The Desert of Israeli Democracy


This article originally appeared at Tom Dispatch.

From the podium of the U.N. General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seamlessly blended frightening details of Iranian evildoing with images of defenseless Jews “bludgeoned” and “left for dead” by anti-Semites in nineteenth century Europe. Aimed at U.S. and Iranian moves towards diplomacy and a war-weary American public, Netanyahu’s gloomy tirade threatened to cast him as a desperate, diminished figure. Though it was poorly received in the U.S., alienating even a few of his stalwart pro-Israel allies, his jeremiad served a greater purpose, deflecting attention from his country's policies towards the group he scarcely mentioned: the Palestinians.

Back in November 1989, while serving as a junior minister in the Likud-led governing coalition of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, a younger Netanyahu told an audience at Bar Ilan University, “Israel should have taken advantage of the suppression of demonstrations [at China’s Tiananmen Square], when the world’s attention was focused on what was happening in that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the Territories. However, to my regret, they did not support that policy that I proposed, and which I still propose should be implemented.”

Now the country’s top official, Netanyahu has updated the smokescreen strategy. While the prime minister ranted against Iran in New York City and in a meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office, his government was preparing to implement the Prawer Plan, a blueprint for the expulsion of 40,000 indigenous Bedouin citizens of Israel from their ancestral Negev Desert communities that promised to “concentrate” them in state-run, reservation-style townships. Authored by Netanyahu's planning policy chief, Ehud Prawer, and passed by a majority of the members of the mainstream Israeli political parties in the Knesset, the Prawer Plan is only one element of the government’s emerging program to dominate all space and the lives of all people between the river (the Jordan) and the sea (the Mediterranean).

Expulsions in the Desert

5/1/2014 9:57:10 AM

Another silly article on Israel by a another self-hating Jew. Blumenthal can't see facts that are as apparent as the sun in the sky. Blumenthal paints the Bedouin as a beleaguered minority. Quite the opposite is closer to the truth. Any Jew in Israel would welcome being treated as good as the Bedouin are in Israel-- for, unlike any Jewish citizen of Israel, they are free to ignore the law-- they can freely squat land in the Negev, while Jews must shelve out hundreds of thousands of shekels for a miserly 500 square meter plot. They do not pay income tax-- as the authorities are simply afraid to collect in the Bedouin settlements. On top of this, they take advantage of state largess, and freely collect welfare for the myriad of children that they have, but hardly care for. The list of special privileges goes on and on. Any commentary about the Bedouin being indigenous to the land is balderdash. Such claims have long been dismissed by Turkish records that show that the Bedouin of today arrived since the founding of the State of Israel from the Sinai and Jordan through porous borders. They don't even share the last names of the Bedouin nomads that lived on the land during Turkish times.

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