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Ethnic cleansing of Israeli Bedouins continues

by shergald Mon Dec 15th, 2008 at 04:03:18 PM EST

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The Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages (RCUV) located in the Negev desert of Israel has been working for years to attain justice for the Arab Bedouin people, who live in the Negev and have done so for centuries. In 1948, many Bedouins fled Israel fearing for their lives, becoming refugees in Gaza and the West Bank. Those who remained have since been subject to apartheid subjugation by the Israeli government, which has been attempting to get them off their traditional lands and way of life and settled into what is nothing less than bantustans. Living in these bantustans, 95% of the Bedouins have become cheap labor inside of Israel.

The plight of the Israeli Bedouins sounds much like what happened in South Africa during the Afrikaaner Apartheid period, when isolating Blacks and turning them into cheap labor prevailed.

This latest episode was reported by Josh Berer of the RCUV:

Since our establishment in 1997, we have struggled for recognition of our villages and our existence from the State of Israel, a state that describes itself as an oasis of democracy and human rights in the Middle East.  However, they deny us the most fundamental rights, and have seized ownership of our lands. We are deliberately excluded from the water, electrical, and road networks, as well as from committees dealing with the planning of the future of our villages. We cannot even vote in municipal elections, and as a result we are prevented from receiving adequate educational and health services as well.

Those who seek to divide us have failed in their attempt to separate us from the greater Palestinian people, of whom we are an integral part. They have tried to force us into a position of submission through the denial of basic services, by ignoring our presence and stating a goal of Judaizing the Negev. This policy is enacted through the concentration of the maximum number of Arabs on the minimum possible amount of land, and the minimum number of Jews on the maximum possible amount of land. Racist laws are enacted to this very day, used to justify this legal policy, the means and ends of which is the expulsion of an indigenous population from what we consider our land.

At five o'clock this morning more than 200 police and green patrol descended upon the Bedouin encampment of Abdallah al-Atrash, in the area of Rahat. Over the following 6 hours, they proceeded to demolish the entire village and forcibly expel all 20 families living there. Not a single structure was left standing, and all men, women, and children were pushed off their land.

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The court case had been in the courts since 2000, but 4 days ago the demolition and evacuation order was served in the village. The government had ordered them to vacate the land immediately, but provided no alternative location to go to. No solution was given, nor were any suggestions made; they were simply told 'go.'

They had been living in the same location for close to 20 years, after having been expelled from their previous homes farther to the west. The people belong to the Atrash tribe, and are likely to go live with relatives near Hura, in an unrecognized village of the Atrash. Some will stay on this land, and told members of the RCUV they plan to sleep amongst the rubble of their demolished homes tonight, until new tents can be erected on the land.

This expulsion comes days after the publication of the Goldberg Commission's recommendations, which advocated recognition for Bedouin villages to the east of Route 40. Abdallah al-Atrash lies to the west.


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Suppose a hundred years ago we had supported legislation that condoned the segregation of Black citizens in some southern states. Well it seems that our Supreme Court upheld laws that did just that? What would not be heard of since the Warren Court in 1964 is happening today in the Negev desert of Israel.

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I find it a shame that Shergald's diaries are so often neglected. Even if one doesn't have anything concrete to add, his diaries ought at least be recognized.

Otherwise there's a lingering impression either that Palestine is too controversial an issue for ET or no one cares. I suspect the former is the case.

So, let me add a stone to Shergald's edifice, if I may. I have nothing to lose.

From the RCUV accounts:

Since our establishment in 1997, we have struggled for recognition of our villages and our existence from the State of Israel, a state that describes itself as an oasis of democracy and human rights in the Middle East.

Why might a village 'struggle for existence'? To survive, in the most common sense, as in sustenance, trade and exchange, of course, but what the RCUV reports is that the Israeli state deprives inhabitants of the Negev of their due rights to water and electricity, necessities of life.

Moreover, for the self-proclaimed 'sole democracy in the Middle East', inhabitants of the Negev are deprived of political representation.

[Israelis] have tried to force us into a position of submission through the denial of basic services, by ignoring our presence and stating a goal of Judaizing the Negev.

Well, what about that?

Israel is violating the greatest number of UN resolutions of any nation since the creation of the UN. Gaza is under siege, vital tax monies, fuel and food are being withheld, homes, orchards and farmlands are being destroyed, the West Bank is being whittled away by unprecedented Israeli colonial expansion, and the people of the Negev are being treated as though they were non-entities.

Does that not bother anyone?

Where is the voice of the EU?

by Loefing on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 04:30:17 PM EST
I read anything Shergald posts, so a long overdue thanks for the sustained updates on the ongoing terror is in order. Though I have little to add.

The voice of EU can be found where it usually is, where ever it suits our national political elites and their pals in the monied lobbies of Brussels. And the plight of the arab inhabitants of Isreal and Palestine is no where on their agenda.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Dec 17th, 2008 at 07:30:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sad it is when silence prevails about a human rights issue, and when those who speak up about it (like Jimmy Carter) are denigrated.

Thanks for your comment.

by shergald on Thu Dec 18th, 2008 at 07:57:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree totally. Your diaries are very important for me because a) they voice what I suspect, but am unable to articulate, and b) because they pose important questions that are not debated elsewhere (ie. what I am programmed to look at)

My lack of comments to such diaries is out of ignorance of the details, not out of a lack of compassion.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Dec 19th, 2008 at 08:01:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks Loefing for adding substance to this issue pertaining to the Bedouin people in the Negev. Most of them were ethnically cleansed in 1948 and most of those now live in the Palestinian territories. Those that stayed have lived under threat of their existence ever since. It is almost a replay of the apartheid policies of Afrikaaner South Africa before the 90s.

This is a controversial subject but it should not be ignored for that reason.

Thanks again.

by shergald on Thu Dec 18th, 2008 at 07:55:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I find it a shame that Shergald's diaries are so often neglected. Even if one doesn't have anything concrete to add, his diaries ought at least be recognized.

I think the problem is one of style more than of substance. Frankly, this diary reads like it's written for a newspaper. That style is well suited for getting one's point across to casual reader. It's poorly suited, however, for encouraging active participation. Which I think is a strong component of the lukewarm reception such diaries may get.

Otherwise there's a lingering impression either that Palestine is too controversial an issue for ET or no one cares. I suspect the former is the case.

You've been reading too much DailyKos. I think you'll have to search far and wide around here to find anybody who won't agree that Israel routinely violates international law and common decency. But I'll admit that the topic probably doesn't generate as much interest as it would for an American audience. Israel is, after all, chiefly an American problem, and given the current geopolitical situation, the solution (if any) will chiefly be an American solution.

Is that to say that nobody cares? Yes and no.

No in the sense that of course I care, in much the same way that I care about Indochina or Central Africa: When I become aware of a new development, I follow it and judge it in the context of geopolitics in general and the European geopolitical stance in particular.

Yes in the sense that of course I care, in much the same way that I care about Indochina or Central Africa: I don't think that Palestine is particularly special - there are many and more repressive regimes around the world, and many and more of them are client states of this or that major geopolitical actor.

There is a strong case for changing Europe's geostrategic stance, but that case does not stand or fall with Palestine alone, any more than it stands or falls with Nigeria, Somalia or Sierra Leone individually.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Dec 18th, 2008 at 08:39:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the problem is one of style more than of substance.  
There is no style rule on ET, so that is a baseless cop out.  

Israel is, after all, chiefly an American problem,

It is a USA-worsened problem, but the reality is a basic human rights problem, EU included, so washing our hands doesn´t help.

the same way that I care about Indochina or Central Africa:  
We could use diaries in all those issues if you are informed, because they are our problems also.  Think of labor and resource exploitation in favor the north world production and trade.

Europe's geostrategic stance, but that case does not stand or fall with Palestine alone, any more than it stands or falls with Nigeria, Somalia or Sierra Leone individually.  
Therefore.... we can ignore all of them and do nothing about any of them?  It´s too simplistic to keep kicking the ball out of the park, so we don´t have to be bothered, while so many of our companies are exploiting those very countries and are directly implicated in the abuses and government corruption.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Fri Dec 19th, 2008 at 06:49:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We can run around agitating for this or that oppressed group forever and beyond, but until and unless the structural and economic reasons for the oppression are addressed, we'll be pissing into the wind: As long as the underlying causes are not addressed, new outrages will develop faster than we can hope to deal with the old ones. Individual "outrage stories" don't contribute to any understanding of those issues, and while they have some utility as reminders, I hardly think anybody here needs to be reminded of the Palestinian situation on a weekly basis...

Therefore.... we can ignore all of them and do nothing about any of them?

Straw man much? All I'm saying is that I would like a little context and a sense of proportion. Horrible as Palestine is, it is not the only human rights disaster in the world - it's not even the worst one. Now, I don't think human rights disasters generally get the attention they deserve, but I'm a little tired of pro-Palestinian activists - however worthy their cause - whining that Palestine (Palestine, note, not human rights abuses in general) doesn't get enough attention. It's repetitive, it's preachy and it's boring. Two out of those three, I can live with. All three... not so much.

I think the problem is one of style more than of substance.
There is no style rule on ET, so that is a baseless cop out.

It's an observation, not a cop out. I can read press releases on Ritzau, I don't need ET for that. You'll note that the PES people who sent an activist over here to do some viral marketing for their cause don't get a lot of attention paid to their diaries either. Not because the stuff they write about isn't interesting, but because they're writing in press-release style, not blog post style. Which is a pity, actually, because a lot of those diaries could have been very good if they hadn't sounded like run-of-the-mill propaganda.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 19th, 2008 at 08:25:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Horrible as Palestine is, it is not the only human rights disaster in the world

Save for the fact that it's a pillar of the Global War on Torror.

by Loefing on Fri Dec 19th, 2008 at 08:41:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'terror', sorry
by Loefing on Fri Dec 19th, 2008 at 08:44:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not quite sure what that implies...

As far as I can tell, the GWoT is a label that's applied to any conflict that the American government wants to gin up domestic support for and/or prevent from falling into domestic disrepute. I'm far from convinced that that label has anything much to do with the facts on the ground.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 19th, 2008 at 08:51:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, come on.
by Loefing on Fri Dec 19th, 2008 at 09:24:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well this is nothing short of an astonishing comment.

I think the problem is one of style more than of substance. Frankly, this diary reads like it's written for a newspaper.

"It reads like", you say, but you don't venture to elaborate as to your objections to the substance of the diary, nor do you provide counter arguments or substance.

You've been reading too much DailyKos. I think you'll have to search far and wide around here to find anybody who won't agree that Israel routinely violates international law and common decency. But I'll admit that the topic probably doesn't generate as much interest as it would for an American audience. Israel is, after all, chiefly an American problem, and given the current geopolitical situation, the solution (if any) will chiefly be an American solution.

I neither read nor contribute to DailyKos, thank you, and the notion that Israel is "an American problem" is perfectly preposterous! Please substantiate this statement. Is it an admission that the UN has been gutted of its authority and that US foreign policy has become "the law"?

Yes in the sense that of course I care, in much the same way that I care about Indochina or Central Africa: I don't think that Palestine is particularly special

This is the cheap fall-back argument that because Africa, Indochina and the Ile de Nullepart are mistreated the present embargo and starvation of the Palestinians is no big deal.

This argument is a nonsequitur. Europe has everything to do with the the problems in Palestine. Everything! From 1918 to this day. And that the EU should be shirking its duty, withholding its contribution to a peace settlement in Palestine is, in my view, nothing short of scandalous.

by Loefing on Fri Dec 19th, 2008 at 07:22:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the notion that Israel is "an American problem" is perfectly preposterous! Please substantiate this statement. Is it an admission that the UN has been gutted of its authority and that US foreign policy has become "the law"?

The UN has been a bad joke since the collapse of the Soviet Union - at least.

But on the substance, Israel is in the US sphere of influence - are you going to contest that fact? And as long as the Americans keep running guns to Israel and giving them economic aid, Israel can keep having Apartheid.

Neither of those are of course inevitable: The UN could be restored to some semblance of relevance if and when one or more major powers decided to enforce UN decisions that go against the US and their clients. And Israel could probably be pried out of the US sphere of interest if we tried really hard.

But both of those venues of change fall under "general geopolitical considerations" - namely the consideration that we need to get our act together and stop being nice, well-behaved vassals for the American empire. Until and unless Europe takes an independent, credible stance in favour of human rights and rule of law, Europe cannot do anything about Palestine.

This is the cheap fall-back argument that because Africa, Indochina and the Ile de Nullepart are mistreated the present embargo and starvation of the Palestinians is no big deal.

This argument is a nonsequitur. Europe has everything to do with the the problems in Palestine. Everything! From 1918 to this day. And that the EU should be shirking its duty, withholding its contribution to a peace settlement in Palestine is, in my view, nothing short of scandalous.

It is not "no big deal" and it is scandalous. But it's the tail, it's not the dog. Until and unless something is done about the general, structural reasons that Europe supports mistreatment of people elsewhere in the world, nothing serious will be done about Palestine - all you will see is sternly worded letters, impressive-looking conferences and impeccably-dressed diplomats that say nothing much at all.

Look at the whole dog, not just at the tail. That's all I'm trying to say here.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Dec 19th, 2008 at 08:42:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no question that the issue of Palestine is just one of many human rights injustices going on today across the world, in which the US and the EU are implicated. So you are not incorrect. They too should be talked about and publicized, the emphasis being on "too." We need to engage them all.

B'Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, just opened a branch in the US, following a move of the Israel Committee Against House Demolition (ICAHD), which now has subsidiaries in the US and Britain in order to better publicize the Palestinian rights issue.

Should they instead remain silent, just because they are advocating for a small part of the elephant?

by shergald on Sat Dec 20th, 2008 at 09:48:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Loefing:
Well this is nothing short of an astonishing comment.

I think the problem is one of style more than of substance. Frankly, this diary reads like it's written for a newspaper.

"It reads like", you say, but you don't venture to elaborate as to your objections to the substance of the diary, nor do you provide counter arguments or substance.

I read Jakes comment as a blunt statement of facts.

In my opinion, what generates a lot of discussion on ET is controversial statements (see Valentin for examples) or interesting details that can be sorted out (looka at the recent Croatia thread). Palestine is neither, it is a tragedy. Shergald would probably cause much more discussion if s/he wrote a diary that argued that Israels policies are proportional, justified or something like that. Actually I think there are such threads, not started by Shergald though.

A personal approach - I was here, I did this, I felt this - also brings comments but of a different kind. Sharing begets sharing. Oh, appeals for help also generates comments, as long as the appeal is concrete and within the means of the readers.

Shergald writes well-written reports, but generally speaking that is not what generates discussion here.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Dec 21st, 2008 at 04:20:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that Palestine diaries don't get enough attention is sad and I think it reflects our helplessness to make a difference.  

However that does not, in any way, force JakeS to repeatedly comment on a subject he feels is not important to him, so I don´t see the purpose.  The comments reflect denial and rational escapism, from not wanting to deal with the human tragedies it entails, in Palestine, or elsewhere. That diminishes and distracts from the subject and discourages discussion.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sun Dec 21st, 2008 at 06:27:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I do read every one, but am wary of commenting in case the site gets flooded by people yelling that we're all anti-semites.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Dec 21st, 2008 at 06:52:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All the comments I have seen here are clearly pro-human rights, so I hope there is no chance of that  contamination from US blogs´ fears.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sun Dec 21st, 2008 at 07:59:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
metavision:
The fact that Palestine diaries don't get enough attention is sad and I think it reflects our helplessness to make a difference.

I agree.

metavision:

However that does not, in any way, force JakeS to repeatedly comment on a subject he feels is not important to him, so I don´t see the purpose.  The comments reflect denial and rational escapism, from not wanting to deal with the human tragedies it entails, in Palestine, or elsewhere. That diminishes and distracts from the subject and discourages discussion.

I guess I read Jake a bit differently. I read his comments as an attempt to explain the lack of comments, despite the ongoing tragedies.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Dec 21st, 2008 at 07:19:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I realise this turns into very meta-comment territory (pun so intended). And I am sick of feeling helpless and being cynical about it.

Lets get some ET-activism instead!

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Dec 21st, 2008 at 07:51:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Look at the whole dog, not just at the tail. That's all I'm trying to say here.

Sure, let's watch while the dog eats everything we possess and then bargains the common wealth in exchange for more food.

But we're veering way off topic, here.

The subject is the people of the Negev.

What do you think about their lot in life?

You must be familiar with this map, no?:


by Loefing on Fri Dec 19th, 2008 at 09:53:20 PM EST


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