Tarabin’s Nakba in the Negev
Neve Gordon reports on a new Nakba organized by the wealthy Jewish residents of the Beersheva neighborhood of Omer, which absorbed (that is, “stole”) the lands of the Bedouin village of Tarabin as it expanded. The new goal of the Jews of Omer is to make the area Bedouinrein by removing the last vestige of Arab presence, that is the local mosque. This triumphalist statement accompanies the Before and After image at right featured in the Omer neighborhood newspaper:
After a prolonged battle, we are reaching the last stage in the removal of the [Tarabin] tribe. The last group will finally be transferred to Rahat [a government sponsored city for Bedouin forcibly removed from their native lands]. The mosque which, for the members of the tribe, stood for their solidarity and connection to this place has been dismantled and transferred to the new settlement. The last stragglers, a handful of holdout families, will be dealt with in a legal framework.
Soon not a single original [Bedouin] family will remain on this land [Omer].
You can see the ‘immaculate conception’ of the image, which shows the mosque there one day and gone the next. I’d ask my readers to imagine a Polish shtetl which, as it expanded in the post-war period, eradicated every last remnant of Jewish presence, except the local synagogue. What would you say to its destruction?
Ynet reports a January “agreement” between Omer, the tribe and the Israel Lands Authority, which forced the Bedouin to give up their village and move to a new one just outside Rahat. Six families have refused to leave. The article makes clear that those who did leave did so under extreme duress:
“I wanted to remain in Omer but there were heavy pressures placed upon us and finally I had to give up. There were the police and the ILA. For years I fought them in court, but I saw that I stood against an entire State. I could no longer continue fighting and decided to give up. Every family made its own calculations. It was a very hard process. But we couldn’t continue fighting the State,” one Bedouin villager said.
The Israeli government’s plans for the Negev Bedouin are to forcibly remove them from their scattered traditional villages into Indian-like reservations like Rahat, where they will be concentrated. This would leave all the vacated lands for new Jewish settlements. This parallels similar policies in the West Bank used to displace native Palestinian villages, thus allowing rooms for expansion of the Jewish footprint. It should be noted that these are blatant land grabs which violate international law and will have to be unwound as part of any peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Similarly, Israel will eventually have to make restitution to its indigenous Bedouin citizens whose villages are being eradicated in a latter-day version of the Nakba. The fact that Israel is providing alternate sites for these Bedouin to live doesn’t lessen the injustice committed against them. After all, the U.S. government in the 19th century forcibly removed Native Americans from their indigenous lands to make way for white settlers, placing the former on reservations. It should be noted that these communities remain among the poorest in the U.S. and their residents are mired in poverty, and enjoy substandard medical care and educational opportunities. This is what Israel is bequeathing to the Bedouin, whose presence in the Negev far predates the creation of the State.
In fact, those leaving Tarabin said they were promised jobs in their new community and instead face nothing but unemployment:
“We have nothing there. They promised us employment, but people are all out of work. The police there treat us with disrespect.
Does ‘making the desert bloom’ mean extirpating the presence of the indigenous Bedouin inhabitants from their native lands? Is that the price that must be paid to bring progress and western civilization to this so-called land without a people?
21 thoughts on “Tarabin’s Nakba in the Negev – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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There will come a time when the Jewish people will feel enormous guilt because of what we’ve done to our fellow human beings. Generations will be haunted by the guilt-feelings, just as the generations of Germans have been experiencing the feelings of guilt, remorse and low self-worth because of what happened in the WWII. And we will not be able to say: “Wir haben es nicht gewust” (We didn’t know.) This may even become a greater trauma for us than the Holocaust.
The question is: when are we going to wake up? Some have suggested that this will only happen after there is not much at stake anymore, meaning after Israel has achieved her objectives and when another generation comes that will have had nothing to do with this. Then there will be apologies and some compensation, like for instance in Australia with respect to the aboriginal population. I’m afraid, however, that would be too little too late.
Leonid Levin you are so right. The Palestinian holocaust started in 1897. Time to stop this ethnic cleansing and pay back all the pain and tears with love
@Leonid Jewish guilt and Jewish traumas as a result of Israel’s genocidal policies against the Palestinians are the last thing that decent people should worry about. Our concern should be for their victims. The silence and acquiescence of mainstream world Jewry to what has been going on in Palestine is unforgivable; Amira Hass rightly likens it to the inaction of the majority of Germans to the deportations during the Holocaust. And these ‘guilty’ Germans were not all highly educated multilingual intellectuals with degrees and free access to Al Jazeera, the BBC, CNN and the internet.
I did not get the impression that Leonid’s main concern is with Jewish guilt and traumas, and he is right when he suspects that the denial in Israel will only end after everything has been long ‘over’. It is usual for native peoples to get sympathy from their abusers only AFTER they have been effectively neutralized. (See the American Indians, the Australian Aborigines, the Ainu of Japan.)
I am sure the Chinese will one day feel sorry for the Tibetans too, long after it could still have been meaningful. It is therefore up to the outside world to put pressure on these countries in time.
@Seymour, I agree with you that Jewish guilt is not the main issue here. I wrote this down because this is a new insight for myself, because I never looked at it that way. But the other day, when we discussed Primo Levi’s “If This Is a Man” at our local library’s book club, someone mentioned how guilt-ridden many Germans are to this day, and it occurred to me for the first time that we, as a people, will also bear collective guilt some day vis-a-vis the Palestinian people.
I further agree with you that silence and turning a blind eye under present circumstances cannot be justified. So let’s discuss what’s the right thing to do now.
As to how the Germans deal with their guilt, see my comment to Almabu on this thread:
And as to a very impressive book dealing with this topic see “The Wages of Guilt: Memories of War in Germany and Japan” by Ian Buruma. One of the most beautiful books I ever read.
Can the Israelis actually do what they are doing? Apparently, they can. Can anyone stop them doing what they’re doing? Apparently not.
I just wonder why that should be.
Your parallel with the native American Indians and their treatment by the US government of the day portrays a very salient object lesson in how not to go about such things. That they were done was probably due to the limited vision of politicians and casual indifference of those in power at the time. These persons may have given some thought to the consequences and the blame attaching to their actions but the knowledge that most of such worries could safely be shelved for several generations may have helped them in their decision making.
Can the same be said of this particular venture? Are Jewish residents, actual and potential, fully aware of the history surrounding this site? Or will the matter be quietly deferred down the years until it becomes a source of some regret but, by then, too old a question to have much done about it?
In a sense, this characterises the whole situation across the length and breadth of the region. Things happen, sometimes bad things and for these there is no immediate redress, no quick containment of the pain, no response that can balance the sense of outrage and despair that is born out of too many such instances.
But what if?
What if, all those years ago, the American tribes, instead of being parcelled off into dried-up, infertile reservations of land that nobody else wanted, had been given perpetual title to prime sections of suburban Washington or significant areas of New York real estate as compensation for the enforced vacating of their ancestral homelands?
Now, the guilt and remorse felt by some in the USA would be non-existent; there would be no sense of shame or remorse attaching to all those policies enacted so long ago. Indeed, considerably extended national pride might very well be the result of so magnanimous a course of action.
Well, it wasn’t done that way, as we all know. And today, I suspect, it’s far too late to rectify the damage; much too late for all those involved and for each of their descendents.
But is it also too late for the Israelis, the Palestinians and the rest of us?
Maybe. Maybe not. The time may have come for us to reevaluate ourselves as human beings and determine not to make the same mistakes that have come to haunt us down all the centuries.
And just how do we do that? It’s really not as difficult as you might think. In any event, we all have this one, very well-documented precedent to contemplate.
אני שמחתי מאוד להכיר את האתר הזה בגלל שאני רואה שהוא עוקף את הצנזורה הישראלית ומפרסם ידיעות שאנחנו לא זוכים לשמוע בתקשורת
אני גם יכול גם לציין שאני תומך ברעיון השתי מדינות ואף מאמין שההתמחלויות הן אסון וההתנהגות של ישראל בפלסטין היא איומה ונוראה
אולם אני סבור שבמקרה הזה ישנו חוסר הבנה בסיסי של המצב במדינת ישראל והשתלטות של קרקעות על ידי הבדואים
צריך להבהיר בכתבה שזה היה מבנה בלתי חוקי וכול המבנים הבלתי חוקיים בישראל נהרסים כל ידי המדינה בין אם זה יהודי או ערבי
אם אני אבנה מבנה בלתי חוקי אני בטוח שהוא יהרס תוך זמן קצר למרות שאני יהודי
חשוב שהדגיש בכתבה שהמבנה היה בלתי חוקי והחוק חל על כול אזרחי ישראל בצורה שווה
Omri: I understand the situation of the Bedouin far better than you realize, & I’m afraid it is YOU who are either deliberately or unintentionally ignoring the reality faced by Bedouin. It’s easy to say, as you and those who justify their ethnic cleansing from their Negev villages that their settlements & buildings are illegal. But who made them illegal? The State of course. The same State which refused to recognize their settlements which predated the founding of that State. If you have an indigenous population that predates the State, you must recognize the lands they inhabit & not criminalize the fact that they live somewhere the State finds it inconvenient for them to live.
Insisting this is purely a case of illegality is patently bogus. If as you claim you value the reporting in this blog, you’d re-examine your own pre-conceived notions in this matter & recognize that the law can be used to inflict injustice & that it is in the case of the Bedouin. And if you built an illegal structure in 1930 & lived in it consecutively until 1952, when the State forcibly removed you from it, you’d have every right to complain as the Bedouin are & return to live in it as they are as well.
It mightn’t be possible that you live in the Negev, would it?
אני לא חושב שהבית שנהרס הוא משנת 1930
בתים שבנו לפני 48 לא נהרסים
בתים שנבנים בשנים האחרונות באופן לא חוקי כן נהרסים
אני ראיתי אין ספור כתבות בעניין הבדואים ואני מכיר את הנושא בצורה טובה מאוד
ואני יודע שבמקרים רבים בית המשפט פוסק לטובת הבדואים ואני מקבל את זה בצורה מוחלטת אבל שבית משפט פוסק נגדם אני מקבל את מה שבית המשפט פוסק
הרי אפילו אתה לא תגיד שאני צריך לצאת כנגד בית המשפט הישראלי
This is a distinction without a meaning. The point is that if these indigenous Israeli citizens deserve to retain their native lands they also retain a right to homes and other infrastructure such as a mosque. You can’t have a community & deny it a place of worship unless you wish to be racist, which Israel certainly is regarding Bedouin. Can you show me a single ruling by an Israeli court which allowed an entire tribe to remain in its native villages? Can you show me a single ruling that went against the authorities or ILA in any such case?
You may trust Israeli justice. Most of the rest of us don’t share your confidence. Nor do the Bedouin.
דוגמה לפסיקה של בג”ץ (בית דין גבוה לצדק) לטובת הבדואים
פה מוזכר שהבדואים שיתפו פעולה עם בג”ץ
Mr. Yorke, I have followed your many posts to Tikun Olam and admire them as tributes to a gentlemanly articulation, but what are you really articulating other than an extended kvetch over a kind of generic and universal immorality? You know, if only people would do this or that, then maybe just perhaps the world would become a better etc. I do wish you would consider turning your obvious verbal talent to some obvious indignation over the injustices herein laid out and to proposing some possible solutions to these ongoing obscenities as herein described. For instance, how about discussing that this may well be a truly ripe time for full-press BDS? And I don’t mean “Bull”, “Dally” and “Sigh”.
Yes yes yes!
Hello Mr. Weindeb
Thanks for those kinds words. Except, perhaps, for ‘kvetch.’ That one does appear to have a slightly pejorative ring to it.
From an all too brief perusal of your website, my laptop having become prey to quite a few glitches of late,
I can see that you yourself are very well versed in the written word. Quite possibly the spoken one as well.
Well, all right, BDS; is it a viable proposition? Maybe it is but only if it can be universally and comprehensively applied. And over that hangs a very big question mark. Can it be and will it ever be effective over the short term? In the long term, undoubtedly, it can. But here we could be talking ten, maybe twenty or so years. At an average rate of, lets say, 100 – 200 lives lost per year and all the associated fallout that accrues, one might stop to query the effectiveness of going down that particular road.
My own view is rather similar to how I would have approached a broken machine in my days as an engineer ( I happen to be retired at present, as may be judged by my increased rate of posting here).
Usually only one or two components of the many thousands in the machine were defective. Very rarely did more than this number ever become a cause for concern. So it is with the Palestinian/Israeli conflict once the situation is stripped down to its most basic level. It’s Cain and Abel writ large, Isaac and Ishmael magnified more than a million-fold, Jacob and Esau duking it out, but with some serious state-of-the-art weaponry to hand.
So, what can be done?
Going by what narratives come out of the Bible and the Quaran, God sometimes seems to have a very poor grasp of human nature, especially when it comes to dealing with male sibling rivalry. Had we been in His position at the time, I would hope that most of us would have handled these matters with firmness, yes, but also with a little more diplomacy and a modicum of forbearance.
The point to realise here is that neither party really wants to take things to the very limit; that would be extremely dangerous for both communities. Events, however, seem to dictate no other way except to risk that very outcome. Each new move by one side or the other often appears designed to raise the stakes that much higher. Inevitably, at some stage, the thing boils over into full-scale warfare which, in itself, only worsens the situation that much further; it certainly does nothing to help whatever peace process may be around at the time.
As a measure to enhance the next peace process, I have put forward the suggestion that we all parachute into the problem mob-handed as it were. We state that we don’t care who is right, who is wrong or who is more deserving of what. We want the matter settled once and for all. No messing about, no leaving it for the next generation to sort out. Do it now, get it over with and live in peace thereafter. And just to demonstrate that we really do mean business, we’re gong to oversee everything that happens from this day forward and woe betide anyone who steps out of line from now on.
There. Problem solved. Not one iota of BDS needed and we all get to live happily ever after. Well, most of us do; the armament industries might be a bit upset but, seriously, will any of us be bothered much about that.
Mr. Yorke, perhaps my use of the Yiddish term and concept, “kvetch”, did possess a touch of the pejorative, but only a touch as a lead-in to my brief critique of your approach, or, as I see it, your non-approach to this tragic, frustrating and intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I suppose a quick definition of “kvetch” would be a mini cris de coeur that never ends, a whine or complaint about one thing or another, and if there’s nothing to complain about, then time to invent something that will do. Thus and obviously, the term is hardly appropriate to the topic at hand, and in a sense I apologize to you.
You might well be right that a BDS approach directed again Israel, and then only if thoroughly comprehensive, which I doubt would ever be, could take a vast amount of time to be effective. But then again what, short of a collective war waged against the state, could make Israel reverse what has obviously been its ongoing deliberate intention and policy of land-grab from an indigenous population by military and every other means and then subsequent ethnic cleansing or reduction to an inferior status of that displaced population? It strikes me that BDS, glacial though its effects might be, could be the kindest weapon, indeed the most peaceful weapon, the international community, whose laws Israel continues to violate and denigrate, might employ, the United States, of course, not joining in.
You say, “The point to realise here is that neither party really wants to take things to the very limit….” Au contraire, I think Israel has solidly demonstrated that she is quite Biblically willing to do just that, to seize and hold until the end of times all of Judaea and Samaria, and I suspect that this philosophy, though perhaps not always readily evident, existed well before 1948.
Later you say, “As a measure to enhance the next peace process, I have put forward the suggestion that we all parachute into the problem mob-handed as it were. We state that we don’t care who is right, who is wrong or who is more deserving of what. We want the matter settled once and for all…and live in peace thereafter. And just to demonstrate that we really do mean business, we’re gong to oversee everything that happens from this day forward and woe betide anyone who steps out of line from now on.” Oh, brother! Your intention or wish or hope or whatever it is you propose would surely guarantee for every stand-up comedian on both sides of the divide an unending source of material. Who are “we all” who will “parachute into the problem” and “oversee everything that happens”?
How I wish it were so that there were all over the place the kind of people you seem to believe exist in plenitude, people of honor, simple decency, courage, powerful wills, and an overwhelming desire to do the right thing. As the poet once said, “The world is too much with us”, and so something other than a vague wish is required if ever this dangerous tragedy of contempt and injustice is to be properly addressed. BDS is about all I can think of, especially since the U.S. will no doubt continue to do as it has done for decades and the ineffectiveness of such truly well-meaning organizations as the New Israel Fund and Peace Now can trump hope itself.
RE: “This parallels similar policies in the West Bank used to displace native Palestinian villages, thus allowing rooms for expansion of the Jewish footprint.” – R.S.
ALSO NOTE: “The new Christian settlers” ~ by Yair Altman, Ynet News, 04/14/11
ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4056696,00.html
These last couple of postings of yours have been quite enlightening as regards “Progressive” attitudes towards Israel. For years, the main thrust of the attacks on Israel have regarded the “occupation” as the big problem, but you have now pointed out that once the occupation is ended, your list of grievances against Israel will still be long and BDS and other forms of force and pressure against Israel will still have their best days ahead of them.
(1) You stated that AFTER the Palestinian state is established, THEN we will start to deal with the Palestinian refugee problem. One good way to excoriate Israel endlessly would be for Syria and Lebanon to tell the refugees there that they now have their “state” so they would be expelled to tent cities along the Israeli borders. Sympathetic international media would show how miserable these people are and Israel would be blamed for heartlessly not allowing them back their supposed homes in Israel.
Since NO Israeli gov’t will agree to the “right of return” no matter what you seem to think, we will have the ingredients of decades more of war and strife , IN SPITE of the fact that the Palestinians now supposedly have “self-determination”. That is why no Israeli gov’t will agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state without getting an agreement to the Palestinians to state that this is the end of their claims against Israel.
(2) You are now demanding that Israel now agree to far-reaching demands of the Arabs regarding the arrangements WITHIN pre-67 Israel…that Israel supposedly turn the Negev back over to the Beduins (actually Beduins claim much of the land of the Middle East and they have serious strife with many of the Arab states as well over the same issues). Then, of course, there is an endless shopping list of “progressive” complaints against Israel such as Israel’s law of return, the Chief Rabbinate, the Jewish National Fund, the National Anthem, the Flag and a million other Arab grievances against Israel. You are never promising a compromise peace, you are prescribing endless conflict.
(3) I am curious as to when the “statute of limitations” for ethnic cleansing is? I haven’t heard you demand the Sudeten Germans go back to the Czech Republic, or the Hindus expelled from Pakistan go back, nor have you volunteered to give your house sitting on stolen Indian land in Seattle be given back, but you claim Israel is morally obligated to bring the Palestinian refugees back (the Sudentenland expulsion occured a mere 2 years earlier and the expulsion of the Hindus from East Pakistan occured as late as 1950, AFTER the Palestinian refugee problem was created).
I should add that the bottom line is whether or not you define yourself as a “Zionist”, my extensive reading of “Progressive” Jewish thinking shows me that Zionism and Jewish Progressive ideology are inherently incompatible and that Progressives have no choice but to work for the eradication of Zionism as an ideology and Israel as an independent state (regardless of whatever they view as the fate of the millions of Jewish inhabitants of the country should be).
More of yr typical sophistries & as usual you distort & misunderstand much of what I’ve written.
My grievances are not with “Israel” as you falsely state, but rather with its policies. And yes, just as the U.S., S. Africa, & many other countries have had to deal with injustice meted out to indigenous inhabitants after those countries established their own independence, so Israel will do the same regardless of whatever nonsense you claim will or won’t happen.
I don’t care when the refugee problem is dealt with. It can be before, during or after creation of a Palestinian state. But it will prob. be easier for all involved if the outlines of a settlement are reached before & it is implemented after a peace agreeement is reached.
Your fake scenarios involving Syria & Lebanon are just that.
Yr claim that no Israeli gov’t will agree to a right of return is nonsense as the Olmert gov’t DID just that in its own proposals to resolve the conflict. The fact that Olmert agreed to a fig leaf concession is immaterial. He at least accepted in theory that Palestinians had ROR. And of course a future pragmatic Israeli gov’t will do the same except in a more meaningful way. The fact is that YOU & your far right friends will not accept ROR, which is an entirely diff. thing than an Israeli gov’t accepting it.
When there is a Palestinian state established it only grants self-determination to those who live in that state, but not to refugees who don’t. They are entitled to demand return to Israel. Israel of course is entitled to bargain over who & how many will return. As long as Israel denies ROR there will be no settlement of the conflict, which is why I believe a settlement will end up being imposed fr. without.
THe demands of the Bedouin are not far-reaching & they are not demanding all of the Negev. Show me a single piece of evidence that this is true.
I am not prescribing “endless conflict.” I am prescribing Israeli democracy, which you object to vehemently. The conflict is there within Israel already. Either you become a Jewish authoritarian state sans democracy, or you become a democratic state sans Jewish superiority (but with Jewish rights guaranteed). Can’t have it both ways. Are you with Rabbi Kahane? Or with Uri Avnery? I say you’re with Kahane, but I’ll let you speak for yrself.
I’m not aware of any Native Americans (not ‘Indians’ as you so ignorantly call them) demanding return of my home. When you find such a person, put him or her in touch with me. BTW, in case you’ve forgotten or are too ignorant to know, the U.S. gov’t signed an agreement with NW tribes regarding their claims in the NW that involved a financial settlement.
Nor am I aware of Indians who wish to return to Pakistan or vice versa. But, unfortunately for you I am aware of thousands of Israeli Palestinian refugees who seek to return to homes from which they were illegally expelled in an act even many Israelis concedes was expulsion. And as with all hasbarists you attempt lamely to divert from the true subject at hand. Nice try, but failed again I’m afraid.
Regardless of whatever inanities you mouth, I am a Zionist & nothing you say will change that. If you write what you have above claiming that I am working for the eradication of Israel you will be banned permanently. You know this is a lie & serious violation of my comment rules.
Since both you and I were born in the United States, that makes us “Native Americans”. What you mean is that the Indians are the aboriginal inhabitants of America.