Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Weekly column by Vic Rosenthal

Bedouin citizens of Israel formerly embraced a nomadic lifestyle, drifting between Arabia and the Sinai; but since 1948 many have permanently settled in the southern part of Israel. They established their settlements on any convenient unoccupied land, where they grazed their flocks and planted crops. Israeli authorities have established several towns and even a large city, Rahat, for Bedouin occupation, and in recent years have legalized numerous unrecognized settlements; but many Bedouin still live in the “dispersion,” a collection of hundreds of illegal favelas built on state land that resemble garbage dumps with scattered satellite dishes.

Throughout the years there have been various programs in which the state offered plots of land or homes in or near the recognized towns, along with agricultural land to replace state land on which Bedouins were squatting. Success of these programs was mixed. About 3/4 of the roughly 200,000 Negev Bedouin live in recognized towns.

The Negev Bedouin are virtually all Muslims. The population is significantly younger and is growing faster than either the Jewish or non-Bedouin Arab sectors, with (as of 2009) a fertility rate of 5.7, compared to Jewish and other Arab rates that are close to 3. Some 30% (as of 2002) of married Bedouin men have more than one wife.

Their political loyalties are primarily to their tribe or clan, though they are citizens of the state of Israel. A small number choose (it’s optional for Arabs) to join the IDF. Probably an equally small number of them identify with anti-state groups like Hamas. Those that vote lean towards the Ra’am party of Mansour Abbas (not to be confused with Mohammad Abbas of the PLO), a party whose official ideology is Islamist and associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. But Abbas has adopted a pragmatic approach – i.e., obtaining money and benefits for his constituents – in preference to an ideological one. This, and the deadlock resulting from the fourth successive election in two years, has led to Ra’am becoming the first Arab party to join a governing coalition in Israel.

Apparently the price paid to Ra’am for joining the coalition was astronomical, close to 30 billion shekels (US$9.6 billion) for programs to benefit the Arab sector. One of the promises made to them was that structures in unrecognized Bedouin settlements could be hooked up to the national electrical grid. This past week, the coalition, in one of the most raucous Knesset sessions ever, kept its promise to Mansour Abbas, passing an amendment to the Construction Law (referred to as the “Electricity Law”) permitting connection of illegal structures to electrical and other utility systems.

Normally, a structure built without a permit on land that the builder does not own cannot be connected to the national electrical and water systems. This has been described as “one of the state’s most effective tools against the national epidemic of illegal construction.” There have been exceptions when the state planned to legalize or otherwise regulate the structure, but these have been few. It will now be possible for tens of thousands of homes and other structures built illegally on state land to become permanent. To add insult to injury, an attempt to include “young Jewish communities” in Judea and Samaria to the law was voted down.

The law was passed by the Coalition with a vote of 61-0 after much of the Opposition walked out. Supporters say that it will save lives by eliminating unsafe electrical connections and will result in the Bedouins paying for electricity instead of stealing it. Opponents say that it will formalize the illegal occupation of state land, and permanently eliminate the possibility of relocating squatters. Israel Harel writes,

What’s the big deal? All they did was whitewash the (intolerable) status quo, in which thousands of illegal buildings are connected illegally to utilities, mainly electricity, putting lives in danger. Very humane. But – and it is a big but – in so doing we determine, in both theory and practice, that the piratical construction that extends over hundreds of thousands of acres will become permanent. Let’s recall that the so-called Kaminitz Law [increasing enforcement of building codes - vr] was suspended as a preface to the Electricity Law. Thus, the government put an end to existing plans to help the residents of the “Bedouin dispersion” to move, at almost no cost to them, to planned communities built by the state connected to modern infrastructure.

In 2005, the state of Israel tore Gush Katif from itself. Now, after the Electricity Law, it is ripping away large parts of the Negev too. In the area that extends eastward from Be’er Sheva nearly to Dimona, and southward from Be’er Sheva to the mountains of the central Negev, an independent regime will be established that will operate – and already does operate – according to Bedouin law. The neighboring state, Israel, will pay for this regime, according to the provisions of the most recent national budget.

Recently, there has been a sharp increase in crimes committed by Bedouins in southern Israel: car theft, drug offenses, agricultural theft, theft of weapons and ammunition from IDF bases, the use of firearms, and protection rackets. Women are harassed on the streets. Criminal activity is in the open, policing is ineffective, and judges give light sentences to those arrested, because they fear retaliation. Residents of the area complain of a “wild west” atmosphere; not long ago there was a shootout between gangs in the parking lot of a hospital emergency room.

One of the promises that the government has made, both to Jews and Arabs, was that it would crack down on crime among Arabs. So in November, the police took a stab at cleaning up the Negev, sending 1,200 policemen, with IDF assistance, into the area. They made a total of 12 arrests and confiscated a few makeshift weapons (in fact, the Bedouin are armed to the teeth with stolen military weapons) and some marijuana.

The Bedouin do not accept the idea that there is land which belongs to the state; as far as they are concerned, land belongs to whoever cultivates it. So this week the Jewish National Fund tried to plant trees on state land that Bedouins had decided was theirs. A riot ensued (encouraged by Hamas), in which cars were burned and rocks placed on railroad tracks. The planting continued this morning (Wednesday), but after Ra’am threatened to topple the government, a “compromise” was reached in which the tree-planting was delayed. Israel Harel’s words about “an independent regime” operating according to “Bedouin law” are apparently no exaggeration.

It seems that the Right’s worries about the consequences of including an Islamist party in the coalition were well-founded. Of course, the present coalition, which includes both Ra’am and the left-wing Meretz party, only exists because the Right has split itself over the question of Binyamin Netanyahu. Could we work any harder to defeat ourselves?


EoZTV Podcast

Podcast URL

Subscribe in podnovaSubscribe with FeedlyAdd to netvibes
addtomyyahoo4Subscribe with SubToMe

search eoz





For $18 donation

Sample Text

EoZ's Most Popular Posts in recent years


Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


Donate to fight for Israel!

Monthly subscription:
Payment options

One time donation:

subscribe via email

Follow EoZ on Twitter!

Interesting Blogs


#PayForSlay Abbas liar Academic fraud administrivia al-Qaeda algeria Alice Walker American Jews AmericanZionism Amnesty analysis anti-semitism anti-Zionism antisemitism apartheid Arab antisemitism arab refugees Arafat archaeology Ari Fuld art Ashrawi ASHREI B'tselem bahrain Balfour bbc BDS BDSFail Bedouin Beitunia beoz Bernie Sanders Biden history Birthright book review Brant Rosen breaking the silence Campus antisemitism Cardozo cartoon of the day Chakindas Chanukah Christians circumcision CJ Werleman Clark Kent coexistence Comix Community Standards conspiracy theories COVID-19 Cyprus Daled Amos Daphne Anson David Applebaum Davis report DCI-P Divest This double standards Egypt Elder gets results ElderToons Electronic Intifada Ellen Horowitz Embassy EoZ Trump symposium eoz-symposium EoZNews eoztv Erekat Erekat lung transplant EU Euro-Mid Observer European antisemitism Facebook Facebook jail Fake Civilians 2014 Fake Civilians 2019 Farrakhan Fatah featured Features Fervent Embrace fisking flood libel flotilla Forest Rain Forward free gaza freedom of press palestinian style future martyr Gary Spedding gaza Gaza Platform George Galloway George Soros German Jewry Ghassan Daghlas gideon levy gilad shalit gisha Goldstone Report Good news Grapel Guardian guest post gunness Haaretz Hadassah hamas Hamas war crimes Hananya Naftali hasbara Hasby 2014 Hasby 2016 Hasby 2018 hate speech Hebron helen thomas hezbollah history Hizballah Holocaust Holocaust denial honor killing HRW Human Rights Humanitarian crisis humor Hypocrisy ICRC IDF IfNotNow IJ Benjamin Ilan Pappe Ilhan Omar impossible peace incitement indigenous Indonesia infographic international law interview intransigence iran Iraq Islamic Judeophobia Islamism Israel Loves America Israeli culture Israeli high-tech J Street jabalya James Zogby jeremy bowen Jerusalem jewish fiction Jewish Voice for Peace jihad jimmy carter Joe Biden John Kerry jokes jonathan cook Jordan Joseph Massad Juan Cole Judaism Judea-Samaria Judean Rose Judith Butler Kairos Karl Vick Keith Ellison ken roth khalid amayreh Khaybar Know How to Answer Lebanon leftists Linda Sarsour Linkdump lumish mahmoud zahar Mairav Zonszein Malaysia Marc Lamont Hill Marjorie Taylor Greene max blumenthal Mazen Adi McGraw-Hill media bias Methodist Michael Lynk Michael Ross Miftah Missionaries moderate Islam Mohammed Assaf Mondoweiss moonbats Morocco Mudar Zahran music Muslim Brotherhood Naftali Bennett Nakba Nan Greer Nasser al-Lahham Nation of Islam Natural gas Nazi Netanyahu News nftp NGO Nick Cannon NIF Noah Phillips norpac NSU Matrix NYT Occupation offbeat olive oil Omar Barghouti Omri Boehm Only in Israel Opinion oxfam PA corruption PalArab lies Palestine Papers pallywood pchr PCUSA Peace Now Peter Beinart Petra MB philosophy poetry Poland poll Poster Preoccupied Prisoners propaganda Proud to be Zionist Puar Purim purimshpiel Putin Qaradawi Qassam calendar Quora Rafah Ray Hanania real liberals RealJerusalemStreets reference Reuters Richard Falk Richard Landes Richard Silverstein Right of return Rivkah Lambert Adler Robert Werdine rogel alpher roger cohen roger waters Rutgers Saeb Erekat Sarah Schulman Saudi Arabia saudi vice self-death self-death palestinians Seth Rogen settlements sex crimes SFSU shechita sheikh tamimi Shelly Yachimovich Shujaiyeh Simchat Torah Simona Sharoni SodaStream South Africa Sovereignty Speech stamps Superman Syria Tarabin Temple Mount Terrorism This is Zionism Thomas Friedman Tlaib TOI Tomer Ilan Trump Trump Lame Duck Test Tunisia Turkey UAE Accord UCI UK UN UNDP unesco unhrc UNICEF United Arab Emirates Unity unrwa UNRWA hate unrwa reports UNRWA-USA unwra vaccination Varda Vic Rosenthal Washington wikileaks Winstanley work accident X-washing Y. Ben-David Yemen YMikarov zahran Ziesel zionist attack zoo Zionophobia Ziophobia Zvi

Best posts of the past 6 months


A new, better definition of antisemitism

Blog Archive