There is a frightening article at +972 about an extremist national-religious social movement whose influence is on the rise in Israel. They are being recieved with open arms by much of the government apparatus. They call themselves Regavim.
Their goal is to promote “a Jewish Zionist agenda for the State of Israel” but what that agenda amounts to is the expulsion of the Palestinian population from what they consider to be Jewish Land.
Regavim does not deal with settling the land with Jewish Israelis, but rather with the expulsion of the Palestinian population on both sides of the Green Line. The association is active in Area C of the West Bank, in the Negev, the Galilee and the “mixed cities.” In all of these arenas, Regavim has one clear goal: the brutal and selective implementation of planning and construction laws, encouraging the state to demolish Palestinian homes or public buildings. The demolition orders issued lately for the entire Palestinian village of Susya in the South Hebron Hills are the fruit of its labors.
Their rhetoric about ‘Arabs taking over the land of Israel’ in the video is blatant. We referenced Regavim recently in Michael Sfard: Addicted to the process, seems they’re in like flint with Gerald Steinberg and his NGO Monitor.
A central theme of its recent critiques has been of NGO “lawfare,” achieving “political” goals through the courts. There are at least three examples of pro-settler Israeli NGOs engaged in “lawfare,” as defined by NGO Monitor: the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, the Israel Law Center and Regavim, but you will not find even an acknowledgment of their existence among the hundreds of documents on its Web site. We have another option. Steinberg’s and Dermer’s cynicism has created an opportunity to dismantle the power structure that forces Israelis to continue defending Palestinian human rights, 42 years after the “temporary” occupation of the West Bank and Gaza began.
Regavin makes some outlandish allegations on their website claiming Israel’s Supreme Court shows ‘extremely’ preferential treatment for the ‘Extreme Left‘. Interestingly, unlike B’tselem, nowhere do they link to their ‘data’ backing up these allegations.
From their homepage:
This issue is so important, complex and widespread that we believe that only the state holds the key to a realistic overall solution to rooting out this problem. Based on this assumption, Regavim’s activities are directed at influencing all the State of Israel’s government systems in order to bring them, and effectively the whole country, to act based on the fundamental principles of Zionism and protect Israel’s lands and national properties.
More from Rona Moran and Miryam Wijler’s +972 must read article.
In recent years, since the Israeli disengagement in the Gaza Strip and the dismantling of the settlements there, the extreme right in Israel has embarked on a campaign of settling the “mixed cities” of Israel (cities with sizable Arab and Jewish populations) by forming “Torah clusters” (Garinim Toraniim) – in Jaffa, Acco as well as Lod. At the same time, Jewish nationalist shows of force have escalated within Arab localities. Regavim is a characteristic expression of this wider campaign. It takes a considerable amount of cruelty to encourage the state to tighten even further the veritable noose of planning restrictions around the neck of Palestinian communities within the Green Line. Palestinian citizens of Israel own a very small percentage of the lands they had owned before 1948, most of their localities do not have master zoning plans, and the local and regional planning committees are staffed exclusively by Jewish Israelis.
Regavim’s activity is based first and foremost on the work of coordinators on the ground, who systematically document construction in Palestinian communities. This documentation serves the association in lobbying planning committees, local authorities, the Civil Administration in the occupied territories, and others. They have a single demand: to force these institutions to place sanctions on Palestinians. In some cases, the association appeals to court in order to force the implementation of standing demolition orders, or to produce a planning policy that is as Zionist as possible. Regavim promotes existing transfer plans such as its efforts to influence the Prawer Committee recommendations to take a harder line against the Bedouin community.
In April 2009, Regavim sued the Abu Basma Regional Council in the Negev, where the number of inhabitants in all known localities in the council’s area is about 45,000, but in fact the council provides services to another 35,000 citizens who live in unrecognized villages. The council ranks dead last in the socio-economic scale of the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics and where the council is not providing inhabitants within its jurisdiction area with the most basic services: connection to the water supply grid, regular garbage collection, sanitation infrastructure, and where access roads are not paved and the council’s welfare services are collapsing.
Here, of all places, is where the Regavim association suddenly discovered an urgent need to intervene “for the sake of the council’s inhabitants.” In its petition, the association demands the demolition of eight structures, which describes as “villas” and whose owners it describes as “real estate barons.” For Regavim, then, they have no qualms about using whatever means necessary to “protect the nation’s lands.” To that end, they encourage the state to beat to a pulp its most oppressed population.