South African minister–is to say that there are differences between Greater Israel and Apartheid South Africa and to assume that that is decisive. But that’s wrong. Those differences, while they are real, are not defining, while some crucial similarities are defining. The Rome Statute does not refer to South Africa in its definition of apartheid. South Africa was one example of apartheid, not the exclusive model of apartheid. Don’t get me wrong, there are many terrible things South Africa did that Israel has not done, or not done to the same degree, but again, those differences are not determinative.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Excellent essay by Noam Sheizaf. (You don’t like the term “apartheid”? Ok, then call it a “complicated, segregated system structure.”)

            http://www.haaretz.com/peace/1.688182

            The ‘conflict’ is not a diplomatic problem – it’s an Israeli problem
            The Israeli regime administrates different sets of rights for different ethnic groups.

            Noam Sheizaf
            24.11.2015

            “…Yet Israel’s real success – a result of the overwhelming imbalance of power – is its ability to maintain the “diplomatic” narrative of two sovereign regimes trying to resolve some border dispute….”

            Reply to Comment
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