This is a guest post from AKUS
First, a little Israeli geography, since I am sure that many will not have had their attention drawn to the plight of the Bedouin village of Qasr al-Ser/Qasr al-Sir until the Guardian enlisted the services of a well-known tooth fairy to bring it to your attention.
As you can see, its about 3 miles, or 7 km from the center of Dimona. In case the Bedouin, although known as expert trackers in the IDF and superb desert nomads, are unable to navigate the treacherous, arduous, route, Google is able to provide helpful directions which indicate that the trip should take about 15 minutes.
Driving directions from Qasr al-Sir to Dimona, Israel:
7.0 km – about 15 mins
1. Head northeast 0.8 km
2. Turn right toward Route 25 0.3 km
3. Slight right at Route 25 3.8 km
4. Turn left at Sderot Herzl/שדרות הרצל Go through 3 traffic circles
5. At the traffic circle, take the 3rd exit onto Derech David Ben Gurion/דרך דוד בן גוריון 0.2 km
6. At the traffic circle, take the 3rd exit onto David HaMelech/דוד המלך 0.2 km
My sudden interest in this Bedouin town was triggered by an article by that expert on all things Israeli, Ben White (from now on, referred to as the tooth fairy, for reasons I will later explain). His article meanders here and there like a dry wadi in the desert, but I am going to focus on Qasr al-Sir.
This individual, who in his years in Brazil was never able to notice the poverty of the favellas and the racial discrimination suffered by darker-skinned Brazilians, suddenly developed an enormous interest in the fact that Israel had to close three post-natal clinics (Tipat Chalav) serving Bedouin communities in the Negev due to staff shortages, and refer the mothers to larger clinics located in larger communities. A fairly typical example of resource planning, and one shared by the Jewish communities such as kibbutzim and moshavim in the Negev that use urban centers for their major healthcare needs.
But for the tooth fairy (and I suspect he gleans his information from an unholy alliance with another well-known Guardian hate-monger, Neve Gordon, whose “specialty” is the suffering of the Bedouin despite the fact that they seem in no hurry to leave the scene of their affliction) this is not enough:
First, three vital clinics serving Bedouin women and children have been shut down, with the result that the nearest equivalent facilities are now hours away. The official reason is a shortage of staff, but this does not sit well with the severity of the health problem among these Bedouin children, where the infant mortality rate is more than three times higher than in the Israeli Jewish community.
Leaving aside the tooth fairy’s assessment that these clinics are “vital”, (in fact, there are better alternatives nearby), the first link leads to a Ynet article that also mentions a statement that the tooth fairy somehow overlooked – the same action has affected the Jewish population:
The ministry said that over the past few years it had also shut down some clinics that served the Negev’s Jewish population.
The second link takes the reader to a document prepared by an organization known as “Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel”. The very existence of this organization stands in strange contrast to the hyperbolic headline that opens the tooth fairy’s article (“Shattering Israel’s image of ‘democracy’) and his endless claims of the repression of Arab minorities in Israel. The document leads with the statement that got me interested in identifying the whereabouts of the tragic example of Zionist harassment that has so incensed our toothy author:
On 22 October 2009, Adalah sent an urgent letter to the Deputy Minister of Health (MOH) demanding the reopening of the Mother and Child health clinic in the Arab Bedouin unrecognized village of Qasr el-Ser in the Naqab (Negev). The MOH closed the clinic last month claiming a lack of nurses and doctors who are willing to work in these centers.
Now I was wondering why on earth anyone would ever have opened a clinic in an “unrecognized village” in the first place. Was it so far from civilization? Where is this remote “unrecognized village” in the Naqab? And what is, or where is, the Naqab? I had to know.
Firstly, it turns out that the use of the term “Naqab” is an Arab alternative for the better known Hebrew word, “Negev” and that this probably represents the start of an attempt by the tooth fairy to write Jews out of the history of the Negev, as is being done with respect to Jerusalem. This despite the fact that to this very day the central town there is known as Beer Sheva, because about 3,000 years ago Abraham swore an oath (“shava”) of friendship next to a well (“be’er”) in that area with his old pal King Avimelech after they had a bit of a to do over water rights. Rather as if suddenly we referred to “Britain” as “Brython” in order to stake a Celtic claim to the place.
Moreover, the tooth fairy notes:
The Negev, or al-Naqab in Arabic, is an area that since the inception of the state has been targeted by Israeli governments, along with agencies like the Jewish National Fund (JNF), for so-called “development”.
So the Jews plant trees and grow crops in the pristine “Naqab” using that agency of the devil, the JNF, with the terrible idea of creating yet more forests in Israel. Of course, when the JNF helps Arabs plant trees in Ramallah, that escapes the tooth fairy’s attention:
A new Palestinian city, Ruwabi, is to be built soon north of Ramallah. Last month, the Jewish National Fund, an Israeli charity, helped plant 3,000 tree seedlings for a forested area the Palestinian planners say they would like to develop on the edge of the new city. Israeli experts are also helping the Palestinians plan public parks and other civic amenities.
But I digress.
Having identified the “Naqab”, I turned to Googlemaps, curious to find the remote, “unrecognized village of Qasr el-Ser” and fearing it would turn out to be miles and miles from anywhere that might have an alternative “Tipat Chalav” clinic. This will lead to yet another source of anti-Israeli demonstrations, I thought, with placards in Trafalgar Square demanding “A Tipat Chalav for Every Bedouin Camp”.
Imagine my surprise (I joke) when I found that once again, trading on the ignorance of the average CiF reader, and their laziness when it comes to actually researching the facts instead of uncritically accepting the fairy-stories the stable of Israel-hating regulars (and this tooth-fairy in particular) feed them, it turns out that the “unrecognized village” is, as I demonstrated above, but a 15 minute trip on a paved highway (#25) to the center of Dimona. Moreover, if you actually go to Googlemaps, you’ll find, right in the center of Dimona, the buildings for Maccabi, Clalit, and Leumit health services. I’ll stick my neck out (not very far) and claim that the mothers of the “unrecognized village of Qasr el-Ser” in need of help could get assistance at one or another of these clinics if, like other citizens, they take out membership. Leumit has an interesting website (note the Arabic in the top left hand corner):
Welcome to the Leumit website Our website provides you with a partial overview of the extensive scope of medical services offered by Leumit, aimed at ensuring you receive healthcare services of the very highest quality. Leumit, with more than 700,000 members, operates over 370 medical centers from Kiryat Shemonah to Eilat.
Our motto – Taking Care of Your Future Health Today – indicates our commitment to preventive healthcare as an integral part of our community services, and the emphasis we put on healthcare quality, service availability and extensive geographical coverage.
Ok – so it looks like despite the tooth fairy’s article, the mother in the “Arab Bedouin unrecognized village of Qasr el-Ser in the Naqab (Negev)” could quite easily get the same medical care as the non-Bedouin in Dimona. Those of us who care for the facts can breathe a little easier.
But why, the gentle reader is no doubt asking, am I referring to this lying author as the “tooth fairy”?
Well, one of the author’s gullible sycophants – and there are always a few among the Guardian’s Israel-bashers –ignorantly horrified by the distance the Bedouin have to travel to get healthcare (considerably less, by the way, than I do) and the rest of the rubbish in the article came up with this remarkable paean of praise to our author:
3 Dec 2009, 3:05PM
you are the bravest of the brave ben the tooth must come out
Well, Ben – it’s time to stop with the fairy stories about Israel, and start telling the tooth.
The whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth. The tooth must come out.