Monday, June 25, 2007


Ha'aretz reports on the destruction of a Bedouin town in the Negev:
"The Israel Land Administration (ILA), with the assistance of a large police force and IDF soldiers, demolished dozens of tin shack homes Monday in the unrecognized Bedouin villages Um Al-Hiran and A-Tir in the northern Negev.

The ILA is destroying the village built on government-owned land and evacuating its inhabitants so that a Jewish Community named 'Hiran' can be established in the area. Fourteen shacks, which housed some 100 people, have been destroyed by bulldozers so far.

Bedouin women attempted to get their children out of the house but police wanted to speed up the process so they grabbed the play pens with the children inside and did not let the mothers come near...

"According to Adallah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the residents of the village have been living there for 51 years. They were transferred to the site in 1956 while under martial law. The land they originally owned was transferred to Kibbutz Shoval, while the Bedouin were leased 3000 dunam of land for agriculture and grazing.

"In August 2001 the ILA submitted a report on the establishment of new communities, which included Hiran. The Bedouin residents living in the area appeared under the title of 'special problems' that may affect the establishment of the community.

"The government approved the establishment of Hiran in 2002, and in 2004 the state submitted a court order claiming that residents of Al Hiran should be evacuated as they are using state lands without permission."

I'm not sure how many Israelis will hear of this story. Of those who do, many will focus on the "squatter" issue, seeing it simply as a matter of law and order. Many others will find it terrible, a violation of the principles they try to uphold. Too few will see how it fits into a narrative of expansion at Arab expense, one which to many Arabs goes back through decades of racism in Israeli land policy to forced evacuations during the Israeli War of Independence and discriminatory land and labor policies long before that, seen as necessary to strengthen and expand the Jewish community in Palestine. I've posted before about points I think Arabs need to recognize, but until Israelis recognize the power and legitimacy of this narrative, peace will remain difficult to achieve.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)



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