Historic victory as plan for ethnic cleansing of Bedouin peoples is “shelved”
The withdrawal of the Prawer plan, which had been due to be confirmed into law in Israel’s Knesset in the next few weeks, is momentous: how long is it since the apartheid state of Israel conceded a political retreat on this scale?
The young Palestinian organisers of Prawer Won’t Pass said: “Dear comrades, we are pleased to inform you that our struggle was fruitful. We won. Prawer Bill was overthrown.” And they signed off : #Prawerdidnotpass
This about-turn was brought about by a number of things:
1. The unprecedented energy, spread and unity of the campaign, spearheaded by young Palestinians in Israel. Israel’s police got out the big stick against them, but must have calculated that if this went on, they might end up hurting themselves politically more than their victims’ bruises and broken bones. Another Day of Rage was to follow on 19th December, hard on the heels of the big turnout less than 3 weeks earlier.
2. The massive and joined-up engagement of Palestinians across Israel, Gaza and the PA territories.
3. The speed with which it spread around the world (36 cities took part on 30 November), involved Jewish communities in Europe and the USA and threatened Israel with further international isolation as it started to hit the news media.
4. The way it revealed the apartheid ethnic inequalities in Israel to those who had assumed “the conflict” was just about the occupied territories.
5. Worst of all for them, maybe, was that, as the plan’s co-author Benny Begin highlighted to the press when announcing the Plan’s withdrawal, “Right, left, Arabs and Jews joined hands” — what a catastrophe! — “Sometimes you need to recognise reality.” Now that IS historic, when “reality” is the force of good people working together, not the usual realpolitik of ethnic conflict and greed.
These things combined to put severe pressure on the apartheid centre of operations, which found itself making some big mistakes.
In the days after the violent attempts to suppress the climactic “Day of Rage” on 30th November, with the government’s propaganda machine in overdrive, a major slip-up found senior minister Lieberman contradicting the lie that it was “just a planning matter to benefit the Bedouin” — with a thundering call to win this battle for “Jewish land”.
Most embarrassing and a major upset to the arguments for the Bill, Benny Begin denied that this supposedly benevolent planning matter had the claimed support of 80% of the Bedouin — on the grounds that he had never asked them. “I wish to again make clear that contrary to what has been claimed in recent weeks, I didn’t tell anyone that the Bedouin agreed to my plan,” Begin told the Knesset Committee. “I couldn’t say that because I didn’t present the plan to them.”
Not only were they not consulted, as had been claimed, but it emerged that details of the plan had been a closely guarded secret. “Even the contractors that are hired to implement the plan must sign a special clause that ensures they maintain absolute secrecy on Prawer’s details; violating this clause is defined in the contract as a “national security offense” writes Noam Sheizaf.
With the British foreign office advising businesses that trade with the West Bank settlements that it might damage their reputations, and Netanyahu and Peres snubbing themselves by declining to go to Mandela’s memorial, it was a week that very, very unusually saw the Zionist juggernaut on the back foot.
After decades of seemingly fruitless struggles, the retreat of the racist land-grab is cause for huge celebration.
Whatever comes next (a new legal draft, or the stepping up of the piecemeal attacks on houses and villages and no doubt a renewed round-up of activists) nothing can take away from the confidence that the Zionist state CAN be defeated. As the young leaders of the campaign write
“Yes, we have made it. And while we are celebrating this victory, we remind our selves that we shall continue, with power and determine. Our next phase will be the struggle to achieve recognition to the Bedouin villages in the Naqab. To ensure that the Land rights of all Palestinian-Bedouins is enshrined and respected. Even then, the struggle of Al-Naqab is part and parcel of the Palestinian struggle overall. We will not relent nor waver as we move on. #PRAWERDIDNOTPASS
« Prawer passes to rightist mob
Prawer Crackdown lights up Israel’s home front »