Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Israeli Forest Named After Australian Prime Minister

There is something worrying about a prime minister of a liberal, democratic country who imposes values on his country’s citizens and those who wish to become citizens, yet does not adhere to those values when he regards it politically expedient to ignore them. This is precisely what Prime Minister John Howard has done in accepting the “honour” of having a forest named after him in Israel’s Negev Desert and also the Jerusalem Prize for his support of Israel and its “values”. And John Howard is in good company: Sir Robert Menzies and Bob Hawke – both former Australian prime ministers – also have forests in Israel named after them, as well as a former governor-general, Sir Zelman Cowen.

The naming of the John Howard forest was arranged by a quasi-private land agency, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) which deliberately discriminates against non-Jews in its allocation of long-lease agreements. This arrangement services Israel’s apartheid policies aimed at bringing about the Judaisation of all of the land originally known as historic Palestine. The Israeli government relies on the JNF and international Zionist organizations to bring in Jews from abroad to settle on land forcibly taken from the non-Jewish inhabitants–a practice which is discriminatory and illegal. Already the JNF holds 13 per cent of the land and now is currently advertising its “Blueprint Negev” as “A Miracle in the Desert”. Only Jews will have access to the new development in keeping with the JNF’s charter, which is focused on looking after Jews globally.

The Negev Desert was and is the home of the indigenous Bedouin Arabs who are now citizens of present-day Israel. Some 80,000 have been living in 45 unrecognised villages in the southern Negev Desert and although they have a right to vote in Israel’s national elections and have a duty to pay taxes if they work, they have been calculatingly ignored when the Israeli government approves of planning projects for new Jewish communities. Their lands have been systematically confiscated and thousands of them have been forced to live in poor and densely populated shanty towns that is anathema to their traditional life on the land. These shanty towns are totally neglected by the Israeli government and the Bedouins have no access to even basic infrastructure like water, electricity and sewage. There are no roads or medical and welfare services and no municipal authority to administer services. The Bedouins, therefore, have no access to any authority that might issue permits for building and when out of necessity they do build, they live in constant fear of having their homes destroyed.

The similarity of conditions between the Bedouin Arabs and black South Africans during the Apartheid era is obvious. Like the white South Africans, Jewish Israelis seek to preserve their privileged position in Israel at all costs, tragically to the detriment of the non-Jewish citizens. All Israel’s policies, therefore, are geared to ensure the exclusivity and security of the Jewish state. Thus, mass expulsions followed by home demolitions and razing of villages is a familiar story in Israel just as forced removal was the modus operandi in South Africa. Under Israel’s former Prime Minister Sharon, a five-year plan was approved by the Israeli cabinet, to force the Bedouins living in the unrecognised villages to leave.

There was no consultation, just a gradual increase in house demolitions, the spraying of herbicide on crops to stop land cultivation and the filing of eviction suits. Places were renamed and Jewish towns, villages and cooperatives were built in place of the Bedouin villages. The Bedouins, who once owned 94 per cent of the total land, have had their land declared state property. They now own less than 3 per cent, and those who refuse to leave their unrecognised villages, are called “squatters”.

The JNF­ which has marketed itself in the last decade as a premier Zionist environmental organization – plans to settle half a million Israelis in the Negev in 25 low density housing communities over ten years. But, what the JNF calls the last great natural reserve of Israel, has been the subject of legal proceedings by Bedouin Arabs wanting to reclaim their land, and John Howard’s forest sits right in the middle of this disputed land. It would have been far more prudent for our prime minister to decline these honours than associate himself with a state that practices racial discrimination and human rights abuses against its own non-Jewish citizens. After all, Howard was at great pains to stop the Australian cricket team from playing in Zimbabwe as a protest against Robert Mugabe’s “grubby” regime. Equally and clearly, the JNF’s acts on behalf of Israel, do not measure up to our Australian values of a fair go, tolerance and inclusion. The prime minister ought to bring his values into line with the rest of Australia, instead of associating himself so unreservedly with Israel.

Reference: Global IDP Project, “Profile of Internal Displacement: Israel”, Compilation of the information available in the Global Database of the Norwegian Refugee Council, as of 2 June 2005

SONJA KARKAR is the founder and president of Women for Palestine in Melbourne, Australia. See www.womenforpalestine.com

 

 

More articles by:
May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail