Guardian’s latest assault on Israel’s legitimacy includes more absurd charges of “ethnic cleansing”

On October 5th the Guardian published two items – an article by MK Talab el Sana and a letter signed by a number of well-known and prolific anti-Israel activists – on the subject of the Negev Bedouin. Due to their fact-free one-sided nature and the omission of any alternative perspective, as well as their being timed to coincide with a demonstration to be held the next day in Israel, both items can only be seen as co-operation with and enabling of a political campaign.

Cif Watch has covered the issue of the disputes between Israeli Bedouin and the State many times in response to the plethora of previous Guardian articles on the subject. Some of those articles can be read here, here, here and here.

The published letter employs the highly inflammatory –and totally inaccurate – phrase “ethnic cleansing” and falsely suggests that the residents of the illegally constructed Bedouin encampments do not have access to Israeli hospitals. The letter’s writers also employ the now popular political tactic of describing  the Bedouin as Palestinians, stating that “[t]he British government must condemn any move to evict the Palestinian citizens of Israel from their lands, which were documented under the British Mandate as privately owned Palestinian land – not ownerless as the Israeli state now claims.”

The facts are of course somewhat different than this emotionally charged letter would suggest. Dr. Thabet Abu Ras, a professor of political geography at Ben Gurion University and director of the Adalah Negev Project (also a member of ACRI and a former director of Shatil), has documented the actual sequence of events:

 (emphasis added, Naqab =Negev)

“In 1858, the Turks enacted a law requiring that the names of landowners be officially recorded as a means of regulating land-related matters in the Ottoman Empire.  There were five categories of land in the Ottoman Empire: Mulk (land under private ownership),  Miri (state-owned land that could be cultivated for a one-time fee), Mauqufa (land in a religious trust or Islamic endowment), Metruka (uncultivated land), and Mawat (wasteland unsuitable for cultivation). Most of the land in the Naqab was categorized as Mawat. The Bedouin of the Naqab were opposed to the creation of a written record of their land holdings, since doing so would make them subjects of foreign rule. As such, they would be required to pay taxes and serve in the Ottoman army. 

In 1921, the British Mandate government issued an order calling for residents of the Naqab to register their land. The Bedouin, who were given a two-month extension, did not do so, and their land remained unregistered. According to the Land Ordinance (Mawat) of 1921, a Bedouin who cultivated revitalized and improved Mawat land was given a certificate of ownership for that land, which was then recategorized as Miri. The courts of the new State of Israel, a country born 27 years later, ruled that any Bedouin who passed up the opportunity to register Mawat land in his name in 1921 and did not receive a certificate of ownership was no longer eligible to do so.”

In other words, the fact that many contemporary residents of the Negev cannot produce documentation in support of their claims to various lands is a result of the choices made by their ancestors. It should be made clear that all privately owned land (‘Tabu’) in Israel (whether owned by Jews, Arabs, Bedouin or any other section of the population) is exclusively land which was purchased and registered before the establishment of the state and that the government has issued compulsory purchase orders for lands privately owned by individuals in all sectors in order to facilitate town planning and development.

In his article MK Talab el Sana also promotes the myth of Bedouin ownership of most, if not all, Negev land and he too employs the term “ethnic cleansing”, as promoted by the Higher Steering Committee, and despite the fact that a contemporary population of 200,000 (more conservative estimates place the figure at 160,000) compared to 11,000 in 1953 would indicate quite the opposite. No-one is suggesting the removal the Bedouin from the Negev; in fact at the time of the return of the Sinai in the early 80s, many opted to remain in Israel under an offer made by the Israeli government rather than to return to Egyptian rule. 

The Israeli government has made numerous attempts over the years to solve the disputes with the 40% of the Negev Bedouin population which does not currently live in one of the seven purpose-built towns. Additional new towns are planned, with offers of free land, a waiver on infrastructure development costs and financial relocation packages for those moving there from illegally constructed encampments. No other sector of Israeli society is eligible for these benefits. 

Rahat – one of the seven Bedouin towns in the Negev

As anyone who has driven along the southbound road out of Be’er Sheva in recent years will appreciate, the much-used term ‘unrecognised villages’ in fact refers to an ever-expanding network of unauthorised shanty towns such as those pictured below.  The provision of 21st century facilities and services to such a vast number of illegally constructed encampments is simply impossible. 


In order to fully understand the issue of the disputes between successive Israeli governments and certain groups of the Negev Bedouin, (and why they are so difficult to solve) it is necessary to appreciate the political agendas of some of those promoting the subject both at home and abroad. That, of course, is essential background which the Guardian does not provide for its readers. 

Talab el Sana, for example, is a member of the ‘Ra’am’ party, otherwise known as the United Arab List, which enjoys particularly strong support among the Bedouin. That party is dominated by the Southern Islamic Movement which, although more moderate than its Northern counterpart under the leadership of Raed Salah, does not recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state but takes part in the political process. Its ideology is closely related to that of its parent movement, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Another organization heavily involved in the promotion of the dispute between the Negev Bedouin and the Israeli government as a means of delegitimisation of the Jewish state is Adalah which calls for the replacement of the Jewish state with a ‘democratic, bilingual and multicultural’ country in which Jewish immigration would be limited to strictly humanitarian cases but Palestinian refugees and their descendants would be entitled to the ‘right of return’. The director of Adalah’s Negev Project, the abovementioned Thabet Abu Ras, is also a prominent member of the NCALC which constitutes the majority party in the High Follow-Up Committee. The joint manifesto of these two bodies calls for Israel to lose its Jewish identity and become a ‘state of all its citizens’.  Ironically, Adalah is also involved in a legal campaign to remove Jewish residents from the Negev area.

In publishing both Talab el Sana’s markedly subjective article and the highly inaccurate and inflammatory accompanying letter from well-known anti-Israel activists, the Guardian has once more offered its services as collaborator with and propagandist for political organisations which, through exploitation of the Bedouin’s grievances, seek to delegitimize and undermine the state of Israel. 

20 replies »

  1. Excellent.

    The Guardian is complicit in an attempt to justify illegal activities by constantly presenting articles with no opposing voice that can state the facts in order to create the impression that there is a case to be made on this issue.

  2. Excellent reporting Israelinurse. I very much appreciate your in-depth research into this contentious matter. Have you tried sending your report to the Guardian? You never know, they might even publish it. Miracles might happen

  3. “the Guardian has once more offered its services as collaborator with and propagandist for political organisations which, through exploitation of the Bedouin’s grievances, seek to delegitimize and undermine the state of Israel.”

    As it does virtually every day of the year. Just look, for example, at all the anti-Israeli spin Owen Bowcott puts on the attempted arrest of Livni:

    Tzipi Livni spared war crime arrest threat

  4. There was a wholesale deletion of pro-Israeli posts on that thread of Talab el Sana.

    Yet a post by a poster called Namokel wrote……

    “The Negev Bedouins are not Jews.They don’t count….They are considered sub-human;hence it is not racist as such.”………..

    That post is still standing having racked up 72 recommendations.

    They deleted relevant posts and left this nasty racist comment still standing……………………………

  5. I haven’t been here in awhile. Good to know CIFwatch is still on the job.

    too bad it hasn’t changed the character of the guardian. you think their editors would take note.

  6. Interesting stuff.

    Now: is the Guardian more obsessed with Israel, or is CIFWatch more obsessed with the Guardian?

    • Is CiF Watch, which was established to monitor the Guardian’s blog, CiF, obsssed with the Guardian?

      An interesting question.

      I wonder if the British Medical Association is obsessed with medical issues.

      • This answer appears to be a bit stupid. But Guardian is definitely more obsessed, it is the obsessive

    • biny, Perhaps you would be more comfortable if the islamofascists “sons of pigs and dogs” don’t complain as they are forced to the cattle cars?

      Happy Nakba biny!

      • TGIAI, I really don’t mean to give offence and I recognise the passion with which you hold your views, but do you think you could hold back on the “happy Nakba” stuff?

        I have never met you, but I venture to suggest that such sentiments don’t do you any service. They also make you seem to be rejoicing over what Palestinians, however misguidedly and theatrically, have call their “tragedy”. (You and I both know, however, that the real tragedy is of their own making and is down to the the bone-headedness of their leadership and Islam, but that’s by the by).

        Again, I don’t mean to offend.

        • Yohoho. The “Nakba” is the name given to the FAILURE of islamofascists to MURDER every Jew they believed they could get their hands on in Israel.

          Nothing more. Nothing less.

          The “Nakba” was in 1948. Just 3 years after the end of WW2 and the official end of the Holocaust and who would not have expected the Jews in Israel to end up as their bretheren in Europe did.

          I CELEBRATE the “Nakba” as I celebrate the defeat, the unconditional surrender of nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, fascist Italy and the rest of the axis.

    • Q. is the Guardian more obsessed with Israel, or is CIFWatch more obsessed with the Guardian?

      A. Der Guardian is more obsessed with Israel.

      Next Question.

    • “is CIFWatch more obsessed with the Guardian?”

      No different to the obsession that Jews in the 1930s had with Joseph Goebbels and Julius Streicher.

  7. Well done, Israelinurse.

    Of course the Guardian wouldn’t recognise the facts on the ground if it fell over them.

    A noxious seam running through all its anti-Israel vomit is its total lack of respect for the critical faculties of its ever-diminishing readership. It is playing to its choir of haters and feeding the Israel-hating beast what it thinks it wants to eat.

    Disgraceful, yes, but since when did the gutter press ever care about honestly informing its readership rather than playing on sensationalism?

  8. “Ethnic Cleansing,” Israel style. The “ethnically cleansed” who have a reasonable claim to land used for agriculture get 50% of the area claimed elsewhere together with proper amenities to continue and possibly improve their yields while those with more dubious claims get paid NIS 20000 (a little more than $5000) per acre and new housing.

    Oh, and one more thing. Absolutely nothing can be done about implementing the recommendations until the appropriate legislation has been formulated and passed in the Knesset and the new housing in existing or planned townships has been built. So the 60 day evacuation hysteria in another article in the Guardian is just as malevolent as MK Talab A-Sana’s original CiF contribution.

  9. Heyyy I *like* this thread! Here a better question – do we give the Guardian credit more (when credit is due to the Guardian), or does the Guardian give Israel credit more (when credit is due to Israel)?

    And keep up the work Israelinurse!

  10. Definitely CW. CW authors always tell the truth, and give the Guardian it’s due, whether the articles are good or bad. But the Guardian is always telling falsehoods about Israel and the GOP.