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One Democratic Secular State for all its citizens in Israel and Palestine

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Posted December 3, 2013 at 11:13 pm

N E W    P A L E S T I N E    N E W S L E T T E R

No. 6: Special Issue on the battle against the “Prawer Plan” Bedouin round-up, outcomes of Nov 30 Day of Rage, and including downloadable print-ready PDF of 4-page leaflet (see Urgent Action below)

Prawer: an own goal for Israel or prelude to a showdown?

If the Israeli state wanted to provoke, politicise and mobilise a new generation of its Palestinian citizens, it could not have come up with a better idea than the Prawer Plan. Suddenly Israel’s heartland is alive with angry protests from one end of the country to another and in Ramallah and Gaza too, with the echoes of 1948 ringing out anew as a rallying call.

And just in case that wasn’t enough, the state machine just had to go in with boots, fists and sticks against the Day of Rage to Stop Prawer on 30 November. There were dozens of arrests, and the day was preceded by a round-up of organisers and activists, and followed up with a sweep through several villages. The Special police units that burst into Hura and Al-Sayyed conducted a large-scale arrest campaign of people “suspected” of taking part.

Several of the day’s events, especially at Hura where the threatened villagers had converged, and in Haifa, were clearly attacked in order to provoke a fight, creating a plethora of images of violent arrests (including a 14-year old dragged along the ground), skunk water, tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets, mounted horseback charges and serried ranks of helmeted, body-armoured, riot-shielded police striking out with big batons against protesters who were not even trying to occupy a public space or break through a barrier or damage a property.(Photo: Active Stills)

At the most, if left to run their course, the protests might have blocked a road for a while.

Free Haifa (journal of the Haifa Popular Committee for One Democratic State), reports that “The police established a forward command center in a municipal building …. The cops were leading the detainees to this center where they could beat them freely away from the media and the public.” It also relates that the days before the Day of Rage were full of incitement in the press against the action, and that Netanyahu had called on the police to “prosecute them to the end”.

This all looks like just what’s needed to stoke up and deepen the main grievance of the Prawer Bill into a sustained and angry mass movement for liberation, civil rights and equality before the law.

“A quantum leap in public awareness”

Free Haifa reporting on the court appearance of 21 people (“Beaten, Wounded and Proud – Detainees from the Haifa Demonstration against Dispossession of the Naqab Arabs”) writes “Many representatives of the media attended the court hearing. There is no doubt that the “Day of Rage” protest on Saturday brought a quantum leap in public awareness to the Prawer plan to dispossess the Arabs of the Naqab (Negev in Hebrew) and the resistance it evokes. It is common practice that, while the detainees are brought into the court, reporters and photographers get a “time out” to take pictures and interview them. These are often difficult and embarrassing moments for detainees. This time the detainees entered holding their heads high and happy for the opportunity to speak out — obviously proud to take part in the just struggle against ethnic cleansing. They rushed to make statements to the media about the objectives of the struggle. Some of the detainees raised their hands with the victory sign upon entering the hall.”

“Starting a war”

If this reaction seems like a thoughtless, knee-jerk own-goal of Israel’s “kick-ass” state, look again and these events are more like a planned practice-run for out-and-out repression against the Bedouin, and with them, Israel’s Palestinian citizens. They are already setting the narrative, accusing the victims of “starting a war”.

This strategy is already anticipated and written into the Prawer Bill, which provides for extraordinary new legal and police practices to enforce its provisions. This draconian law applies only to an ethnically defined section of the population, so even if it was entirely benign it would be racist. But it is not at all benign.

◊ It imposes severe and unbalanced sanctions on anyone who doesn’t comply within a limited period of time: non-compliance with the law (such as the village of Al Arakib re-occupying and re-building after each demolition, or a refusal to be moved) will be punishable with 2 years’  imprisonment.
The law grants the government’s representative the powers of both police officer and judge, so they can issue administrative demolition orders and execute summary demolition procedures.
It is not possible to appeal the orders and decisions issued, except within a very limited period of time, less than a month, and only related to very narrowly defined technical issues.
The law invalidates the Bedouins’ inheritance law in one sweeping edict.
It also provides wide extra powers for police action to carry out violent, forcible evictions.

The Hasbara machine: “explanation” + propaganda = lies

Meanwhile the lie machine has gone onto high alert. The message is that:

This is simply a planning issue, a “resettlement”, and even “an economic development issue”.

“It is not about a process of force, but development.”

It is being done to benefit the Bedouin and improve and modernise their conditions. “These are my people” said a smiling government spokesman sporting an impeccable South African accent: “the way they are living is unacceptable to me”     though he did not explain why they had been denied the same services as Jewish rural settlements in the same area, of the same size or smaller, nor why the “toxic dumps” he so wanted to take them away from were placed next to their villages in the first place.

The Prawer Plan is being done after long consultation, purely in order to benefit the Bedouin people but the usual suspects, the “outside agitators”, don’t care about the Bedouin and are stirring things up. PM Netanyahu weighed in after the Day of Rage: “Attempts by a loud and violent minority to deny a better future to a large and broad population are grave. We will continue to advance the law for a better future for all residents of the Negev.” 

  This “minority”, according to Netanyahu’s extreme right coalition partners, includes Palestinian lawmakers, members of the Knesset such as Ahmed Tibi and Haneen Zoabi: how long before the hate campaign, harassment and persecution of these elected representatives is ratcheted up to more sinister levels?  

◊ The Jerusalem Post reports that “the headquarters of the Economic and Community Development of the Negev Beduin in the Prime Minister’s Office, headed by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog, issued its own statement. “The government of Israel regrets that extremists, many of whom are not Beduin, chose to divert the open debate about a purely social and humanitarian cause into a confrontation, falsely linked to the Palestinian issue,” the statement said. “Alien interests” had been behind the protests, which were not based on a “sincere concern for the Beduin,” it said. “We call upon the Negev Beduin to take a stand for their own future and not let anyone else abuse and manipulate this process for alien causes,” it added. “The Beduin of the Negev, being equal citizens, deserve adequate housing, public services and a better future for their children.”

That’s the message. But in a few words, Netanyahu’s seriously off-message Deputy, Avigdor Lieberman opened his mouth and ripped open the whole lying propaganda fabric: “This isn’t a social problem or a housing crisis, but a battle for the land. We are fighting for the national lands of the Jewish people.”

Publicity and Action

Around the world the Day of Rage mobilised the solidarity movement, with dozens of demonstrations and protests in over 30 cities. In London a mock checkpoint was erected outside the Israeli Embassy; The Hague saw a bike-through. Demonstrations took place in cities all over the Middle East and North Africa, in several cities in Ireland and Europe (two in Paris), in Munich, Hamburg, Berlin, Sweden, Belgium and Holland.

The Guardian newspaper (see below) carried a letter organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, signed by over 50 high profile artists, writers, academics, trade union leaders and political figures, which is available online for those wishing to add their names. Major organisations such as PSC in the UK, and Jewish Voice for Peace in the US, have given the Day of Rage massive priority.

Al Jazeera English gave the issue a half-hour Inside Story broadcast, where Ben White was able to lay out clearly that it was a straightforward ethnic cleansing issue.

According to the Jerusalem Post, “The Foreign Ministry is taking the international campaign seriously in light of increasing interest in the issue by governments and NGOs, particularly in the US and the European Union, where objections and protests are garnering publicity.” Unfortunately that same ministry is headed by the same Avigdor Lieberman quoted above, underlining that “this is a battle for the land”.

Al Arakib

Ten days earlier Al Arakib was demolished for the 57th time and police returned to the village site and arrested village leader Sheikh Sayyah A-Turi on charges of trespass and violation of a legal order. He was then imprisoned for over a week as he refused bail conditions (a promise not to try to re-enter his own village). While he was held, a Freedom Tent was erected in front of the police station, which will stay until at least the next court hearing, and which received a delegation on 30 November from the main Na’qab region demonstrations at Hura village.

  Urgent Action: Prawer could be law within 2013

View, print and download this print-ready
4-page leaflet by right-click and save:
Centre pages

Front and back

1. Government and parliamentary action
Governments should be pressed to support the imposition of sanctions if Israel does not abandon the prawer plan. Lobby Foreign ministries, write letters and meet with lawmakers. Also those in and around government can boycott relations with the Knesset and refrain from meeting MKs or hosting official Israeli delegations given Knesset’s role in enacting racist legislation that directly discriminates against Palestinians. Urge the Inter-Parliamentary Union to suspend the membership of the Knesset until it repeals all of Israel’s racist, discriminatory laws and until it votes to oppose the Prawer Plan. Through its approval and support for the Prawer Plan, the Knesset has once again shown that its actions are inconsistent with the objectives of the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union principles that uphold equality and human rights.

2. Step up pressure on Israel
Demonstrate at embassies, intensify BDS actions and link them to Prawer, get resolutions through your political organisation, NGO, church, Jewish organisation, student and academic body and trade union, cancel any cultural events with Israeli government sponsored artistes, and urge public figures in the arts and science to press Israel to abandon Prawer.

3. Publicity
Don’t think it’s already all been done. With most of the Palestine focus on “peace talks”, the Two State “solution” and West Bank settlements, the Prawer Plan has had hardly any publicity yet. We urgently need to tell people about it, and to make clear that it’s not some neutral “planning matter” but hard-faced ethnic cleansing and land-grab. Use any media you can, social media, letters to newspapers, radio phone-ins. Gather some links and fact-sheets and send them to a journalist. There are lots of texts you can use such as the Times and Guardian letters below, and you can organise a spokesperson with Prawer Shall Not Pass or PSC.

4. Action against those most implicated
Caterpillar, Hyundai, Volvo and JCB provide the equipment that Israel uses to carry out its demolitions in the Naqab area. Join campaigns to boycott these companies and encourage investment bodies to remove their money from them. Target also the Jewish National Fund (JNF) which is heavily involved in replacing the Bedouin villages with Jewish homes or forestry projects. The JNF operates and fund-raises in more than 50 countries, often taking advantage of tax breaks by being a registered charity.

5. Put the word about
Help build the campaign: Re-post articles, forward links, give out leaflets, write to friends or relatives in Israel, talk to activists on other campaigns, post up a poster or leaflet in a local shop window or leaflet rack, make and wear a badge. Contact  prawerwontpass@gmail.com to get information and tell them what you’re doing so others will know.

♦ Letter in The Guardian, 30 November

“It is time for the UK government to make its relationship with Israel conditional on respect for human rights”

Earlier this year, the Israeli Knesset approved the Prawer-Begin plan. If implemented, this plan will result in the destruction of more than 35 Palestinian towns and villages in Al-Naqab (Negev) in the south of Israel and the expulsion and confinement of up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins. It means forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes and land, and systematic discrimination and separation. The Israeli government is pushing ahead with this plan despite the Palestinian Bedouin community’s complete rejection of the plan, and condemnation from human rights groups.

Palestinians are holding mass demonstrations in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory to oppose the Prawer plan and urge international governments to take action capable of pressuring Israel to abandon the plan. The UK government emphasises that it has raised concerns about the forced displacement of Bedouin Palestinians “at the highest levels”. Yet such statements ring hollow when the UK government continues to export arms to Israel and continues its ties with the Israeli government and industry. It is time for the UK government to make its relationship with Israel conditional on respect for human rights and international law and take concrete action to hold Israel to account.

In a related News item, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood wrote that: The actor David Calder said “The Israeli state not only practices apartheid against the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories, but it seems they have no hesitation in practicing apartheid on their own citizens – in this instance, the Bedouins. When is the west going to find these actions intolerable?”

SIGNED:

John Akomfrah OBE, Artist, film director, writer * Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Author, journalist * Rodney Bickerstaffe, Trade Unionist   *  Bidisha, writer, Broadcaster * Howard Brenton, Playwright * David Calder, Actor *  Professor Michael Chanan, Author * Julie Christie, Actor * Jeremy Corbyn MP * William Dalrymple, Historian, author, broadcaster * Andy de la Tour, Actor * Jeremy Deller, Artist * Brian Eno,  Musician * Bella Freud, Fashion designer * Peter Gabriel, Musician * Antony Gormley, Artist * Trevor Griffiths, Playwright * Betty Hunter * Rt Hon Sir Gerald Kaufman MP * Bruce Kent, Peace campaigner * Jemima Khan, Writer, campaigner * Professor Tom Kibble FRS * Mike Leigh Writer, film director * Ken Loach, Film Director * Caroline Lucas MP * Jeff McMillan, Artist * Michael Mansfield QC * Prof. Nur Masalha * Jonathan Miller KBE Author, director, broadcaster * Professor Laura Mulvey, Author * Dr. Karma Nabulsi, academic * Dr Susie Orbach, Psychoanalyst, author * Profesor Ilan Pappe,  Historian, author * Miranda Pennell, Artist, filmmaker * Cornelia Parker OBE Artist * Michael Radford, Director * Professor Jacqueline Rose,  Author * Professor Steven Rose * Gillian Slovo, Author * Professor Avi  Shlaim, Historian, author * Dr Salman Abu Sitta, Historian * Professor John Smith,  Artist * Keith Sonnet * Baroness Jenny Tonge * Harriet Walter DBE Actor * Marina Warner, Author, historian * Jane Wilson, Artist * Louise Wilson, Artist * Christine Blower,  General secretary, NUT * Pat Gaffney General Secretary, Pax Christi * Billy Hayes, General secretary, CWU * Richard Kuper, Jews for Justice for Palestinians * Hugh Lanning Chair, Palestine Solidarity Campaign * Len McCluskey General Secretary, Unite * Profesor Jonathan Rosenhead British Committee for Universities for Palestine * Mick Whelan General  Secretary, ASLEF

Add your own name to these signatories 

Letter in The Times,  4 November:

“We call on the British government to take up the Bedouin case with Israel and to demand that Israel complies with international human rights law.”

We write as Jews, appalled by the “Prawer” law in Israel which will enable the  internal deportation of 30-40,000 Bedouin from their villages into designated townships.

            The Bedouin are Israeli citizens. They have been living in the Negev region for generations, from long before Israel existed. Their villages will be demolished and their lands given for new, racially exclusive, Jewish settlements and farms.

            The Jewish National Fund will take control of lands as their owners are evicted. Its “Blueprint Negev” aims to move 250,000 Jewish residents into the area. Expansionist settlers call it “the next frontier”. One village, Al Arakib, has already been demolished over 50 times, and re-built in a dogged and heroic resistance. Meanwhile, in place of their destroyed olive and datepalm groves, the JNF plant environmentally damaging eucalyptus trees.

            Many Jews are disgusted by what Israel is doing to its own citizens. 18,000 American Jews petitioned against it. 65 British rabbis have condemned its “great injustice”. And 170 Jews signed and funded a display ad in the Independent. The EU parliament and UN say the Prawer bill contravenes international human rights law. In Israel it’s been met with strikes and demonstrations.

            We call on Israel’s government and people to abandon this cruelty and injustice against defenceless, law-abiding citizens. We call on the British government to take up the Bedouins’ case with Israel and to demand that Israel complies with international human rights law.We urge people to write to their MPs , and hope that many more Jews will join us to stand with the Bedouin for the cause of justice.

Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC; Prof. David Epstein FRS; Morris Farhi MBE; Dr Julian Huppert MP; Prof. Francesca Klug OBE; Nobel laureate Prof. Sir Harry Kroto FRS; Peter Kosminsky; Mike Leigh; Miriam Margolyes OBE; Prof Susie Orbach; Prof Laurance Pearl FRS; Michael Rosen; Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead; Alexei Sayle; Dame Janet Suzman; Zoe Wanamaker CBE

 

  Links and Videos

◊ “From Araqib to Susiya” a story of two villages, one in the West Bank and other in AL-Naqab both facing the same ordeal 

   Um-Hiran facing the new Jewish settlement of Hiran

  Al-Araqib the destruction of a village

  Clashes in Al-Naqb with Israeli Police

  Women in action, the protests and the participation of Palestinian women

Real News Report on the Prawer Plan

    Adalah introduction to the impact of the Prawer Plan

   Adalah written report on the Prawer Plan


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1 Comment

  1. [...] the illegal settlement of the lands conquered in 1967, the calls now are against Israel itself. A letter published in The Guardian (reproduced in our Newsletter No.6) and signed by dozens of top-flight names from politics, media, [...]

    Pingback by One Democracy – Prawer Crackdown lights up Israel’s home front — December 4, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

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