In a few hours, an entire village is destroyed

Posted: July 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, racism, The Right, The Settlements | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Residents of the unrecognised village of Al Araquib construct burning barricades

A couple of days ago, when the news cycle was dominated by the story of the IDF helicopter crash in Romania, an entire village was destroyed in the Israeli southern desert.

El-Arakib, in the northern Negev, is one of more then 40 unrecognized Bedouin villages in the south of Israel. At down, hundreds of Israeli policemen and soldiers took the entire village – men, women and children – out of their houses, and let them watch in horror as the Bulldozers crashed their homes. the whole thing took just a few hours.

“The forces met only minor protest,” the Israeli media reported in the morning.

The unrecognized villages, many of them predate the establishing of Israel, are not receiving any services from the state: no water, no electricity, no transportation and no paved roads. Their children walk miles in the heat of the desert summer or in the freezing cold of the winter to get to school.

For decades, Israel is refusing to recognize the Bedouin claim for the land. A couple of years ago, an official inquiry committee, formed by the government and headed by a retired justice of the Supreme Court, recommended recognizing many of the villages and putting an end to the problem. The government buried this report, along with many other.

The Bedouins, once the proud natives of the south, are now the poorest population in Israel. Most of them used to serve in the IDF, but after the treatment they got from the state, many refuse army service these days. Crime rate in the Bedouin towns is on the rise, illiteracy and unemployment are the highest in Israel. Under such conditions, it is no surprise that the Islamic movement is getting stronger in the south. Nobody else would provide support, comfort and political empowerment for the local population. The Israeli response is to push the Bedouins harder.

A few years ago, the Israeli minister of infrastructure ordered the tiny fields of El-Arakib – out of which the locals barely make a living – be sprayed with poisonous chemicals from the air. This was the Israeli version of Agent Orange, used against our own citizens. The minister who sent the planes was Avigdor Lieberman. Today, he is the face Israel is showing the world.

On Monday night, when word of the evacuation came, some thirty Israeli activist rushed to the Negev, trying to stand by the village’s people. But there was nothing they could do against hundreds of soldiers and policemen.

This is from a report by one of the activists, posted the following day on Facebook:

Soldiers – facers covered – run into the village. Several residents and activists who were standing in their way are beaten, pushed back, thrown to the ground. A young woman pushes her way in, trips, falls onto the rocks, and cries out in pain. A soldiers stands over her, covered in black, face veiled, and laughs a laugh that I will never forget.

(…)

Bulldozers are razing the village now. They crush the tin shanties, uproot everything that stands in their path. The villagers watch, too tired even to shout. One of them cries out in pain when the bulldozer pulls the olive trees out of the ground. “Leave the trees, at least, what have they done wrong? We’ve been growing them for ten years now.” “You shouldn’t even have shade,” murmurs one of the policemen.

Here is a sad video of the events:

How is it that a government which claims to be unable to evacuate a single “illegal” outpost in the West Bank can bulldozer an entire village overnight? Social activist Gadi Elgazi has the answer: right now, anything not Jewish in Israel is under attack.

Why bring upon the people of el-Arakib this destruction? Just the day before the demolitions, the recent remarks of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the proposed Loyalty Law were published. Netanyahu stated his position clearly:

“We are a nation state, which means that the overall sovereignty of the country is reserved for the Jewish people. [...] Today, an international campaign is being waged against the definition of Israel as a Jewish state. I do not want to leave things as is [without a revised loyalty oath, GA], because we are under attack on this matter. The significance of these attacks is that various elements are liable to demand their own national rights and the rights of a state within the state of Israel – in the Negev, for example, if it becomes a region without a Jewish majority. This happened in the Balkans and constitutes a real threat.” (My emphases; Netanyahu’s declaration was included in Haaretz Hebrew edition (26.7.2010), but not in the English one)

The words are clear: the state belongs to the Jews, not to all its citizens. Full civil equality of its citizens – individual and collective – constitutes a threat. Then the mirror effect: imagined aggression (“under attack”, “real threat”) justifies actual aggression. The Bedouin in the Negev are transformed into a “real threat,” because something might happen there; Netanyahu doesn’t say what but refers to the Balkans. There were several cases of ethnic cleansings in the Balkans. Proponents of ethnic cleansing often explain that they are merely defending themselves from a minority group, whose very existence is for them a threat.

What are the Bedouin accused of? How did their very existence become a “real threat”? The Negev, says Netanyahu, might become a “region without a Jewish majority.” This is truly a good one: you can move from region to the next throughout the country and discover that in a particular area within Israel, there isn’t a Jewish majority, for example between Kafr Qara’ and Umm el-Fahem, or between Sakhnin and ‘Arabe. Well, then don’t we have to do something against this threat? Yes, of course, and so we do! Think about the project of establishing the city of Harish in Wadi ‘Ara, not as a solution to the housing shortage with which the current residents of the area must contend, and not as part of development plans that will benefit all residents of the region, but rather as an attempt to use the housing shortage of the ultra-Orthodox as a tool against the Arab resident of the area – while at the same time preventing Arab citizens from developing and expanding their own communities. Just like the lookouts that were established in the North to surround and divide, to combat the “threat” of Arab communities in the Galilee.

This is an ongoing war, a war of attrition against part of citizenry of the country, a war whose arsenal includes prohibitions of construction and orders of demolition, and whose soldiers are building inspectors and the Green Patrol.

And while all of this is going on, demands are made upon Arab citizens to perform national service and to prove their loyalty to a state that is not loyal to them. Just a few weeks ago, near Shoket Junction in the Negev, in the context of everyday home demolitions, a Bedouin Soldiers Club was demolished. So what’s the message? Clearly: No service, whether military or civilian, will guarantee equal rights. The Druze of the Galilee [who perform military service] don’t exactly enjoy equality, do they?

More photos from the evacuation here. Information on the Bedouins and the problem of the unrecognized villages can be found here.


10 Comments on “In a few hours, an entire village is destroyed”

  1. 1 Tired of Shenanigans said at 10:51 am on July 28th, 2010:

    i wonder, if you will claim that the French President is a racist as well ?

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gYzpaK-t7QCmSln-Bu7UsynGdS6A

  2. 2 noam said at 12:10 am on July 29th, 2010:

    ToS: well, if the French were destroying a community that was there before their state was even born, and that they themselves admit to have legitimate claim to the ground, while offering no real alternative to the people, then yes, I think I would say that.

  3. 3 Michael LeFavour said at 1:32 am on July 29th, 2010:

    The article you linked to says the village was built “illegally”. Can you prove that it predated the reconstitution of the state of Israel? Can you prove that any of the land was private property, mulk? Something tells me you won’t be able to, but I am prepared to apologize for thinking this is nothing more than an exaggeration for propaganda purposes.

  4. 4 noam said at 2:48 am on July 29th, 2010:

    Michael: here is a post about the historical village, with ruins dating to the early 20th century. It’s in Hebrew, but you can see the pics.
    http://michaelarch.wordpress.com/2010/05/09/%D7%A1%D7%99%D7%91%D7%95%D7%91-%D7%91%D7%A9%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%93%D7%99-%D7%90%D7%9C%D7%A2%D7%A8%D7%90%D7%A7%D7%99%D7%91-%D7%9B%D7%A4%D7%A8-%D7%91%D7%93%D7%95%D7%90%D7%99-%D7%A9%D7%AA%D7%95%D7%A9%D7%91/

    at the bottom of my post there is a link to a site with more info on the unrecognized villages.

    and this is some context on the way Arabs are forced to build “illegally”:
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/israeli-arabs-have-no-choice-but-to-build-illegally-1.304777

  5. 5 Jacqui Taylor Basker said at 1:12 am on July 30th, 2010:

    The villagers have actual property titles going back to 1920 so they are not an illegal village. It is a disgrace that Israel continues to violate Jewish ethics in their agenda to demonize the Palestinians, and deprive them of their homes, land and livelihoods to drive them out.

  6. 6 Michael LeFavour said at 6:30 am on July 30th, 2010:

    Noam,

    The article you linked to states that the villages are illegal. I promise that if you start building anywhere in America without getting a permit from whatever zoning department does control the area whatever you built will be subject for demolition or law suit. There is no excuse for the land grab the Arabs are involved in. The Arabs are not “forced” to do anything, they are free to purchase homes anywhere they want in Israel or build new homes with approval. Do not seek sympathy for them and expect to be taken seriously when “they” insist that they get to determine where they build homes on state land. It does not work that way in any country.

    As to your link with the photos of ruins, if this is what you are basing ownership of a village on then all of Israel on both sides of the Jordan river belong to the Jewish people. Why the double standard? Reverse racism.

    Ms Basker,

    Have you seen the titles? Or did they just tell you they have titles and you believed it? If they do have them then you can direct me to where this can be confirmed through legal records, no? The fact is it is an illegal village and none of the residents have actual free held title to the land, “miri”, not from 1920, not even from 1820.

    “It is a disgrace that Israel continues to violate Jewish ethics in their agenda to demonize the Palestinians, and deprive them of their homes, land and livelihoods to drive them out.”

    Are they Israelis as Noam is all so outraged over or are they the mythical group of Arabs calling themselves Palestinians now? The real disgrace is the Jews that do not understand Jewish ethics because of their agenda to demonize Israel and deprive Jews of their ancestral homeland. So the question is why have you allowed yourself to become a stooge for anti-Israel propaganda?

  7. 7 Lisa Goldman said at 7:09 am on July 30th, 2010:

    Michael –

    The West Bank settlement of Ofra is illegal – in fact, it has a sewage system that is built on stolen Palestinian land. But the Israeli government, rather than evicting the Jewish residents of Ofra from their illegally established settlement, has chosen to ignore both the supreme court and international law by allowing the settlers to stay. In fact, the settlers have more water than their Palestinian neighbours. They also have electricity, cablevision and rapid internet access. Ofra is one of dozens of illegal settlements in the West Bank.

    The Bedouin of Israel had their villages declared illegal retroactive to the establishment of the state of Israel. The same thing happened to Palestinian villages in the Galilee. Not only are they denied basic services like electricity, water, bus routes and access roads, but they are also forced to live with the constant threat of eviction and displacement. The Israeli government does not offer to relocate them or compensate them, as they did the settlers of Gush Katif.

    Many Bedouin serve in the IDF, by the way.

  8. 8 Michael LeFavour said at 3:56 pm on July 30th, 2010:

    Lisa,

    Where is the west bank? That is an ethnic cleansing term. The region has been called something else for thousands of years. I have a geography book from 1884 in my collection that does not show the west bank, but it does show Judea and Samaria, for example.

    What are you basing your claim that Ofra is illegal on? Some skewed report written by an idiot working for an Anti-Israel group like B’Tselem? An activist’s opinion is hardly a legal source and I find it funny when people waltz in throwing “international law” around as if just saying it means we should all stop what we are doing and listen. The Ministerial Committee for Settlement recognized Ofra as a community on 26 July 1977. No other Jordanian or Mandatory law matters, because that that claim that they do are assuming the land belongs to Jordan legally when it does not, so cherry picking through them to find some thread bare excuse to label the buildings of Ofra illegal are not worth discussing.There is no sovereign contesting the application of Israeli law, because the land legally belongs to Israel regardless of what the anti-Semites and tin pot dictators in the world cackle about at the UN.

    From the way I understand it Plia Albeck and Ron Fleischer in their book, “Land Law in Israel” get it wrong when they claim that land registered in the Land Registry to Arabs, automatically mean that it is “private property”. They seem to have blurred the distinction between mulk and miri land into the Western concept of land tenure, which may be convenient, but is inaccurate. Just because a resident lived on a plot of land and could sell it and will it to his heirs, even for generations, did not mean it was privately owned. The title to miri land was held by the Ottoman Sultan. Miri is what the vast majority of Arabs lived on and farmed. Actual private property was less than 6% of the land and most of that was in large cities. The residents of the land before the state was reconstituted were basically lease holders on the property at the whim of the government. Peace Now, for example, recently made claims about land ownership in Judea and Samaria and ended up with egg all over their face because they ignored the legal status of mulk vs miri land. So I ask, what proof do you have of property ownership even in the case of Ofra, which is not what I asked for?

    Also, since you are an international law expert, are you aware that the right to settle on state owned land and land purchased by locals anywhere within the boundaries of Mandatory Palestine was granted to the Jewish people, wherever they may resided at the time, by an instrument of the Treaty of Lausanne? The instrument of that treaty was called the Mandate for Palestine. Because as an expert on international law you know that according to the Vienna Convention once a right is established by a treaty the “right” is not lost upon the expiration of the treaty unless another treaty abrogates that right. So knowing that, the question for you would be, what abrogates the rights of the Jewish people to live in their ancestral homeland? What sovereign’s land is Israel occupying? And why do you use ethnic cleansing terms like “west bank”? And who cares if the residents of Ofra have electricity, cable tv, and high speed Internet?

    “The Bedouin of Israel had their villages declared illegal retroactive to the establishment of the state of Israel.”

    This is a gem. Is there any way Israel could have made a declaration before the state was reconstituted? What you seem to be saying is that there is no Saudi funded plan to help Arabs grab land all over Israel and that Israel was supposed to allow villages cobbled together on land reserved for the Jewish diaspora to stand once Israel became a modern sovereign, right? Can you show, by example, which village existed before the Israel became a state, that suddenly became illegal for no apparent reason after the state gained sovereign status?

    I am glad that some Bedouin serve in the IDF. What does that have to do with illegal land grabs used as a weapon against the Jewish people?

  9. 9 Lisa Goldman said at 10:55 pm on July 30th, 2010:

    Michael –

    Michael –

    Ofra is illegal according to the ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court.

    The rest of your comment verges on the psychotic – not to mention ill-informed. I don’t think you are amenable to reason and life’s kinda short, so I’m going to leave this exchange as is.

  10. 10 Michael LeFavour said at 6:56 am on July 31st, 2010:

    Lisa,

    Lisa,

    Ofra “may” be illegal (or more accurately some of Ofra may be illegal) “if” you accept that Arab Palestine (Jordan) was in lawful possession of land west of the river it stole its name from and “if” you pretend that the land was not res nullius when the state of Israel gained legal possession of it.

    Thanks for linking me to the court decision so I can look it over. Assuming there is an actual decision, I wonder if the macro issue was dodged by the court? Just like the bogus ICJ recommendation concerning the security barrier, no doubt the leftist stooges on Israel’s Supreme Court had a micro focus that ignored the larger picture and the issues I just mentioned.

    I am ignorant about Ofra, but I am not sure how this establishes that I am psychotic? Is there shame in not knowing every detail about every issue? Unlike some, I do not pretend to be an expert on everything I have an opinion on. That is why I asked you to clear it up for me by brining evidence. I figured it would be too much trouble for your sort when I asked for help. Thanks for nothing.

    You must be projecting when you state I am not amenable to reason considering your illogical crusade to harm the state of Israel and your rather colorful reporting of the world around you. Not being Jewish or Israeli, or Christian, or Muslim, I am a driven absolutely by logic and reason.

    Assuming there was a court decision, my reservation on agreeing with any label of “illegality” the court may have determined is whether the determination was a political one or an actual legal one. If the court accepted that Jordanian law was in effect when Ofra was established I have a problem with that. Israel, for political purposes only, refusing to extend civil control over what rightfully belongs to the state in Ofra yet treating Jerusalem, or Tel Aviv for that matter, different is unreasonable and illogical in my view.

    As to being ill-informed, that is why I ask questions. Your inability to answer them speaks volumes for your own level of knowledge. Go ahead and carry on your propaganda war, no sense letting minor details like accuracy get in the way. Life is short for the selfish and the self centered, or at least that is what the Kapos said to justify their actions against the Jews of their time I am told.