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You Americans are responsible for this, says a Bedouin whose village is slated for removal by Israel

on 11 Comments

Last month I visited Hajj al-Ahmed, 61, in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev desert. Under Israel’s new plan for developing the Negev, this small village is to be removed  and its people relocated to a reservation-like city. And a community of Jewish Israeli settlers is poised to take over the sheikh’s village, as Max Blumenthal and Allison Deger have reported here before.

Hajj al-Ahmed told us that the Israelis had relocated his village several times since 1948, under the auspices of the Jewish National Fund, which was planting forests. At last his family came to al-Hiran in 1965. Since then the Bedouins had been promised many improvements, such as good roads and water. But the roads and water had never come. Instead they were provided to nearby Jewish communities.

And now the Bedouins of al-Hiran are being told that they will be uprooted again because their village is unrecognized.

Here are two video conversations I had with the sheikh. In the first one, above, I ask him what he thinks of Zionism, and he says that I wouldn’t want to hear his answer then says he regards it as a mosquito.

“You Americans are the people who actually have control here, you and the Congress make decisions that create this situation,” he says, with Irene Nasser’s translation.

Then he asks me, “Is there a democratic state in Israel?” and proceeds to answer:

“Show me the democracy in Israel. I was here before Israel was here and now they are talking about devleoping the Negev. ‘We did all of this for the Negev.’ Show me what they did: what roads did they build? Equality doesn’t exist. The people are supposed to be equal.’

He also speaks of the Bedouin contribution to the city of Beersheba. If the Bedouins didn’t go to Beersheba, the whole city would collapse.

In the second video, I ask Hajj Ahmed about the statement I’ve often heard, that Israel made the desert bloom. Hajj Ahmed says the statement is preposterous, if you just look around. And he cites the situation of the Bedouin.

They haven’t done anything in the Negev. Even the ceiling that is above us, it’s illegal. I’m  not allowed to have it. Not allowed to plant any trees. We’re not allowed to do anything.

So with those constraints on Bedouin residents, how is the desert blooming?

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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11 Responses

  1. on October 22, 2013, 11:11 am

    god bless you, sir, and don’t give up!

    • LanceThruster on October 22, 2013, 12:26 pm


      Your name says it all (the truth hurts). These voices *must* make it into the American dialog as they are so desperately needed and so sorely lacking.

      Know, noble sir, that your struggle is neither invisible, nor in vain. My sincere deepest apologies for the actions of the leadership of my country, and our media which regularly ignores disseminating factual information regarding your plight.

  2. seafoid on October 22, 2013, 12:49 pm

    John pilger’s film utopia about the colonial and australian treatment of the native people of his country could have been about israeli barbarity towards the bedouin . Settler colonialism in the name of religion is as immoral as all other settler colonialism.

  3. Kathleen on October 22, 2013, 2:10 pm

    “Equality doesn’t exist” I want to hear everything Hajj al Ahmed has to say verbatim. the man is sharp as can be. His eyes taking it all in, the questions, holding back a bit saying he can not really share what he thinks. Wish we could hear a translation verbatim… everything he said. Just looks like a no nonsense person. Telling it like it is. His hands look like they have been working something (soil, sand, goats something) all his life. Those hands tell a story

  4. on October 22, 2013, 3:09 pm

    “The IDF is about to receive its first Bedouin tank commander. While about 1,000 Bedouin Arabs serve in the IDF, most of them serve as trackers, or in the Bedouin reconnaissance battalion. Cpl. Mustafa Tabash will become the first Bedouin tank commander in two weeks’ time, once he completes the Tank Commanders’ Course, reports the IDF Website.

    About one in nine Bedouin men serve in the IDF. Tabash knew in high school that he intended to serve, but he planned to serve in one of the military’s academic tracks. He was accepted to this track – but then changed his mind.
    “Serving behind a desk was not my expectation of myself,” he explained. “I wanted to be a combat soldier.” He enlisted to the Tank Corps, in the 7th Brigade, and served on a tank crew as a loader – the crewman who loads shells into the tank’s main gun.

    “I liked being a loader,” he told the IDF Website. “It means being the most muscular, the most combat-oriented and the craziest.”

    The Tank Commanders’ Course is not a walk in the part, he admits.

    “The course is hard, it involves being out in the field a lot and showering once a week. We do everything with a smile and encourage each other. We learn a lot and it really turns us into combat commanders.”

    Being the first Bedouin in the course means that “people are always looking at me, and it’s an opportunity to show my skills… When soldiers have a hard time they look at me, who as a Bedouin did not have to enlist to the military, and it helps them and provides an example.”

    Tabash says his family is proud of him – “My little brother sees me with the uniform and weapon and he gets all excited” – and that he wants to go on to become an officer in the Armored Corps.”

    • Ecru on October 23, 2013, 2:09 pm

      There were black people in the US army. Didn’t mean Jim Crow didn’t exist.
      There were Irish in the British army.
      Didn’t mean Britain wasn’t in violent occupation of Ireland or treated the Irish well.

      ONE Bedouin or a hundred in the IDF don’t negate the mistreatment the Judenreich inflicts on the non-volk.

  5. a blah chick on October 22, 2013, 8:04 pm

    It really boils my turnips when I hear the Dersh et al talk about how Arabs are equal in the country because they vote.

    Let me tell you something, Dersh, voting doesn’t do you any good if you have a no access or influence with the people in power. Israel had successfully nullified the Arab vote by keeping their parties out of coalitions. If the government is successful they will be raising the threshhold and there won’t be anymore Arab parties to sully the pristine Judaic political landscape .

  6. just on October 22, 2013, 9:54 pm

    It is our fault. The whole world knows it.

    Thanks Philip, and many thanks for bringing Hajj al-Ahmed to us.

  7. Denis on October 23, 2013, 12:08 am

    “You Americans” — mark that; it’s important. How does a Bedouin come by such insight? Do these villages have access to Internet or MSM?

    I used to feel that the problem was Jewish Americans because it is largely their mega-money going to the politicians that grease the wheels of this horrible, apartheid machine. But that position is not only not fair, it’s not accurate.

    All Americans are pushing the Zionist juggernaut forward. It’s their congress and their president. It’s their $3Bn a year being pissed away. It is the liberals as much or more than anyone — scared silly of being called an anti-Semite for standing up against the Zionists and seeing everybody to the right of Jon Stewart as a Nazi.

    (BTW, not to be overly rude, but I hope Irene has had that mole checked. Since losing a 45 yo brother to melanoma, I freak out at any spot darker or bigger than a freckle.)

  8. Citizen on October 23, 2013, 2:54 am

    You are in control; what you do impacts us. Where is the desert abloom? Even the ceiling above us is illegal–we can’t do anything. Everybody is supposed to be equal. The government controls the people. Sixty-one years old. Imagine what this single Bedouin has experienced in his life time. Imagine him locked in a stalled elevator with eighty year old Sheldon Adelson and a translation machine.

  9. MHughes976 on October 23, 2013, 6:10 am

    I went to a talk by the Bishop of Oxford – he reported that Palestinians had frequently said to him ‘I wish you Brits would own up to your share of responsibility for all this’.

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