Israeli Government Poised to Evict 40,000 Bedouin – Please Act Now!

The Israeli government is poised to evict 40,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel from their homes – from land upon which they’ve lived since even before the State of Israel was established.  This Knesset bill, known as the “Prawer-Begin Outline Plan” was designed without the consultation of the Bedouin communities and denies their basic rights over their land and will surely throw them into further unemployment and despair. While the government is trying to force the bill through, but a huge public outcry now can persuade coalition parties to think twice before endorsing this injustice.

The Knesset vote on the “Prawer-Begin Outline” plan was postponed this week – and they may vote next Tuesday. Please click here to to press Knesset members to either vote down the “Prawer-Begin Outline” or withdraw it entirely.

For further information:

From displacement in the Negev to ‘price tag’ attacks: A week in photos – May 23-29
This week: Palestinians and settlers stage West Bank demonstrations, Bedouins and friends protest the Prawer Plan and rebuild demolished homes in Atir, Israelis resist evictions and privatization, free T-shirts remind tourists that Bethlehem is in Palestine, the Israeli army invades refugee camps and Palestinians resist new settler outposts.  (Activestills, +972)

A primer on the proposed Bedouin resettlement in the Negev (Ha’aretz)

Ministerial committee approves plan to displace thousands of Bedouin-Palestinians (+972 Blog)

Israel ignores Bedouin needs with Begin plan (Association for Civil Rights in Israel paper)

The full Begin plan “Regulating the
Negev” (unofficial translation by ACRI)

6 thoughts on “Israeli Government Poised to Evict 40,000 Bedouin – Please Act Now!

  1. Seth Morrison

    Theodore Bikel just did a very moving video on how terrible this eviction would be. Please watch and share it with others:

  2. Roz

    I’ve seen very little about Bedouin relocation in the Israeli press, and my daughter in Israel told me she heard something in the news, about modernizing their way of life. I understand your despair and theirs, too. However, there’s another aspect of the negev Bedouin, this group or not, which is complex and difficult for the Jewish state. For many years, some bedouins have been building illegally on government land, repeatedly, and others steal brazenly from nearby Jewish ranchers. Plus, they and their counterparts in the galil have made it clear they oppose new Jewish communities being built in “their” neighborhoods (govt. land) and the threats are understood to mean they’ll use terror to stop/destroy new towns. Until the bedouin can come to some mutually respectful agreement with the govt. on what is really their land, what they have stolen, the chutzpah of not allowing Jewish growth in the negev and galil, stopping the attacks and theft from Jewish farmers and ranchers, I will not empathize with them. In the earlier years, they were largely pro-Israel, and some families still send their sons to the IDF, but increasingly they’ve been coopted by the Islamic movts. and the Palestinians’ anti-Israel and anti-Jewish rhetoric. You should know, Rabbi Rosen, you can’t have it both ways. If they’re our friends, their way of life should be protected, within rational limits. If they’re with the Palestinians, let them join them in a future Palestinian country and leave Israel alone.

    lifestyle should be accomodated as much as possible, though they cannot expand into land

    1. Vicky

      ‘Government land’. That’s an important phrase. How did this land come to be declared ‘government land’ in the first place? The story of state land acquisition (past and ongoing – especially in the Galilee) does not make pretty reading, but here you are taking the government’s own declarations of ownership for granted.

      As for them ‘joining with the Palestinians’, if you travel to the West Bank you will find a substantial number of Bedouin who live there after being expelled from the Negev (and who are facing displacement again, with the government proposing to forcibly herd all of them into Areas A and B). The Bedouin who remain in the Negev may have citizenship but the treatment they receive is similar to the treatment the displaced and their descendants are getting in the West Bank. It’s not a question of the Bedouin deciding who or what to ally themselves with, it’s about what the state perceives them as and the treatment they receive on the basis as that perception. And the state does make a very stark distinction between ‘Arab’ and ‘Jew’, which means it rubber-stamps Jewish settlement expansion with one hand and censures Bedouin for building on ‘government land’ with the other.

      Let’s also not lose sight of the fact that the planning and zoning laws in the Negev are designed to corral Arabs into particular areas, as part of the government’s Judaization campaign. You have no right to expect anyone to be loyal to an ethnocentric state that always has treated them as second class.

  3. i_like_ike52

    Conflicts between the bedouin and central governments are not limited to Israel…they exist throughout the Middle East. Just note the extreme violence in Egypt between the Sinai bedouin and Mursi’s government which has lead to the killing of numerous Egyptian soldiers.I recently read an article saying that Palestinian state television had a discussion program debating whether bedouin are “Palestinians” or not. Their lifestyle makes them into a law unto themselves. During Pesach I drove south from Beersheva into the central Negev for the first time in several years and I was shocked at how much land they have taken. Everyone wants free land and I fail to see why the bedouin are entitled to more than other people are entitled to. Someone I know is a geography student at Hebrew University and they visited the largest bedouin town in Israel which is Rahat. The town is unofficially divided into three zones corresponding to three clans which inhabit them, and each section is a “no-go” zone for the residents from the other two clans. Thus, as Roz pointed out, the situation is far, far more complicated than seems on the surface.

  4. Roz

    Thanks Ike. In Israel, the govt. technically owns all the land, even private, the latter being “leased” out to buyers. Our lawyer in Israel explained this years ago. There needs to be protected lands for ecological purposes, forests, etc. The rest is left for the govt. to decide when/where to build new communities, and Vicki ought to know buildable land in Israel is severely limited. The Beduoins cannot expand beyond what they’ve owned before, as this encroaches on land needed by other Israelis for agriculture and residential purposes. They aren’t the only segment whose population is growing, and they can’t “have it all” simply because they are arabs. Vicky’s complaint of “judaization” of the negev, or the galil (which isn’t happening) smacks of reverse discrimination/prejudice against Jewish growth in Israel. Vicky, that’s wrong of you, besides being unrealistic.

    1. Vicky

      Roz, when I use the term ‘Judaization of the Negev and the Galilee’, I am using the Israeli government’s own official term for its policies there. I am very familiar with the state’s ‘leasing’ arrangements – specifically the different way in which those arrangements operate depending on whether the citizen is Arab or Jewish. According to its constitutions, the Jewish National Fund cannot lease land to non-Jews; and it secured a contractual agreement with the Israel Lands Authority to ensure that whenever the ILA sold/leased a plot to Arabs, it would donate a plot in equal size to the JNF. The JNF and ILA manage land ownership on behalf of the state, so the state has been effectively appointing subcontractors to discriminate against non-Jewish citizens.

      In addition to this overt discrimination, underhand policies have been used to confiscate privately owned Palestinian land in the Negev and the Galilee and transfer it to the JNF. A typical practice involves prohibiting a farmer from accessing his fields with his machinery, then declaring it to be ‘fallow’, and then confiscating it. This isn’t happening to Jewish farmers. Jews are also statistically far more likely to have their building permits accepted – it isn’t just a question of buildable land being ‘severely limited’, it’s a question of opportunity to build being limited based on your ethnicity. Protesting against these policies (and there are more – this is just the tip of the iceberg) hardly qualifies as wanting Arabs to ‘have it all’.

      Finally, once again you are just taking it as a given that the Israeli government has a perfect right to call itself the owner of all the land. Anyone familiar with such phrases from the state’s history as ‘the Custodian for Absentee Property’ and ‘the Committee for the Transfer of Arabs from Place to Place’ would pause before accepting that quite so uncritically.


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