Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Israel news: the Bedouin and the Rabbis

Here are some headlines you might have missed in the last few days. Let’s take a fresh look at them.

Today’s selection comes from December 12-15, 2013.

The war against Israel

-Israel Complains to Dutch Ambassador Over Water Boycott (12/12/13, Arutz Sheva

-Bill in Jordan: Violence Against Israel Isn't Terrorism (12/12/13, Arutz Sheva)

-PA Formally Refuses to Recognize Jewish State (12/13/13, Arutz Sheva

The Leftist war against Israel

- Haifa University Rejects Nobel-Winning Professor Over Politics (12/15/13, Arutz Sheva

-Ministers Endorse NGO Taxation - Livni to Appeal (12/15/13, Arutz Sheva)

- NGO bill approved by ministers despite controversy (12/15/13, Ynet)

-'Rabbis for Human Rights' Compares Israel to Czarist Russia(12/12/13, Arutz Sheva)


There are many story lines to talk about during this news cycle. You’ll read about only one today. For the others, you’ll have to do your own research.

It’s a story about Arabs and Rabbis.

A Leftist organization in Israel, called, Rabbis for Human Rights, has come out with a film. The film presents their position on a controversy in Israel’s Negev region.  

The controversy is about the Bedouin.

Many Bedouin live in the Negev. According to some, they are the fastest growing population in the world. They have a terrible housing problem.

These Negev Bedouin do not live in cities or towns. They live in the desert. They sprawl on land they do not own. They live in shanties that do not meet Israel’s building code.

Everyone agrees that Bedouin squat illegally on State land. Everyone agrees that their encampments lack—for the most part--proper access to water, electricity or other vital services.

What no one can agree on is, what to do about it all.

One major problem is, Israel itself. As everyone who lives in Israel knows, buying a house in Israel is not easy. If you want to own a house or apartment, you need paperwork. You must negotiate your way through the bureaucracy. Every Israeli goes through the same process. Everyone groans.

Except the Bedouin. They’re not like other Israelis. They’re nomads. They don’t ‘do’ paperwork.

So, unlike everybody else in Israel, they live where they want—with no paperwork, no permits and no building codes.

Bedouin are not, as some claim, ‘Palestinian’. They are a distinct group. They are Israeli citizens. Unlike many Leftists, they serve in Israel’s army.

They are also very stubborn.

To help solve the Bedouin housing/infrastructure/services problem, the government came up with a plan. The plan was designed to legalize some Bedouin communities, while relocating others. It would compensate anyone moved.

For a bureaucratic plan, it seemed perfect. It attempted to solve a big problem with a little thought. Unfortunately, it had all the makings of being the wrong plan for the wrong people at the wrong time for the wrong place. It may even have been the one plan that was doomed from the beginning because of anti-Israel politics—which, of course, the bureaucratic planners had failed to anticipate.

Briefly, the plan was to move app 30,000 Bedouin from their unauthorized and often isolated encampments to newly built ‘towns’ (or, perhaps, one ’town’).

On paper, the plan seemed to address all issues: housing, sewage, clean water, etc.

In reality, it lighted a fire.

For one thing, the new buildings to be built were to be typical of Israel. They would be high-rise apartment buildings.

For Israel, with limited space, such construction makes a lot of sense. It’s a good idea. Except for one thing: Bedouin don’t live in high-rise buildings.


Bedouin are desert people, remember? They live in one-story shanty-type structures. Why would they move into high-risers?

Nevertheless, the bureaucrats pushed forward. Supposedly, 15,000 Bedouin had said they wanted this move (the move is about 5-9 km from where they now live). Supposedly, someone got Bedouin leadership to approve the plan. Supposedly.

In the end, everyone got angry. The Bedouin denied agreeing to anything. The Palestinian Authority accused Israel of ethnic cleansing.  As soon as the Europeans heard, ‘ethnic cleansing’, they jumped on the ‘get-Israel’ bandwagon.   Europeans are like that. They have no clue how Israel works. They have no clue who’s a Muslim and who’s not, who’s Palestinian, who’s not. They have no clue what the land here looks like—its geography, ecology, topography, archaeology.

But for Europeans, when it comes to Jews, ignorance has never been a barrier. As soon as the Bedouin story hit the news, human rights groups began to cry, ‘ethnic cleansing, ethnic cleansing’ as if it was a war-cry to call out the anti-Jew protesters.

Actually, it is a war-cry. It did call out the anti-Jew protesters.  

Somewhere along the line, a report surfaced that the Bedouin had begun to wave Palestinian flags. They aren’t Palestinian. Why would they wave Palestinian flags?

Nobody asked that question. Nobody cared.

It made the news. That’s all that counted.

Was any of this true?

Nobody knew. This is Israel. Nobody cared.

It was onto this raucous stage that the Rabbis for Human Rights stepped. They wanted to join with the innocent Arab vs the evil Jew.  

They made a film. They called the film, ‘Fiddler with no roof.’

Get it? It’s a variation of the title, ‘Fiddler on the roof,’ an old Broadway musical about Jews in Czarist Russia.

The point of the film was that the Bedouin in the Negev are exactly like the Jews of Czarist Russia. In the film, these Leftist ‘Rabbis’ compared the cruel fate of truly oppressed Jews of Czarist Russia to the fate of these Bedouin. The film suggested that if the Jews of Czarist Russia did not obey expulsion orders, they faced forced cleansing and pogroms; and as one critic of the film said, by watching this film, “The average person is likely to conclude that the Bedouin” faced a similar fate.

It was pure anti-Israel propaganda—with a catchy title.

Well, guess who came to the rescue? The Europeans and the Leftist Rights Rabbis might not like this, but the rescuers turned out to be the Jews themselves. Worse still, it was the very bureaucrat (he shall remain nameless) who supposedly had started all this brouhaha who ended it: he announced that the plan was dead. The government (read, ‘bureaucrats’) would start all over again, he said. They would come up with a new idea because, he said, the Bedouin housing problem wasn’t going to go away.

Damn Jews. They’re so evil, they’re actually going to try again to solve the Bedouin housing problem.

What must the G-d of Israel think of all this?



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