Why is the Israeli government displacing Bedouins from their homes?
The following op-ed was written after Israel Land Authority (ILA) announced last week the demolition plans of the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, in southern Israel, which will be replaced with a Jewish town, “Hiran”. More than a year and a half ago, Israel’s High Court of Juice ruled to authorize the demolition of the village, thereby displacing its residents.
OPINION | BY AMOS GVIRTZ
Anxiety is fierce. Israeli citizens are in their homes, demolition orders hovering that may be acted upon any day now. What will happen to them? Where will they go? Where will they live?
No one offers them any alternatives. They are not, after all, settlers who settled lands that are not theirs, violating Israeli and international law. They are citizens of Israel. Their sole “crime” is to have been born Bedouins in the State of the Jews. They were evicted of their land – of which they were dispossessed – in 1949. The Israeli government transferred them twice until it finally settled them, sixty years ago, in Umm Al-Hiran and Attir. Now this government claims they are invaders! Invading the localities where the government itself settled them sixty years ago.
Why is it so important for the government to remove them from the localities it had settled them in? Anyone visiting Umm Al-Hiran will see a vast, empty area all around. But apparently the government of Israel has decided to create a Jewish settlement, named Hiran, right where it once settled the Bedouin inhabitants of Umm Al-Hiran. And plant a forest right where the government of Israel once settled the inhabitants of Attir!
The question is why does the government of Israel do this. Unfortunately, the simple answer is because it can. Because there are not enough citizens who oppose such racist policies.
The UN General Assembly once came out with an outrageous declaration, ruling that Zionism is racism. The insult was severe. How could one accuse the State of the Jewish People – who had suffered so long from racism – of being racist? Indeed, a few years later the UN General Assembly revoked its own outrageous ruling.
In the 1980’s the Israeli Knesset (parliament) legislated a law against racism. I fear that this law is actually against racist incitement, not against racist deeds. The law in fact protects all the racist deeds committed by the government. No one may demand to outlaw the Israeli government because of its own racist acts.
When a government removes its Bedouin citizens from their home in order to settle its own Jewish citizens in their stead, this is racist dealing. Dispossessing people of their land in order to plant a forest on that same land is inhuman. Had these Bedouins been Jewish settlers, the government certainly would not evict them before finding an alternative dwelling for them that would suit their demands.
By its own acts the government of Israel proves that the UN’s outrageous ruling was not erroneous. Citizens of Israel who do not protest this extreme injustice are in fact supporting the government in its racist policy.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s only and do not represent those of The Turban Times.
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