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No Dams in the Negev? Anatomy of a Hasbara Swarm

By Richard Edmondson | Fig Trees and Vineyards | January 5, 2014

niramres

The Nir Am Reservoir lies near the town of Sderot, in southern Israel. This view of the reservoir shows the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun in the background.

“How can we return the occupied territories? There is no one to return them to.”
—Golda Meir

“There are no dams in the Negev.”
—Hasbara talking point

In the week before Christmas, the Zionist-hasbara crowd came out swinging in response to comments by Palestinian officials that Israel had opened dams east of Gaza and thereby further aggravated the flood disaster then engulfing the coastal territory.

In a December 18 article published at Commentary magazine, Jonathan S. Tobin accused Palestinians of “blaming Israel for the weather” and insisted that “there are no dams in the region bordering Gaza.” His article additionally included a link to my own site, richardedmondson.net, as well as to a Press TV video on YouTube, and went on to express the cheerless lament that “purveyors of Jew hatred” (presumably like myself) have come to “dominate” Palestinian politics with the result of keeping alive “false hope about Israel’s eventual destruction.”

Tobin’s article, headlined “Hamas Asks You to Buy a Dam in the Negev,” called attention to an article in the Times of Israel, also with an evocative headline—“How Hamas Used the Weather to Defame Israel”—and both articles referenced statements by two Palestinian officials in Gaza which the writers deemed as erroneous and defamatory toward Israel.

The two officials named were Yasser Shanti, chairman of Gaza’s Disaster Response Committee, and Muhammad Al-Maidana, a Civil Defense spokesperson. Shanti is said to have told journalists late in the day on December 13 that Israel had opened dams east of Gaza, causing even greater flooding within the coastal territory than what was already then taking place. And in what both Tobin, as well as his colleague at the Times of Israel, viewed as but a slight “variation” on Shanti’s comments, Al-Maidana is reported to have said that “sewage canals” (rather than dams) were opened, and that these also (or instead of) were to be found east of the Gaza Strip.

“There is only problem with these claims (sic),” said Tobin. “While Israelis have made the southern portion of the country bloom via ingenuity and clever irrigation schemes, dams are a scarce commodity in a desert region without rivers or lakes. In fact there are no dams in the region bordering Gaza.”

I first became aware that something stupendous was happening in Gaza when a friend emailed me an article by Gaza journalist Mohammed Omer, headlined Gaza Returns to Donkey Days, which I posted on December 6. This was actually a few days before the arrival of winter storm Alexa, but Omer noted that homes in Gaza were already flooding due to rain, power outages, and backed-up sewage. He also noted that streets were lined with garbage because there was no fuel to run the garbage trucks, and that the job of refuse collection had been relegated to people driving donkey carts. Accompanying the story was a photo of a girl sitting on a donkey cart parked next to a pile of litter:

gazadonkey

Then came winter storm Alexa. On December 12 I posted a second report from Omer and also I began making periodic visits to In Gaza, a website that had begun posting information on the disaster that it was collecting from a variety of sources. Included in their material were some stunning photos and videos showing streets completely inundated and people paddling in boats. I thought back to the December 6 article by Omer, and it didn’t take much imagination to figure out the water that those people were paddling around in and wading through was filled with garbage and sewage.

gazaflood5

All of this I began reposting at my own site—including an article from Ma’an News Agency in which Shanti’s comments were reported. Here is an excerpt from that article:

BETHLEHEM — The Gaza government’s Disaster Response Committee announced late Friday that Israeli authorities had opened up dams just east of the Gaza Strip, flooding numerous residential areas in nearby villages within the coastal territory.

Committee chairman Yasser Shanti said in a press conference that Israeli authorities had opened up dams just to the east of the border with the Gaza Strip earlier in the day.

He warned that residential areas within the Gaza Valley would be flooding within the coming hours.

Could Israel really have done what Shanti said they did? Does it really have the capability to flood Gaza? And if it did do this, what were its reasons? Were they as outright despicable as one might initially jump to conclude, or were there perhaps mitigating circumstances?

With all this in mind, on December 17 I put up a post entitled Did Israel Deliberately Flood Gaza? I made no accusations in the article. I merely asked the question. But one thing I had discovered was that if Israel did open dams or somehow divert water into Gaza, it would not be the first time, or at least it was not the first time it had been accused of such. What I had come across was a 2010 Press TV report in which Palestinians in Gaza had leveled almost identical charges to those they were making last month. The story is told in the video, which I embedded into my article and which you’ll find at the above link. With scenes of flooding as a backdrop, the Press TV reporter narrates:

The Valley of Gaza, once a dry basin, turned into a raging river on Monday night. At approximately 6 p.m. hundreds of families in the central Gaza Strip fled their neighborhoods as water gushed into their homes. Israel had opened one of its dams located to the east of the central Gaza Strip, allowing water to spill into and flood two Palestinian towns.

Just below the video I wrote the following words:

If Israel did this in 2010, does it beggar belief they would have done the same thing again this past week? If they did, the question then becomes did they do it out of a) a need to divert flooding from their own communities in Israel, or b) pure malice?

The following day, December 18, Tobin published his article in Commentary:

It should first be noted that the original sources for the claim that Israel opens dams to flood Gaza come from Iran’s Press TV. That font of journalistic integrity floated stories in 2010 and 2012 that spoke of Israeli authorities flooding Gaza by opening dams that supposedly exist to the east of the Gaza strip. But these stories provide no maps showing the site of the dams or documentation about them. Neither that shortcoming nor even a basic knowledge of the geography of the area has stopped Israel-bashers from continuing to blog or tweet links to these fallacious reports.

In the passage above, the link coded into the date “2010” is to my own article, “Did Israel Deliberately Flood Gaza?”, while the one almost immediately adjacent to it is to yet another Press TV video—also on dams being opened east of Gaza—this one from two years later. And here I have to give a hat tip to Tobin, for I was unaware of this second Press TV report. But like the first one, the report from 2012 features footage of flooding in Gaza (though different footage from that shown in the 2010 report) along with allegations from local residents and officials that dams were opened. Also, curiously, in both reports the flood-stricken area is more or less the same… the central Gaza valley… suggesting that in both instances the water possibly was released… again, if it was released… from the same location.

Also on December 18 we got our hasbara swarm. I would hasten to add, though, that the swarm that descended upon us was not near the size of the one that came down on Ma’an News (more about which in a moment), but at any rate our first comment was posted by “Sarah” at 11:24 a.m. She wrote:

I’m not sure if my favorite part is when they claim that the water reached 5 meters in some places (maybe they don’t know what a meter is?) or when they showed the picture of the Mediterranean Sea claiming that to be flood water. Or of course the fun non-fact that Israel opened its non-existent dams. That one had my sides almost splitting.

The water shown in the Press TV report was clearly not from the Mediterranean Sea (unless there was an unreported tsunami that day), but my reply to Sarah was as follows:

Maybe the solution, Sarah, is for Israel to end its blockade of Gaza, as the UNRWA official has called upon them to do. By imposing its blockade Israel bears ultimate responsibility for fuel shortages and other problems that have led to this disaster–and ultimately is going to be blamed, either justly or unjustly, for whatever calamities occur in the course of it. By the way, Israel has at least one dam that I know of, the Degania Dam on the Jordan River.

My comment about the Degania Dam, located on the Jordan River at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, prompted accusations that I was either a lunatic or else clueless about geography, and that there was no way water from a dam at that location could have flooded Gaza. I, of course, had not made such a claim; I had merely pointed out to Sarah that her remark about Israel’s “non-existent dams” was not entirely accurate, and that there was at least one.

A System of Reservoirs and the Israeli National Water Carrier

As it turns out, however, there are other dams in Israel, including in the Negev. The desert region also has reservoirs. A click here will take you to a location on Google Maps showing you the town of Sderot in southern Israel. Directly to the west of the town lies the Kibbutz Nir Am, and due west of the kibbutz you will see the Nir Am Reservoir. It sits on a point overlooking Gaza. Move the map to the south and west and you will see four additional reservoirs, all lying along Israel’s border with Gaza. With a capacity of 1.5 million cubic liters of water, the Nir Am is the largest of these five reservoirs, but all are connected. The image below shows what is known as the National Water Carrier of Israel. It is a system of giant pipes, canals, tunnels and pumping stations, by means of which water is pumped from the Sea of Galilee in the northern part of the country, down to the coastal areas surrounding Tel Aviv, and finally to the Negev Desert in the south. The system is operated by Mekorot, Israel’s national water company.

watercarrier

You’ll note that the blue lines represent fresh water, while the red line leading down around Gaza and into the Negev contains treated sewage. The water in this line is used for agricultural purposes.

The National Water Carrier began pumping water in 1964. Here is what the system looked like as it was being constructed.

watercarrier

Also perhaps of interest, especially to those who claim there are “no dams in the Negev,” is the system of limans—small, manmade bodies of water throughout the desert that were created for irrigation and also as a means of combatting soil erosion and desertification. Limans catch runoff from wadis when they occasionally flood. Each liman has a small dam. According to the Jewish National Fund, there are approximately 420 limans in the Negev. Below is a photo of one:

liman

But limans, as you can see, are rather small. Likewise the dams, referred to as “check-dams,” that are built into them. They’re also scattered out over a wide area, and the chance they may have been a factor in the flooding of Gaza is remote. But also at the Jewish National Fund website is a proud history of the work it has done in developing various parts of Israel, including the Negev, and including apparently dams. In the following passage, the letters “JNF-KKL” are the English and Hebrew acronyms for the organization spliced together. It is how the Jewish National Fund refers to itself in this article. Here is an excerpt:

JNF-KKL spread out to the south, to the edge of the Arava. Some 25 percent of all tree plantings in the 1980′s were carried out in the Negev, bringing its forest area to a total of 45,000 acres. Army camps that had been set up in the Negev after the evacuation of the Sinai were planted with JNF-KKL trees to create shelter from the burning sun, shield soldiers and equipment from dust storms, and provide some respite for those soldiers stationed in the harsh desert.

JNF-KKL began to focus a large part of its attention on the burgeoning water crisis during this period. Towards the end of the 1980′s, JNF-KKL carried out a number of large-scale water conservation projects, building dams and reservoirs. These vital projects allowed JNF-KKL to capture rainwater run-off when the infrequent rains did fall, water which would have otherwise been lost to the sea.  Reservoirs were built in the Arava Valley, at Reshafim in the Beit She’arim Valley, and at Kedma near Kiryat Gat. An artificial lake was built in Timna Park in the southern Negev.

Additional references to dams in the Negev—and particularly adjacent to Gaza—can also be found in a book entitled Water and Peace in the Middle East, edited by J. Isaac and H. Shuval and published in 1994 (hat tip to “Lana”, commenter number 25 ). Here is an excerpt :

Wadi Gaza which flows during the winter season, originating from the Hebron mountains in the east and ends at the sea shore south of Gaza, has been blocked by Israel. Several dams were built along the way preventing the water from flowing into the Gaza Strip which otherwise would have provided a valuable source of water to be used for irrigation and for compensation for the lost pumped out water. There are no known figures of the amount of water this wadi brings, but it would have been a great help to the irrigation in the middle zone of Gaza.

Note, of course, the words “the middle zone of Gaza.” Recall also that both Press TV reports, from 2010 and 2012, described the flooding as occurring in the central area of Gaza. Hearken back also to the announcement by Shanti this past December 13, as reported by Ma’an:

He warned that residential areas within the Gaza Valley would be flooding within the coming hours.

Flooding in central Gaza, and the opening of dams there, is also mentioned in this report, posted December 15, from the Palestine Information Center:

GAZA – Hundreds of houses in central Gaza Strip were flooded as the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Saturday afternoon opened the earth dams east of the town of Wadi Salaqa in Deir al-Balah.

The IOF established many earth dams east of the Gaza Strip to collect rainwater to use it; however in case the levels of water increase they open these dams and water flows to Gaza.

Palestinian sources told Quds Press that the rescue teams and civil defense have evacuated 40 families including 200 people from the town of Wadi Salaqa and brought them to a shelter center.

The sources added that 300 families have been moved to the shelter center of Hussein School run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees “UNRWA” in Jabalya north of the Gaza Strip.

The Municipality of Gaza appealed to the residents living in low-lying areas in the Gaza Strip to evacuate their homes before the evening for fear their houses will be flooded with rainwater.

The town of Deir al-Balah, cited in the lead paragraph above, is mentioned in a lot of other reports on the Gaza flooding as well.

floodrefuge

The area seems to have been especially hard hit. If you look at it on Google Maps you will see that it is pretty much smack dab in the middle of Gaza. But just a few miles to the south and west of there lies the town of Khan Yunis, where a 21-year-old girl named Rana lives. Rana wrote the following report… and yes, she too mentions the dams:

My name is Rana. I have lived in the city of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip all 21 years of my life. What is happening in Gaza is not fiction but a bitter reality, which we lack the means to defend ourselves against. In the last few days, an unusually powerful storm has flooded many areas, displacing hundreds of residents from their homes. Children are without shelter from the cold and rain. Entire neighbourhoods are sinking.

My family and I spent four days in darkness in below freezing weather: no electricity, no water and no heat. I was so cold, I couldn’t leave my bed and the small comfort it and my blankets provided. The cold felt like it penetrated my bones. Yet, I am lucky. I witnessed many people as they became homeless, their children desperate for food and warmth.

Friends called to tell me about the flooding and freezing in their areas. I felt bad, unable to help.

Power lines are down and our streets are filled with raw sewage. Greenhouses have been destroyed, affecting farmers and reducing the already minimal food supply we Gazans are forced to survive on.

Making conditions worse, Israel opened two dams, releasing a torrent of water that inundated many homes. As their houses sank, some of my neighbours nearly drowned. Fortunately, rescue workers came to their aid.

All of this was not enough for Israel. Its soldiers have been shooting at civilians in the village of Khuza’a, to the east of my city. Unarmed residents, women and children, attempting to flee the flooded town, were driven back for fear of being shot.

Israel’s action, assisted by the world’s silence, increases our suffering. Where is the international law we hear so many people talk about but never implement? Where is the community that talks about justice and humanitarian support? If my people are prevented from obtaining the basic requirements of life at least we should speak up and raise our voices.

Another storm is expected to hit my vulnerable homeland next week, bringing with it more suffering and more homelessness. When will the world wake up and treat us like human beings?

Rana Alshami, Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip

If you once again go to Google Maps you will notice that Khan Yunis lies in fairly close proximity to two reservoirs. Of the five reservoirs Israel maintains along the Gaza border, these are the two southernmost. They are small, but if water somehow were diverted from them, the effect upon the people in the nearby Gazan villages would probably be not inconsiderable.

But of course, it isn’t only central Gaza that was inundated in the recent flood. In a story posted at Ma’an News on December 13, reporter Alex Shams reports particularly heavy flooding also in the northern Gaza Strip.

BETHLEHEM — The Gaza Strip was pounded by fierce winds and rain again on Friday as flooding reached dangerous levels in many areas, forcing thousands to flee their homes amid widespread power outages as temperatures plunged into the single digits.

The flooding was worst in the northern Gaza Strip, where hundreds fled their homes and water levels reached 40-50 cm in some parts, forcing residents to use boats to navigate their neighborhoods.

In the same article, Shams goes on to quote Chris Gunness, of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, who also notes heavy flooding in the north:

UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness told Ma’an, “In Gaza there is a significant problem with flooding in the north, specifically in Jabaliya, and UNRWA staff has been working all night,”

“An UNRWA staff member reported that there were three meters of water surrounding his house,” he added, pointing out that water had come up to the first floor in some areas.

Here’s Jabaliya on Google Maps. Move the map southeast by northeast and you will see the other three reservoirs. Note that all three lie in fairly close proximity to Jabaliya.

Let’s turn our attention once more to the northernmost of these—the Nir Am Reservoir.

The Nir Am Reservoir is pictured in the photo at the very top of this post. Look real closely at it. You are standing on the southeastern side of the reservoir, looking out across it, with the skyline of the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun showing in the background.

Below is the reservoir as it is shown on Google Maps, with Sderot to the east, Beit Hanoun to the west, and the reservoir lying in between.

niram

And here is the Google Earth view, though from a slightly different perspective—with the side of the reservoir facing Beit Hanoun shown in the foreground.

niramres3

You can also go here and see a series of 30 photos shot as the reservoir was under construction in 1996. Click on any image to enlarge the photos, and then enlarge them even further by playing with the zoom controls that show up. The photos are under copyright of the Jewish National Fund and are in repository at the Widener Library at Harvard University.

Question: Was a means of diverting water from the Nir Am Reservoir into Gaza built into the system when it was constructed, or, alternately, has one been added since? And if the answer to that is yes, did someone, say perhaps from the nearby town of Sderot, feeling himself divinely chosen by God and aggrieved over the landing of the occasional rocket, slip out during the Alexa downpour to pull the switch, open the floodgate, and release the tide? It is probably impossible for us to know the answer to this, but very much worth keeping in mind is the National Water Carrier and its lines running parallel to Gaza’s border. Theoretically the release point, if such exists, would not necessarily have to have been to be at the Nir Am Reservoir. It could be anywhere along this line. Or, there could be more than one release point. Which might explain why especially heavy flooding was recorded in both northern and central Gaza.

Or—as I say—there may be no way of diverting any of this water, not so much as a single drop, into Gaza whatsoever… although my own personal hunch is this is unlikely.

But one thing is for certain. The hasbara crowd, ever convinced of Israel’s virtue and goodness, ever convinced also of the inviolability of their own “Jewish values,” are of the mind that a deliberate flooding of Gaza is unthinkable, and moreover seem convinced that only the vilest purveyors of “Jew hatred” could even contemplate such a thing.

“The Damn Dams Don’t Exist”

Most of us have encountered hasbara swarms on the Internet. You get to recognize them after a while. Such a swarm hit Ma’an News following publication of its initial report on the dams on December 13. A total of 77 comments were posted in response to that article. Given that it has been common knowledge for a while that Israel organizes and recruits teams of people to post comments favorable to the Jewish state on the Internet, it is not unreasonable to assume that at least some of those who descended upon Ma’an were being paid to do so. At any rate, the comments began lickety-split. The very first person to respond to the article, apparently only shortly after it was published, was “Abe.”

How far will Hamas go! Now they blame the weather on ISRAEL!!

comments

Many of the comment posters felt oh-so-acutely aggrieved—not over the fact that Palestinians were literally swimming in sewage, but that a “false” accusation had been made against Israel. The following comments, including grammatical errors and misspellings, are reproduced verbatim et literatim.

Said “Hanzie”:

Blame you Mr. Editor! The IDF are helping these Palestinians instead of these liars. Complain, complain, complain. Get a life, start to build something up, instead of this looser beheviour.

And “Ros D”:

To those asking if this is true – this article is complete and utter lies. Israel has transferred water pumps and fuel to Gaza to help them. They also transfer tons of aid given every week. As for those maintaining Israel is a terrorist state and the usual BS, all I can say is, there are gaps in their ignorance.

A common theme running through many of the comments was that there are no dams or rivers east of Gaza. Said “Lilith”:

ANYONE BEEN THERE?? I have and there are no rivers. Look on a map. Once again this has nothing to do with Israel in fact Israel took pumps in to get rid of the water. So suck it up twits.

“Sam” (who probably intended to say “west” of the Jordan River):

LOL. There are no dams or rivers east of the Jordan river. What a pathetic lie.

“yon7391”:

There are no rivers east of Gaza. So who would build dams in the wadi? Even without dams, the rains would have brought flooded wadi for a few hours. It is a fact of life in desertic flood plains. This too happens in Arizona and New Mexico and is it Israel’s fault? Probably not since Hamas does not rule Arizona… Yet.

“Michael Greenwald”:

Dear Editor, there are no rivers in Israel immediately east of Gaze. So, there are no dams. Perhaps you are referring to one or several of the wadis. These run during heavy rains as is happening now all over the Med and middle?east. The area getting?flooded is called a “flood plain,” implying “do not build there.” But every once in a while there is a flash flood and when that happens the Gazans blame it on israel.

“Natan” (apparently an Israeli):

If someone could tell me where these dams are I shall personally make a trip to photograph them and post on this site. The whole scenario is totally ridiculous – pls. people check your facts.

Other Israelis, elsewhere on the Internet, were also defending their country from the “defamatory” accusations regarding the dams. In an article entitled “Gaza and Their Dam Lies,” published December 19 at JewishPress.com, Paula Stern wrote:

I keep thinking that someone will look at this and get a real laugh. Oh, not for the tragedy of three people dying and 5,000 being evacuated…but about blaming Israel for the worst storm of the century and saying we opened the dams.

We didn’t. We really didn’t. And we didn’t – because the damn dams, damn well don’t exist. That’s right…there are no dams that we dammed up…in fact, if I’m not mistake (sic), there are no dams at all between Israel and Gaza…and, if there are any rivers that flow into Gaza, well, by the time they get anywhere near Gaza, they’re more of a tiny, tiny, tiny stream than anything that anyone would ever call a river.

Stern managed to get through her article without saying anything particularly noxious about the Palestinians, but this was not quite the case with Tobin’s piece in Commentary. The author of that article believes “Hamas blames Israel for suffering in Gaza because that is the only way it can deflect responsibility from itself for the incompetent manner with which it rules the strip,” and he goes on to assert that “Palestinians buy it because it allows them to avoid taking responsibility for their own fate and for making peace.”

Or in other words, the Palestinians are irresponsible, shiftless, no-count, and lazy. It falls into the category of comment one might have heard from plantation owners during the era of slavery in the US, but give Tobin credit for one thing: he does use the word “Palestinians,” suggesting he at least recognizes they exist.

Unlike Tobin, some of the commenters at Ma’an crossed the border into open, sarcastic derision—not only in their denigration of the Palestinians, but also in their expressions of delight at the catastrophe then sweeping over Gaza.

“Adi”:

bwahahahahah now we in control of the weather as well? they to funny these choppie ignoramaces maybe we can do other things as well wooooooooo

“Walt”:

Interesting – except for Iranian and Palestinian “news” agencies, there is not a single reliable agency in the world that has reported this … because it’s a fake?

“southparkbear”:

it’s time to turn gaza to venice of the islamist world

At the same time, some professed to express sympathy for the Palestinian cause, as for instance “Dale”:

There is no dam or river. There is a reservoir and a one meter wall that can’t be opened or closed. During the storm it overflowed. Iam very disappointed that Maan would print such allegations without checking out the facts first. This destroys their credibility on other issues when they may be telling the truth. It is supposed to represent a “responsible” palestinian media. what a disappointment. when they hurt their credibility, they don’t help the palestinian cause

Although a number of Ma’an’s readers posted replies in response, some of which were quite good, the news agency itself seemed to have a policy of simply letting all comments stand on their own as posted (probably due to lack of staff). At any rate, nothing resembling an “official Ma’an response” can be found in any of the 77 comments.

This was not the case at our own site, where the hasbara swarm that hit on December 18 quickly escalated into a war of words, a war of words fueled at least as much by the direction of events in America as those in Gaza—if not more so.

“Get Your Scummy Lobby Out of My Congress”

Suppose a resolution were to be introduced into the US Senate not only increasing the likelihood of war with Iran, but also calling for the decision-making power as to whether America embarks upon such a war to be turned over to the government of Israel. Think about how you would feel if you were an American. It would probably make you pretty angry, would it not? Well, in fact such a bill was introduced on December 19, and sadly it is not the first time such traitorous legislation has come before Congress. Threatening to derail peace talks between Iran and the Obama administration by imposing even more sanctions, senate bill S.1881—the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013—contains the following provision:

if the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapon program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with the law of the United States and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence;

The bill was introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and has gained 33 cosponsors (so far). Click here to see a list of Israel’s deputy ministers in the US Senate who have signed onto the legislation.

Shortly after I posted my reply to “Sarah,” wherein, recall, I pointed out the existence of the Degania Dam and suggested that an end to the Gaza blockade might be the solution to the problem and even in Israel’s best interest, a comment was posted by “George Metesky”:

Um… Richard, we would love to end the blockade if it were safe to do so. Only when Gazans declare their desire to live in peace with Israel can we consider this possibility. The Jordan River is nowhere near Gaza. When Hamas and Gazans declare their unequivocal acceptance of a Jewish state as their neighbor and partner for peace, Israel will be overjoyed, and definitely lift any siege, develop economic and cultural ties and everything else that peace-loving people want.

This was closely followed by a comment from “aReefer”:

Richard, please do me a favour and open Google Earth, and then tell me how close the Dagania dam is to the Gaza strip in your own best estimate?

I think that you are clutching at straws to defend your false assertions in your article and flying in the face of common sense and the laws of both physics and liquid dynamics. Water would need to entirely flood every city in Southern Israel before reaching the Gaza Strip from there, including filling-up several large desert canyons on the way, creating 100 meter-deep rivers in the process(!!)

Another newsflash: The Dead Sea – which this dam feeds into – is famous for one thing in particular – namely for being the lowest place on Earth, so your response makes no sense at all – unless of course water flows uphill where you live?

The comment’s very last character was a “smiley face.” I, of course, had not made any “false assertions” in my article—something I pointed out in a response directed at both posters:

Dear Impeccably Honest Zionists,

Thank you for the “news flash.” Now please tell me what about my comments “makes no sense at all” to you. The previous commenter made reference to Israel’s “non-existent dams.” I merely pointed out to her that there is at least one dam in Israel, that I know of. Please read my comment again carefully. I did not say the Degania Dam was used to flood Gaza. I do know where the Jordan River is and I do know where Gaza is.

I have the feeling that you folks are getting a little rushed in your hasbara posting efforts. Did you read what I wrote carefully? Please quote back to me what “false assertions” I made. I did not say unequivocally that Israel had flooded Gaza. I merely reported that these are the allegations that were made. Did you take note of the question mark at the end of the title line?

Um… George, all I can tell you is that if you had imposed a blockade on the town in which I live for the past six or seven years, like you’ve imposed upon Gaza, I would probably be firing rockets at you too. End the blockade of Gaza. Also get your scummy Lobby out of my Congress and stop getting us into wars. If you want a war with Iran, go fight it yourselves.

[…]

You can read the whole exchange—all 33 comments—by going here.

260 Million Cubic Meters of Water and the Inability to Self-Reflect

So is there any saving grace in all this from Israel’s point of view? Could it be believed, for instance, that the reservoirs, due to some ten inches of rain, simply broke their banks and overflowed on their own? Could the water that nearly drowned Rana’s neighbors in Khan Yunis—and the three-meter high wall of water that surrounded the UNRWA staff member’s home in northern Gaza—could all of this have been caused by the storm alone? Certainly it’s possible, but the system of reservoirs—220 altogether—and the miles upon miles of pipelines that have been built give Israel control over huge volumes of water. This is made clear by the JNF:

For many years, KKL-JNF has been working to bolster Israel’s water economy by developing alternative water sources, saving the economy millions of shekels each year, advancing Israeli agriculture, and saving palatable drinking water.

KKL-JNF’s collects and treats water from agriculture, sewage, flash floods and urban runoff for recycling, saving precious fresh water sources for drinking. With its 220 water reservoirs throughout the country, KKL-JNF has enriched Israel’s water economy by a total of 260 million cubic meters.

JNF supplies this additional information on the reservoirs:

The reservoirs that collect runoff water and those that store treated sewage water make it possible to redirect other sources of water for Israel’s water system, as the reservoirs main and primary purpose is to increase the balance of water available for use. The reservoirs produce 260 million cubic meters annually. In 2010, the water in reservoirs built by KKL-JNF provided about half of the water consumed by Israeli agriculture.

By storing effluent (partly purified sewage water) in reservoirs, the effluent is prevented from flowing into the environment, thereby preventing pollution of rivers, soil, underground water sources and bodies of water into which the waters flow (the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Galilee – Lake Kinneret, the Dead Sea and the Red Sea). The Israeli rivers’ restoration projects would have no meaningful significance unless the flow of sewage and effluent into the rivers is stopped by means of controlled storage in reservoirs that are custom-made for the task…

Reservoir technology has improved, becoming incomparably more effective and sophisticated over the years as a result of the accompanying research and development, as well as the lessons learned by KKL-JNF from actual experience in building reservoirs in past decades.  This includes using sealing technology using plastic sheets, reservoir enginieering (sic), preventing embankments from collapsing, improvements in maintenance and access, extending previously existing reservoirs, and hydraulic control.

The National Water Carrier of Israel is a vast system, one that is still under expansion and development to this day. The direction and flow of water throughout is determined by gravity as well as strategically placed pumping stations. Click here to see what one of these pumping stations looks like. Such a system gives those who operate it a considerable amount of power over what is essentially a force of nature—the flow of water. This is a power that can be used for good, or it can be used destructively.

The claim that the Israelis “made the desert bloom” is one we often here, and when you consider the cyclopean system of limans, reservoirs, pipelines, and pumping stations, the validity to the assertion has to be acknowledged. Yet what also has to be acknowledged is that the Negev faces some severe environmental problems as well. This was the subject of a 2007 article by Rebecca Manski, who writes:

The ‘Promised Land’ has in a matter of decades become a ‘Poisoned Land,’ reveals the November 10th weekend edition of the widest-read Israeli daily, Ma’ariv.

According to the article, Israel’s 10 major polluters include industrial polluters, wealthy contractors, waste dumps, and the indigenous Bedouin of the Negev/Naqab Desert.

The charge that the Bedouin are as responsible as industrial polluters for polluting the Negev is one Manski devotes considerable attention to in her article. She notes:

Naqab Arabs share some 2.5 % of the desert with Israel’s nuclear reactors, 22 agro and petrochemical factories, an oil terminal, closed military zones, quarries, a toxic waste incinerator, cell towers, a power plant, several airports, a prison, and 2 rivers of open sewage. Due to constant exposure to toxicity and radiation, the risk of cancer for residents in this entire area is significantly higher than the rest of the country, according to a 2004 preliminary Israeli Ministry of Health study.

Yet despite all this an Israeli academic official—quoted in Manski’s article—insists that the Bedouin are at least as responsible as some of Israel’s worst polluters. The official is Alon Tal, director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. “Tal prominently featured the indigenous Bedouin as spoilers of the beauty and health of the ‘Promised Land’ on ‘equal’ par with the largest regional toxic waste facility, high-rises, a superhighway, a sprawling shopping center, electro-chemical plants in Akko, and a Haifa ammonia tank,” Manski writes. She goes on to note:

Those who cast Bedouin as environmental hazards often fail to note that Negev Arabs were secured as cheap labor to construct toxic regional infrastructure on confiscated Bedouin lands, infrastructure to which they ultimately have little access, and from which they suffer major health impacts.

Tal concluded his interview with Ma’ariv with the declaration: “As someone who deals with ecology and environmentalism I have to speak the truth.”

“The Bedouin harm open areas. They create a situation of over-grazing, which brings about land erosion. There are fifty-thousand illegal structures in the Negev built by Bedouin. They are halting the development of the area since nothing can be done with land they’ve occupied. It’s not fair towards the general public, who’re supposed to enjoy these open spaces, to go on a retreat and even ride a jeep through the open landscape.” As this writer would have, Ma’ariv journalist Sarah Leibovitz-Dar queried, “So you suggest wiping out Bedouin culture so that Yuppies can drive in jeeps?”

Those ecologists that fail to see destitute Bedouin as sharing the same level of responsibility as corporate polluters flush with cash, those advocates who refuse to vilify the population suffering the worst effects of pollution in Israel – are they less honest than Tal?

Manski goes on to quote another Israeli, an unnamed official with the Ministry of the Environment, who seems to have a problem with the Bedouin having babies: “The Bedouin are an environmental hazard. They throw their trash everywhere and they’re having children all over the place. They steal our land.”

Though their styles are different, what Tal and the unnamed official have in common—along with Tobin in his article in Commentary—is a refusal to admit that Israel could have contributed in any way to the misery now being experienced by the indigenous peoples of the area. This may reflect something deeper than simply a PR tactic. It may be a genuine belief. “We didn’t. We really didn’t,” wrote Stern in her article—and one gets the feeling she is quite sincere in her conviction. Israel, despite its record of war crimes against the Palestinians, could not be capable of such an evil as opening dams and deliberately flooding a trapped population, such people seem to feel. Similar sentiments can also be detected in the hasbara comments. One commenter at our site, “Doug,” used the term “Palywood” and seemed to imply we were delusional if we believed anything reported by Press TV:

You had me with “it has been reported”. Look at your sources Press TV? Hamas? Palywood? “These are reports”? And then you proceed to write paragraphs about something that never happened?

After you could’t stretch this ‘blame israel for things it did not do’ any longer, you utter: “Israel and its supporters have unleashed an avalanche of denials”. So spreading fiction is ok, but when some people call on your nonsense, it’s not OK? Instead of: “I was wrong (and dumb to believe my ‘sources’)”, it’s Israel and its supporters who have unleashed an avalanche of denials. Let’s blame them again because they have no right to simply show how wrong you are like normal people, those people only “unleashed an avalanches of denials” as if there is a debate here.

And yes, Dgania has a dam, but don’t ask Press Tv where it is, use the Evil Empire’s Jewish-controlled Google Maps and see how far it is from Gaza.

Unbelievable

It is “unbelievable” because, of course, Jews simply don’t do such things. And by using the term “Palywood” (he presumably meant “Pallywood”), Doug seemed to be implying that the Press TV video was staged, that the people shown in it were hired as actors to pretend they were flooded, and that the waters themselves were perhaps nothing more than special effects—all done by Press TV for the purpose of victimizing Israel. Such logic suggests a fundamental inability to look inside and self-reflect, this coupled with a sense of perpetual victimhood. The twin tendencies in fact serve to sustain each other—and thus thousands of years of pogroms and expulsions have come down in the Jewish imagination as nothing more than eternally recurring outbursts of anti-Semitism directed against blameless Jews.

We might pause here and also consider the words of Menachem Begin, whose Irgun terror group carried out the Deir Yassin massacre in 1948, and who later wrote that the village of Deir Yassin was a legitimate military target and that public characterizations of what occurred there as a massacre were nothing more than a lie told by “Jew haters all over the world.” (Roberta Feuerlicht, The Fate of the Jews, Times Books, 1983, p. 244). Begin, of course, was a bona fide, genuine “extremist” if ever there was one, but the same sort of blind spot, the same sort of Jews-can-do-no-wrong attitude, can also be seen in the comments of Tobin, Stern, and the hasbara brigades that routinely patrol the Internet.

What it comes down to is that people of this nature are equally incapable of fathoming why Americans would become angered at watching 33 US senators, at a mere snap of AIPAC’s fingers, rush to sign onto a piece of legislation like S.1881. But the anger is there. Such anger will initially be directed at AIPAC and its puppets in Congress, but in the course of things, as it diffuses through the human subconscious, it will assuredly attach itself to Jews in general.

So did they or didn’t they? Did someone with access to Israel’s National Water Carrier system release “a dam, a shmam, a valve, a clutch, a gizmo,” to cause additional flooding in Gaza? In some respects it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because that Israelis possess the level of malice necessary to induce them to such an act is a thing that most people, or a good many people at any rate, have no trouble believing. And they have no trouble believing it because the malice has been on display throughout the Jewish state’s existence. Particularly has it been manifest over the past ten years or so—palpably obvious in comments like those of Dov Weisglass, who in 2006 talked about putting the Palestinians “on a diet”; or the release in 2012 of the so-called Red Lines document, showing Israel had indeed set a “minimum number of grams and calories that Gaza residents would be permitted to consume” and that Weisglass hadn’t simply been speaking rhetorically. But of course at no time has the malice been more conspicuous and out in the open than in the brutal, war-crime atrocities of Operation Cast Lead five years ago.

All of which brings me back around to my comment to Sarah on the blockade of Gaza and its inevitable implications:

“By imposing its blockade Israel bears ultimate responsibility for fuel shortages and other problems that have led to this disaster–and ultimately is going to be blamed, either justly or unjustly, for whatever calamities occur in the course of it… ”

This of course is true. By imposing a blockade on Gaza, Israel in essence is assuming moral responsibility for what goes on there. If a baby dies in a Gaza hospital tomorrow night, it is Israel’s fault. When you have 1.7 million people locked up in a prison, you are responsible for them. There’s no way around that. The only way for Israel to get out from under this burden of responsibility is to end the blockade. I honestly have no love for the state of Israel, and I’m probably about the last person who would ever wish to share any advice with them of any kind, but it really is in Israel’s best interest at this point to end the blockade.

Ending the blockade at any rate would be the sensible thing to do—but of course we’re not dealing with sensible people. We are dealing with a people whose national identity has been molded and shaped by the Old Testament and its genocidal ideology, devoid of the pacific, moderating influences of the New Testament, and there’s a good chance that what has been referred to as a “slow motion genocide” could at any time, and over any pretext, quickly escalate into something even worse. In 2008, roughly ten months before Operation Cast Lead, Matan Vilnai, Israeli deputy defense minister, talked of inflicting a “shoah” (holocaust) upon the people of Gaza, and in 2012 Gilad Sharon, son of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, published a commentary in the Jerusalem Post calling for the Jewish state to “flatten all of Gaza.”

“The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima—the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too,” Sharon wrote.

Then there is The King’s Torah—in which it is argued that killing non-Jewish babies is permissible under certain circumstances—and other similar rabbinical writings and statements. Things of this nature tend to be kept largely under wraps by the Western mainstream media. Nevertheless they are there. They are bubbling in the background. And cumulatively, over time, such sentiments are propelling Israel closer and closer to a genocide of the Palestinian people. All of which, in turn brings me—finally—back around to my comment to George Metesky:

“Um…George, all I can tell you is that if you had imposed a blockade on the town in which I live for the past six or seven years, like you’ve imposed upon Gaza, I would probably be firing rockets at you too. End the blockade of Gaza… ”

The above is something I’ve often actually pondered. I live in a small town in the southern part of the United States. If the Israelis were to impose a blockade on my town, what would I do? And if the blockade had been ongoing for seven years, what would I do? If I were watching people around me, friends and family members, growing undernourished, ill of health, due to shortages, succumbing to treatable diseases or dying in sporadic military attacks such as the one that claimed the life of three-year-old Hala Abu Sbeika on Christmas Eve, what would I do? And if I were forced to watch my streets fill up with garbage and sewage, or endure the agony of seeing my wife or daughter obliged to wade through it, what would I do?

It’s not easy to know the answer to these questions because it’s hard for most of us to conceive of living under such conditions and under such threats as Gaza faces from Israel every day. But these are the choices confronting the people who live there. And they confront them knowing that their lives are considered expendable, that whatever horrors the Jewish state decides to unleash upon them, whether it’s opening a floodgate or dropping a white phosphorous bomb or maybe something even more monstrous yet to materialize—that whatever disaster-plagued future summons them, the world, almost assuredly, will stand by and do nothing.

January 5, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel drops controversial Bedouin relocation plan

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Ma’an – 12/12/2013

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel is scrapping a controversial draft law to relocate thousands of Bedouin residents of the Negev desert, an official said Thursday.

Benny Begin, tasked with implementing the so-called Prawer Plan, said he had recommended to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “end the debate on the law” in parliament.

“The prime minister accepted this proposal,” he said at a Tel Aviv press conference, days after it emerged the governing coalition was divided on the proposed legislation.

The bill, which would have seen the demolition of some 40 unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev and the relocation of between 30,000 and 40,000 people, passed a preliminary ministerial vote in January.

But it faced intense objection from members of the parliament both from the Right, where lawmakers said the compensation in land and money offered to Bedouins was too generous, and from the Left, which said it was racist and accused the state of usurping the land of indigenous Palestinian inhabitants.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman posted on his Facebook page that the Israeli government “should re-examine the plan and consider a far-reaching plan that would annul the benefits the Bedouin were to receive.”

Following a heated debate this week at the parliamentary interior committee, coalition chairman Yariv Levin of Netanyahu’s Likud party said he would not make the Prawer Plan into law.

The move comes less than two weeks after worldwide protests against the plan, during which Israeli police and soldiers clashed with demonstrators, injuring and arresting dozens across Israel and the West Bank.

According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the plan would have forcibly evicted nearly 40,000 Bedouin and destroy their communal and social fabric, condemning them to a future of poverty and unemployment.

Other estimates had put the number of Bedouin residents at risk at 70,000.

Ma’an staff contributed to this report

December 12, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Palestinian Future in Israel: How Long Can We Be Dehumanised in a Racist State?

By Khalil Nakhleh | January 16, 2009

Every month or so I drive for three hours from Ramallah to my native village in Upper Galilee to hike in the olive orchards engulfing my village and to reminisce about my childhood. My village, which was perched alone on that hill under the cold drift from Mount Hermon, as I remember it, now is forced to share the surrounding hills with Jewish-only colonies. One morning, one of those Saturday hiking mornings, two Jewish colonists from a nearby colony passed me on their dirt bikes on their way to promenade in our olive orchards and hurled at me a soft and humane “boker tov” (good morning), to which I responded, equally softly and humanely. They continued their ride, and I was forcefully left with my unanswered questions about the nature of our “living together.”

On the face of it, the “boker tov” greeting was natural and expected. But why did it upset me? Something did not settle well with me. By itself, it was a natural human greeting, but in an unnatural context and environment: these two men were there, on my land, only because they happened to be Jews (and, most likely, Zionists). Thus, they were rendered privileged to live in a subsidised house that was built for them on stolen Arab land, while people in my village are not even permitted to build or expand their houses on their very own land in order to meet the need of their extended families, only because they happened to be Palestinian Arabs. This is what did not settle well with me. Because, as they passed me on that October Saturday morning, we were not equal under this Zionist-Jewish system, nor did we have access to the same resources – economic, legal, political, etc. – in a place where I should have been “more equal” and more privileged, having been born on this very land. My narrative has been undermined by force and mythology.

How do I interpret what I might call our expropriated narrative? And how can we, as a people – individuals and collectives – repossess this narrative?

I begin by posing two interrelated questions: What does it mean to be a Palestinian Arab living in Israel? And what does it mean to be part of an indigenous minority that is a remaining fragment of the Palestinian people, living in a country that is directly responsible for this historical evil?

To heighten our Palestinian narrative, I propose to look at three interconnected events in our very recent history, threaded by the same historical sequence, and underpinned by the same racist ideology. The focus on these events will shape the answer to the above two questions. The three events are Yawm al-Ard (Land Day) of March 1976, Habbet October (the October uprising) of October 2000, and the Zionist-Jewish attack on Palestinian Arab Citizens in Akka of October 2008.

Yawm al-Ard, 1976

Yawm al-Ard refers to the day of the general strike that was held on 30 March 1976 among the Palestinian communities in Israel to protest the new wave of government-approved expropriation of Arab-owned lands, hitting at the heart of Arab villages in Central Galilee. The decision to strike was an exercise of the Palestinian community’s right to protest and civil disobedience, as a means of affirming the indigenous Palestinian struggle against the gradual dispossession of their patrimony, the “Judaisation” (tahweed) of historical Palestine, and the “de-indigenisation” of their native place. Through protest and public strike, the Palestinians in Israel sought to halt the vicious and determined process aiming toward their ethnic cleansing. The Israeli security apparatus made a conscious attempt to forcefully put down the strike by deploying police, “border guards,” and army units in the heart of Palestinian communities. As a result, 6 Palestinian civilians were killed, about 50 injured, and about 300 arrested.

Israel’s colonisation plans for the Galilee were explicitly expressed in 1976 in what became known as the “Koenig Memorandum,” which was submitted to and approved by the Israeli government. The Memorandum detailed the “Judaisation of the Galilee Project,” whose objective was to expropriate Arab lands in the Galilee and develop 58 additional Jewish colonies by the end of the decade, increasing the Jewish population of the Galilee by 60 percent. The explicit purpose of this “development” was to break up the concentration of the Palestinian Arab population in large contiguous areas by infusing them with new Jewish colonies.

Since the breakup of the indigenous demographic contiguity of the Galilee and al-Naqab and their transformation from Arab majority areas have not yet been completed, the Israeli government created in 2005 a new portfolio for its deputy prime minister at the time (Shimon Peres) to “develop” al-Naqab and the Galilee. In a follow-up speech, Peres stated, “The development of al-Naqab and the Galilee is the most important Zionist project of the coming years.” Thus, the responsible ministerial committee allocated US$ 450 million “to building Jewish majorities in the Galilee and al-Naqab over the coming 5 years.”

Habbet October, 2000

Habbet October (or the October uprising) refers to the subsequent events that occurred during the general strike and protest marches of the Palestinian community in Israel on 1 October 2000, heeding the call of the “Higher Follow-up Committee of the Arab Masses” a week after Sharon’s insistent entry to al-Haram al-Sharif, which resulted in the killing of 80 Palestinians and the injuring of hundreds in the West Bank and Gaza during the week following Sharon’s visit.

As for the protest marches during the day of the general strike of the Palestinian communities inside Israel, the police were instructed by Ehud Barak, the minister of internal security at the time, to use all means possible to quell the protest. As a result, the police used live ammunition, rubber-coated bullets, and snipers, which resulted in the killing of 13 Palestinian civilian citizens. According to documented testimonies, the police used violent means to “inflict the maximum damage possible.” To avert severe protests from all quarters, and with the approach of elections for the prime minister, the government appointed an official commission of inquiry headed by a judge of the Supreme Court (Theodore Orr) eleven months later.

The Orr Commission laid the blame for what happened on the Palestinian community in Israel and its political leadership, on the basis that the protest marches were illegal and unjustified and that they were only intended to disrupt the public order; on the other hand, the Commission maintained that the response of the police was equally illegal and unjustified. Thus, in their “balanced” response, the Commission blamed the victim.

The allusions in the Commission’s conclusions are very telling. I shall focus only on two: the first has to do with the relationship of the police with the Palestinian community in Israel, and the second has to do with what is referred to as “Arab-Jewish relations.”

Regarding the first: the Commission emphasised the need for “conceptual transformation” in how the police deal with the “Arab sector.” The police are viewed in the Arab sector not as an agent of support, or assistance provider, but as an “enemy agent that serves an enemy authority.” The Commission emphasised the need for re-training and re-indoctrination among the police, stressing that the Arab communities in the state are not an enemy and that they should not be treated as such.

As for the conclusion regarding “Jewish-Arab relations,” the Commission stated, as summarised two years later by the academic member of the Commission (Shamir’s lecture, Tel Aviv University, 19 September 2005, p. 6):

· The Arab minority population of Israel is an indigenous population which perceives itself subject to the hegemony of a society that is largely not indigenous.

· The Arab minority in Israel is a majority transformed; it bears a heritage of several centuries of belonging to the majority, and views with disapproval its minority status, forced upon it with the establishment of the state.

· This reversal was the result of a harsh defeat suffered by the Arabs which, in their historical memory, is tied to the Nakba – the most severe collective trauma in their history.

· There was a continuous dynamic aspect to the decisive outcome gained by the Zionist movement in the struggle over the establishment of the State, reflected primarily in the takeover of extensive lands, clearing space for the masses of new immigrants. This fact fostered a feeling among the Arabs that the Israeli democracy is not as democratic toward the Arabs as it is toward the Jews.

Regarding the two events above, it is worth remembering that in all previous violent confrontations with Jewish protest movements in Israel, e.g., Black Panthers, the Rabbi Uzi Meshulem Movement, etc., never before was live ammunition used to quell a protest by Israeli Jews; and never was a Jew killed by the agents of the state.

The Zionist-Jewish attack on Palestinian Arab citizens in Akka, October 2008

This refers to the events that happened in Akka (Acre) on the eve of the Jewish Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). The sequence of events went this way (based on a meticulously documented report by the Akka Residents Coalition):

A 48-year-old Arab citizen of Israel from Akka rides in his car to the house of relatives … who live in the eastern part of the city (with a Jewish majority), to pick up his daughter … He drove slowly and quietly with no radio or speakers turned on (to respect the solemn Jewish holiday). Jewish youth attacked the car with stones.…

After Yom Kippur ended (9 October,) a large group of Jewish residents, estimated at 1,500, gathered around the train station in the eastern and northern parts of the city (where a small minority of Palestinian Arabs live in Jewish-majority neighbourhoods) … The Jewish rioters threw stones, clashed with the police, and attacked Arab passersby.

In these areas of the city, there is a Jewish majority; about twenty Arab families live there in total. The Jewish rioters gathered in the streets and cried “death to the Arabs.” They attacked Arab family homes trying to make their inhabitants flee; they damaged the homes and set them on fire … A text message distributed to Jewish residents called for a boycott of Arab tradesmen and shopkeepers.

Violent harassment by Jewish-Zionist extremists against Arab residents of the city of Akka did not start on Yom Kippur 2008; it started at least since 2002 when slogans such as “death to Arabs” started appearing on walls, elevators of apartment buildings, etc. This is not accidental vandalism; it is part of a trend to establish Jewish “purity” in the so-called Arab-Jewish mixed cities such as Akka, Lod, Ramleh, and Yaffa, which Jewish-Zionists consider areas of “demographic risk.” This trend is being pushed by the national right-wing party called “the seeds of the settlements” in recent years, by transplanting Jewish “yeshivas” and settlers into the Arab areas, brought in generally from the most extreme racist Jewish colonies in the West Bank. Today there are around 200 yeshivas in Akka, in addition to approximately 1,000 settler-extremists. The clear and overt purpose is to “Judaise” these cities.

In an interview (on Channel 7), the head of the Hesder Yeshiva in Akka, Rabbi Yosi Stern, stated:

“Akka is a national test. Akka today is Israel in ten years’ time. What happens in Akka today is what will happen in Israel.…

“Co-existence is a slogan. Ultimately Akka is a town like Raanana, Kfar Saba, or Haifa, and must safeguard its Jewish identity. I think everyone would agree that Akka is the capital city of Galilee, of thousands of years of Jewish history. We are here to preserve that Jewish identity and to reinforce that spirit, to stand for our nation’s honour.”

Concluding remarks

How are these three events that happened over the last thirty-some years interconnected? And how do they shape the answer to the two questions I posed earlier?

The ideological underpinnings of the three events are the same and focus on two levels with overt objectives: one is the Judaisation of the entire country through the Jewish colonisation of the land and the prevention of the existence of any Arab majority concentration (hence, the targeting of Galilee, al-Naqab and the Triangle, etc.). The second is the forced disconnection in identity and shared future between the Palestinian minority in Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and in the shatat (diaspora).

The only future for us, as an indigenous national minority that can exercise our inherited basic human rights on our land and that can achieve true justice and equality, is to reclaim and re-assert our narrative. We should seek to regain our status as part of our national Palestinian majority, in historical Palestine, as we struggle for the dismemberment and dissolution of the Zionist racist system and its transformation into a “normal” democratic system, responsive to the needs of all its citizens. Our future, as a national minority in and on our land, and as part of the Arab nation, is organically connected to the future of the Arab nation and to the entire Palestinian people – the communities in the West Bank and Gaza, the refugees, and all those dispersed throughout the world; and it has to be realised in a democratic society in historical Palestine, where we would be ready to co-exist with non-Zionist Jews. Our repossessed narrative cannot be a reinterpretation of our history as a dull shadow of Jewish-Zionist narrative. Our repossessed narrative must be based on the deconstruction of the racist Zionist-Ashkenazi system, which itself is a precondition for such a just solution. The existing Israeli system is, by definition, racist and exclusivist, and it is inherently and structurally incapable of providing justice and genuine equality to my Palestinian people.

Dr. Khalil Nakhleh is a Palestinian anthropologist, writer, and independent development and educational consultant from Galilee who resides in Ramallah. He is the editor of The Future of the Palestinian Minority in Israel (Ramallah: Madar Center, 2008). He may be reached at abusama@palnet.com

December 9, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Negev… Land and Man

Documentary shows scenes of home demolitions by Israel in Negev

Ma’an – 08/12/2013

BEERSHEBA – A Palestinian organization based in the Negev has released a documentary depicting what the organization called the “ongoing Nakba (catastrophe) against the population of the Negev since 1948.”

The film brings to light the suffering and embittered lives of the Palestinian Bedouin residents of Negev, especially those villages which the government of Israel doesn’t recognize.

Those residents, according to the film “Negev … Land and Man,” have been deprived of basic life requirements including water and electricity networks as well as schools and clinics.

The documentary warns of Israeli plans to displace the population and “steal their land” through heavy restrictions to make their lives unbearable. The film warns in particular of the Prawer displacement plan which will “bring back the Palestinian Nakba on the land of Negev” while the world watches.

Documented scenes of home demolitions, land bulldozing and displacement of residents by Israeli forces are included in the film.

The film also sheds light on the major role Palestinians who live in Israel play to support the Bedouin residents of the Negev and help strengthen their determination to remain on their land. These efforts include construction projects, relief activities and voluntary work to defy Israeli plans.

The film was directed by Muhammad Abu Rizqa and produced by Sanabil Productions.

December 8, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ramallah Activists Join the Day of Rage against the Prawer Plan

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Palestinians protesting against Prawer Plan
MEMO | December 1, 2013

The global ‘Day of Rage’ against the Prawer Plan included demonstrations and other solidarity actions in more than 24 cities around the world.

According to Adalah: the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights, who are challenging the Prawer Plan within the Israeli courts, the Prawer Plan will forcibly displace up to 70,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel from the Naqab.

For Palestinian holders of Israeli-issued West Bank ID cards, reaching the main demonstration in the Naqab was impossible due to the imposed travel restrictions, so an alternative demonstration was held alongside Beit El Jewish colony near Ramallah. Further demonstrations were held in Haifa, Jaffa, Jerusalem and Gaza.

The chosen protest site of the Beit El colony, which is built on land stolen from al-Bireh and also from the village of Dura al-Qara, was significant as the Prawer Plan constitutes part of the same ongoing displacement and colonisation project that is being implemented across all areas of historic Palestine. Three activists were arrested as Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) violently attacked the protest with substantial amounts of tear gas and percussion grenades.

One of the activists who was beaten by Israeli forces during his arrest, Abud Hama’il, explained the motivation for these events before being forced into an Israeli police jeep:

‘The Naqab is facing attacks like all of Palestine. We are one people, one struggle, one homeland, one sacrifice. Today a Palestinian worker was killed in Petah Tikva, he wasn’t involved in anything. The people must rise. The people, whose land is being stolen; the people, everyday they want to move us to Jordan – we need to resist, there is no choice…’

More images and text by Rich Wiles

December 1, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Join Palestinians on November 30th to protest against the Prawer plan

Prawer Won’t Pass Campaign | November 10, 2013

naqabOccupied Palestine – On the 24th of June, the Israeli Knesset approved the Prawer-Begin plan, which if implemented will result in the destruction of more than 35 unrecognized villages in Al-Naqab and the forced expulsion and confinement of more than 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins. The Prawer plan is the largest Israeli land-grab since 1948. It epitomizes the nature of Israel’s policy; Israeli-Jewish demographic expansion and Palestinian-Arab demographic containment.

The International community has repeatedly called on Israel to halt the implementation of the Prawer Plan due to its discriminatory nature and the severe infringement it causes on the rights of Palestinian Bedouins in Al-Naqab. The UN committee on the elimination of Racial Discrimination called on Israel to withdraw the proposed legislation of the Prawer Plan. Also, in 2012, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on Israel to stop the Prawer plan and its policies of forced displacement and dispossession.

Injustice, humiliation and forced displacement are a recurring theme in Palestine’s history. This is lesson that we as a group of youth take to the heart. We will oppose, resist and work against the continuous assault that our communities, across Palestine face. Therefore, we launched the “Prawer will not pass” campaign with an eye to preventing this plan to be yet another chapter in Palestine’s long and tragic history.

Opposing the Prawer Plan is to oppose ethnic cleansing, displacement and confinement in the 21st century.

Join us by organizing marches, protests, sending letters to those with positions of influence in your country or community, by doing whatever you can, in order to force Israel to stop the Prawer plan.

Join us on the 30th of November in saying “Prawer shall not Pass”.

For more information, please contact:

Email: PrawerWontPass@gmail.com

November 10, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel defines release of Palestinian prisoners as commitment to peace

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | October 31, 2013

At the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Israeli ambassador Eviatar Manor stated that the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails defines the Jewish state’s attitude towards peace. “Their release, I believe, illustrates Israel’s determination to reach an agreement with our Palestinian neighbours that will, once and for all, end the conflict.” As usual, Israel’s discourse contains various illusions, including references to ‘conflict’, which implies no hegemonic disparity between both parties.

Reference to Palestinians as ‘neighbours’ and human rights violation as ‘conflict’ portrays the manipulative use of language to distort the reality of a colonisation project which has prevailed for decades. There is no conflict between Palestinians and Israel, which renders the concept of negotiations a convenient farce for the belligerent occupation and its allies – a project of alienation which is easily converted into fodder for consumers of corporate media. In discourse which would reflect the ongoing situation, Israel should be depicted as the epitome of colonialism – an illegal state which has plundered land, people and resources to sustain fabrications of nationhood and the right to land. In place of negotiations, the international community should be clamouring for Israel to be held accountable and face the ramifications of accountability, including the dismantling of illegalities which would allow Palestinians to reclaim and assert their rights over land and nationhood.

Israel’s participation in the UNHRC’s Universal Periodic Review comes after vehement rejection of the council’s alleged bias against the occupying power. The indefinite boycott of the session was discussed in May by deputy foreign minister Ze’ev Elkin, who agreed to diplomatic discussions while “ensuring that fair play and international standards are applied towards Israel”. A Jerusalem Post opinion article about the UNHRC expounds upon the alleged bias against Israel, stating that “The majority of its 47 members are from the third World, which not only guarantees massive anti-Israel bias but makes mockery of human rights”. What it fails to mention is that Third World countries have experienced the ramifications of colonialism and exploitation, camouflaged within the West as implementation of forced democracy through various forms of intervention sanctioned by governments who are never held accountable for their crimes against humanity.

While the debate focused on Israel’s appalling treatment of Palestinians, including that of Bedouins in the Negev, Israel attempted to manipulate the discourse away from the wider framework by concentrating on the prisoner release and portraying the decision as a commitment towards peace, despite the state’s preoccupation with security concerns which, according to Manor, ‘strain the delicate balance between effective steps necessary to overcome the various threats to a state’s security and the protection of human rights”.

The release of Palestinian prisoners has been transformed into nothing more than a bargaining over land compensated with lives which Israel deems expendable. While their freedom is undoubtedly cherished by Palestinians, official rhetoric from Israeli and Palestinian representation has created an additional realm where negotiations are equivalent to prisoner release. Abbas recently declared that the Israeli concept of life in prison has deteriorated, yet nothing is uttered regarding the continuous usurpation of Palestinian land. While Netanyahu triumphantly approves further illegal settlement construction as ‘compensation’ for releasing Palestinian prisoners, Abbas remains committed to relinquishing Palestine in return for freedom which can be easily revoked within Israel’s system of administrative detention.

October 31, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel defines release of Palestinian prisoners as commitment to peace

Call for action: Stop Prawer Plan!

27th July 2013 | Stop Prawer Plan | Palestine

We call on international solidarity activists to organize demonstrations on 1 August in their own cities, and to spread awareness of the biggest impending ethnic cleansing campaign against Palestinians by Israel since 1948 through writing petitions, sharing information on the Naqab and Prawer Plan, or by any other show of activism.

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On Monday, July 15, thousands of Palestinians protested in their cities, towns and at busy street junctions against the Prawer Plan, in a day that was designated as the national day of rage, or Anger Strike.

From Bir Sabe to Jerusalem, West Bank to the Galilee, Haifa to Gaza, Palestinians demonstrated against the Prawer Plan which passed its first reading in the Knesset last month. The Plan aims to

* confiscate 800,000 dunums of land in the Naqab desert

* expel over 50,000 Palestinian Bedouins

* demolish 35 unrecognized villages

* confine 30% of Palestinian Bedouins in the Naqab to 1% of the land

Dozens of Palestinians were either injured or arrested since July 15 by the Israeli occupation forces, yet the Anger Strike is far from over. Throughout the past week protests have been constant within Palestine, with Beirut in Lebanon and Cairo in Egypt also joining in.

We are determined to continue protesting daily and to raise international awareness for the plight of our Palestinian Bedouin brothers and sisters, and the next day of rage will be on Thursday, August 1.

We call on international solidarity activists to organize demonstrations on the same day in their own cities, and to spread awareness of the biggest impending ethnic cleansing campaign against Palestinians by Israel since 1948 through writing petitions, sharing information on the Naqab and Prawer Plan, or by any other show of activism.

 Stay updated on Twitter and Facebook through the hashtags #StopPrawerPlan

Contact us: www.facebook.com/StopPrawerPlan

July 27, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Comments Off on Call for action: Stop Prawer Plan!

The Nakba Continues: Israel’s Bedouin Face Mass Displacement

By Nadia Ben-Youssef | New Left Project | July 15, 2013

I met Aziz Al-Touri nearly three years ago in a well-constructed tent of 2x4s and brightly-coloured tarp, erected next to the concrete remains of his family home and the exposed roots of hundreds of his olive trees.  With the sound of crushing bulldozers and the sight of thousands of Israeli security forces still haunting the dreams of his five children, he spoke of his life in terms of before and after. Before and after 27 July 2010.  Before and after the demolition of his entire village, Al-Araqib, one of 35 so-called “unrecognized villages” in the Negev desert in southern Israel. Today, when Aziz tells the story of his village, in an English that was completely foreign to his tongue three years ago, he corrects me when I say Al-Araqib has been demolished 52 times since July 2010. “That wasn’t the first demolition,” he says. “The first demolition was in 1948.”

Prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 (known as the Nakba or catastrophe in Arabic) some 92,000 Palestinian Bedouin lived in distinct and fixed villages and controlled 99% of the land in the Negev (Naqab).  Land ownership and transactions were regulated within a sophisticated traditional system, and recognized by both the Ottoman Government and the British Mandate.  Following the Nakba, and the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland, the majority of the Bedouin community was forced to flee to neighbouring States; only 11,000 Bedouin remained, including a few families in the village of Al-Araqib. The remaining community was concentrated into a restricted military zone called the Siyag (Arabic for “fence”) by the Israeli Military Authority, with the internally displaced communities being told that they would be able to return to their own land within 6 months.

65 years later, none of the internally displaced Bedouin have been allowed to return, nor have they been given any proprietary rights to the land onto which they were moved. Similarly, the State did not recognize the land rights of the Bedouin communities that lived within the Siyag prior to the concentration.  According to Israeli law, none of the Bedouin have any legal right to their ancestral land; the 1953 Land Acquisition Law (Actions and Compensation) declared all of the land of the Negev to be “state land.”  With the passage of the law, the Bedouin were deemed “trespassers” and all of the Bedouin villages (both historic, and those created by the military government) were declared “illegal” and to this day have been denied recognition.

Successive Israeli governments have been faced with what the state regards as the “Bedouin problem.”  This classification is all the more troubling when one considers that the Bedouin, like all Palestinians who remained in Israeli territory after the Nakba, were granted Israeli citizenship by 1954.  The “problem” for the Jewish state is primarily one of demography.  The Bedouin, who now number some 200,000 people, comprise around 32% of the population in the Negev; next to the Galilee, the Negev is the region in Israel with the highest percentage of non-Jewish citizens. Israel’s solutions, which are developed without community consultation, are often disguised as general regional development or described in patronising terms as benevolent attempts to “modernise” the Bedouin.  However, all reflect the state’s acute anxiety about the “demographic threat” as well as the normalised discrimination against its Palestinian citizens.

Beginning in the late 1960s, the Israeli state’s first imposed solution was to urbanise its rural, pastoral citizens, creating seven urban townships over the next two decades.  These urban townships are annually featured in the lowest socioeconomic bracket in Israel, and suffer from the highest rate of poverty, crime and unemployment.  The forced urbanisation of traditional farmers and shepherds looks exactly as one would expect: bails of hay line the major roads, and herds of sheep, goats and camels are kept in pens attached to homes.  Half of the Bedouin community, or roughly 100,000 people, live in these seven townships, though 85% of the residents are those who were internally displaced into the Siyag by the Israeli military government after the Nakba.  Most of the Bedouin who were never moved from their ancestral land have remained in their historic villages, despite the fact that these villages are “unrecognized” by the State of Israel.

Unrecognized villages do not appear on any official maps, and their residents are denied access to all basic services including water, electricity, roads, sewage, schools and health clinics, in order to “encourage” them to abandon their homes.  All of the structures in the villages are “illegal”, in that they were built without permits from the State, and are thus subject to frequent demolition (around 1,000 Bedouin homes were demolished in 2011).  Beginning in 2003, after intensive efforts by an elected group of Bedouin leaders who formed the Regional Council of the Unrecognized Villages, 11 unrecognized villages were recognized.  Though these villages do not face a future of mass demolition and displacement, ten years later they remain disconnected from all state infrastructure, and as there is no elected authority from which to request building permits, new or renovated buildings are also regularly demolished.

However, it is the remaining 35 unrecognized villages, home to some 70,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel, that are the target of the Prawer Plan, the government’s most recent “solution” for the Bedouin community.  Named after the architect of the plan and former deputy chair of the National Security Council, Ehud Prawer, the Prawer Plan aims within three years to destroy the remaining villages, displace up to 70,000 Bedouin into the existing townships and recently-recognized villages, and resolve all outstanding Bedouin land claims (of which there are over 3,200, amounting to 5% of the land of the Negev) in favour of the State of Israel.  If fully implemented, the Prawer Plan would result in the largest confiscation of Palestinian-owned land since the 1950s, and confine the Bedouin population to less than 1% of the Negev.  Not only does the Prawer Plan officially deny Bedouin the rights to their land and their agency as citizens to determine where and how to live, it proposes a new discriminatory legal reality that applies only to the Bedouin community.  According to the implementing legislation of the plan, the Prawer-Begin Bill, the process of judicial review is explicitly and severely restricted for Bedouin citizens of Israel by eliminating court-ordered and supervised demolitions and evictions in favour of speedy administrative orders.  The Prawer-Begin Bill does not apply to Jewish citizens of Israel, for whom all constitutional protections remain intact.

The devastating plan was developed, as usual, without consultation with the Bedouin community and approved by the government in September 2011.  Following considerable local and international pressure, the government conceded to holding a post-facto “public listening” process whereby Minister Benny Begin (a minister without portfolio in the Netanyahu administration) heard 1,000 Bedouin citizens and representatives.  When Minister Begin finally presented his recommendations to the government a year later, it was clear that neither the grievances, nor the comprehensive planning alternatives proposed by the community in partnership with professional planners (in the form of an Alternative Master Plan to recognize the villages) had been incorporated into the Prawer Plan.  Further, in the year that Minister Begin was writing his recommendations, the government silently approved the Regional Master Plan for the Be’er Sheva Metropolitan Area, which sets out the state’s “development” plans and outlines in concrete terms the state’s confiscation of Bedouin land and the eviction and destruction of most of the unrecognized villages.

The Regional Master Plan in some instances merely confirms already existing facts on the ground.  In Al-Araqib for instance, the Master Plan grants legitimacy to two Jewish National Fund forests that are zoned for the area of the village, and today are almost entirely planted.  In many other cases, however, the planting of new forests or park reserves, establishment of new Jewish settlements, and construction of new industrial parks, roads and military zones laid out in the Master Plan is hindered by the presence of the unrecognized villages.  The Prawer Plan and the Prawer-Begin Bill enables the state to swiftly remove the villages and villagers to proceed with “development” projects that privilege state interests at the expense of its Bedouin citizens.

The Bedouin community and the Arab political leadership in Israel, together with civil society, have spent the last two years opposing and challenging the Prawer Plan and the Prawer-Begin bill.  The community has organized mass protests in the Negev, and human rights organizations in Israel and around the world have mobilised thousands of people to speak out against the mass displacement.  Meanwhile, the international community has condemned the discriminatory plan and the legislation, including the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing and the European Parliament in 2012.  Yet, on 24 June 2013, the Prawer-Begin bill passed its first reading in the Israeli Knesset.

The Prawer-Begin bill joins a wave of discriminatory legislation directly targeting Palestinians living under Israeli control, both citizens of Israel and Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).  31 bills were proposed or passed during the 18th Knesset, and already in the first four months of the new 19th Knesset, 29 new discriminatory bills have been proposed that attack the rights of Palestinians.  Normalised discrimination against Palestinians in Israel, fueled by widespread ignorance and misinformation, lends popular support to these legislative initiatives.  In the case of the Prawer-Begin bill, it is likely that it will pass its second and third readings and be enacted into law before the closing of the Knesset session at the end of this month.

The approval of the Prawer-Begin bill only makes sense within this larger context, just as the 52 most recent demolitions of the village of Al-Araqib only make sense when one considers, as Aziz rightfully pointed out, the first demolition in 1948.  Beneath the Prawer-Begin bill, and the discriminatory legislation that marks this era in the history of the Jewish state, lies a national project that has always sought to control for the Jewish people as much land with as few Palestinians as possible.  The international community must intervene at the highest level to stop the Prawer-Begin bill. But the mass displacement of Israel’s Bedouin community is not just a problem; it is a symptom of the inherent contradiction between a state that defines itself in ethno-religious terms while also claiming to be a democracy. Where 1 in 5 Israeli citizens is excluded from full civic protection and participation simply for being Palestinian, and where a Palestinian Bedouin citizen of Israel and a Jewish citizen of Israel living in the Negev are treated according to different laws and policies, no democracy exists.

Nadia Ben-Youssef is a human rights lawyer living in the Naqab and serving as an international advocacy consultant for Adalah The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.

July 23, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dozens injured in Jerusalem protest against the Prawer plan

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | July 16, 2013

Palestinian medical sources have reported Monday that dozens of Palestinians have been injured after being violently attacked by Israeli soldiers and police officers, during a protest against the Prawer plan that would forcibly displace between 30,000-70,000 Negev Bedouins.

The protest started at the Bab Al-‘Amoud area, in occupied East Jerusalem, and the protesters were attacked as they marched towards Sultan Suleiman Str., clashes also extended to various areas in Jerusalem.

Bassem Zeidan, of the Palestinian Medical Relief, stated that twelve Palestinians suffered fractures and bruises after being attacked by the army and the police, while a medic identified as Osama Mkheimar, suffered fractures in his foot, a cameraman identified as Amin Siyam suffered various bruises, a pregnant woman suffered a dislocated shoulder, and at least fifty more Palestinians were treated by field medics.

The Begin-Prawer Bill passed its first reading in the Israeli Knesset on June 24 2013. Adalah – The legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel – previously reported the bill involves the dismantlement of “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in the Negev, and the forced displacement and relocation of the inhabitants – numbering in the tens of thousands – to settlements that will be “recognized” by Israel.

Critics of the bill claim that the Bedouin have not been consulted, and that it violates their rights to property and ignores their legitimate claims to ancestral lands.

Adalah reports that the Begin-Prawer Bill is designed to make it very difficult for the Bedouin to receive compensation following their forcible displacement, and that state development projects that privilege Jewish Israelis will be built in place of the destroyed Bedouin villages.

The United Nations said that Israel must respect the land claims of the Bedouin, who are internationally recognized as indigenous peoples of the land.

July 16, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dozens injured in Jerusalem protest against the Prawer plan

Kibbutz residents attack Bedouin village in the Negev

Ma’an – 20/05/2013

BETHLEHEM – Israelis from a Negev kibbutz attacked a Bedouin village on Sunday, setting fire to a tent, a Ma’an reporter said.

Residents from the Kibbutz of Retamim attacked the adjacent Bedouin village of Bir Hadaj and set fire to a tent belonging to Eid Abu Habbak, head of the local village council, Salman Ibin Hamid, told Ma’an.

Abu Habbak filed a complaint with Dimona police department.

“The setters of Retamim are acting like they are in the West Bank,” Ibn Hamid added. “These people have the mentality of the occupying settler to attack every Arab.”

Israeli police said that Bir Hadaj residents hurled stones at residents of Retamim, a claim which Ibn Hamid denied.

On May 6, an Israeli government committee approved a draft bill setting a framework to implement the evacuation of “unrecognized” villages in the Negev, most of which existed before the state of Israel.

May 20, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Comments Off on Kibbutz residents attack Bedouin village in the Negev

Israel lawmakers approve plan to displace Negev Bedouins

Ma’an – 06/05/2013

BETHLEHEM – Israel approved a draft law on Monday to implement a plan which will displace thousands of Bedouins in the Negev desert, an Israeli rights group said.

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved a bill which outlines a framework for implementing the Prawer-Begin plan, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said.

“Today the government approved a plan that will cause the displacement and forced eviction of dozens of villages and tens of thousands of Bedouin residents,” ACRI lawyer Rawia Aburabia said.

“All of this while the government simultaneously promotes the establishment of new Jewish communities, some of which are even planned to be built on the fresh ruins of Bedouin villages,” she added.

The Israeli government approved the plan in 2011, in what it says was an attempt to address the problem of unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev desert of southern Israel.

The 2011 proposal was formulated without any consultation with the Bedouin community and rights groups slammed it as a major blow to Bedouin rights.

Bedouins protest

The Regional Council of Unrecognized Arab Villages of Negev along with the High Steering Committee of the Arabs of Negev organized Monday a demonstration near office of Israeli prime minister in Jerusalem protesting approval of the recommendations.

Knesset member Ibrahim Sarsour addressed the demonstrators confirming that his party, the United Arab List, rejected the recommendations. He expressed concern that the recommendations might be approved as a law and urged the Arab public to use legal means to try and prevent such a step.

Talab Abu Arar, another lawmaker, echoed Sarsour’s remarks but appealed to “the rational people on the Israeli side to treat the Arabs wisely giving them their rights, recognizing their unrecognized villages, and involving them in the planning process.”

He warned the Israelis against being driven by “racist and extremist blocs in the Knesset.”

“Approval of the Prawer committee recommendations means Judaisation of Negev. The main goal of these plans is to seize Arab lands and exterminate Arab roots,” said head of the Regional Council of Unrecognized Arab Villages of Negev Atiyeh al-A’sam.

According to ACRI, the plan will forcibly evict nearly 40,000 Bedouins and destroy their communal and social fabric, condemning them to a future of poverty and unemployment.

Israel refuses to recognize 35 Bedouin villages in the Negev, which collectively house nearly 90,000 people.

The Israeli state denies them access to basic services and infrastructure, such as electricity and running water, and refuses to place them under municipal jurisdiction.

 

May 6, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 1 Comment