Jewish Journal

Bedouins in Negev Face Demolition of Communities, Forced Urbanization

by Jeremy Elster

June 25, 2014 | 6:15 am

The story of the Bedouin village of Al-Arakib is one of tragedy and loss. Since 2010, the government has demolished the village more than 70 times to displace the Bedouin families living there, who are not recognized by the State, and to plant the Ambassadors Forest on the land. On 12 June police forces entered the cemetery of the village for the first time to raze structures, water cisterns, and even part of the village mosque.

In 2011, the Israeli government began promoting the Prawer Plan, formally titled the “Bill on the Arrangement of of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev”, which controversially called to uproot dozens of “unrecognized villages” and resettle the Bedouin communities into one poorly planned township nearby. The bill, which sparked local and international protests, passed its first reading in the Knesset. Under the intense scrutiny of protests, the author of the bill admitted that he had never included the Bedouin in the drafting, planning, or approval process and later recommended that the bill be tabled. For a more just and inclusive solution to the issue of unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev, look at the Alternative Master Plan designed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Bimkom - Planners for Planning Rights, and the Bedouin communities.

And yet, the Jewish National Fund, who seeks to plant a forest on their lands, continues to promote the harmful myth of cooperation and acceptance by the Bedouin. In a March 2014 blog post from the Denmark Staff mission to the region, they write:

After seeing the Bedouin shepherds grazing their flocks in Ambassador Forest, Tove Marianne Hesse, a KKL-JNF Denmark board member, said that this should be published in the Danish media. "Unlike everything else you hear so often, this is something positive. No one in Denmark knows that KKL-JNF reaches agreements with the Bedouins and that there is a mutually beneficial relationship."

We give you a beautiful introduction to two Bedouin communities, Al Arakib and Alsira, to hear the Bedouin story from themselves. Watch the video below:

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Jeremy Elster is a Southern Californian native and New Israel Fund/SHATIL Social Justice Fellow working as the International Communications Coordinator for Israel Social TV...

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