Israel’s Prawer Plan: A New Trail of Tears
The Israeli government and Netanyahu administration are going ahead with plans to ethnically cleanse between 30,000 and 70,000 Bedouin Israeli citizens from the area of their ancient homeland into new abodes. It is the so-called Prawer Plan (or Prawer-Begin Plan):
The United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recently stated that carrying out such a relocation without Bedouin consent is a violation of international law.
OCHA also said that the proposed relocation site will put at risk the Bedouin peoples’ health and way of life. “The proposed site does not meet minimum standards in terms of distance from the municipal dumping grounds, which is likely to pose a health hazard to the communities, and provides limited access to grazing lands. Previously relocated families report negative consequences, including health concerns, loss of livelihood, deteriorated living conditions, loss of tribal cohesion and erosion of traditional lifestyles.”
It goes without saying, Israel needs to abandon this malicious plan to quite literally throw the Bedouin into the garbage.
These people being ethnically cleansed aren’t Palestinians residing in the West Bank or Gaza. They are Israeli citizens. Why are they being forcibly relocated?
The Israeli government on Sunday authorized construction plans for two new settlements in the southern Negev region, one of which is slated to be established on territory currently inhabited by a number of unrecognized Bedouin communities.
The planned establishment of Hiran and Kassif was announced during a special cabinet meeting that took place at the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute in Sde Boker to mark the fortieth anniversary of the death of Israel’s first prime minister.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the decision and declared that the step would further the vision propounded by David Ben-Gurion.
The plan will ‘expedite the development of the entire Negev,’ the prime minster said, adding that Ben-Gurion ‘very much wanted to achieve’ such a goal.
Over the past weekend, demonstrations in Israel, the West Bank, Europe, the USA and elsewhere were held, in solidarity with the Bedouin, who are being rewarded for generations of willing subservience to the Israeli state with something that can easily be compared with our own country’s southeast USA Trail of Tears, brutally enforced between 1831 and 1837:
In 1831 the Choctaw were the first to be removed, and they became the model for all other removals. After the Choctaw, the Seminole were removed in 1832, the Creek in 1834, then the Chickasaw in 1837, and finally the Cherokee in 1838. After removal, some Native Americans remained in their ancient homelands – the Choctaw are found in Mississippi, the Seminole in Florida, the Creek in Alabama, and the Cherokee in North Carolina. A limited number of non-native Americans (including African-Americans – usually as slaves) also accompanied the Native American nations on the trek westward. By 1837, 46,000 Native Americans from these southeastern states had been removed from their homelands thereby opening 25 million acres for predominantly white settlement.
Israeli reactions to Bedouin protests and solidarity actions across that country have been somewhat harsh. Reactions by members of the openly racist Israeli government have been poorly reported in US media so far, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, but Haaretz reports:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the protests Saturday evening with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino. According to the Prime Minister’s Bureau, Netanyahu lauded the police force’s efforts and its ‘steadfast work in the face of the protesters.’
Netanyahu said, ‘We will not put up with such unruliness”‘and that lawbreakers would be held to account. ‘There has not been and will not be any tolerance of lawbreakers. The attempt of a loud and violent minority to prevent a better future for a large and wide population is severe. We will continue advancing the bill for a better future for all residents of the Negev,’ he said.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also responded to the protests. In a post on his Facebook page, Lieberman criticized the protesters.
‘We are fighting for the national land of the Jewish people, and there are those who are trying to steal [this land] and take it over by force,’ he said, adding that he initially opposed the Prawer-Begin bill but eventually decided to support it because he was told that the Bedouin leaders had consented to the plan.
‘Just like we had feared, the Bedouin are only interested in the “carrot” – the benefits and the alternative land – while making every effort, even through violence, to oppose the “stick,”‘ he continued. ‘They must leave the land on which they reside illegally.’
Lieberman also called on the government to rethink the entire plan and nix the benefits that were promised to the Bedouin. [emphases added]
It is hard to make a comparison to this reaction to that of American politicians in the face of Native American resistance to having to leave their ancestral farms for the plains of Oklahoma. It is as if, had Andrew Jackson been Lieberman, he had stated “Screw the land deal. We’re going to sell you all on the slave blocks in New Orleans!” Or something like that.
In the Negev, where the removals will soon commence, police were fairly brutal:
During Sunday’s protest, four protesters were wounded by Israeli police forces who attacked the non-violent demonstration, and two were abducted. The abductees were identified as an employee of the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, who was on the scene as a human rights observer, and a resident of the Bedouin village of Rafat, identified as Yunis Moussa Abu Abed.
The Knesset Committee whose visit prompted the protest was formed to implement the Prawer Plan for mass displacement of the Palestinian Bedouins from their ancestral homes. While Israeli lawmakers argued that the forced displacement was necessary, and that the Bedouins would be moved into reservations created by the Israeli government, the Bedouin’s representatives pointed out that similar reservations set up by the Israeli government in the past have been neglected and lacking in infrastructure and government support.
One such Bedouin reservation was established by the Israeli government adjacent to the Jerusalem city dump, and thousands of Bedouins who were forced to move there have complained of a complete lack of facilities or infrastructure, and total neglect by the Israeli government. [emphases added]
To cover up their brutality, the government is trying to implement rather severe measures against all media who were present:
Police ordered Israeli media outlets on Monday to turn over all photographs taken at Saturday’s Negev demonstrations against plans to resettle 30,000 of the area’s Bedouin.
Police provided no explanation for the unusual order, but they are investigating violent clashes between stone-throwing demonstrators and police, who employed stun grenades, tear gas and water cannons during the protests against the Prawer plan.
The “day of rage” demonstrations ended with 34 protesters arrested and 15 officers wounded.
The Southern District of the Israel Police communicated the order, which was approved by Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court judge Sarah Habib, directly to photographers via a text message.
“All the media in the State of Israel to hand over any documentation of the riots at Hura Junction and the surroundings on November 30, 2013,” the message said.
Most Israeli press outlets and journalist advocacy organizations are protesting the orders:
Arik Bachar, the secretary general of the Israel Press Council, said on Monday his organization successfully intervened in two similar cases in recent years.
“The High Court of Justice has already decided that turning to a journalist is only the last resort, and that when it comes to decisions of this kind [the police] shouldn’t be trigger happy,” said Bachar. “The Press Council will keep an eye open and intervene on the issue as necessary. In any case, we recommend that journalists who received such an order file an objection, and in the event that it is denied they should take the case to higher judicial instances.”
The implementation of the ethnic cleansing plan is scheduled to come up again in the Knesset in January. The Knesset is the most right-wing in Israeli history, and is not about to moderate soon. Just this weekend, the Economy Minister, widely regarded to be a person being groomed to become Netanyahu’s successor, stated, regarding negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the separate issue of West Bank sovereignty:
Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett has voiced opposition to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state or the notion of ceding any land to the Palestinians as part of any future peace deal.
‘Palestinians are trying to kill Israelis, and Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] doesn’t want to sign a peace agreement,’ Bennett said in a Sunday interview on Israeli television.
And a commenter at the Haaretz article quoted above, regarding the Negev ethnic cleansing operation, possibly echoed the sentiments of the people who want to advance Bennett:
they speak foreign(arabic) their flags are foreign everything about them is not right. They want to live under palestinian flags then they should move to gaza or west bank. Build Israel Build!!!
On a different note, author Max Blumenthal will be appearing at the National Press Club in two hours. He’s made it inside the beltway fortress:
Committee For The Republic
Empire Salon with Max Blumenthal
Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel
Monday, December 2, 2013
National Press Club: The Main Ballroom
529 14th Street NW 13th Floor
Cocktails & hors d’oeuvres served
Good for the Committee for the Republic, for standing up to pressure to cancel this talk.