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Israel’s Historic Disregard for Lives and Rights of Negev Bedouin

The controversy over Israel’s Prawer plan to dispossess 30-40,000 Negev Bedouin of their traditional lands and congregate them in reservation-style accommodations brought back to an Israeli friend the nightmare memory of a horrific incident in the early annals of the IDF and the State.

Those who follow the work of Israel’s New Historians, particularly Benny Morris before he went off the rails and became a fan of ethnic cleansing, will recall that they documented for the first time that the Palmach and later IDF engaged in forced expulsions, civilian murder and rape of indigenous Palestinians during the 1948 War.

After that War, the IDF was charged with protecting its new borders. Still lingering under a sense of vulnerability and encirclement, while suspicious of any efforts to return by refugees expelled by Nakba, the IDF was charged with defending those borders. Though there were instances of fedayeen “infiltrators” who sought to engage in acts of sabotage and terror, most of these fears weren’t well-founded. In fact, the IDF often created enemies where none existed. Border units in the Negv were also tasked with expelling to Egypt any Bedouin tribes who had not collaborated during the 1948 War.

Nirim outpost in 1948

Nirim outpost in 1948

Orders at the time told IDF units patrolling the borders that any Arab caught within six miles of the border was to be handed over to military intelligence if they offered useful intelligence information. If not, they were to be killed. In other words, this was a message of terror to be sent to the local Palestinian population, that if you were in the wrong place at the wrong time you’d be dead. That’s certainly one way to cow the local non-Jewish population.

This policy was displayed in all its horrific detail by the infamous Nirim incident, in which an IDF unit, fittingly known as the Sdom Battalion, was patrolling a Negev border zone. It came across three Bedouin, two men and a young girl. The soldiers scared off the two men by firing rifle shots at them. They took the girl back to their encampment.

On their return, they found two of their commanding officers visiting the outpost. When they were apprised of the status of the girl prisoner he told them that after interrogating her they wer to let her go; and that they were not to abuse her.

Later that evening, after a vote among the troops about whether she should become their kitchen worker or their sex slave, they enthusiastically shouted, “we want to fuck.” Thus her fate was sealed. Over the course of the next three days each of three squads got a day in which they almost all the soldiers took turns raping her.

The next morning, she went to the officer’s tent (he had raped her as well) and complained of her treatment. He then commanded his sergeant to take her away with two other soldiers and kill her. They did so. Then they buried her. The following evening, the commander of the unit traveled to Beersheba to see a movie. There he met his own commanding officer, who asked what had happened to the girl. When he was told she’d been killed he sent another officer to investigate.

The unit commander then asked his sergeant to write a report about the incident. This poor schlemiel, not having the good sense to lie or clean up the facts, signed his own arrest warrant, and the lieutenant joined him by signing his name to the report:

“Nirim Outpost. To: Company Commander. From: Commander, Nirim Outpost.

Re: Report on the captive

In my patrol on 12.8.49 I encountered Arabs in the territory under my command, one of them armed. I killed the armed Arab on the spot and took his weapon. I took the Arab female captive. On the first night the soldiers abused her and the next day I saw fit to remove her from the world.

Signed: Moshe, second lieutenant.”

There was an investigation. There almost always is when the crime is too embarrassing to sweep away. But military justice gave out light, almost non-existent sentences of a few years in prison. Only one of those who raped the victim was convicted of the actual rape.

In fact, the wise solons of the court found that because there was no one except the accused who actually witnessed the rape (the victim was conveniently tucked away under a few feet of earth with her body riddled with bullet holes), it could not find “beyond a reasonable doubt” that rape had been committed. Apparently, a stream of men each spending five minutes in a tent with a female prisoner, after which they exit the tent buttoning their pants wasn’t sufficient proof of what they’d actually been doing there. Thankfully, the judges didn’t argue she was a prostitute and had consensual sex. I suppose it would be hard to explain her murder in that context.

No one was convicted of murdering her. Most of the convictions involved dereliction of duty for allowing the rape to happen.

To this day, the Bedouin girl has never been given the dignity of a name. Naturally the IDF wasn’t eager to find her original Arab male companions to learn anything about her. Though Haaretz has all the names of those convicted it would not publish them. They were conveniently protected at the time of the incident as well, so they could return to regular life after their crime and have no ongoing stigma with which to deal.

Jewish Voice for Peace also translated the sidebar articles from the original Hebrew version of the article, which offer important historical background to the case.

I’ve written in the past about the bad case of historical amnesia which besets Israel regarding its sins against the indigenous non-Jewish communities of Israel.  This affliction seems also to have beset two of the soldiers who were found guilty of involvement in this crime.  Neither one of them could remember what happened or what they’d done.  The best both could muster was that they had nothing to do with it.  They were on guard duty and only heard “rumors” about what had happened after the fact.  This forgetting is abetted by the excision of the identities of the guilty from both the Haaretz article and the historical record.  If we cannot call a crime by its name and identify the victims and guilty by their names, how can we ever excise the guilt and do true reparation for the victims?

These guilty men also claim that the IDF personnel of the Sdom Battalion were “a rabble,” soldiers pressed into service with no military background nor even prior ties to the State, since they were almost all new immigrants from diverse nations.  He even claims the soldiers could barely communicate and had to use hand signals to make themselves understood.  This claim is undercut by the narrative itself, which includes reference to a vote taken by the men about the fate of the Bedouin girl.  When the commander asks the men to vote on whether to rape her or make her a kitchen slave, they’re heard to cheer in unison: “We want to fuck.”  They seem to have been able to communicate this quite well despite the alleged language barriers.

What happened at Nirim would’ve been buried in the dustbin of history were it not for the trial of those responsible for the Kfar Kassem massacre during the 1956 War of 50 Palestinian villagers returning from work, who knew nothing about a shoot to kill curfew. The Border Police killed scores of these innocent Palestinians. Defense lawyers in the case offered the Nirim incident as an example of previous IDF murders of civilians to show a pattern of such conduct. One of the lawyers brought the case files to the Tel Aviv University law school archives, where they were preserved until two Haaretz reporters reported this tragedy in 2003.

I bring this up in the context of the recent events concerning the Negev Bedouin to point out that Israel has been screwing the Bedouin (literally and figuratively) since the establishment of the State. Another way contemporary Israeli apologists continue this abuse of indigenous Bedouin tribes is by turning them into uncivilized savages. Al Monitor allowed Einat Wilf to use similar terms in her rant against the ungrateful Bedouin who refuse the “generous deal” offered them by State authorities. Haaretz also quoted the leading State official responsible for implementing Prawer as claiming, despite protests around the country by Israeli Bedouin and Palestinians, that the majority of Bedouin actually supported the proposal but were cowed into submission by a radical minority who forced them into silence. It hasn’t produced any of these “cowed” individuals or anyone supporting the Plan, naturally.

There will be some astute hasbarists who will point to the American genocide against Native Americans. Similar crimes, involving hundreds of thousands of dead from illness, war, and economic privation haunt this country to this day. One national crime does not justify another.

Israel must deal with the Original Sin of Nakba. It must allow refugees to return. It must legalize the traditional lands of the Bedouin tribes. Israel must become a “normal” state and the only way to do this is by facing the past and accepting responsibility for it.


{ 66 comments… add one }

  • Pip December 8, 2013, 4:30 AM


    The Bedouin live in a rigid, hierarchy with Noble (True)Bedouin on top, Fellahin (peasant) Bedouin beneath them and African ex-slaves on the bottom; which African slaves the Bedouin held until 1948.
    No intermarriage or cohabitation allowed, i.e. Apartheid.


    BTW, it was the landless ‘peasants’ and black slaves who worked the farmland that the Noble Bedouin now claim is theirs by right. Those farmlands were not registered, but held by Bedouin commonlaw. Many of the land holdings were gained by bloody force during the hundreds of years of Bedouin inter tribal warfare.

    • Richard Silverstein December 8, 2013, 3:41 PM

      @ Pip: So you’ve uncovered “evidence” that the Bedouin are brutish & uncivilized. Which means precisely what? That Israel itself is tolerant, pleasant, peace-loving and progressive? That everything it’s doing “for” the Bedouin is done out of the goodness of its heart? That it has the best interests of the Bedouin at heart? Puh-leeze. Don’t make us laugh.

      As for “rigid hierarchy,” you’re claiming that Israel is an upwardly mobile, fluid, egalitarian society in which there are no rigid economic, social or ethnic hierarchies? Again, puh-leeze.

      And if you want to give sociology lessons on Bedouin culture & civilization do us a favor & read an entire book instead of a Google books blurb which makes it look like you spent the least amount of research time possible to prove whatever tendentious claim you wished to make.

    • Philos December 8, 2013, 6:17 PM

      This exact same load of BS was used on 972mag.com! Either it’s the same guy or its some hasbarist group like “Stand With Us” sending out the links to their keyboard warriors to link to that Google Books blurb with the line that it is in fact the Bedouin who practice Apartheid. Never mind that what they describe would be referred to as a caste system operating in Bedouin society rather than Apartheid. Apartheid means “separateness” and Israel practices “hafrada.” If you want to see it in action, and can read Hebrew, then go to a Ynet or Maariv article about the Bedouin and read the comments there. Almost all of them, except for maybe 1 in 50, will be filled with hatred, violence and ignorance against the Bedouin. Even journalists speak down and degrade the Bedouin activists that they invite onto their shows to “explain why they are against this generous plan”, and put inflammatory questions to them like “So you’re saying the State is stealing from you? Stealing land you can’t prove is yours, is that what you’re saying?” or even “To balance what you’re saying about your rights, remember that when you protest and show the Palestinian flag this is to raise a hand against Israel.” The rhetoric in the country from politicians, to the bureaucracy, to the “free press” has reached the point where I really do think my compatriots are capable of genocide, and would happily murder left-wing people like me. The country has gone crazy. If there is an intifada I think it will be a bloodbath. At the same time I think an intifada is the only way to change something here. There is no left wing in Jewish Israel of any significance and most Jewish citizens are brainwashed into either hating or fearing (usually both) the Goy and the Arab. Israel is ruled by an oligarchy that just like Mubarak in his day uses hatred and fear to perpetuate their rule and their exploitation of everyone under their territorial jurisdiction. Yet, we are the frierim that believe the crap about being a democratic country… the villa in the jungle. The only villas in the jungle I know of used to be owned by Pablo Escobar…

  • Pip December 8, 2013, 5:21 AM

    [comment deleted--off-topic]

  • Bob Mann December 8, 2013, 6:03 AM

    Rape is common in war and a known excess of both sides of the 1948 conflict.

    • Bessam December 8, 2013, 6:46 AM

      ah yes
      the handy dandy “everybody does it” retort.

      Benny Morris said the incidents of Israeli’s raping Arabs far exceeded the incidents of Arabs raping Jews.

      • Pulp December 8, 2013, 9:03 AM

        @ Bessam
        You have an exact quote ? a link ? page and # ?

    • andrew December 8, 2013, 9:00 AM

      Bon Mann what a Nazi!

      • Bob Mann December 8, 2013, 2:52 PM

        I would ask the owner of this blog to please delete the comment calling me a Nazi.

        I would also add that my original comment about rape being a known excess of both sides of the 1948 conflict can be found on the Deir Yassin Remembered website.

        Link provided upon request.

      • Richard Silverstein December 8, 2013, 3:54 PM

        @ andrew: This is a comment rule violation. Read the rules carefully and respect them. The use of the term “Nazi” is not taken lightly here. Use it carefully, much more carefully than you did in this instance.

  • Bessam December 8, 2013, 6:44 AM

    In 2007 a panel of Israelis met at an AIPAC conference to discuss the state of Israel “after the war.” Efrat Davdevani, (sp?), who works for Shimon Peres, said that Israel must claim “the Negev and the Galim” as the center of the Jewish state, especially as we “prepare for the next wars.” Non-Jews comprise over 30% of the population in that region, she said, and efforts will have to be made to form relationships with Arabs in Negev & Galim.

    The army and air force are already moving their centers to the region, Davdevani said. http://c-spanvideo.org/program/Zion

  • Pulp December 8, 2013, 1:14 PM

    @ Richard
    “reservation-style accommodations”
    http://tinyurl.com/ozho6sv This is the house of former MK Taleb el-Sana.
    Taleb a bedouin who’s family reached and agreement with the Israeli government years ago, built a very nice home on 0.25 acres he received from the government. Each Bedouin agreeing to the government proposal is receiving 0.25 acres per wife (most of them practice polygamy) and a generous financial compensation over lands they can’t prove they were ever the owners of. This is not what you call “”reservation-style accommodations” far from it.
    Politics aside, the government can’t enable each Bedouin tent in the negev with the adequate infrastructure : running water, sewage, electricity, schools, local doctor offices etc.

    • Oui December 8, 2013, 2:29 PM

      Not quite what I read in the article publishing the photo.

      The Plight of the Negev Bedouin by Talab el-Sana

      The Bedouin are the indigenous owner-occupiers of the Negev – they have been there for thousands of years. Since 1948 Israel has built dozens of Jewish towns, villages, kibbutzim and farms while pushing the Bedouin into ever smaller enclaves. In Rahat, for example, there are 52,000 Bedouin living on 21,000 acres, while the regional council of Bnei-Shimon covers 440,000 acres and is home to just 6,000 Jews.

      At the same time, Israel does not recognise Bedouin ownership rights. Pressure from the Jewish Agency meant that even those who farm land have no rights and are regarded as being there illegally. Despite refusing to recognise property rights, the Israeli government has announced that Arab citizens who waive the rights on their land will receive alternative land totalling around 20% of the original, plus cash for the remainder.

      The Praver plan, however, was produced without any consultation with the Bedouin in the Negev, even though Praver’s brief had been to resolve land ownership issues. The plan, as amended and adopted, includes confiscation of half a million acres owned by Arabs in the Negev and the expropriation, without compensation by way of alternative land, of 300,000 acres inhabited by 200,000 Arabs.

      The position of the High Steering Committee of the Arabs of the Negev (a broad coalition of community groups) is clear: it rejects these plans as a form of ethnic cleansing.

      • Pulp December 8, 2013, 2:58 PM

        @ Oui
        I have no idea what you read in the article, it’s in hebrew, do you speak hebrew ?
        as for the Bedouin claims, some of them were brought to court. The district court in beer-sheva dealt with the case of Al-Araqeeb. The judge ruled that not only the Bedouin failed to prove ownership she also ruled that the expert testifying on behalf of the Bedouins simple lied and fabricated evidence.
        You can read about it here http://2nd-ops.com/adiby/?p=5658

        • Richard Silverstein December 8, 2013, 4:17 PM

          @ Pulp: How surprising! An Israeli Jewish judge who’s spent her career doing nothing more than interpreting the laws of a modern western oriented state ruled that a non-western, traditional society cannot satisfy her demands to establish land ownership. As for claims the expert witness lied, I seriously doubt this is accurate. I insist that you prove this by quoting the actual written decision of the judge in the case from the original trial decision & not as interpreted by an anti-Bedouin website authored by an Ashkenazi Jewish Tel Aviv lawyer.

          The comment rules here insist on offering credible websites, not propaganda sites like this one.

          • Pulp December 8, 2013, 6:18 PM

            @ Richard
            1. The website is not authored by an “Ashkenazi Jewish Tel Aviv lawyer.” it is authored and belongs to a prominent Israeli social activist – Esty Segal, the specific post was authored by the “Ashkenazi Jewish lawyer”
            2. The “Ashkenazi Jewish Tel Aviv lawyer” (that is a racist comment) quoted from the verdict. He brought specifically the passages in which the judge – in a very polite legal jargon – calls the experts who testified on behalf of the Bedouin a layer.
            3. If your Hebrew is good enough, please fell free to read the entire verdict here http://www.lawpubshop.co.il/?CategoryID=266&ArticleID=6662 and compare the quoted paragraphs.
            Just few quotes:
            23. חשתי חוסר נוחות בחקירתו הנגדית של פרופ’ יפתחאל, כשהתברר שהוא סמך על מקורות וציטט אותם מבלי שטרח לקרוא בהם…
            I felt discomfort during Professor Yiftah’el cross-examination, when it became clear that he relied on sources and quoted them without bothering to read them.
            25 הנסיון לשנות מתפיסה זו על ידי פרופ’ יפתחאל במטרה להכניס התובעים למסגרת הפקודה העותמאנית לא צלח, כמו גם הדרכתו שמדובר בסמי נוודים, מגדיר אותם כסמי נוודים כיון שעיבדו הקרקע בחלק מהשנה.
            “Professor Yiftah’el attempt to change this perception and include the plaintiffs frame in the Ottoman command did not succeed……

            and it goes on and on and on.

          • Richard Silverstein December 8, 2013, 9:19 PM

            @ Pulp: First, to be clear you’re talking about Ben Gurion Univ. Geography Prof. Oren Yiftachel. A noted expert on Bedouin land claims & a human rights activis. Second, in nothing you quoted from the judge did she say anything remotely close to calling. Yiftachel a liar. I insist you bring quotations to support your original claim or withdraw it.

            I return to my original statement that this is an Ashkenazi Jewish judge inclined to dismiss claims made by non-western non-Jewish communities because of her innate prejudice against anything that does not comport with her insular definition of what is “Israeli,” “Jewish,” and kosher.

          • Pulp December 8, 2013, 9:41 PM

            @ Richard
            When the judge is saying that the prof. “relied on sources and quoted them without bothering to read them.”
            She is calling him a liar. She’s doing it politely, she’s using a legal jargon, but nevertheless she’s in fact calling him a liar.
            If your Hebrew comprehension is good enough, you should read the entire verdict, there are many places in which the judge accuses the professor in not telling the truth.

          • Davey December 8, 2013, 11:06 PM

            Relying on sources and quoting them does not constitute a “lie.” How could the subject “rely on sources and quote them” without reading them? What’s hard to understand here?

            The problem with the Bedouins is that they are not Jewish, they are goyim, gentiles. Israel beats up and dispossess gentiles on a daily basis simply because they are gentile. Why the gentile world sits still for this devastation is beyond me. I explain to gentiles that Jews (the preferred handle for the Jewish population of Israel) kill, imprison, torture, dispossess, humiliate and terrorize gentiles as a matter of abiding state policy. This formulation seems to reach their consciences and I recommend it.

          • DavidL December 9, 2013, 8:24 AM

            Davey- I suggest you re-phrase your extremely Anti-Semitic and simply racist slur of “Jews” doing the laundry list of lies you’ve noted here. You are implying that all “Jewish Israelis” do these things and that is bunch of sh-t not worthy of any other comment than calling it a down-right racial slur. I’m surprised you can get away with that comment without a reprimand.

            You are showing your true racist colors and are a disgrace. Please do keep your white sheet clean for your next Clan meeting.

          • Deïr Yassin December 9, 2013, 10:07 AM

            @ DavidL
            ” (…..) for your next Clan meeting”
            I didn’t know the Clan accepted Jews, they accept Arabs too ?

          • DavidL December 9, 2013, 10:32 PM

            @ DY- I don’t know if Davey is Jewish or not (I assume you are referring to him in your dully sarcastic comment) and with comments like his I wouldn’t think he was. Yet that type of racist slur is pure gold to Clan-like thinking so, frankly I don’t know that much about the Clan, but they would stand behind his comment. I’m sure they would graciously accept Arab slander and racist slurs as well- as any good racist and fascist organization no-doubt would use it to their advantage.

            Since you obviously read his comment and had nothing better to say than the dull sarcastic comment above, shall I assume you agree with his sentiments?

          • Richard Silverstein December 10, 2013, 12:19 AM

            @ DavidL: You’re taking the thread off topic. Other readers, please do not respond to this comment unless your comment relates directly to the post.

          • Deïr Yassin December 10, 2013, 3:58 AM

            @ Richard
            I’m sorry I didn’t see your comment on not respong before doing so.

          • Deïr Yassin December 10, 2013, 3:57 AM

            @ DavidL
            You have a short memory, don’t you ? You used to be two Davids on this blog with nearly the same avatar, and I mentioned that it was confusing. So one became Davey, the other …. DavidL. I wouldn’t write what I wrote if I didn’t know Davey is Jewish. The question is: would you have written differently if you knew…..

          • Richard Silverstein December 9, 2013, 5:50 PM

            @ Davey: The whole “goyim-gentile” thing gives me the willies. I don’t like the term “Jews kill,” when the proper term should be “Israelis.” I prefer to see these acts in a political/national rather than religious context. All we need is to transform this conflict into a Holy War and it will take 700 more years to resolve it instead of 5 or 20. What you’re doing isn’t that far from Islamophobes demonizing all Muslims for the acts of a relative few.

          • Richard Silverstein December 9, 2013, 1:50 AM

            @ Pulp: First, you don’t know what you’re talking about. How can Yiftachel quote a source “without reading it?” Either the judge is nuts or you are. Not to mention that this is a distinguished Israeli professor whose reputation I know & can vouch for. The notion that he would “lie,” as you claim, is insulting to him and to my intelligence. Not to mention that you don’t understand the definition of the word “lie.”

            I’m going to moderate you because I think you’re full of shit. If you want to comment here in future, you be damn sure to use the proper terms when you post a comment. When you use the word “lie” you better be prepared to do a better job of defending your use of the term than you did here. Those are my comment rules. If you haven’t read them, do so.

            I take the accusation of lying very seriously.

            “Moderation” means you will post a comment (if you choose) and I will read it & determine whether it respects the comment rules. If it does, it will be published. If not, it won’t.

      • Richard Silverstein December 8, 2013, 4:13 PM

        @ Oui: WOw, Pulp’s supposed Bedouin poster-boy who’s been co-opted by the government & agreed to accept his little family bantustan, isn’t quite the collaborator Pulp suggested. How surprising!

    • Oui December 8, 2013, 2:37 PM

      Is the house of Talab el-Sana located in Beit Lakya? Read Haaretz article – Israel’s dumping ground.

      • Pulp December 8, 2013, 3:05 PM

        @ Oui
        The link you provided deals of Na’alin and a garbage dump located near by. Beit Lakya is not at that part of the country, and isn’t mentioned even once in the article you linked to. You attached the wrong link.

    • Richard Silverstein December 8, 2013, 4:03 PM

      @ Pulp: So you’re trying to whitewash a situation in which 90% of Bedouin were forcibly expelled from Israel in 1948. After which, the State gradually expropriated most of the remaining land the non-expelled Bedouin had. So this largely agrarian culture which survived based on grazing of its flocks over all its lands, should be given 1/4 acre as it entire family allotment. That sounds eminently fair. So assuredly this State which is taking away the land the Bedouin need to graze their flocks, will spend billions to build the infrastructure, new industries, job training, etc that would be necessary to transform this “primitive” people into a modern englightened people, right? Wrong.

      First, most Bedouin don’t want this deal. I could give a crap what one Bedouin has done whether he’s an MK or not. I’m interested in which the entire Bedouin community wants. When you can tell me the Israeli government actually consulted with a sizable group of Bedouin in crafting a comprosmise both sides agree to; and that the Bedouin consensus supports this deal–then you can talk. Till then, don’t waste your breath.

      As for the term “reservations,” if you read Jodi Rudoren’s article about Prawer & Bedouin living conditions, you’ll see that even in government approved towns the Bedouin live in dire poverty and squalor–thanks to the lack of government resources or services. Sure reminds me of Native American reservations.

      • Pip December 9, 2013, 10:08 AM

        The Ottomans wanted the Bedouin to stop their banditry and settle down, so the Turks launched four military campaigns against the Bedouin, who fought large scale battles against each other in the 1890′s.
        Some of the Bedouin had settled down during the Mandate, but not enough to satisfy the British, who enacted the Bedouin Control Act of 1942, which conferred broad powers in order to forcible settle the tribes.

        • Richard Silverstein December 9, 2013, 5:40 PM

          @ Pip: Bedouin “bandits.” How racist of you. Because the Ottomans of Brits established legislation to “civilize” or control the Bedouin confers no legitimacy whatsoever on either their or Israeli efforts along the same lines.

          • Sarah December 9, 2013, 7:03 PM

            How can you say this Richard when you refer to Israelis as violent thugs ten times a day? Talk about Israeli society as being sexist, racist, constantly on the border of becoming fascist, and you always say really horrible things about the Jews living in Judea and Samaria. Yet to even refer to Beduin banditry in the 19th century is a racist comment in your view???

          • Pip December 9, 2013, 9:06 PM
          • Richard Silverstein December 10, 2013, 12:18 AM

            Shall we display a photo of Sayetet commandoes preparing for their banditry against the Mavi Marmara? Which banditry is more lethal? Also, as far as I know, Israeli Bedouins haven’t engaged in any act of banditry for quite some time. I wish I could say the same for the IDF.

    • SimoHurtta December 9, 2013, 4:52 AM

      It is rather absurd to demand old well known and documented nomadic tribes, clans, families and individuals to prove ownership to the lands their ancestors have used for thousands of years. Can Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian and Russian Saami people draw out the original papers which prove their ownership to lands their ancestors had used for generations? Can Bushmen in Kalahari do that? Or Bedouins in Arab countries? Or Inuits or Indigenous Australians etc. The land rights of those large nomadic tribes and clans is easily proven in rather new historical documents.

      Israel and Jews can only “prove” their ownership to the lands in Israel / Palestine through the state ownership (lands taken through military actions and later using very questionable legal processes) and naturally using that amusing “God gave this land to us Jews” 3323 years ago explanation. Where are the original ownership papers of that claimed old divine “transaction”? The “recent” ownership which Palestinians and Bedouins can prove is a stronger than a thousands of years old very blurry ownership to which Jews hang. I suppose that Bedouins have no problems in proving, that they have used the area in question long before Israel even was planed and on that day Israel was established.

      What is the moral difference in the plans of relocating the European Jews to Madagascar or in plans relocating Israeli Bedouins in a lifestyle and way they do not want? If the Israeli government has the right to plan such things to their non-Jewish citizens, why can (could) not Western countries plan equal relocation solutions for “their” Jews? Jews have a long history and knowledge of Ghettos. Now they have and are creating Ghettos for Bedouins and Palestinians. Do you seriously believe that the history stops there and what is done in Israel has no consequences outside Israel to the whole “J-tribe”? It is difficult to demand equality if one is not ready to offer it to others. Once the moral “superiority” is lost your tribe has no more that moral defense of Ghettos, claimed discrimination, genocide etc. The only thing you can say is “everybody does the same we are doing” (like Bob Man just “said” about rapes as a “political tools”).

      • Oui December 9, 2013, 4:59 AM

        Well spoken. See my comment below about United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

      • Pip December 9, 2013, 10:23 AM


        ” Can Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian and Russian Saami people draw out the original papers which prove their ownership to lands their ancestors had used for generations?”

        A disingenuous comparison. The Bedouin were told by the Ottomans and British to register their land claims, which the Bedouin chose not to do, opting for Bedouin commonlaw.

        So either we ‘render unto Ceasar’, or we don’t, and face the consequences.

        • Richard Silverstein December 9, 2013, 5:38 PM

          @ Pip: It’s not disingenuous at all. Bedouin traditions of ownership are little different than systems used by other traditional peoples around the world. They are not obligated to adhere to the legal systems of any alien entity whether it be the Ottomans, British or Israeli, all of whom they predated. The fact that they didn’t follow these systems does NOT disqualify or deligitimize their land claims. Nor do they have to ‘render’ anything ‘unto Caesar.’ Your views, without you realizing it, are racist.

          • Sarah December 9, 2013, 7:04 PM

            Yet they still deserve all the amenities of the Israeli state? They should be connected to all the grids etc.??

          • Pip December 9, 2013, 10:24 PM

            No Richard.

            In several Beersheva District Court cases, the Bedouin plaintiff’s ‘case-in-chief’ relied on Ottoman law. However, these same plaintiff’s could not prove that their families had followed Ottoman law and registered their land claims.
            To wit: There are consequences for not following the law of the land.

          • Richard Silverstein December 10, 2013, 12:25 AM

            @ Pip: I wouldn’t trust you to read my shopping list, let alone characterize the legal arguments of Bedouin complainants in an Israeli court case. As usual, you offer no credible proof for your claims. Remember, the comment rules insist that you support any claims you make with explicit proof from a credible source.

          • Pip December 10, 2013, 2:19 AM
          • Richard Silverstein December 10, 2013, 10:59 AM

            @Pip: You should’ve stopped posting in this thread as I politely asked. Since you’re already moderated the next step is banning you. I don’t want to do that, but if you ignore my direction it will happen.

          • Oui December 12, 2013, 11:52 AM

            BREAKING NEWS: Israel suspends controversial Bedouin resettlement plan

            (JPost) – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has decided to postpone a plan to resettle tens of thousands of Bedouin Arabs in the Negev desert that had ignited violent protests, pleasing opponents on the Left and Right.

            Legislation underpinning the proposed uprooting of 40,000 Bedouin had also come under fire from Netanyahu’s right-wing allies, who had threatened to scupper it in parliament because they said it offered the Bedouin too much compensation.

            Begin said on Tuesday that the Bedouin never agreed to his plan nor ever saw it. Begin’s comments upset coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu), who told reporters that he and others had been misled about the bill, and that major changes needed to be made. Levin said that he and other members of the coalition voted for the bill on its first reading believing that the Bedouin agreed to the plan.

          • Pip December 10, 2013, 12:24 AM

            The Ottoman were alien for what, 500 years?
            The Ottoman left the Bedouin for most of that 500 years and only began to ask the Bedouin to register their land claims in the late 19th century.

          • Richard Silverstein December 10, 2013, 1:56 AM

            @ Pip: Stop beating a dead horse. Comment rules ask you not to repeat yourself or your arguments. Move on to another thread.

          • Oui December 10, 2013, 3:09 AM

            rel="nofollow">Cross-examination of Prof. Ruth Kark
            Attorney Sfard also noted the fact that many of the Western
            travelers on whom Prof. Kark based her expert opinion had never
            visited the rel="nofollow">al-Arakib area, making their accounts
            completely irrelevant to the case. Sfard noted, moreover, that
            Prof. Kark ignored the testimony of a Western traveler who did
            visit al-Arakib, and already in 1807 found there an encampment
            comprising no less than seventy tents of rel="nofollow">al-Okbi tribespeople. To this Prof.
            Kark responded “It was a tent encampment, not a village. They were
            nomads, they might have gone away from there on the next day.”
            rel="nofollow">Eight times Al-Arakib has fallen, and it will
            arise eight times
            by Rabbi Arik

            rel="nofollow">Bedouin Custom: with our swords we register
            ownership of traditional lands

        • SimoHurtta December 10, 2013, 12:13 PM

          Well the states all around the world have made claims for the lands the “original” tribes have used. That happened in USA, Australia, South Africa, Israel etc. Also in Nordic countries there were in the past problems with the Saami peoples land rights. The state and settlers of the main population claimed much of that land as theirs. However as we can see in the international level very few are today walking in the direction Israel now does. It is amusing how you refer 100 year old Ottoman “behavior” as the legal basis to do what the “J-tribe” is doing to Bedouins.

          What would Pippeli be your excuse if I would say that relocating Jews is OK because German, Russian etc states and governments did do it? Did the actions and legal framework of those governments/states justify new “solutions”. Was Warsaw Ghetto for example wrong? Well it was only a “Prawer plan” of that time.

          “Amusingly” Pippeli the only moral excuse left for those like you is that “others did also that”. I wonder what you have to say to the Israeli law ‘Absentees Property Law’ which allows the take the properties of those “you” killed and exiled without compensation. It is hilarious from the moral viewpoints side how a Jew can live in a house which was got without any compensation and the same Jew can demand his former potato farm in Poland back, demand returning secret Swiss bank accounts, demand Germans to return art, demand Germans to pay pensions and compensations etc.

  • jg December 8, 2013, 2:33 PM

    re: “I saw fit to remove her from the world.” Despicable abuse of children. Murder, rape and despicable – NO base excuse will alter the crime.
    Apologists and deniers disgust me beyond words.
    I hope that Israel is forced to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

  • Benjamin December 8, 2013, 2:55 PM

    The American army has committed atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan that are as bad or worse than the Israelis.

    • Richard Silverstein December 8, 2013, 3:32 PM

      @ Benjamin: First, there is another commenter using the nickname “ben.” If you have a common first name, please use a more specific, individualized nickname to distinguish you from others with the same name. Second, as I pointed out in the post, two atrocities don’t whitewash each other. I suggest is you’re that concerned with U.S. atrocities you take that up in one of the myriad blogs or myriad NGOs dealing with such topics. The issue is off-topic here & violation of comment rules.

  • Oui December 9, 2013, 2:57 AM

    I wonder if the UNDRIP would be applicable to guarantee basic rights of the Bedouin people.
    In a case of a border dispute between Belize and Guantamala, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) was approached for a ruling about the Maya people and culture.

  • Oui December 9, 2013, 3:09 AM

    ILA and Israeli Land Grab

    Oren Yiftachel, a biography.

    Beersheba District Court rejects 6 Beduin Negev land lawsuits

    The Beersheba District Court rejected six lawsuits brought by Beduin regarding private ownership of some 1,000 dunam of land in the Negev. Seventeen Beduin, members of the al-Uqbi family, filed the six land claims. The complex and often bitter legal proceedings went on for over six years, and discussed in detail the history of the Negev Beduin and land laws dating back to the mid-19th century. The Beduin claim the land had belonged to their families since before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and that it had come into their possession by means of purchase and inheritance over generations.

    Attorneys Michael Sfard and Carmel Pomerantz, who represented the Beduin complainants, slammed the ruling, which they said went against an international trend of recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples to their historic lands.

    “In its ruling, the court affirmed the practice of expulsion that the state carried out against the Negev Beduin, and found that 60 years afterwards there is no point in testing whether that massive expropriation of lands was legal or not.”

  • ben December 9, 2013, 9:58 AM

    No good can come from forced relocation of any native peoples. This has been shown here in Canada. It’s a terrible thing demanding people to abandon their way of life and adapt to a way that is totally foreign to them. An example of how bad things can get look up Attawapiskat. The place is mismanaged and has resulted in a huge dependency problem and pretty much all the homes are not liveable. The way we have treated the natives in Canada is a perpetual black eye and even with the special tax benefits and free university education we have still come short on our obligations.

    I have driven threw some of these Negev “towns” they are nothing more then a shanty town that resembles what the world would look like in a Mad Max movie. (Richard I know how much you love my analogies  ) I would not wish that life on anyone… but what can one do to improve the situation? Do you force proper land development (how does one even define proper?), have city planners come in and make grids for paved roads and commercial/residential zoning? Would this concept even work with the Bedouin as from what I saw they pretty much build where they want and if that gets in the way of a road… well tough.

    I don’t think there is any good solution. The Bedouin deserve to maintain their way of life. If some chose to settle down then Israel is obligated to give them full assistance in doing so but only in a way that is sensitive to their tribal heritage and relations.

    Has there ever been a successful example of the integration of a native nomadic population into a modern society? How do you convince a nomad who has been using grazing trails for thousands of years that it’s in their best interest to settle down?

    TBH I think forced relocation of a native populous is a terrible idea. From Australia to the USA to Canada… the road to hell has been paved with good intentions.

    • Oui December 9, 2013, 11:37 AM

      Plight of the Bedouin – The Desert … My Home.
      Bedouin life means three things: a tent, a herd of sheep and vast pastureland.

      OPT land grab and water grab.

      • ben December 9, 2013, 4:40 PM

        Really interesting Video. I was ignorant of the fact that these “shanty” towns as I describe are actually the preferred way of living for them. I can only hope that the Bedouin manage to find a way to integrate into modern society and maintain some form of their heritage. If not then then they will be something we read about in history books like the Jews of Iraq.

        I mean the entire concept of permanent structures and cites contrast so badly with what it means to be Bedouin… how can these two ways of life every coexist? Especially with growing urbanization Jewish or not…

        What examples can Israel learn from Adjacent Arab nations and how they figured out to modernize and maintain their way of life?
        Over the last century the worlds population has grown would not these countries also ran into the same problem when cities like Amman grew exponentially in size?

        • Richard Silverstein December 9, 2013, 5:36 PM

          @ ben: Who says official government Bedouin towns are the “preferred way of living?” That sounds absolutely ludicrous. Do you think living in today’s Gaza is the preferred way of living for Gazans? It’s certainly not for Bedouin either. Even if you did want to modernize and live according to a more western style, the options the government offers are shabby and impoverished.

          • ben December 9, 2013, 6:59 PM

            @ richard I watched the video linked. in it the Bedouin who lives in the E1 corridor said he hated the fact he did not live in what he called a Bedouin home. the guy who starts talking at 9:00 min mark he was 27 when the recording was made.

            Gaza is an interesting subject. Its future is certainly uncertain right now.

            As for the Bedouin up to tonight i allays thought the best solution was something akin to Texas for the Negev.
            make large ranch like areas that get divided between tribes and then setup a grandiose sheep trade. heck use the new water pipeline declared today and help irrigate the land for sheep.

    • Pip December 9, 2013, 12:04 PM


      ” How do you convince a nomad who has been using grazing trails for thousands of years that it’s in their best interest to settle down? ”

      Well. For starters, you ask the thousands of Bedouin who’ve already have settled down what made them do it?”.

      • Richard Silverstein December 9, 2013, 5:34 PM

        @ Pip: For starters, the State which has gradually confiscated more and more of their land, razed their traditional villages, and treated them with disdain and neglect. And the State which promised them infrastructure, amenities & financial support which it never delivered, leaving them living in shanty towns. The State has effectively made both forms of Bedouin life (traditional & official) intolerable using different tactics.

  • DavidL December 9, 2013, 10:48 PM

    @ Richard- Your reply to Davey’s comment gives me the willies as well- you think switching the word to “Israelis” makes it less racist? Hell, let’s switch it to “Muslims” or “Palestinians”. Clumping a whole nation of individuals into a generality like that is simply racist and you know it ( but I guess you can’t resist slamming “Israel”?).

    If you want to talk about political or national aspects, then you can discuss specific policies and acts of the “government”, NOT “Israelis”- that refers to the PEOPLE as a whole. There is a whole spectrum of political thinking in Israel that go from extreme Right to extreme Left. To claim Israelis as a whole adhere to any part of that slurred laundry list of comments by Davey is a lie and a racist comment.

    Your line to Davey is just about as appropriate to your comment: “What you’re doing isn’t that far from Islamophobes demonizing all Muslims for the acts of a relative few.”

    • Richard Silverstein December 10, 2013, 12:23 AM

      @ DavidL: Not at all. Israelis elected the current racist, right wing, ultra-nationalist settler-loving government. Who does the government represent? Its individual members? No, it represents the people, the State. That is, the “people as a whole.”

      As for the spectrum of political thinking in Israel, you’ve offering the typical nostrum of diverse political thought inside Israeli society. Anyone with half a head on their shoulders knows that Israel is enmeshed in a right wing political miasma. To say there is a left in Israel that has any sway or power is ludicrous.

      Any further discussion of this matter will be off-topic.

  • Oui December 10, 2013, 5:29 AM

    MK Miri Regev compares Bedouin ‘resettlement’ to native American Indians

    MKs learn Bedouin did not see, agree to resettlement plan, threatening bill’s passage

    (JPost) – Major disagreements over the proposed Prawer-Begin Bedouin resettlement plan raised more doubts .

    … Arab Knesset members were very upset during the hearing, and some were removed from the hall for disorderly conduct. UAL-Ta’al MK Taleb Abu Arar said that Begin’s comments were “proof that you are a racist – hate Arabs. The law will cause an intifada in the Negev.”

    “You want to transfer an entire population,” MK Hanna Swaid (Hadash) said. Committee chairwoman MK Miri Regev (Likud) responded, “Yes, as the Americans did to the Indians.”

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