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Thursday, 19 January 2017

The Demolition of Um al Hiran in Israel’s Negev is why Israel is a racist, settler colonial state

2 Palestinian Israelis killed as Bedouin village is destroyed to make way for a Jewish town

No new Palestinian towns have been built since Israel's creation [Menahem Kahana/AFP]
There are those who naively believe that the illusory ‘two states’ will provide a solution to the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.  That all that is required for peace is the achievement of  a Palestinian state.  Even were such a state possible, which it isn’t, then it would not address the racism that Israel’s 1.5 million Palestinians experience.

Even within Israel Israeli Palestinians are considered a ‘demographic threat.’  In blunt language, there are too many of them.  Israel is a Jewish state, not like the UK is a Christian state, where religion is a constitutional anachronism with no political meaning.  In Israel being Jewish means possessing privilege.  You get to live in better accommodation, you get paid more, you don’t suffer racial discrimination.  Um al Hiran was a village established in 1956 when the Bedouin were evicted from the south of the Negev.  They were placed here against their will.  Now today they have been violently evicted again by the bulldozers of the Jewish National Fund and the militarised police.   Two Palestinians have been murdered.  According to Al Jazeera, the driver of the car was met by a hail of bullets from the Israeli Police.
The lying statement of the Police said that:
"A vehicle driven by a terrorist from the Islamic Movement intended to strike a number of officers and carry out an attack," Micky Rosenfeld, police spokesperson, said in a statement.
However, Raed Abu al-Qiyan, an Um Al Hiran activist, denied that the driver of the car was seeking to harm police.
The man was a member of his Bedouin clan by the name of Yacoub Abu al-Qiyan.  Raed  told AFP news agency:  "The Israeli narrative is a lie. He was a revered school teacher.
"He was in his car and they shot at him from everywhere."  Al Jazeera’s report told how Israeli authorities regularly carry out demolitions of Bedouin homes they deem to have been built illegally.  However for Arabs in Israel, building permits are nearly impossible to obtain whereas Jewish Israelis are given preferential treatment.
Israel plans to demolish the whole of  Um Al Hiran and replace it with a Jewish village by the name of Hiran.

Um Al Hiran is just one of about 40 "unrecognised" Bedouin villages in Negev scheduled for demolition despite being home to tens of thousands of residents.
A Bedouin woman reacts during a protest against home demolitions on January 18, 2017 in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran. MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP
Because of their "unrecognised" status, many of them are denied access to electricity, water and other municipal services.

Earlier in January, Palestinian citizens of Israel announced a nationwide strike after Israeli authorities demolished 11 Palestinian homes in the city of Qalansawe in central Israel.

These homes were also demolished on the pretext that they were built without a permit.

This is the naked racism of the ‘Jewish’ state.  During this demonstration the mild mannered head of the Joint Arab-Jewish list in the Knesset was treated no differently from anyone else.  He was hit twice by rubber bullets.

Those who support a ‘Jewish’ racist state in Israel, whether it is Jeremy Corbyn or the Jewish Labour Movement have a lot to answer for.  Israel is Jewish in the same way as South Africa was White or Nazi Germany was Aryan.  It is a badge of racial identification.

Tony Greenstein

18 January 2017


Here is another image (copyright: Keren Manor) that conveys the situation of Palestinians – these ones Palestinian citizens of Israel – more completely than any words. The man on the ground is Ayman Odeh, a member of the Israeli parliament, the head of the Joint List, the third largest party in the parliament, and the highest-ranking Palestinian politician in Israel.

Israeli police have just shot him with rubber-tipped bullets, not once but twice – including to the face. Odeh is one of the least confrontational politicians among Israel’s large Palestinian minority, a fifth of the population. His message is consistently one of peace and amity between all Israeli citizens, whether Jews or Palestinians. That does not seem to have protected him from the shoot-first, ask-questions-later approach of Israel’s security services towards Palestinians.

This image should be as shocking as seeing a bloodied Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn crawling in the dirt, watched impassively by US or UK police.
Um Al Hiran is home to several Palestinian Bedouin families [Menahem Kahana/AFP]
Context is important too. Odeh had joined the 1,000 inhabitants of Umm al-Hiran – all Palestinian citizens of Israel – early this morning in a demonstration to stop demolition crews destroying the 150 homes of their village in the Negev. Israel allowed these families to move to the area of Umm al-Hiran in the 1950s after it had driven them from their original, and much more substantial, lands during the Nakba. The pretext then for expelling them was that Israel needed their ancestral lands for an exclusively Jewish kibbutz.

That all occurred during a military government that ruled over Israel’s Palestinians for nearly two decades. More than 60 years later, exactly the same thing is happening again, but this time in front of the cameras. Umm al-Hiran is being destroyed so that an exclusively Jewish community, with the same name of Hiran, can be built over these families’ homes. Israel never issued Umm al-Hiran with a master plan, so now it can be declared illegal and its inhabitants called “squatters” and “trespassers”. The families are being ethnically cleansed a second time – not during hostilities or in a time of war, but by their own state in a time of peace.

They are far from alone. Thousands of other families, and their villages, face the same fate.
The truth is nothing has changed from the 1950s. Israel still behaves as if it is ruling militarily over its Palestinian citizens. It is still a Jewish state, one that privileges the rights of Jewish citizens over Palestinian “citizens”. It still treats all non-Jews as a threat, as an enemy.

Israel is not a normal kind of state. It is an ethnocracy, and one driven by an ideological variation of the ethnic nationalisms that tore apart Europe a century ago.

Odeh is a leader who campaigns for peace and equality between Jewish and Palestinian citizens. 

Today, he got his answer. His face is bruised, bloodied and bowed, crawling through the dirt. This is the language of a Jewish state.


The prime minister won't go quietly. Bulldozers are the ultimate refuge of the criminal suspect.

Odeh Bisharat Jan 18, 2017 8:37 PM


A Bedouin woman reacts during a protest against home demolitions on January 18, 2017 in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran. MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP

In the eyes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu all Arab citizens are terrorists, or, put euphemistically — they’re all a “demographic problem.” That’s been his theory forever, even when he was finance minister, and in light of the latest campaign by former senior security officials to keep Israel “Jewish and secure,” this legacy is not solely his.

Here are a few words about the demographic threat that “our forces” took care of on Wednesday in Umm al-Hiran. His name is Yakub Abu al-Kiyan, and he is a math teacher in Hura’s high school. His wife is Dr. Amal Abu Sa’ad, his brother Jabar is an Education Ministry inspector, and another brother Hamad is the principal of a school in Hura.

Koby, an activist in the Negev Coexistence Forum, reported on today’s encounter with this “threat.” He said that from the start police were aiming loaded weapons at people.

“I heard a few shots, and then I saw a white van start to move away from the policemen, not towards them,” he said. “After he started to move, he [the driver] was surely scared and tried to get away, the barrage of fire from the policemen started. They surrounded the truck, fired from all directions, some from in front and some from behind; at that point the driver was apparently wounded, lost control, continued down the hill, and that’s when the policemen were hurt. As far as I could tell, the driver was wounded and wasn’t in control of the vehicle.”

So this is the equal treatment referred to by Netanyahu, who conducts expulsions broadcast live, which will be remembered as the shame of the Jewish people for generations. This time it is impossible to declare, as in days of yore, that the Arabs are “rising up to destroy us,” or fled of their own free will.

Today all the authorities of the state of the Jewish people, from the government to the Supreme Court, are partners in a chilling action: Arabs out, Jews in. In dark times in history, the slogan was different, but the idea was the same: “Juden, raus” — Jews, out. I apologize for the free association working overtime on this insane day.

During the early years of the state, the Abu Al-Kiyan tribe was expelled from its lands in Hirbet Zubala, which they had cultivated for generations. After a period of wandering they were ordered in the 1950s by the military government to move to the Wadi Yatir area, where they established the village of Atir Umm al-Hiran. For the 60 years since, they’ve been fighting for recognition of their village, whose lands they occupied by government order.

But there is no shame. The government, with the backing of the Supreme Court, decided to expel the 1,000 residents, destroy the homes that were built with sweat and tears, and move the residents to a different village, which itself is overcrowded. Replacing them will be members of the chosen people.

The poet Mahmoud Darwish once wrote under similar circumstances, “Hooray for the conqueror of the village … Hooray for the tyrant who subdues the girl with eyes lined in blue.”

A few days ago Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel released his five-year plan as tidings for the Bedouin of the Negev. Attorney Sana Ibn-Bari managed to expose the plan’s intent to uproot unrecognized villages, so we now understand the plan’s true purpose. This is what the state is toward the Arabs; a state of bulldozers.

Writing in Haaretz last Friday, Yossi Verter predicted that Netanyahu wouldn’t go quietly. He will leave scorched earth behind, and the Arabs will be the first to feel his anger over the suspicions concerning his lust for power and love of luxury.


Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Bulldozers are the ultimate refuge of the criminal suspect. It’s important for those Jews who refuse to be part of this spectacle to make their voices heard.https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif

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