FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Israel’s Indigenous Invaders

by NEVE GORDON and NICOLA PERUGINI

On June 24th the “Prawer Plan for the Arrangement of Bedouin-Palestinian Settlement in the Negev” passed its first reading in the Israeli parliament. If implemented, the Plan will constitute “the largest single act of forced displacement of Arab citizens of Israel since the 1950s,” expelling an estimated forty thousand Palestinian Bedouin from their current dwellings. 

The Plan’s ultimate objective is to Judaize the Israeli Negev. In order to do this, however, seventy thousand (out of 200,000) Bedouin who currently live in villages classified as ‘unrecognized’ by the Israeli government must be moved. The government already forbids them from connecting to the electricity grid or the water and sewage systems. Construction regulations are also harshly enforced, and in 2011 alone about a thousand Bedouin homes and animal pens—usually referred to by the government as mere “structures”—were demolished. There are no paved roads, and signposts from main roads to the villages are removed by government authorities. The villages are not shown on maps, since as a matter of official geography, the places inhabited by these second-class citizens of Israel do not exist.

The government has, for years, argued that because these people live in small villages scattered across a relatively large area, it cannot provide them with basic services and therefore its objective has been to concentrate them in a few townships. Consequently, in 2009 Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appointed his planning policy chief, Ehud Prawer, to liberate the “Jewish land.” Prawer’s main task was to relocate these seventy thousand Bedouin who have refused to sign over their property rights to the State and have continued living in their “unrecognized villages.”

The logic informing the plan is actually best expressed in two reports Silent Conquest and There is a Solution published by a settler NGO called Regavim (The National Land Protection Trust), which has been working in conjunction with several government agencies.  The NGO maintains that the Negev’s Bedouin inhabitants “rob” the Jewish people “of the Land of Israel” “ever so quietly, without the roar of battle and clamor of war.” “On this battlefield,” the organization continues,

cement mixers have replaced tanks, plows replace cannons and innocent-looking civilians replace uniformed soldiers….  Acre after acre, house after house, buying, squatting, illegally cultivating the soil that is not theirs, sometimes with guile, other times with violence, with huge sums of money and firmly backed by anti-Zionist organizations in Israel and abroad – Israel is losing its hold on the Jewish people’s lands.

Regavim further maintains that Israel has until now “offered the Bedouins ‘carrots’ –but never a ‘stick,’” claiming that through their “criminal activity” these Beduin are colonizing the land and thus threatening to “put an end to the Jewish future of the Southern region.”

Citing Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s famous declaration that “The Negev is the test of the nation in Israel,” Regavim offers a four stage solution to counter this threat, which includes: curbing “illegal Bedouin construction,” preparing the population for removal, evacuating all the “illegal populations” and then transferring them to legal settlements. Finally, the government must prepare for “the day after” and not allow “matters to return to their original state.” “Original state” refers to the existing situation, which in Regavim’s view is characterized by the invasion of Jewish space by Palestinian “illegal populations.” According to this narrative, space is, by definition, Jewish and therefore non-Jewish presence is a form of contamination—and the stake of Ben-Gurion’s test.

The transformation of the indigenous into an invader or a “Palestinian settler” – to borrow the phrase recently used by Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud)– is key to understanding not only the Prawer Plan, but also the very logic of the State of Israel. In a context in which Palestinians have been systematically alienated and elided from history and geography, the constitution of the Palestinian native as an illegal subject or foreign invader serves as the condition of possibility for Judiazing the land. The ethos in which all this is being played out is grounded in Israel’s ethnocratic commitment to dispossess the non-Jews, which is cynically elevated to an act of self-defense and, ultimately, justice.

Neve Gordon is a member at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and the author of Israel’s Occupation. He can be reached through his website.

Nicola Perugini is a member at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and teaches anthropology at the Al Quds BARD Honors College, Jerusalem.

A version of this article was first published in Al Jazeera.

 

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 28, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Slandering Populism: a Chilling Media Habit
Andrew Levine
Why I Fear and Loathe Trump Even More Now Than On Election Day
Jeffrey St. Clair
Mountain of Tears: the Vanishing Glaciers of the Pacific Northwest
Philippe Marlière
The Neoliberal or the Fascist? What Should French Progressives Do?
Conn Hallinan
America’s New Nuclear Missile Endangers the World
Peter Linebaugh
Omnia Sunt Communia: May Day 2017
Vijay Prashad
Reckless in the White House
Brian Cloughley
Who Benefits From Prolonged Warfare?
Kathy Kelly
The Shame of Killing Innocent People
Ron Jacobs
Hate Speech as Free Speech: How Does That Work, Exactly?
Andre Vltchek
Middle Eastern Surgeon Speaks About “Ecology of War”
Matt Rubenstein
Which Witch Hunt? Liberal Disanalogies
Sami Awad - Yoav Litvin - Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Never Give Up: Nonviolent Civilian Resistance, Healing and Active Hope in the Holyland
Pete Dolack
Tribunal Finds Monsanto an Abuser of Human Rights and Environment
Christopher Ketcham
The Coyote Hunt
Mike Whitney
Putin’s New World Order
Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian, Jewish Voices Must Jointly Challenge Israel’s Past
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 100 Days of Rage and Rapacity
Harvey Wasserman
Marine Le Pen Is a Fascist—Not a ‘Right-Wing Populist,’ Which Is a Contradiction in Terms
William Hawes
World War Whatever
John Stanton
War With North Korea: No Joke
Jim Goodman
NAFTA Needs to be Replaced, Not Renegotiated
Murray Dobbin
What is the Antidote to Trumpism?
Louis Proyect
Left Power in an Age of Capitalist Decay
Medea Benjamin
Women Beware: Saudi Arabia Charged with Shaping Global Standards for Women’s Equality
Rev. William Alberts
Selling Spiritual Care
Peter Lee
Invasion of the Pretty People, Kamala Harris Edition
Cal Winslow
A Special Obscenity: “Guernica” Today
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey’s Kurdish Agenda
Guillermo R. Gil
The Senator Visits Río Piedras
Jeff Mackler
Mumia Abu-Jamal Fights for a New Trial and Freedom 
Cesar Chelala
The Responsibility of Rich Countries in Yemen’s Crisis
Leslie Watson Malachi
Women’s Health is on the Chopping Block, Again
Basav Sen
The Coal Industry is a Job Killer
Judith Bello
Rojava, a Popular Imperial Project
Robert Koehler
A Public Plan for Peace
Sam Pizzigati
The Insider Who Blew the Whistle on Corporate Greed
Nyla Ali Khan
There Has to be a Way Out of the Labyrinth
Michael J. Sainato
Trump Scales Back Antiquities Act, Which Helped to Create National Parks
Stu Harrison
Under Duterte, Filipino Youth Struggle for Real Change
Martin Billheimer
Balm for Goat’s Milk
Stephen Martin
Spooky Cookies and Algorithmic Steps Dystopian
Michael Doliner
Thank You Note
Charles R. Larson
Review: Gregor Hens’ “Nicotine”
David Yearsley
Handel’s Executioner
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail