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

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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

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