Board & Mission Statement
Why IAM?
About Us
Articles by IAM Associates
Ben-Gurion University
Hebrew University
University of Haifa
Tel Aviv University
Other Institutions
Boycott Calls Against Israel
Israelis in Non-Israeli Universities
Anti-Israel Petitions Supported by Israeli Academics
General Articles
Anti-Israel Conferences
Anti-Israel Academic Resolutions
Lectures Interrupted
Activists Profiles
Readers Forum
On the Brighter Side
How can I complain?
Contact Us / Subscribe
Ben-Gurion University
Neve Gordon: Israel "Ethnically Cleansing" Bedouin Arabs. Also, [Sapir College] Yeela Raanan, Awad Abu-Freih


COMMUNIQUE: 28 July 2010

Israel "Ethnically Cleansing" Bedouin Arabs?

The demolition of an unrecognized Bedouin settlement in the Negev attracts some foreign media looking to fit the story into their own one-sided agenda.

 It had all the elements that the foreign press in Israel could have hoped for - a mass eviction accompanied by the destruction of homes, a large Israeli police presence, the potential for confrontation and, even better, the fact that those being evicted belong to the Arab minority within Israel.


So it was that CNN, BBC, AFP and the LA Times saw fit to cover the demolition of an unauthorized Bedouin settlement in the Negev region. Indeed, irrespective of the rights or wrongs of the issue, such scenes are never pleasant and involve some level of human suffering. The foreign media, however, based on the quotes of non-governmental organizations, managed to portray a complex story in very black and white terms.

Writing in The Guardian's Comment is Free, notorious anti-Zionist academic Neve Gordon, not even bothering to address the wider context of the demolition, even went as far as to state that he

suddenly understood how far the state is ready to go to accomplish its objective of Judaising the Negev region; what I witnessed was, after all, an act of ethnic cleansing.

While the rest of the media did not sink to Gordon's level of vitriol, most of them certainly did nothing to dispel a one-sided narrative that portrays Israel as the usurper of Arab land. The status of the Bedouin in Israel is far more complex, as is this particular case of the demolished unrecognized village. As the Jerusalem Post explains:

In the statement, the ILA [Israel Lands Authority] said that residents first "invaded" the area in 1998, were soon evicted, and returned a year later.

The ILA said residents had been asked to rent the land for agricultural purposes for NIS 2 per dunam (0.1 hectare), but "they refused to pay and continued to infiltrate the land year after year."

After an eviction notice was issued in 2003, the residents filed a petition that made its way to the High Court of Justice.

While the petition was being heard, the residents "continued to infiltrate and squat on state-owned land, and in fact expanded their infiltration through constructing illegal and unproved buildings, crudely trampling on the law," the ILA said.

In 2007, the Beersheba Magistrates's Court dismissed residents' request for a delay in implementation of the eviction orders and ruled that residents were "infiltrators repeatedly seizing state land after being evicted."

There are tens of thousands of illegal structures in Beduin communities in the country, and several thousand more are built each year; far more than the number the state manages to demolish. Many of these settlements lack basic services, with residents living "off the grid" and not paying municipal taxes.

As the Israeli press did, including the JPost and YNet, it is incumbent upon the media to include the necessary context and explanation. One is perfectly within one's rights to agree or disagree with Israeli government policies but it is wholly misleading to report on this story without including legal context.

As the ILA explains (PDF format):

In recent years, some of the Bedouin residing in the dispersed areas have started claiming ownership of land areas totaling some 600,000 dunams (60,000 hectares or 230 square miles) in the Negev – over 12 times the area of Tel Aviv!

The Israel Land Administration (ILA) is doing everything in its power to resolve the problems of the landless Bedouin in the Negev. Although this matter is exceedingly complex given the large number of claimants (15,000) who represent the clans of the original claimants, investigation of all land ownership claims has been recently expedited... Instead of prosecution, Israel proposes to settle the conflict by offering extremely generous settlements in return for the withdrawal of the Bedouin's ownership claims. By 2006, the ILA's efforts to reach compromise agreements with Bedouin land claimants had resulted in agreements regarding 150,000 dunams out of the 800,000 dunams under dispute.

In addition:

  • Israel is currently building 13 new villages or towns for the Negev Bedouin.
  • The government of Israel has allocated more than NIS1 billion for the benefit of this population.
  • The State of Israel is offering far-reaching benefits to Bedouin who leave the dispersion and move into permanent villages.

See here (PDF) for more on current Israeli and ILA policy towards the Negev Bedouin.

 Israeli society and the often forced process of urbanization is fraught with difficulties not to mention legal issues surrounding state owned land in the Negev.  

Sadly, in today's anti-Israel climate, it is but a small step from one-sided reports to the type of demonizing invective employed by Neve Gordon that promotes the lie of an Israel set on "ethnically cleansing" its Arab minority. Even worse that Comment is Free is more than happy to give Gordon and others a soap box to peddle such extremist and false views.

See here for more on the Bedouin in Israel.

HonestReporting. com


Ynet Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Negev Demolitions
   1,300 policemen guard razing of Bedouin village
Land Administration personnel demolish 45 illegal structures in al-Arakib village, near Rahat. 'Operation shows the true face of Lieberman's democracy,' village spokesman says
Ilana Curiel
Some 1,300 police officers equipped with helmets, batons and crowd-dispersal means arrived at the Bedouin village of al-Arakib on Tuesday, which is unrecognized by the State, in order to secure the demolition of 45 structures.
A woman was arrested and several Bedouins were detained for questioning during the razing, performed by the Israel Land Administration.
The officers arrived at the village early on Tuesday morning and were greeted by large bonfires, lighted by locals. The officers advised the villagers to evacuate the area before they commence the demolition prompting protest on the part of the residents and left-wing activists. 
Women and children watched as Land Administration bulldozers demolished their houses. Some grown men even wept. A group of left-wing activists clashed mildly with the officers.
"This is a declaration of war on the Bedouin residents," extreme left-wing activist Ezra Nawi proclaimed. Naomi, an activist from Jerusalem said: "An historical injustice is being performed here. These are people who lived here prior to the establishment of the State, which is now denying them of the most basic right for a roof over their heads. Most of them will be forced to live in the sands."
Al-Arakib spokesman and local resident Dr. Awad Abu-Farikh said following the razing: "Today we got a close glimpse of the government's true face. We were stunned to witness the violent force being used. The black-clad special unit forces are the true face of Lieberman's democracy. This operation is the first step in the uprooting of many villages. We shall return to our villages, build our homes and not leave this place."
Shlomo Tziser, an official with the Land Administration's southern district, noted that "the people who live here have homes in Rahat and Kfar Kassem. We are implementing a verdict for the evacuation of the area which has passed all legal instances. Today we shall evacuate them and should they return we'll do it again."


Report by Yeela Raanan, Sapir College:

Thousands of police evacuating and demolishing the village of El-Araqib in the Israeli Negev
Tuesday, 5:30am
by Yeela Raanan.
Thousands of police are in the village of el-Araqib right now - beginning a mass evacuation, demolition, and erasure of this historical Bedouin village.
if you have access to the media, please send them to this village as soon as possible!
the village of el-Araqib is between Rahat and Beer Sheva, and in a location that the Goldberg commission deemed outside of the areas allowed for the Negev Arabs... an area designated only for Jews... the JNF (Jewish National Fund) is planting a forest on this village lands - to make sure that the Bedouin cannot live on their village lands or use them for agriculture. the villagers turned to the israeli courts, as the JNF were planting this forest at the bequest of the Israeli government, but against israeli law... the people of el-Araqib won the court battle... but this morning it seems that the Government of Israel has started a war -- of the Government against its own citizens.
for more information: Dr. Yeela Raanan, Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages (RCUV). +972 54 7487005 








Alternative Information Center is co-chaired by Prof' Yossef Schwartz of Tel Aviv University:


Negev Demolitions: How You Can Help

Tuesday, 27 July 2010 13:15 Alternative Information Center (AIC)

The Alternative Information Center (AIC) spoke with Dr. Awad Abu Freih, spokesperson of the el Araqib village that Israel destroyed early this morning (27 July). Dr. Abu Freih is a member of the el Araqib Popular Committee and the Arab Education Forum in the Negev. 

According to Dr. Abu Freih, "it is crucial that we unite and struggle together, in order to survive and so we can remain in our village." Dr. Abu Freih stated that the villagers are currently "in need of everything, from money to rebuild and visits by activists to local and international media attention."

Dr. Abu Freih calls on internationals to help the Bedouins of el Araqib in their struggle for justice.  He urges anyone interested "to speak to the villagers and spend the day or night with them, to understand and make a difference."

The people of el Araqib are determined to remain on their land, and have stated their intention to rebuild.

For more information on how you can help, contact:

Dr. Awad Abu Freih: +972 (0) 52 2714020

Dr. Yeela Ranaan, Regional Council for the Unrecognised Villages (RCUV):

+972 (0)54 7487005; yallylivnat@gmail.com

Dr. Awad Abu Freih teaches at Sapir College



"Offensive" Against the Bedouins

Thursday, 22 July 2010 14:55 Dr. Awad Abu Freih, Hagada Hasmalit

Of late someone is pushing for a violent resolution of the many years of conflict between the Bedouins in the Negev and the state. Voices are heard of a new tsunami rolling toward us, it is already a major offensive, against the Bedouins wherever they may be.  


Each day settler associations working against us pop up, such as Regavim (the movement for the protection of national lands – AIC). The State Attorney's Office comes out against academics who "cooperate" with the Bedouins. And it appears that an orchestrated campaign to uproot the "unrecognized" villages is beginning.

The campaign is not a surprise, there were such things in the past. However, unlike the past, our detractors are not making due this time with an attack against the "invasion" of "national" territory. The campaign is also coming out against state authorities with the contention that "you distributed land generously and permitted the Bedouins to do as they wish."

Where are the Bedouins in this discourse? Not surprising to discover that they are not there. The discourse is being conducted between the state and itself. We were transparent when they planned the future of our villages. We were invisible when they transformed our homes and lands and the surroundings in which we lived for hundreds of years into an airport, a settlement for Jews only or a forest. We were present absentees when they didn't count us in the regional council elections.

We were not part of the discussion when they decided to "advance" us and "settle" us in "permanent" areas. They planned and "established" for us a living area according to their standards and not ours. They expected that we come as a herd at the end of the day and settle in our pens. And now they are angry that not all the herd was gathered. And that the herd even has demands.

Suddenly the Bedouins have opinions. And they have associations. And suddenly from nowhere appear "invasions." And suddenly even stone houses. And everything is perceived as surprising: as if the Bedouins were not here first. And as if they do not have rights. And everything in an atmosphere of urgency. Protecting the state! The Zionists, of course.

And suddenly a wave of criticism appears: why are they marrying and having children? Why were villages established for them? Why are they clinging to the land of their ancestors? And it is as if everything is new and requires urgent attention. "Lost is the Negev and lost is the state." And where did it go? To its Bedouin citizens!

Yet what has not changed? We are still not really citizens. We are transparent and lacking in dignity. We are nothings! We are freely cursed and people want to deport us, to uproot, destroy, reduce the birth rate and annul welfare payments. And everything is open, right before our eyes. We are dispossessed of every right to the land on which we live and they want to cram us into centralized towns – and everything is clear and out loud. No shame and no democracy.

We are dying of thirst and on the other side of the road the sprinklers spread the last drops of water from the Sea of Galilee onto the onion fields of the moshav (collective farming community-AIC). It doesn't matter. 37% of the residents of Rahat are unemployed and this concerns no one. The important thing is that there will finally be "attention to the Bedouin problem!"

A military government ruled over us for years. And even when the military governor left, the government remained and the style was preserved. They demolished homes, destroyed villages, added more police officers, attorneys, bought bulldozers, threw us out, established committees, decided for us, cancelled welfare payments and forgot budgets…

We knew one thing: they are speaking up, but we are living down. We were living all the time and every type of life: without water, without electricity, without health care….we lived and will continue to live.

You can again try to cram us in. You already tried and failed. Yet if you want to solve the 'problem', come talk as equal human beings. Enough of trampling our dignity. It is best to try and act differently.

If the government wants a solution, it must immediately halt the plans for displacement that are being crystallized and display some sanity before the big mistake that will be impossible to correct.

We have much experience in displacements. This is not new. We are Israeli citizens and Israeli refugees. Perhaps it is best to attempt something new? Maybe not any more by force?

If they wish to try something new, it is good to begin by examining ourselves vis-à-vis the wave of fear mongering: we hear the warning that shortly 200,000 Bedouin citizens will "grab" 500,000 dunam  of land. Perhaps. Why does that frighten you? The Jewish population exploits 12.5 million dunam of land and this frightens no one! We were asked in panic: why are the Bedouins "grabbing" the nation's land? Why is this so terrible? Where will we live? In the air? The Bedouins live on approximately 2% of the Negev area even though they are 28% of the area's residents!

Why are they arguing that "the Negev is lost"? Is it truly "lost"? Where did it go? Why should public opinion be frightened? And why now? Because the Bedouins began to demonstrate in Tel Aviv? Because finally in courts there are challenging hearings concerning the Bedouin rights to land? Because they wish to deter judges from ruling, heavens forbid, that a Bedouin has ownership over his land? Because it is pleasant and easy and comfortable to hate someone, more so if that someone is Arab?

They do not find a solution to the "Bedouin problem"? It is not so complicated. We will be happy to sit and plan our future. For example, villages with traditional Bedouin agriculture, which combine tradition with modernity…and for example, tourist villages; a moshav or two for Bedouins, a kibbutz or two. Why shouldn't we live in dignity, without unemployment and fear? What is wrong with us beginning to produce more, to pay more taxes? What is wrong if we truly change the situation?

We are weak. Excuse me, weakened. The one conducting this battle before us is the state, and it is very strong and drunk with power of late. What will we do? We will organize and seek advice. For now, as citizens, we will make due with passing a message to the government: do not push this peaceful and law-abiding community to dark corners. No good will come of this but the opposite We will send a second message, to the Jewish citizens, that they will not be caught up in the wave of racism: Friends, where are you when you are needed?

Dr. Awad Abu Freih  is a member of the Al-Arakib Land Defence Committee. This article was originally published in Hagada Hasmalit, a left-radical forum in the Hebrew language. Translated to English by the Alternative Information Center.



---- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 12:30 PM
Subject: Destruction of Bedouin Village

This is one of the harshest scenes I have witnessed in a long time, and it took place 10 minutes from our house.




For better times, Neve



Back to "Ben-Gurion University"Send Response
Top Page
    Developed by Sitebank & Powered by Blueweb Internet Services
    Visitors: 256829834Send to FriendAdd To FavoritesMake It HomepagePrint version