Guardian

The Guardian once again disguises the reality of unrecognized Bedouin “villages”


A guest post by AKUS

On Nov. 28th the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Harriett Sherwood ‘reported‘ on a letter (published at the Guardian on the same day) signed by 50 public figures such as “Antony Gormley, the actor Julie Christie, the film director Mike Leigh and the musician Brian Eno” (and Jenny Tonge) opposing an Israeli plan to remove up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from ‘their historic desert land’.

letters

Sherwood quotes the letter thus:

The eviction and destruction of about 35 “unrecognised” villages in the Negev desert will, the letter says, “mean the forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes and land, and systematic discrimination and separation.”

Leaving aside the absurd idea that people who had till quite recent times led itinerant lives moving across vast distances of the Middle East with no fixed national identity can be now labeled “Palestinian Bedouin” like politically correct produce in an organic food co-op, the article (and letter) conjure up visions of camel-riding nomads being forced to fold their goat-skin tents and leave from vast stretches of Sahara-like dunes. 

The Guardian once again is trying to promote the idea that these are Bedouin living in little villages that are the equivalent of the quaint villages one sees in reruns of “Midsommer Murders”. The reality, however, is far different.

Had Sherwood and the signatories ever bothered to take a drive down Route 40 from Beersheva, they may have found that they rather approved of the idea of relocating Bedouin from ramshackle tin huts in slum-like groups that have no running water to planned communities which provide the modern conveniences and sanitary conditions that they themselves expect and enjoy.

The photo below (which I took myself last year) depicts one “unrecognized village” a few miles south of Beersheva seen from Route 40.

one

It is “unrecognized” because it is simply an ad hoc assembly of tin and cardboard huts. The bales of hay are to feed the camels you can see in the foreground, the only reminder of this family’s nomadic past. There are dozens of these encampments strung out along the highway, and the issues of pollution, environmental destruction and sheer unsightliness are immediately evident.

So here’s the question for the 50 public figures in the UK:  

If you left Hampstead for a trip into the country, and found “unrecognized villages” like this (and there are dozens like it) strung out along the M-1, would you be protesting against the idea of moving people to better housing with modern facilities, or protesting against the British government for leaving them there?

73 replies »

  1. Sherwood reveals her ignorance and anti-Israeli bias with every word.

    The Bedouin are not Palestinians at all, but a completely different ethnicity. They are no more Palestinian than Roma are Greek. They do consider themselves Israeli and serve in the IDF.

    Further, all countries in the area have the social problem of the Bedouin itinerance and attendant social problems. Israel may well be doing more for the Bedouin (including specially-discounted land prices) than any oher country.

      • It would be interesting to see how they self-identify – as Israels, Palestinians or indeed neither.

    • [The Bedouin are not Palestinians at all, but a completely different ethnicity. They are no more Palestinian than Roma are Greek. They do consider themselves Israeli and serve in the IDF.]

      Which is why the Prawer plan especially galls so many of them.

    • [[The Bedouin are not Palestinians at all, but a completely different ethnicity.]

      That’s odd.

      “We propose that the Y chromosomes in Palestinian Arabs and Bedouin represent, to a large extent, early lineages derived from the Neolithic inhabitants of the area and additional lineages from more-recent population movements. The early lineages are part of the common chromosome pool shared with Jews (Nebel et al. 2000). According to our working model, the more-recent migrations were mostly from the Arabian Peninsula…”

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1274378/?tool=pubmed

        • I.O. said Palestinian Arabs and Bedouin are as different as Roma are to Greeks. That’s manifestly nonsense, as the former both consider themselves Arabs, the Roma and Greeks sharing no such common ethnic identity, either as to language, culture or place.

  2. The Guardian’s Jerusalem based poultry and GPS expert somehow forgot to mention the political background of the signatories of this newest manifestation of European Jew-hate – all of them are well known anti-Israeli activists. But let’s be fair to these noble warriors for human rights – see how many letters/articles authored, when and where made their voice being heard regarding the treatment of the not permanently settled European Roma population not thousands of miles from their residence but in their own country – the UK – and in their own backyard Europe. After some google research the results speak for themselves. Nada, nitchevo, niente. They don’t give a shit. Maybe the Dale-farm travelers? The same pile.
    Obviously these despicable clowns aren’t interested at all in the wellbeing of the Israeli Bedouins (and not Palestinian dear Ms. Sherwood – the Negev isn’t in a non existent Palestine but in the State of Israel) – their only interest is some fashionable Jew bashing promoted by Harriett Sherwood and the world’s leading liberal voice.

  3. yeah, the the heck is a “Palestinian-Bedouin”? I remember the time when I sat in a shared taxi with a Bedouin and all he talked about the whole ride down south was how much he couldn’t stand the Palestinians.

    • When the travelers have been evicted the Guardian somehow saw things differently:
      The Travellers were being evicted not because they were being discriminated against as an ethnic group but because they had built illegally on greenbelt land.
      Then these beautiful heroes of human rights sat silently on their collective humanist asses:
      In spite of all this, Dale Farm’s struggle has attracted almost no support from artistic voices beyond that of Vanessa Redgrave. The 2009 Belfast pogroms against Romanian Roma, likewise, were met with silence from the likes of Bono and Bob Geldof.
      Inexplicably the Guardian author in the Dale farm case understands the law:
      Although the strength of yesterday’s police response, which included the first ever use of tasers in crowd control, will raise difficult questions, the proportionate use of force was sanctioned in law:
      Note the expression: the use of proportionate force…

  4. [There are dozens of these encampments strung out along the highway, and the issues of pollution, environmental destruction and sheer unsightliness are immediately evident.]

    Not to me. The ‘unsightliness’ is in the eye of the beholder: presumably the Bedouin are happy with it. Nor is the ‘pollution’ or ‘environmental destruction’ evident: Bedouin have been living the area for 10s of 1000s of years, and there is little evidence they ‘destroy’ the wilderness.

    As for their not being ‘Palestinian’, certain groups of Bedouin do range a certain area, in this case, for the most part, Syro-Palestine-Sinai-Egypt. To call them ‘Syro-Palestinian-Sinaitic’ is hardly a misnomer. Presumably they have a name for where they range historically range, but ‘Palestine’ seems to cover a large part of it.

    Now, I do not know why, for instance, why some sights are regularized and some are not. I can allow that sometimes regularization is impossible. I can also see why many Bedouin in these settlements would not wish to move into new urban areas, where they have start paying for amenities they have historically acquired for free. The history of nomadic groups forcibly sedentarized is not a happy one, though most Bedouin appear semi-sedentarized already.

    I can see the case for something to be done to integrate these people more into the state. But not on the grounds of their alleged unsightliness.

    • I can also see why many Bedouin in these settlements would not wish to move into new urban areas, where they have start paying for amenities they have historically acquired for free

      If you want the goverment to give you services , electricity etc. you have to pay for it no matter where you live no matter how long you have lived there.

      • I am not suggesting they not pay. But that isn’t the choice they are being given, pay or be transferred. They are being transferred from lands they and their ancestors have lived on or plied for a long time, and/or to which they were driven to settlement after the forcible evictions of the 1950s. Anyone who has no understanding or sympathy with that is, in my view, not fully human.

        • *Anyone who has no understanding or sympathy with that is, in my view, not fully human.as to an ability to empathize.

        • They are being transferred from lands they and their ancestors have lived on or plied for a long time

          That is a very big lie. A lie as someone who live in the negev for many years see every day. South to the city of Dimona there are many makeshift houses who were build by the Bedoine. it started with one or 2 today there are close to 30 houses. By the way 5 years ago there was nothing there. Just one example of the many there are all over the Negev

      • [If you want the goverment to give you services , electricity etc. you have to pay for it no matter where you live no matter how long you have lived there.]

        Then why your obsession with demonstrating how they are of no more recent historical presence in the region than you and yours, or even more recent?

        • Just demonstarting that anyone who want ot build a house on a piece of land needs more than his word. YOu need to prove that it is yours . the Bedouines can;t and didn;t prove that in Israeli courts. So are we to take their words for it.

          • But that hardly takes into account the circumstances in which many of these settlements were formed. When the Israeli government forcibly moved many of the 10s of 1000s of Negev Bedouin, they gave them no paper for where they then had to settled. Moreover to you suppose the Bedouin that have been living in the region for centuries or longer have had anything like what you suggest for their settlements or villages, the like of which is only possible in a modern state with a functioning jurisdiction over these areas.

            When I lived and worked in Mitzpe Ramon, the geography teacher used to take me on trips in the desert, showing me Bedouin staches, old and new, as well as the remains of old villages and encampments. Do you suppose these ever had such pieces of paper, as you suggest?

            The pattern of Bedouin semi-nomadism, settling temporarily, sometimes in the same place, sometimes in others, sometimes in permanent structures built for the purpose, is one that Israeli archaeologists have verified for thousands of years past in the region. It may originally have been how ancient Israel was formed. In any case it is Syro-Palestinian pattern that is very old, and for most of it there are no pieces of paper.

            In the 1950s did Israel pay any attention to the rights and claims of Bedouin in the places whence the IDF then forcibly moved them? Did it start handing out pieces of paper recognizing where they then started settling down (actually, in cases, it did, but not in others: in either case I can understand why people would become attached to them).

            • When I lived and worked in Mitzpe Ramon, the geography teacher used to take me on trips in the desert, showing me Bedouin staches, old and new, as well as the remains of old villages and encampments.

              Care to tell me the exact area of those places and since what time in history they are there?

            • When I lived and worked in Mitzpe Ramon, the geography teacher used to take me on trips in the desert, showing me Bedouin staches

              i used to go on many trips for many years all over Israel where I saw many jewish old settelemnts. synagougs. etc dated tousands of years ago.,

  5. Uri Dromi’s article in the JC, arguing for a compromise plan:

    “To the uninformed but fair Israeli observer, who is not automatically opposed to anything the government does, and on the other hand is not biased against the Bedouin, it looks like both sides have a point. Both agree that, for decades, Israel has neglected the Bedouin community and allowed it to remain at the lowest socio-economic level.

    This is while Bedouin soldiers, as pathfinders, risked their lives to save the lives of their Jewish comrades.

    The supporters and opponents of the government plan further agree that the time has come to put an end to the present, awkward, situation in the Negev. However, they are divided sharply on how to do it.

    The government believes in grouping the Bedouin in large townships which will be economically and socially sustainable. The opponents of the plan call for allowing the Bedouin to stay where they are, while improving the infrastructure of their present villages.

    A situation where both sides are right, can lead either to a sharp conflict or to a compromise. A good compromise leaves both sides equally dissatisfied. I pray that both the government and the Bedouin will have the courage to settle for less than everything. As I said before, I have a personal stake here.”

    http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/analysis/109047/why-i-am-a-bedouin-middleman

    • So if tomorrow I will puy a tent in the Negev and say that I have lived there for hundrads of years the goverment should give me electrcity and water and make it legal?

      • a) you’d be lying: you’re not Bedouin, and many of these communities are verifiably decades old, some of them dating to the war of 1947-49 in which some were displaced. That’s old enough.

        b) it would depend: clearly in some cases the government is already doing exactly that.

        c) you wouldn’t want to do that, you’re not Bedouin, your life, lifestyle and culture has little in it of desert nomadism.

          • [Did I say I was Bedouine?]

            No, you affected to put up an argument that was equivalent to theirs.

            • Yes. Why as an Israeli if I put a tent or a mobile home somewhere with no permits I would be evacuated within days and have to pay fine and Bedouin who do the same in places they have never lived in before don;t

              • Yes. But you’re not from an historically nomadic or semi-nomadic group, native to the region, nor were you historically uprooted or displaced in, for instance, the forcible displacements of Bedouin that occurred in the 1950s, which is from when many of the older Bedouin permanent settlements date.

                Plus, as an Israeli Jew, you belong to one of the more privileged sections of Israeli society: you wouldn’t want to shift to a Bedouin settlement in the Negev, or anything like it, since it is not something to which you or yours are historically attached.

              • [Bedouin who do the same in places they have never lived in before don;t]

                I am very pro-Zionist. I have never disputed a Jewish right of return, for a people historically exiled or dispossessed. I also see how some form of the Prawer-Begin plan is probably needed to ensure the most Bedouin have the best access to modern amenities and services.

                But I am ever surprised by such as you who clearly regard such as Negev Bedouin, people who have been living in the Syro-Palestine-Sinai region for at least centuries, if not longer, as more foreign or alien to the region than you.

                I am dismayed at that fundamental failure in human empathy and imagination.

                I don’t know where your grandparents or great-grandparents were born. But I suspect those of most Bedouin today were born a lot closer to the land of Israel. If not, you are atypical.

                • Would you consider Jews from arab states to be born closer to the land of Israel like beodouine are? they are half of the Jewish population.

                • [Would you consider Jews from arab states to be born closer to the land of Israel like beodouine are? they are half of the Jewish population.]

                  It depends where they were: most would have been a lot further way than the grandparents of most Negev Bedouin.

                • Or great or great-great grandparents, anyway.

                  That Bedouin have been plying the Syro-Palestinian Sinai region for centuries is hardly controversial. Most historians would say longer than that.

                • Now the antisemite invents a syropalestinain sinai region which never existed, why isn`t this lying creep banned?

                • It depends where they were: most would have been a lot further way than the grandparents of most Negev Bedouin.
                  They Negev Beodine originated from the Arabian peninsula is that closer than Iaq or Egypt or Syria

            • YOu are the one who said:
              c) you wouldn’t want to do that, you’re not Bedouin, your life, lifestyle and culture has little in it of desert nomadism.

                • Adam, ban this complete idiot, he makes no constructive contributions at all, only trolling for the sake of anti-Semitism.

                • Dear oh dear, Fritz. You shouldn’t reach for an atom bomb merely because you feel bested in an argument.

                • [But the point is that most bedouines wouldn;t to do anything like that as well.]

                  It depends what you mean by ‘like that’, doesn’t it?

                  You imply that most Bedouin who protest Prawer-Begin are doing that.

                  In any case, they are historically attached to a semi-permanent, semi-nomadic way of life, and to those particular places and regions, in a way you are manifestly not.

                  Even if your great-grandparents came from Syria, those of most Negev Bedouin were still probably closer to the land, I think. That does not, in my view, negate Zionist claims. But it suggests to me that your personal intellectual defence of Zionism is so weak that you have to characterize the Negev Bedouin as as new to the region as you and yours, or newer.

                • [A blood and soil nazi dreaming of the atom bomb, at least a bit funny.]

                  I was employing a metaphor for your resorting to calling me an antisemite when you ceased to be able to engage in a rational discussion.

                • An antisemite like you is by definition an enemy of rationalism, so why should i discuss with a lying creep like you? Adam, ban this creep.

        • And you are a complete idiot as you are no Bedouin either. So what the f… are you talking about when you are non of them, complete idiot?
          Better you accept arguments without getting racist or get lost, complete idiot.

              • Well, because, unlike you and your ancestors, either more or less recent, Bedouin have been plying that region for centuries. Indeed, as that highly reputably DNA survey suggests, to which I link above, both they and other Palestinian Arabs bear genetic traits which connect with some of the oldest inhabitants of the region.

                Moreover, in the 1950s, as with other Israeli-Palestinian Arabs in the Galilee, they experience forcible government displacement, which is when many of the current semi-permanent to permanent settlements arose: they had no choice but to establish them, they had nowhere else to go, Israel’s having driven them from wherever they were before.

                They may be unsightly, but they are home, in the place or region where they and their ancestors have been living their nomadic or semi-nomadic existence for a long time.

                I can understand why they would not wish to give up such claims and attachment to land and place, especially in the circumstances I adduce above.

              • The blood and soil nazi comes up with DNS, thousand of years ( extrem stupidity to maintain that nomads stay in one place for thousand of years, the poor vegetation) , inventing regions like syropalestinian sinai etc.
                Well, a nazi can`t change his spots, can he? Adam, ban this nazi.

          • [And you are a complete idiot as you are no Bedouin either.]

            I didn’t claim I had been living in the region for hundreds of years. Alexa affected to make that claim.

            • F… off, lying creep, Alexa didn`t make any claim of being a Bedouin, but gave an example of deconstructing myths and narratives.

              • She did indeed affect to make such a claim, as though it were a Bedouin one.

                Most historians of the Near East think Bedouin have been plying the Syro-Palestinian and Sinaitic region for centuries, at least.

            • Funny I don;t remember saying I have been living in th area for hundrads of years even if that might be true. By the way the Bedouine also didn;t live in this area for hundrads of years.

              • Actually you did affect to so, as though it were merely a Bedouin ‘claim’.

                But whereas most historians, and that DNA survey above, think that Bedouin have been living in and plying the region for centuries, or more, most do not so think of you or your more recent ancestors i.e. for you to make such a claim would be manifestly false but for Bedouin it would carry rather more plausibility.

                • most do not so think of you or your more recent ancestors i.e. for you to make such a claim would be manifestly false

                  Do you know me or my ancestor to make such a claime?

    • I agree with this article. The fact is that Israel has a problem to solve. How to regularise and integrate the Bedouin into Israeli society and give them the same rights, facilities etc as any other citizen. The important point here is “they are divided sharply on how to do it”.

      Many countries have inequalities (in fact I would say all do) between different segments of society. In my view, a government ought to be judged on whether it attempts to tackle those inequalities, or allows them to grow or fester. Israel is very definitely attempting to find a good solution to this issue. Whether they are taking the “right” path is very much open to question, but I don’t see any evil intentions in this plan. To me, it is a genuine attempt to a) enforce planning and other regulations, b) improve lviing conditions for all in the Negev and c) provide the Beduouin with improved facilities and infrastructure.

      I simply cannot see how it is relevant to the wider Israel/Palestine issue, why people outside Israel might be moved to demonstrate about it, or why a British newspaper would try to infer nefarious mtoives akin to “ethnic cleansing”.

    • That is by the way why many Israeli arabs are tired of them becasue they don;t act for Israeli arab interests. In private talks with them you hear that.