Tag archive for "El-Arakib"

General, Justice in Israel-Prawer

After the Demolition: Update on Al Arakib

No Comments 24 June 2014

On Thursday, June 12th, the authorities once again destroyed the Bedouin village Al Arakib in the Negev.   Nearly everything in the village and in the cemetery was destroyed, excluding the caves. Nevertheless, the villagers remained steadfast in their determination and immediately began to rebuild. A week and a half later Rabbi Arik Ascherman, who was arrested, beaten and detained while peacefully protesting the destruction, gives an update on the situation.

Despite upwards of 65 demolitions, Al Arakib continues to hold on.

Despite upwards of 65 demolitions, Al Arakib continues to hold on.

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General, Justice in Israel-Prawer

When The Might of the State is Deployed Against the Oppressed: Thoughts on my Arrest

1 Comment 15 June 2014

On Friday June 15th 2014, Rabbi Ascherman,  RHR’s president and senior rabbi, along with seven residents (including two minors)  of Al Arakib, were arrested during a protest over the destruction of the unrecognized Bedouin village of Al Arakib. Despite protesting nonviolently, Rabbi Ascherman was beaten, punched in the jaw, during the arrest. The detainees were held for the night and released on bail the following afternoon before Shabbat. The court forbade Rabbi Ascherman from entering Al Arakib for seven days. Below was written by Rabbi Ascherman just before the start of Shabbat.

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READ: More on the destruction of Al Arakib

By Rabbi Arik Ascherman

 .Firstly, I and all of RHR pray for the speedy and safe return of the three yeshiva students

On Friday I wrote the words below about my arrest, the beating we took, and most importantly about El-Araqib. I sent them abroad, but it was too close to Shabbat here, and I preferred to wait until today. I also added a few thoughts, based on my Shabbat conversations with my family.

A few words before Shabbat. Firstly “Blessed be God Who frees the captives.” However, one of those arrested in El-Araqib is unfortunately still in jail.  Furthermore, all the structure inside the cemetery structure were demolished except one, for which there was no order. (The state didn’t wait for the decision of the judge in the petition arguing that there were no valid orders for any of the buildings, but there was one that the  one the state acknowledged had no order)

WATCH: Footage of the destruction of the mosque in the cemetery of  Al Arakib

The last thing I saw as I was driven away by the police was all of the El-Araqib residents standing among the gravestones – the living with the dead.  I wasn’t there, but I understand that they started to rebuild immediately after.

I am grateful to my high school football coach and to my youth movement (NFTY).  Coach Bestwick always said that if you could survive football preseason (American football, for all those wrapped up in the World Cup),  you could survive anything. The knocks I got in football were definitely worse than the various injuries I sustained from the beating I took from the police.

I often sing when arrested.  One of the songs we sang in NFTY, that was so appropriate on Thursday, was “VaYashvu Ish takhat gafno…”  Every person shall sit under their vine and under their fig tree, and none shall make them afraid (Micah 4:4)  May it be God’s will that we can achieve a world in which every human being  can dwell safely on their land and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY DONE SO, PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SIGN BEFORE SHABBAT THE EL-ARAKIB PETITION.  The cemetery structures have been demolished, but the struggle for El-Araqib and Bedouin justice throughout the Negev is far from over:

If you are in Israel, please make a special effort to get to El-Araqib during the week I am prevented from doing so.  I hope that I am allowed to join the weekly vigil at the Lehavim Junction on Sunday at 16:30.

Additional Details: Transportation from Be’er-Sheva: Michal 054-5851700, michal@dukium.org; Transportation from Tel-Aviv: Yaakov: 050-5733276,  manor12@zahav.net.il, Michal: 052-6886867, tarabut@gmail.com

 On Shabbat Shlakh Lekha, permit me to share with you what I had intended on teaching in Herzliya last night – as we think about the ten spies who brought a bad report of the Land, as opposed to Joshua and Caleb, we think about the fact that it is often said  that we malign Israel.

I think that those who carry out acts such as destroying El-Araqib are the ones who give Israel a bad name.

However, we also should remember that we can choose how to portray any reality that we see. I pray that, like Moses, we will continue to uncompromisingly fight anything that is wrong and unjust in Israel, while still being able to see all that is good in our country and in our people. And, may we never see ourselves as grasshoppers. As the midrash teaches, the giants saw us as grasshoppers because we saw ourselves as grasshoppers. We musn’t lose faith in our ability to improve our society from within.

Shabbat Shalom,

Arik

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IMAGE: Rabbi Ascherman with residents of Al Arakib after his release

P.S. Just before saying Sh’ma in bed, my son asked me why I put myself in these situations. I gave him a longer answer, but the immediate answer was, “When one sees the entire might of the State deployed to oppress the weak and helpless, it is forbidden to turn away and not act.”

What hasn’t the State done to destroy El-Araqib. In recent days minister’s assistants didn’t return calls, and the head of the Israel Land Authority fooled an MK into thinking that he had a promise to hold off. However, the State was not willing to wait until a judge decided whether or not there were valid demolition/eviction orders. Tens of police, a helicopter , horses and much heavy equipment was deployed. The desire to destroy El-Araqib once and forever was so strong….

However, the story is not over.

We will not turn away or cease to act.

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General, Justice in Israel, Justice in Israel-Prawer

High Court offers conciliation process in Bedouin land rights case

No Comments 08 June 2014

PRESS RELEASE | June 5 2014 Israeli Supreme Court offers a conciliation process to achieve a fair solution on Bedouin lands case; state must answer in two weeks whether it agrees to conciliation on Arakib lands.

AlArakiblaywersIMAGE: Members of the al-Ukbi Tribe with attorney Michael Sfard (Credit: Negev Coexistence Forum)

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General, Justice in Israel-Prawer

Save Al-Arakib: Sign the Petition Today!

1 Comment 08 June 2014

The Coalition for Al Arakib of the Negev Coexistence Forum and the Recognition Forum asks you to please sign this petition against the expulsion of the residents from Al Arakib from their lands. Below is the text; please click here to sign the petition.

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IMAGE: Cemetery at Al Arakib being surveyed by Israeli authorities

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General, Justice in Israel-Prawer

Despite frozen legislation, plans to dispossess the Negev Bedouin being implemented

No Comments 22 May 2014

Despite the fact that legislation is currently frozen,  there are growing indications suggesting the government has decided legislation is not necessary in order to implement its plans of dispossessing the Negev Bedouin. Demolition rates continue to be high, and plans for Jewish communities in the Negev continue to move forward. Following is a summary of the current situation in a number of Bedouin villages in the Negev facing threats of demolition, dispossession, and relocation. Continue Reading

General, Justice in Israel-Prawer

RHR responds to right-wing distortion of facts regarding the Negev Bedouin

1 Comment 30 March 2014

It has recently come to our attention that the extremist organization “Regavim” has distributed to the foreign press an English version of the document they produced in November essentially  supporting the government’s position that the Bedouin of the Negev have no legitimate land claims and are “taking over the Negev.”   We are therefore reissuing the English version of our response highlighting the inaccuracies upon which both the Israeli government and Regavim base their positions.

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IMAGE: A map of current Bedouin communities, shown on top of a map of British tents. Courtesy of Professor Yiftachel.

READ: RHR’s response to Regavim’s harmful distortion of facts on the Negev Bedouin  

A government sponsored bill currently in front of the Knesset would likely lead to the demolition of tens of “Unrecognized” Israeli Bedouin villages in the Negev, and transfer of some 40,000 Israeli citizens from their homes to artificially created poverty stricken townships.  They would be dispossessed from most of their remaining lands.  The legislation has been temporarily frozen after an international “Day of Rage” on November 30th organized jointly by Israeli Arabs and Palestinians from the Occupied Territories drove home the widespread opposition.  Agricultural Minister Yair Shamir replaced former minister Benny Begin as responsible for the legislation, but in fact increased home demolitions and the approval of new Jewish communities where “Unrecognized” villages currently exist lead to great concern that the government intends to implement their plan without legislation. 

The Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages, along with the Israeli NGO of socially responsible planners, “Bimkom,” has created an alternative zoning plan showing that all of the 35 “Unrecognized” villages can be recognized and developed according to the highest planning standards, while allowing Israel’s other development goals in the region.

An RHR commissioned opinion poll indicates that most Israeli Jews believe disinformation, such as the claim also in the Regavim document that “The Bedouin are taking over the Negev.” When they learn that the sum total of documented historic Bedouin land claims are a mere 5.4% of the Negev for over 30% of the population, the majority of Israeli Jews indicated that this is fair.

In the U.S., the Reform, Reconstructionist and Renewal movements are on record opposing the current plan, as are sixty British rabbis ranging from Orthodox to liberal.

Click here for extensive additional information about the Begin/Prawer plan, or contact us at info@rhr.israel.net

General, Justice in Israel-Prawer

Student Tour April 4th: The Negev Bedouin and Unrecognized Villages

No Comments 16 March 2014

Please join Rabbis for Human Rights Friday April 4th as we travel to the Negev to tour unrecognized villages, meet with Bedouin villagers and leaders, and learn about the dangerous human rights implications of the Prawer Plan.  RSVP with our offices. Please see details below. Continue Reading

Documents, General, Justice in Israel-Prawer

Letter to Israeli Authorities regarding their entry into Al Araqib cemetery

3 Comments 11 March 2014

Yesterday, in an unprecedented event, the Israeli Authorities entered the cemetery of Al-Araqib. Although the village has been demolished 65 times, there has always been respect for the sanctity of the cemetery and the authorities have never before entered it.  In response, Rabbi Ascherman wrote a letter (below, followed by photos) to the appropriate authorities demanding an explanation, an apology and a promise that it will not happen again.  Continue Reading

General, Justice in Israel-Prawer

I’m standing in Al-Araqib and I know that something is wrong: Reflections on the Bedouin

No Comments 26 February 2014

Lev Gray, a volunteer with RHR,  joined Rabbi Arik Ascherman and a group of rabbis on a study-tour to learn about the Negev Bedouin. 

By Lev Gray

On an overcast Sunday, I drove with 3 rabbis down to the Negev. In the warmth of the car I drifted in and out of sleep. I would soon be woken up by the black coffee of hospitality and bitter tastes less literal. Continue Reading

Documents, Justice in Israel-Prawer

Primary Zionist document reveals Bedouin ownership

3 Comments 24 November 2013

A Report from the Israel Land Development Company from 1920 proves that around 2.6 million dunams were documented as belonging to the Negev Bedouin primarydocBedouinownership

For public review: a historical report from the Israel Land Development Company from 1920: around 2.6 million dunams under Bedouin ownership. See link below.

READ:  the original Israel Land Development Company’s report (Hebrew and English)

Background information to understanding the report:

The Israel Land Development Company (known as the Palestine Land Development Company – PLDC – prior to Israel’s establishment), a major Zionist body at the time, organized the first comprehensive Zionist survey of land in the Negev. The report of the survey was published in 1920 [and can be found at the link below and in the Central Zionist Archive, open to public access]. It documented around 2.6 million dunams under Bedouin ownership [occasionally the Turkish unit of measurement "hevel"\"rope" appears – 1 rope= 1.75 dunams].

The survey is signed by Dr. Ya’akov Tahon, who was the organization’s director and before that served as the director of the Palestine office of the World Zionist Organization and was a member of its executive. In this important survey, the company’s researchers review the condition of the tribes, agricultural cultivation and land ownership.

The results of the survey are clear – large tracts of the Negev are settled, cultivated, and under Bedouin ownership, even if they are not registered with the British Mandate or with the Ottoman regime before that. A close reading reveals that the report of the land survey does not “go easy” on the Bedouin, and often disputes their testimony. It is thus a meticulous report, independent in its sources and containing minimal estimations.

The report notes that in the areas surrounding Be’er Sheva there are around 2,660,000 dunams of land under Bedouin ownership, according to the traditional Bedouin land ownership system, and that some 35 percent of the land is cultivated (cultivation might confer private ownership even according to Ottoman law which is recognized by Israel, and not only according to the traditional Bedouin land ownership system which Israel does not recognize). That is:

In total, some 2.6 million dunams are under Bedouin ownership, of them 1.09 million dunams are also cultivated. Today, the Bedouin demand 650,000 dunams.

The survey’s report even details land ownership and cultivation at the tribal level while recording the names of more than 90 clans, united under the following tribes:

  • The Azazma tribe owns 770,000 dunams of land, of which 140,000 (20 percent) are cultivated.

  • The Tiyaha tribe owns 1,120,000 dunams, of which 640,000 (40 percent) are cultivated.

  • Of special interest to us, the report notes the Beni Okba, (i.e. the al-Aqabi tribe from al-Araqib), owns 26,250 dunams and cultivates 40 percent of its land.

  • The Jabarat tribe own 66,000 dunams, of which 38,000 (60 percent) are cultivated.

  • The Tarabin tribe owns 778,750 dunams, of which 272,000 (35 percent) are cultivated.

The report of the Israel Land Development Company’s survey even goes into precise details about the clans’ differing ways of life. For instance, the report notes that the Tiyaha tribe controlled the south of the Land of Israel for several centuries. The tribe mainly cultivated wheat, barley and sorghum, but also grew watermelons, which were used as camel feed. The chapter that deals with the living conditions indicates that the Tiyaha tribe “are primarily workers of the land, and they are on their way to becoming agriculturalists…they live on their land and leave it only for grazing purposes.” These descriptions lead to the understanding that a significant proportion of the Bedouin were farmers or led somewhat agrarian lives, and were not only shepherds.

[The report was brought courtesy of Prof. Oren Yiftachel, Dr. Ahmad Amara and Dr. Sandy Kedar, who photocopied it from the Central Zionist Archive in the framework of their research – Re-Examining the ‘Dead Negev Doctrine’: Property Rights in the Bedouin-Arab Space. We are deeply grateful to them.]

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