The Horrifying Scope of Israel’s Prawer Plan


By now i’ve written more than a few blog posts about Israel’s Prawer-Begin Plan which, if approved by the Knesset would displace tens of thousands of Bedouin from their ancestral home in the Negev desert.  Up until now, many defenders of the plan have claimed that this “relocation” was developed for the benefit of the Bedouin. In recent weeks, Israeli government spokespeople have responded to anti-Prawer protests by claiming 80 percent of the Bedouin population actually support the plan.

The patent falsehood of such claims have now been laid bare. A map of the project has just been released to the Knesset Interior Affairs Committee and the massive extent (and injustice) of the plan has now been brought into the light of day.

Ironically enough, according to Michael Omer-man of +972mag, the map was prepared by the Prime Minister’s Office for Housing Minister Uri Ariel, in an attempt to assuage his party’s fears that too much land would be given to the Bedouin.  (That’s right – apparently the far right Jewish Home party opposes the Prawer Plan because they believe it is too lenient to the Bedouin.)

According to the report, the bill’s co-sponsor Benny Begin has admitted Bedouin leaders have never even seen the plan until now:

Begin on Monday refuted that he ever made such statements, writing, “I have never said to anyone that the Bedouin accept my plan.”

He couldn’t have made such a claim, he explained, because he never even presented the Bedouin community with his plan, “and therefore I could not have heard their reactions to it.”

“[Because] I was not able to know their level of support for the law, it therefore follows that I couldn’t say that I know anything about their support for the law.”

According to the new map, the state of Israel will take over 250,000 dunams (61,700 acres) currently populated by Bedouins, while the Bedouins will be resettled in an area totaling 170,000 dunams (42,000 acres). Around 40,000 people will be forced to leave their homes.

I don’t know any other way to say it: if implemented, this plan would result in a crime that is truly staggering to contemplate. It will lead to the uprooting and forcible eviction of dozens of villages. Tens of thousands of residents will be stripped of their property and their historical land rights. Thousands of families will be condemned to poverty and unemployment. The communal life and social fabric of these villages will be destroyed.

This plan is decidedly not about the best interests of the Bedouin. If it is about anything, it is about a large swath of land in the south of Israel that government leaders have been attempting to “Judaize” since the days of Ben-Gurion. The only reason the Bedouin are slated for removal, quite frankly, is because they are not Jews. By any other name, such an act would be called ethnic cleansing and I am not hesitant to say so.

If you haven’t yet, please join me and the growing number of Jews and people of conscience who are voicing their opposition to the Prawer-Begin plan in no uncertain terms.

8 thoughts on “The Horrifying Scope of Israel’s Prawer Plan

  1. lydia Karoum

    Shame, shame, shame! Where is the outrage among those Americans-Jewish and non-Jewish whose hearts bleed for every other instance of human rights abuses? The silence is deafening. The motive: to wipe-out all traces of the lives of Palestinians in ancient Judah/Samiria. Remember! To be silent in the face of injuctice is to be complicit in it. Who will speak for those who are invisible? Not the President of the USA or the American media. Thank you Brant and the JVP for NOT remaining silent.

  2. David

    I a 66 years old. I remember as a small child sitting in religious school being told about Israel. I recall vividly the black and white films depicting the Jewish land and Palestinian land. Of course the movies showed the kibbutzim working in lush fields whereas on the other side–the Palestinian side–the land was empty and barren. I recall vividly being told the Palestinians were ignorant, backward, and anti-Jew. I remember the phrase, “A land with no people for a People without land.”

    These were the views I held until about 3 years ago when I actually decided I would look behind the typical media portrayals.

    In the basement of the Shul in Alhambra California, I was told lies. These were people to whom I looked up to. Shanda far di kinder.

    No more! And, not in my name. I protest! The State of Israel cannot have my blessing or silence in its shameful and immoral efforts at ethnic cleansing.

    1. Laurie

      Thank you David for your courage in writing about your change of heart. It must be very painful for you. The most painful thing for me is to realize that our government is complicit in Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and now the Bedouins. And our news media? They all are in a dance together and the choreographer is Wall Street and probably AIPAC. We keep making as much “noise” as we can…5 Broken Cameras – etc.

  3. i_like_ike

    “Ancestral homes”? What are you talking about? i have seen these Beduin squatter camps spreading out year after year onto land that was NEVER previosuly settled by them, with the attendent squalor and lack of basic infrastructure and services, without any planning or relationship to the surrounding area and population. Unless, of course, you believe their claim that they are the rightful owners of the entire Negev, or of Israel, or of the entire Middle East, for that matter since they used to wander there as nomads. All the surrounding Arab states have the same problems with the Beduin that Israel has, and that includes the Palestinian Authority. Look at the violence in the Sinai against the Egyptian government by the Beduin, for example.

    1. Rabbi Brant Rosen Post author

      Ike, I’m not sure how you qualify as an objective authority on the Bedouin – you make your own bias crystal clear when you refer to them as “squatters.”

      In fact, 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens live in 35 villages that either predate the establishment of the State in 1948, or were created by Israeli military order in the early 1950s. The State of Israel considers the villages to be “unrecognized” and the inhabitants “trespassers on State land.” They lack resources and infrastructure precisely because Israel’s own designation of their villages denies them access to water, electricity, sewage, education, health care and roads.

      BTW: If Israel applied the same criteria for planning and development that exist in the Jewish rural sector, all 35 unrecognized villages would be recognized where they are.

      1. David

        Question: what would it be called if a group of Israelis–they’d have to be Jewish, of course–squatted in the Negev or on territory occupied by Israel in the West Bank?

        Answer: “Facts on the ground.”

        Building permits, IDF protection, and services have historically been provided Jews. It’s crazy. I, never having set foot in Israel with no (known) relatives there, could immigrate and then squat. And then I could be considered a “pioneer” and receive support from the government and various NGOs. But, an innocent Bedouin baby who lives there now and who’s parents, grandparents, and ancestors going back 700 or more years?


  4. Ilene Carson

    To Continue with allowing Israel to displace Palestinians and know remove Bedouin population from their rightful homes is the begining of a move to put all in one giant camp.

  5. DJ Blass

    I am a pretty strong supporter of the nation of Israel and have taken a lot of heat about this even from my fellow Jews. However this “plan” is absolutely horrifying and definitely a bridge too far. My opposition to this idea is absolute and unqualified. When I was in Israel I spent time in the Negev and visited with the Bedouin people both in their small villages and also wandering with their camels and livestock in the desert, which has been their traditional lifestyle for thousands of years. Historically they have been recognized as neutral indigenous people who are not a threat to Israel and given free right of passage that they are rightfully entitled to. This is a really horrifying power grad and smacks of colonialism. They have every right to be left alone.


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