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Ben-Gurion University
BGU Oren Yiftachel, February in NY: On-going dispossession of Bedouins in the Negev and the West Bank

Oren Yiftchel, Ben Gurion University, Geography. yiftach@bgu.ac.il

Editorial Note:
Professor Oren Yiftachel (BGU) is a pro-Bedouin activist, writing and speaking about the "on-going dispossession" of Bedouins in the Negev. IAM has published a number of works by geographers who question Yiftachel's "narrative," but his theme of dispossession is very popular with leftist and pro-Palestinian academic circles in the West, as the following lecture attests to.



Public Events

Tuesday, February 21st, 12:30p.m. -1:45p.m.


Land Struggle in Israel/Palestine

Oren Yiftachel, Ben Gurion University


Hagop Kevorkian Center at 50 Washington Square South (enter at 255 Sullivan Street).



Abstract Title:
Indigenous Challenge to Legal Doctrine: Bedouin Land Rights in Israel/Palestine

is part of the Paper Session:
Legal geography and the nomosphere, power and influence, session 2

scheduled on Sunday, 2/26/2012 at 14:40 PM.


Oren Yiftachel* - Ben-Gurion University


Abstract: The paper analyzes a recent challenge launched in court (the 'al-Uqbi case') against a long standing Israeli 'empty Negev' legal doctrine which has made it all but impossible for traditional land holders to gain legal ownership. The current challenge relates to global debates on issues of indigenous rights, customary law, legal pluralism and transitional justice.

Israeli legal doctrine maintains that lands held by indigenous Bedouins before 1948 should be classified as 'mewat' ('dead') and consequently be registered as state property, much like the 'terra nullius' approach in other settler societies.

This doctrine stands behind on-going dispossession of Bedouins in the Negev and the West Bank, which has caused decades of deprivation, poverty and pervasive criminalization, as well as modernizing urbanization for about half the Bedouins.

The paper presents a systematic challenge to the various pillars of the 'empty Negev' doctrine. It shows how Israel has 'emptied' the land 'backwards' by dispossessing Bedouins due to their ancestors' putative inaction vis the previous Ottoman and British regimes. The state refuses to recognize the autonomous legal system under which Bedouin managed their land prior to the Israeli regime. The discussion of the paper contributes both to theories of the legal geographies of settler societies, and to the on-going battle over democracy and human rights in Israel/Palestine.

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