A follow up to my post of May 31:
Ha’aretz has just reported that the Israeli government’s Prawer-Begin plan, which would evict up to 40,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel from their homes in the Negev, has passed its first Knesset reading by a majority of 43 to 40:
The vote on the Begin-Prawer plan was held following a tense Knesset session, in which the Arab MKs rose one by one and tore up the draft in a declaration of their their opposition to it…
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation last month approved the law to resolve land-use issues related to the population, after Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel managed to reach a series of compromises with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former minister Benny Begin on that matter to win the support of the Habayit Hayehudi party…
The plan has sparked fury in the Bedouin community, who call it immoral and impractical.
If you haven’t yet, please, please sign and send this Avaaz.org petition that calls upon Knesset members to vote against the Prawer plan.
UPDATE: Jewish Voice for Peace has just sent out an email blast which includes a link to send an email to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren urging him to use his “influence to warn Knesset members from taking further steps forward, while there is still time to avoid this human rights catastrophe.”
Brant, is there anything more we can do beside that Avaaz petition? Are there groups in Israel who have polled Knesset members and know who is a swing voter who might help defeat this bill? (It passed the first reading by a slim majority of 43 – 40; that holds out hope of a possible reversal and ultimate defeat.) Do you know who in Israel is doing serious, thoughtful lobbying on this?
I don’t know of any internal Israeli political lobbying efforts, but I do know that NGOs such as Adalah and Rabbis for Human Rights have been very vocal on this issue.
As American citizens it would seem to me that we might more appropriately let our own Congresspeople know how we feel, particularly with our country’s current engagement over the latest round of the “peace process.”
I wonder constantly about what to do about the American political stasis on Israel. Jan Schakowsky certainly knows my views (or at least her assistants do), but what is undoubtedly foremost in her mind, as it is in the minds of her fellow representatives, is the financial fist ready to come down on them should they not toe the line.
Jan is very moderate compared to such as Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, but when she is running for office her challengers usually say she is not pro-Israel enough. She wins, but it’s a contest between variations of Israel boosterism, neutrality being far out of the question, providing no space for the kind of criticism this blog expresses.
We’re stuck with lobby power, whether for Israel, the Keystone Pipeline, or Obamacare. The solution is public campaign financing and on that all of us common folk should be able to unite. Since all lobbies will unite against public financing, our challenge is immense.
For issues involving Israel, I’d think that petitions and letters signed by many individuals would be more likely to get attention than individual letters/emails. Showing that people are united on an issue and willing to coherently and concisely express themselves as one is, I think, in a democracy, a more powerful expression than separate thoughts individually expressed. Anything, however, is better than nothing.
BTW – for those interested in how the 112th Congress has voted on issues related to Israel, the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs has a chart (starts on second page of article) http://www.wrmea.org/pdf/201209pac_charts.pdf