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Israel’s Prawer Plan: A New Trail of Tears

1:48 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The Israeli government and Netanyahu administration are going ahead with plans to ethnically cleanse between 30,000 and 70,000 Bedouin Israeli citizens from the area of their ancient homeland into new abodes. It is the so-called Prawer Plan (or Prawer-Begin Plan):

The United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recently stated that carrying out such a relocation without Bedouin consent is a violation of international law.

OCHA also said that the proposed relocation site will put at risk the Bedouin peoples’ health and way of life. “The proposed site does not meet minimum standards in terms of distance from the municipal dumping grounds, which is likely to pose a health hazard to the communities, and provides limited access to grazing lands. Previously relocated families report negative consequences, including health concerns, loss of livelihood, deteriorated living conditions, loss of tribal cohesion and erosion of traditional lifestyles.”

It goes without saying, Israel needs to abandon this malicious plan to quite literally throw the Bedouin into the garbage.

These people being ethnically cleansed aren’t Palestinians residing in the West Bank or Gaza. They are Israeli citizens. Why are they being forcibly relocated?

The Israeli government on Sunday authorized construction plans for two new settlements in the southern Negev region, one of which is slated to be established on territory currently inhabited by a number of unrecognized Bedouin communities.

The planned establishment of Hiran and Kassif was announced during a special cabinet meeting that took place at the Ben-Gurion Heritage Institute in Sde Boker to mark the fortieth anniversary of the death of Israel’s first prime minister.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the decision and declared that the step would further the vision propounded by David Ben-Gurion.

The plan will ‘expedite the development of the entire Negev,’ the prime minster said, adding that Ben-Gurion ‘very much wanted to achieve’ such a goal.

Over the past weekend, demonstrations in Israel, the West Bank, Europe, the USA and elsewhere were held, in solidarity with the Bedouin, who are being rewarded for generations of willing subservience to the Israeli state with something that can easily be compared with our own country’s southeast USA Trail of Tears, brutally enforced between 1831 and 1837:

In 1831 the Choctaw were the first to be removed, and they became the model for all other removals. After the Choctaw, the Seminole were removed in 1832, the Creek in 1834, then the Chickasaw in 1837, and finally the Cherokee in 1838. After removal, some Native Americans remained in their ancient homelands – the Choctaw are found in Mississippi, the Seminole in Florida, the Creek in Alabama, and the Cherokee in North Carolina. A limited number of non-native Americans (including African-Americans – usually as slaves) also accompanied the Native American nations on the trek westward. By 1837, 46,000 Native Americans from these southeastern states had been removed from their homelands thereby opening 25 million acres for predominantly white settlement.

Israeli reactions to Bedouin protests and solidarity actions across that country have been somewhat harsh. Reactions by members of the openly racist Israeli government have been poorly reported in US media so far, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, but Haaretz reports:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the protests Saturday evening with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino. According to the Prime Minister’s Bureau, Netanyahu lauded the police force’s efforts and its ‘steadfast work in the face of the protesters.’

Netanyahu said, ‘We will not put up with such unruliness”‘and that lawbreakers would be held to account. ‘There has not been and will not be any tolerance of lawbreakers. The attempt of a loud and violent minority to prevent a better future for a large and wide population is severe. We will continue advancing the bill for a better future for all residents of the Negev,’ he said.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also responded to the protests. In a post on his Facebook page, Lieberman criticized the protesters.

We are fighting for the national land of the Jewish people, and there are those who are trying to steal [this land] and take it over by force,’ he said, adding that he initially opposed the Prawer-Begin bill but eventually decided to support it because he was told that the Bedouin leaders had consented to the plan.

‘Just like we had feared, the Bedouin are only interested in the “carrot” – the benefits and the alternative land – while making every effort, even through violence, to oppose the “stick,”‘ he continued. ‘They must leave the land on which they reside illegally.’

Lieberman also called on the government to rethink the entire plan and nix the benefits that were promised to the Bedouin. [emphases added]

It is hard to make a comparison to this reaction to that of American politicians in the face of Native American resistance to having to leave their ancestral farms for the plains of Oklahoma.  It is as if, had Andrew Jackson been Lieberman, he had stated “Screw the land deal.  We’re going to sell you all on the slave blocks in New Orleans!”  Or something like that.

In the Negev, where the removals will soon commence, police were fairly brutal:
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Time for Abe Foxman to Apologize to Jimmy Carter

11:04 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Back in 2006, when both Jimmy Carter’s Palestine: Peace not Apartheid and Walt & Mearsheimer’s The Israel Lobby were published, ADL head Abe Foxman led the charge to have Carter excluded – as far as might be possible – from the public discourse. It was a craven attack. Since then, events have more and more proven Carter right, Foxman wrong. Carter never had to make excuses. Perhaps a statement by Foxman last week on a distantly related issue, over which Foxman begs to be excused, is the closest he will come to apologizing to Carter:

Survivors of the Holocaust are entitled to feelings that are irrational. Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted.

Author, journalist and blogger Max Blumenthal was able to be one of those documenting the forcible removal of all the residents of a longstanding community of Bedouins in the Negev Desert of Israel late last week. There have been several stories about this, mostly in the blogosphere. A google search New York Times Bedouin village of al-Arakib yields no NYT results. Yet.

The problem that is so evident in the coverage of this removal isn’t merely that it is such overt apartheid, but that the heavy-handedness of its implementation is so blatantly and hatefully racist:

Is the racist way this apartheid action of ethnic cleansing was implemented sanitized by Foxman’s excuse?

Here’s part of Max Blumenthal’s description of the participation of Israeli school kids in the ethnic cleansing operation:

After interviewing more than a half dozen elders of the village, I was able to finally identify the civilians in question. What I discovered was more disturbing than I had imagined.

Arab Negev News publisher Ata Abu Madyam supplied me with a series of photos he took of the civilians in action. They depicted Israeli high school students who appeared to have volunteered as members of the Israeli police civilian guard (I am working on identifying some participants by name). Prior to the demolitions, the student volunteers were sent into the villagers’ homes to extract their furniture and belongings. A number of villagers including Abu Madyam told me the volunteers smashed windows and mirrors in their homes and defaced family photographs with crude drawings. Then they lounged around on the furniture of al-Arakib residents in plain site of the owners. Finally, according to Abu Matyam, the volunteers celebrated while bulldozers destroyed the homes.

“What we learned from the summer camp of destruction,” Abu Madyam remarked, “is that Israeli youth are not being educated on democracy, they are being raised on racism.”

Perhaps. But let’s get back to Abe Foxman’s statement, "Survivors of the Holocaust are entitled to feelings that are irrational. Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted."

I’m going to be pilloried for this by some, but it may be worth the ensuing discussion:

1920: A spokeswoman for Armenian survivors of Turkish atrocities was heard saying, "Survivors of the Turks are entitled to feelings that are irrational. Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted

1925: Gen. Ludendorff was quoted as saying, "Survivors of the Versailles treaty’s indignities are entitled to feelings that are irrational. Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted."

1935: Gen. Franco was quoted as saying, "Survivors of the Communist Madrid government are entitled to feelings that are irrational. Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted."

1937: A woman in Nanking, who was raped 150 times by Japanese soldiers last week, was screaming, almost incoherently, "Survivors of Nanking are entitled to feelings that are irrational. Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted."

1942: A Lone Polish officer, who survived the rumored mass murder at Katyn, was heard muttering, "Survivors of Katyn are entitled to feelings that are irrational. Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted."

1946: A man whose entire immediate and distant family were incinerated in the atomic bomb blast in Nagasaki, has stated, "Survivors of this horrific blast are entitled to feelings that are irrational. Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted."

1960: Alabama Democratic National Committeeman, Bull Conner, responding to his renewed pleas for racial segregation, stated: "White Alabamians are entitled to feelings that are irrational. Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted."

1963: Standing in front of the Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama, Gov. George Wallace cried to the white crowd: "Our white students are entitled to feelings that are irrational. Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted."

Let’s step forward a few years:

1994: Rwandan radio announcers are broadcasting: "Survivors of Tutsi insults are entitled to feelings that are irrational. Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted."

1995: Bosnian Serb leader, Ratko Mladić, was overheard, telling a Belgrade newspaper reporter, "Our Christian Serbs are entitled to feelings that are irrational. Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted."

…. and so on.

Foxman’s statement wasn’t just lame. It was indefensible unless one willingly accepts his viewpoint to be from an acceptably exceptionalist arena that somehow trumps normal morality.

My personal experiences with young Cambodians who survived Pol Pot’s genocide, and watching their kids grow up, have demonstrated to me that multi-generational PTSD is real and can be heavily debilitating. That is what Foxman seems to be describing. Nothing more. But I find very little difference in having read Foxman’s personal experiences from 1940 to 1945, from what I have heard many, many times from Cambodian friends and relatives.

It is likely that Foxman will jump even more sharks before he comes to his senses and seeks forgiveness from Jimmy Carter. Were that unlikely event to occur, though, one suspects Jimmy Carter would fully, warmly and sincerely embrace Abraham Foxman.