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Ben-Gurion University
[BGU] Oren Yiftachel: Still Working Hard on Creating the Israel-South Africa Equivalency

Arab propagandist Michael C. Hudson, presents a token of appreciation to Yiftachel. MEI 2012


Editorial Note

Oren Yiftachel, a Geography professor at Ben Gurion University, must feel good these days.  Years after joining BGU he fulfilled his goal of using academic research for political gains.  Already in 1997 he described his political mission in a forum for Critical Geographers stating, "your list, as well as the Vancouver conference and several recent journals are helping us in 'diffusing' critical material which may have some long-term effect on students and faculty".  In his book Ethnocracy: Land and Identity Politics in Israel and Palestine, published in 2004, he identified himself as a neo-Gramscian, a term used by neo-Marxist, critical scholars to denote their intent of mixing scholarship and politics in the service of social change, a vision of the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci.  

Yiftachel admitted as much when he wrote on his homepage that since 1993 he "has tried to combine teaching and activism for social and political justice. Co-founded and was an active member in a range of organizations working to assist Arab-Jewish peace, anti-colonialism and social equality in Israel/Palestine".  

Yiftachel was the first Jewish-Israeli academic to define Israel as an apartheid state.  Though Judge Sarah Dovrat denounced Yiftachel's expertise work as shoddy, he forged on, becoming the most quoted “authority” on apartheid.  

Not coincidentally, the “apartheid scholarship” has been used by the BDS movement on campuses.  Yiftachel may think it is his great scholarship that made him the “most quoted” but it is most likely, his political agenda that drives his success. 


Yiftachel has now gone one step further.  He is now involved in a new project by Zochrot, a radical group seeking the right to return of Palestinian refugees from 1948 into Israel.  As the invitation indicates, Zochrot and Yiftachel chose to call it Truth Commission on the Responsibility of Israeli Society for the Events 1948-1960 in the South.  

As well known, a Truth Commission was created by the South African government after the collapse of apartheid.  Though the event does not mention the term apartheid, the equivalency has been bolstered.  


Truth Commission on the Responsibility of Israeli Society for the Events of 1948-1960 in the South
Public Event on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 in Beersheba / Bir al-Saba’ 10:00-19:00 Leonardo Hotel, 4 Henrietta Szold St. Beersheba
Design: Nirit Binyamini and Gila Kaplan

Event schedule: 

10:00-10:30 - Assembly and registration

10:30-11:00 - Foreword by the Commission Chair

11:00-11:45 - First panel | Reading archival testimonies

Archival Palestinian testimonies
Archival testimonies by 1948 fighters

11:45-12:00 - Coffee break

12:00-13:30 - Second panel | Live testimonies

Palestinian witness – first-generation refugee
Jewish witness – 1948 fighter

13:30-14:30 - Lunch break

14:30-16:00 - Third panel | Live and screened testimonies

Palestinian witness – first-generation refugee
Jewish witness – 1948 fighter
Screened testimony – Palestinian witness

16:00-16:30 - Coffee break

16:30-17:15 - Fourth panel | Expert witness

Prof. Oren Yiftachel – Geographical aspects and legal steps to displace the Bedouins in the south

17:15-18:00 - Fifth panel | Expert witness 

Dr. Safa Aburabia – Identity of place among Bedouin-Arab women of the 48 generation and their daughters

18:00-18:20 - Public discussion

18:20-19:00 - Summary by the Commission Chair

The event is free of charge. Please register in advance using this form.

Simultaneous interpretation will be provided in Arabic, Hebrew and English.

The event will be broadcasted live on the web. The link will be uploaded on the Facebook event page on December 10. 

Leonardo Hotel is within walking distance from the central train station and bus stations, as well as the Government Complex (Kiryat Hamemshala) parking lot. 

The witnesses are welcome to rest and refresh at the hotel’s business lounge.

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