If it’s not right to talk while settlements are being built, why is it OK to talk while mass ethnic cleansing proceeds against Palestinians within Israel?
Israel’s parliament is on its way to final adoption of the Prawer-Begin Plan, an unprecedented acceleration of ethnic cleansing which will demolish around 40 Bedouin villages and forcibly remove tens of thousands into bleak special townships. Communities will be broken up, and an ancient lifestyle based on agriculture and herding will be destroyed.
Previous mass clearances of the Palestinian Arab peoples were achieved under cover of war in 1947-48 and 1967 (which many in the international community believed were defensive wars).
Other clearances have been gradual, under the cover of bureaucracy, “security” or spurious quasi-legal excuses, but often blatantly about the “Judaising” that underpins the Israeli Planning process. Many believe this is an essential underpinning of the “Jewish State”, a state defined by ethnicity which Israel insists must be officially acknowledged and recognised.
This is the first time Israel has coldly and openly planned mass forced population displacement, in broad daylight and voted on in the Knesset. It is a measure comparable to Apartheid South Africa’s Group Areas Act, and in Jewish memory, to the Tsarist Russian pogroms.
Also for the first time on this scale and in recent memory, it is planned to take place in the heartland of Israel against peaceful, law-abiding citizens who, Israel claims, have equal rights. The arguments and language with which this has been presented in Israel are blatantly racist, where the Bedouin population is now referred to as “invaders” of the Jewish state. And of course, as “a problem”.
The issue has now shot to the top priority of urgency and magnitude, with a growing international campaign. As a predule to Prawer one villege, Al Araquib, has been demolished 50 times, its residents returning each time to rebuild. There has been a one-day general strike, and many groups within Israel working on it include Rabbis for Human Rights, the Negev Coexistence Forum and Zochrot, as well as the recently formed Haifa group for One Democratic State.
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