Israeli Embassy tries to deflect protest over Bedouin relocation — it’s for their own good

The diplomatic prowess of Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs is… mind-numbing.

A recent action alert from Jewish Voice for Peace expressed horror over plans to force tens of thousands of Bedouins from their homes, and in response our friend Betsy Taylor sent an email to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren to “warn Knesset members from taking further steps forward, while there is still time to avoid this human rights catastrophe.” The Prawer plan entails the destruction of dozens of Bedouin villages and the relocation of the villagers, for the purpose of building Jewish only towns, in effect Judaizing the Negev.

Imagine Taylor’s surprise when Aliza Tzuriel, assistant to the director of public affairs at the Israeli embassy in Washington, shot off a brief “Thanks for your email” response accompanied by a link to Israel Hayom, Sheldon Adelson’s rightwing Israeli daily fishwrap, to “shed some more light on the matter”!

The opinion piece, titled  “A win-win for Bedouin and the Negev“, characterizes a human-rights catastrophe for the Bedouins as “the most comprehensive attempt to address the issue ["transition of nomadic societies to 21st century lifestyles"] anywhere in the world.”

But Israel’s “comprehensive” plan is to corral the Bedouins, who have lived on their land since before the state of Israel even existed, into reservation compounds. From Alice Rothchild’s A visit to Al-Araqib, the desert village that refuses to be erased:

“We are people. We have zero unemployment. We live from the fields.” He says it is amazing that the Israelis want to change them from independent farmers living in the desert to poverty stricken factory workers controlled by Jewish bosses in reservation towns. Another round of coffee and tea.

But here’s what upsets David Weinberg, the author of Israel Hayom’s light-shedding‘ article sent out by Oren’s assistant. He says the Rabbis for Human Rights video above is “wildly over-the-top …nasty” because it dares to speak of historical persecution of Jews: 

Actor Theodore Bikel (who starred as Tevye in the “Fiddler on the Roof” stage show more than 2,000 times) complains in the nasty video that “it hurts that the descendants of Anatevka may expel 40,000 Bedouin, just as the czar did to the Jews of Russia.”

Imagine that.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani
Posted in Israel/Palestine | Tagged

{ 27 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. just says:

    Damn them– to utterly destroy an ancient culture and way of life. More that is entirely unforgivable by Israel! I am sickened.

    I guess they want another Superland in the Negev. More settlers, more ugliness.

  2. Elliot says:

    The Tevye context is very good. The Palestinians are indeed the new Jews.
    I have just one complaint about the video. I agree with Mark Braverman that it is offensive to refer to the indigenous Palestinians as the Bible’s “resident aliens”. Rabbis for Human Rights may not be able to find a better biblical reference, after all, Joshua only opted for cohabitation after genocide failed.
    If this is all they can find, the rabbis should find a better way to contextualize that verse rather than identify with it wholly.

  3. a blah chick says:

    “Aliza Tzuriel, assistant to the director of public affairs at the Israeli embassy in Washington, shot off a brief “Thanks for your email” response accompanied by a link to Israel Hayom, Sheldon Adelson’s rightwing Israeli daily fishwrap, to “shed some more light on the matter”!

    Wow, they were too lazy to come up with their own propaganda so they outsourced it. What do they pay those people for!

  4. Ludwig says:

    Ethnically cleanse every last Jew from Gaza: Nobody bats an eye

    Relocate Bedouins in the Negev: Everybody loses their minds

    • ethnic cleansing is not just a phrase, it is a crime. one you deny when you use it as you just did.

    • Cliff says:

      Jews werent ethnically cleansed

      they were illegally colonizing Gaza

      their colonial enterprise in gaza was shut down

      unless you think a thief who robs you and lives in your home is just exercising his deep religious connection to the land your house is built on

    • SQ Debris says:

      The zionists that were transferred into Gaza by the govt of Israel were in fact participating in ethnic cleansing. Nitzarim colony provided a security pretext to demolish all nearby Palestinian homes and Palestinians could not enter any of the colonial confines without a permit. Roads around the colony were littered with checkpoints and the IOF enforced an “Israelis Only” policy on the beach. I batted my eyes, both of them, frequently in witnessing the bloom of zionist apartheid there. One settler told me that unless the “Arabs” accepted the situation none of them would be allowed to continue living in Gaza. Your attempt to create an equivalence between the removal of those illegal belligerent colonies and what the govt of Israel proposes to do to its own citizens within Israel is certainly predictable but that makes it no less despicable.

  5. seafoid says:

    One of these parallels is going to stick. Jews as oppressors. It’s a pity we have no record of the Cossack security justifications for all of those pogroms.

    • Citizen says:

      @ seafoid

      Solzhenitsyn’s book 200 Years Together provides historical context; if memory serves the peasants periodically rose up against tremendous oppression and exploitation by the ruling class, who were too lazy to administer their own business. The jews functioned as agents of the ruling class, the middlemen, the go-between, whether as a big landsman or a small shop owner, tax collector, etc.

      Plenty of information here on the Cossacks and peasants going back to the 17 Century, but here’s a tidbit:

      He too notes that early Cossack chronicles portray Jews as the agents of the Poles. As the leaseholders and stewards of the absentee lords, the Jews were perceived to be taking advantage of the Cossacks and peasants through the mechanisms of economic exploitation, the liquor monopoly, the collection of various taxes, etc.:
      “Jewish commentators, on the other hand, frequently have presented the massacres as a uniquely anti-Jewish phenomenon, paying little attention to the complex social, religious, and national context, and have mitigated or ignored the violence perpetrated against non-Jewish Poles and Ukrainian Uniates.”

      link to tovste.info

  6. amigo says:

    This video is a keeper.

    These vile actions are being taken by against “40,000 ” people and that fact makes it really powerful.

    Wholesale Ethnic cleansing to make room for “Jewish communities”.

    Ugh.

  7. piotr says:

    “the most comprehensive attempt to address the issue ["transition of nomadic societies to 21st century lifestyles"] anywhere in the world.”

    The provincial megalomania is astounding. Surely, Die Endlösung was more comprehensive, not to mention many other plans and actions that would not trigger Godwin law.

  8. German Lefty says:

    I need your opinion. I bought some Sharon fruits at the supermarket and would like to know if they are labelled correctly. See here:
    link to img854.imageshack.us
    link to img33.imageshack.us
    According to the barcode it’s made in Israel (729), but the label says, “Origin: South Africa”. How does this go together? Is it likely that the fruits were grown in South Africa and then they were packed in Israel?
    link to freshplaza.com

  9. ckg says:

    Likewise, Andrew Jackson’s case for the Indian Removal Act of 1830 argued that removal is for the good of the Indians.

    It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the Government, steadily pursued for nearly thirty years, in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements is approaching to a happy consummation. … The consequences of a speedy removal will be important to the United States, to individual States, and to the Indians themselves… It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; free them from the power of the States; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay, which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them gradually, under the protection of the Government and through the influence of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community…Toward the aborigines of the country no one can indulge a more friendly feeling than myself, or would go further in attempting to reclaim them from their wandering habits and make them a happy, prosperous people…Can it be cruel in this Government when, by events which it can not control, the Indian is made discontented in his ancient home to purchase his lands, to give him a new and extensive territory, to pay the expense of his removal, and support him a year in his new abode? How many thousands of our own people would gladly embrace the opportunity of removing to the West on such conditions! If the offers made to the Indians were extended to them, they would be hailed with gratitude and joy.

    • ritzl says:

      Thanks, ckg, for showing just how universally standard (across time and situation) this pretext is as cover for taking and colonizing someone else’s land.

    • piotr says:

      One could accuse Israeli of plagiarism, but happily, the copyright already expired.

      As an aside, I am not a very good student of American history, but to my recollection, while the operation of removing the Indians from southern states was brutal, the deal was not altogether bad for them as Oklahoma was a large fertile area and they formed well functioned communities. Except that those communities were dissolved 60 years later. What Israel is offering to Beduins is nowhere as generous.

    • ckg says:

      The 1830 Indian Removal Act, of course, was a catastrophe (arabic: nakba) for native americans.

  10. DissedStance says:

    Insult to injury, over and over again. Zionism brings death and destruction:
    how many sharks can they jump before the show gets canceled? Insane….

  11. ToivoS says:

    Boy oh boy did the Bedouin get snookered by the Israelis. In the 1950s they used them as soldiers to fight their Palestinian brothers. It was easy for the Israelis to turn them against fellow Palestinians because the Bedouin had a nomadic culture and the Palestinians to the North were sedentary farmers. Just good old fashioned farmer-rancher antagonism.

    I expect the Bedouin thought they were trading their loyalty for title to their land. But no, Israelis want it all.

    • seafoid says:

      Sounds very like the Iroquois history in Canada.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “I expect the Bedouin thought they were trading their loyalty for title to their land. But no, Israelis want it all.”

      They learn the hard way: you can’t trust the israelis about anything, ever. If they claim that water is wet, you’d be wise to stick a toe in, just to be sure.