Israel to Raze Palestinian Village (within Israel) & Displace its Citizens to Build 'Jewish' Towns


On Sunday, the Israeli government decided that it would raze the Bedouin-Palestinian village of Umm al-Hiran – and displace those Israeli citizens living within the village – to make room for Jewish, national-religious developments.
As Noam Sheizaf at +972 reported, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s cabinet met not in Jerusalem at the Knesset to make this decision, as per normal. Rather, they met Sde Boker, the kibbutz where Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, is buried.
Why did they meet in this symbolic location? Simple: the Negev desert, where those Bedouin villages to be razed are situated, was considered by Ben-Gurion as “Zionism’s final frontier.”
Israel’s justification for razing the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran is that, in its 57-year existence, the village never received ‘official’ zoning approval. However, as Sheizaf writes, this is due to Israel’s unwillingness to grant official approval to the village, despite ordering the villagers to live in Umm al-Hiran in 1956:

[Umm al-Hiran] residents are originally from the western part of the Negev (Palestinians call the same desert Naqab); they were expelled eastward by the IDF following the 1948 war, and a kibbutz called Shoval was built on their land. After several years of moving from site to site, the army finally told those members of the Al-Qia’an tribe to build their homes in Umm al-Hiran and Atir, and so they did in 1956. Here is the army’s order (via Adala). It is marked “confidential.”
Despite the fact that it was the state who told the Al-Qia’an tribe where to move, the new villages were never made part of a zoning plan, and their residents still lack basic infrastructure like water and electricity. The government is finally deciding to build a proper settlement there – but not for the Palestinian Bedouin (who are citizens of Israel, some of whom even served in the IDF).

These are Israeli citizens – citizens in a ‘democratic’ state, some of whom have even served the country militarily – who are now having their homes destroyed.
And in their place, Israel will build developments dedicated to and intended for Jewish residents. Netanyahu made this clear when, in announcing the development plans, he cited Ben Gurion’s desire to develop the entire Negev for Jews. And razing Bedouin villages will “expedite” this process.
These are developments being funded, in part, by the North American Jewish community, and by diaspora Jews around the world, through the Jewish National Fund (JNF), an organization dedicated to developing Israel for Jewish settlement and sustainability.
Almost all North American Jews know about the JNF, and look upon it as a favorable, benign entity. Their blue ‘charity’ boxes are ubiquitous in Sunday schools and Jewish institutions.
However, few North American Jews understand that their donations are leading to the dispossession of Bedouin-Palestinians and the razing of their homes. And fewer still, if they understood where their funds were going, would drop quarters into those blue boxes with such frequency.
Which is why the dissemination of stories such as this one is so important.


David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, now out from Oneworld Publications.
Follow him on Twitter@David_EHG.

0 thoughts on “Israel to Raze Palestinian Village (within Israel) & Displace its Citizens to Build 'Jewish' Towns

  1. David has omitted that Israelis are speaking out against this decision, and that the matter will be heard by Israel’s Supreme Court. So it is not over yet, and hopefully the decision gets reversed.
    But, once again, the author leaves out facts in order to paint the picture most appealing to those who hate Israel.

  2. We who are the loyal opposition to American imperialism and the globalization of materialism and selfishness know that one can be a lover of America and yet powerfully critique our government’s disastrous choices. So it is unfair and a distortion to label people who strongly critique the policies of Israel as haters of Israel or seeking to appeal to haters of Israel. As my rabbi Joachim Prinz used to point out, the supreme ethical error for most people is the crime of silence in the face of evil actions. When the government of Israel pursues evil policies, it is ethically imperative that we speak out and inform people of those choices–and doing so can be the best form of loyalty and support for all the goodness that remains in Israel, just as doing so here in the US can often be the best form of patriotism and love of country! So thank you David Harris-Gershon for keeping us informed!

    • Thank you, Rabbi Lerner. Of course, we share this view regarding both the motivations for and legitimacy of critiquing Israel.
      Interestingly, yesterday Netanyahu pleaded for U.S. Jews’ help in thwarting the Iran deal. The implicit admission? That as a non-citizen, I am looked upon as an integral part of Israel, and Netanyahu was unintentionally legitimizing both my right to help, and critique, this country in which we’re so invested.

    • Rabbi Lerner: I couldn’t agree more with the notion that that many people who strongly critique the policies of Israel are not haters of Israel. I count myself among them. The term should not be used lightly. But when one deliberately ignores the complexities of the circumstances, and when one consistently avoids any and all facts that might cut away from the anti-Israel narrative, that is not an honest critique of Israeli policies. Rather, it is an attempt to pander to the crowd that hates Israel and wants it gone.

  3. It is technically incorrect to call Bedouin “Palestinians” since they don’t generally self-identify as such. Since Palestinian is a recently coined term as applied to Arabs, the only way to reliably classify people in regard to it is by how they self-identify.

  4. (I posted the comment which I am reproducing in part below, but it was censored somehow. Whatever filtering software you are using is garbage.)
    Rabbi Lerner, your contention that Harris-Gershon is part of a “loyal opposition” to Israel and America would be more believable if he ever – ever – had anything non-negative to say about either. Part of being in the loyal opposition is being loyal. Perhaps Mr. Gershon could tell us one thing that he actually likes about Israel and its role as the Jewish state.

    • I too would be curious to see exactly what Mr. Harris-Gershon has to say that is positive regarding Israel. But I would add… does he even see anything positive in it’s role as a Jewish State and does he believe that Israel should exist as it was created to be; the National Homeland of the Jewish People.
      Of course he won’t answer because that would force him into a place where either he supports a true Two State Solution (thus renouncing Palestinian RoR) OR it says that all his claims of supporting a Two State solution are not true. I am not sure why he won’t take a stand but, it would be the ethical thing to do.

  5. Unbelievable underhanded deleting of comments here, when critical commenters have a point to which Harris Gershon cannot respond.
    Don’t worry, screen shots have been saved.

  6. I lived in the Negev for 13 years and passed by those collections of tin shacks and tents hundreds of time. I never viewed them as just that a collection. There is no infrastructure. They were never towns.

  7. Oddly enough I have had two very reasonable comments deleted. One directed to Rabbi Lerner where I asked some tough questions… the other finding a middle ground between Albert K and fizziks. It is almost as if someone didn’t want reasonable comments from me. BUT.. that couldn’t be the case, could it?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *