Tag archive for "El-Arakib"

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.


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

2 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.]

General, Justice in Israel, Justice in Israel-Prawer

The questions we grapple with on Shabbat Zachor

3 Comments 28 February 2012

“I want to connect those successes to the breastplate of the High Priest we read about in this week’s Torah portion and the questions we grapple with on Shabbat Zachor” | Breastplate (of High Priest) cc: wikipedi

Last week we celebrated two important, if partial successes, and I want to connect those successes to the breastplate of the High Priest we read about in this week’s Torah portion and the questions we grapple with on Shabbat Zachor. 

Firstly, The  JNF confirmed statements we have heard in recent weeks that they will not plant in areas in areas where there are legal disputes over land ownership.  This is only a partial success because much Bedouin land in the Negev has already been planted, it is not clear whether this is a general principle or only relates to four specific plots in El-Arakib, we aren’t sure if the commitment not to plant includes not preparing the land for planting, the Israel Lands Authority has made it clear that they still intend to plant, we can’t count on receiving justice in the Israeli court system, and the JNF/KKL has been unwilling to explain a brief but disturbing incident recently which seems to contradict this commitment.  Nevertheless, this is a significant change from their JNF/KKL Chairperson Efi Stenzler’s declaration at a meeting of the directorate this past summer that the planting on the remains of El-Arakib would take place at the end of this rainy season, even if Beer Sheva District Court Judge Nehama Netzer issued a non-binding request not to plant before the court rules on the ownership dispute.  (Unfortunately Judge Netzer recently again confirmed that her request is non binding, and that the State has a right to proceed.)  However, the right wing sees this minor victory as traitorous.

It was so wonderful to hear Ovadia say that he was again sleeping at night, and to celebrate with him on the very day he was to have been evicted

“It was so wonderful to hear Ovadia say that he was again sleeping at night, and to celebrate with him on the very day he was to have been evicted”. Photo: Hamabara

Secondly, Amidar cancelled the eviction of Ovadia and Miriam Ben-Avraham scheduled for this past Monday.  It was so wonderful to hear Ovadia say that he was again sleeping at night, and to celebrate with him on the very day he was to have been evicted.  In the words of The Book of Esther, the day was “Transformed for them from one of grief and mourning to one of festive joy.”  (Esther 9:22) .  Again, this was a partial success.  We have yet to deal with Ovadia and Miriam’s alleged debt, and many more evictions were scheduled this month in Jerusalem alone.   However, as we are taught in the Mishna, “One who saves a single life, it is as if one has saved an entire world.” (Sanhedrin 4)

As I reflect on these two events, I not only think about the importance of making a difference for a single family or saving a single dunam of land.  I also think about the breastplate to be worn by the High Priest, set with 12 stones. In this week’s Torah portion, Moses is commanded to make the breastplate as part of the vestments to be worn by Aaron in the  Miskhan, the portable Tabernacle housing the tablets with the ten commandments,  where Moses will speak with God, and where Aaron and his sons will serve God,  “The stones shall correspond to the names of the sons of Israel: twelve, corresponding to their names. (Exodus 28:21)

I have always thought how wonderful it is that the High Priest serves God with all the tribes of Israel close to his heart.  Yes, Biblical scholars have made careers out of analyzing the blessings and the rebuke for each of the tribes which Jacob and Moses each utter before their deaths, and how they reflect the power struggles between the tribes.  However, in those most sacred moments when the High Priest would go into the inner sanctum of the desert Mishkan or the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem, each tribe had a place, and each was equally important.

In our world, we not only the twelve tribes must be close to our hearts.

The Bedouin of the unrecognized villages and those dependent on public housing are two of our forgotten tribes.  Sometimes these Israeli citizens are demonized and blamed for societies ills, but often they are simply ignored.  Who knows or cares that 30-45,000 Bedouin could be evicted from their homes if the Praver recommendations are adapted by the KnessetHow many people know or care that at least 40,000 people are on waiting lists for public housing and thousands in need are not even deemed eligible to be on the lists, while others dwell in homes in life threatening states of disrepair and hundreds are evicted every year?

In our Holy of Holies, every person counts, from Jerusalem to El-Arakib; from Tel Aviv to the South Hebron Hills.  From Hadera to Silwan; From the Azrieli towers to the fields of Jalud.

YouTube Preview Image

When I quote from the Book of Esther, I also reflect on the fact that exactly a year ago my daughter became a Bat Mitzvah on Parashat Zachor and Purim, bringing up for me all the difficulties of celebrating the mass killing of even our enemies, and the challenge presented by the idea that the Jewish people must wipe out the seed of Amalek in every generation.  I have always connected to the idea that we must battle, “Amelekiut,” the characteristics of attacking the weakest and most helpless members of our society and the use of eifah v’eifah (double standards). The Torah tells us that Amalek attacked the weak stragglers (Deut. 25:18). Because the verses from which the sages derive the prohibition against acting eifah v’eifah appears immediately before the mention of Amalek, Rashi teaches that  when we act eifah v’eifah, Amalek attacks. I see “Amalekiut” in how we treated the El-Arakib’s and the Ovadiahs in our society.  However, we know that the massacre by Barukh Goldstein on Purim is but one example of how our texts and our history can lead us to justify lashing out at real or perceived enemies, “Sweeping away the innocent with along with the guilty,” (Genesis 18:23), not to mention the fact that perhaps even the guilty could do teshuvah. We pray in the “Aleinu” prayer every day, we ask God to, “Turn to You all the evildoers of the earth.”

Stay tuned                                                                               

In the days leading up to Purim we will be asking both on our website and facebook how we honor our textual tradition and acknowledge our history of oppression without feeding an “Us against the world” mentality and the exploitation of our legitimate desire for security that justify the Baruch Goldsteins, Jewish exceptionalism and human rights violations.

On this Shabbat Tetzaveh and Zakhor, may we focus on purging the persecution of the weak and discriminatory double standards from our midst, thus rededicating ourselves to the building of a national Tabernacle of justice, and remembering to bring every human being into our “Mikdash Me’at”  the Holy of Holies in our hearts.

Shabbat Shalom,


Parasha / E-Letter

To be Advised by a Non-Jew and Become Stronger: Newsletter of Parashat “Jethro”

No Comments 07 February 2012

At least 20 dunums of land were bulldozed & 2 old caves demolished by the Israeli bulldozers in Atur area in the occupied Jerusalem to build Israeli Park. In the photo: Rabbi Arik Ascherman.

Parashat “Jethro”: The Weekly Report of Rabbis for Human Rights

This week we are happy to announce two victories: We succeeded in stopping the demolition of the Eco-school of Khan El Achmar and preventing the eviction of the Jahalin Bedouin to the Abu Dis dump. In addition, the Administrative court in Jerusalem ordered to cancel Israel Land Administration’s tender for marketing the land of the deserted Palestinian village of Lifta.

On Wednesday we will go to plant trees in El Jenia, a village near Ramallah, that has been repeatedly attacked by Price Tag graffiti and other violence from the settlers in the area. Shabbat Shalom

Parashat Jethro is the fifth parasha in Exodus.  This is a parasha that is full of substance, full of food for thought. Nico Socolovsky shows how Jethro’s suggestions caused the renewal of the nation. He claims that meeting with people different than us built and strengthened our identity. Rabbi Arik Ascherman escorts a new generation of activists joining the struggle against home demolitions and for public housing. The fall of barriers between Jews and Arabs feels to him like a Divine experience.

We participated in a protest against damaging agriculture land and infrastructure near Isawia, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, in order to prepare “a national park” on Mount Scopus. The activists succeeded to prevent demolitions in El Arakib.

There is no value to faith if it is not expressed by deeds, human compassion and love of the other. Rabbi Kobbi weiss “Haoketz” web site (in Hebrew only) on a new kind of Tu Bishvat Seder, and calls to join, the planting in El Jenia on Wednesday, February 8.

See a short video of the aftermath of the attack in Al-Jenia:

YouTube Preview Image

Last week Rabbi Kobbi Weiss wrote about his impressions from the public housing training course for volunteers who volunteered to be “public housing trustees” in Beit Shean. Now he writes about two successes that prove that Amidar and the other public housing companies can act different, especially in difficult times. (in Hebrew only). We issued a press release (in Hebrew only) on a Palestinian woman who was difficult injured from stone throwing (probably of settlers) near the settlement Yizhar.

Different publications and discussions the the Knesset committees reveal that more is secretly planed “for” the unemployed in the “pockets of unemployment”. Rabbi Idit lev shows, in a post that was published in “Black Labor” (in Hebrew only) that there is a need for revealing the true facts. On the memorial ceremony for Yohans Barko who froze to death in Levinsky Park in Tel Aviv, Rabbi Arik Ascherman was interviewed by the Jerusalem Post.

Other organizations (we are not responsible for the contents):

Shabbat Shalom

Parasha / E-Letter

A report on theft and harassment | From Noah to Lekh Lekha | Hopes for the Coming Knesset Session

1 Comment 03 November 2011

CC: flickr by flickr | Live from #j14 Tel Aviv | hoto by: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org

Parashat Lekh-Lekha: The weekly report of Rabbis For Human Rights

From Noah to Abraham there is a long history of different ways of action in our world. Rabbi Arik Ascherman shows us how and what to do, according to our ancestors,  in a society with incessant injustice. In our parasha, Lekh-Lekha, Rabbi Michael Schwartz compares the quarrel of Abraham’s shepherds and Lot’s shepherds to the situation the Israeli country today – the quarrel between Palestinians and Jews on the land. The opening word of Rabbi Arik Ascherman refers to the passing time from Noah and Abraham in the social contexts.

Most of the encampments in Jerusalem are not located near the kindergartens and schools of the children living in the tent encampments, and the mayor, Nir Barkat, has threatened to evacuate all those who cannot fit in one encampment. It means that we need volunteers who are ready to help with transportation to the schools and back to the encampments. Please call the office: 02-6482757, or Dror: 050-6407211.

Please join on Sunday, November 6th for the weekly protest of El-Arakib at 15:00 in Lehavim junction.  Also on Sunday, November 6th at 20:00 Rabbi Arik Ascherman,Rabbi Idit Lev and Moriel Rotman will speak about “Activism out of Faith” at Beit Haam, 69 Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv.

We are very  concerned about the demolitions in Khan El Ahmar and about the demolition orders in Dqeiqa. We also need help with the olive harvest because the army does not issue enough permits to the farmers in this area.

Rabbi Idit Lev published an article in “Black Labour.” The article explains about the importance of the social rights law at the beginning  of the Winter Knesset session. Moriel Rotman, who volunteers for RHR, published an article about the olive harvest in 972 Magazine, and Yariv Mohar, RHR’s spokesperson published an op-ed in YNET.

For updates on events of various progressive organizations, we recommend the Humanisty site. We also recommend the site of Ir Amim, an organization that works for stability, equality and an agreed political future in Jerusalem.

Shabbat Shalom

Parasha / E-Letter

Settlers Attack Palestinian Family Near Bat Ayin | Human Rights and the Tent Protests | High Price Tag in the Mosque of the Village Yatma

1 Comment 13 September 2011

Police demolished shacks in camp in Jesse Cohen neighborhood, Holon, 7/9/2011.
Photo by: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org

Parashat Hashavua “Ki Tavo” | What Will Be | What Was | Torah Thoughts| Continue Reading


Journey to El Arakib

4 Comments 26 July 2011

nterfaith Vigil for Al-Arakib

Last Friday I joined a few other rabbis and least 100 other Israeli and international activists at a solidarity gathering and prayer service with the people of El Arakib whose homes have been demolished at least a dozen times in the past year.  July 27 was the anniversary of the first destruction of their village — homes, sheep pens – including the sheep, fruit orchards and olive groves.  Prior to last Friday, I had participated in olive harvests and olive tree plantings in the West Bank, the barley harvest and a day of accompanying shepherds in the South Hebron Hills, and in many actions in and around Jerusalem, but I had never before visited El Arakib or been involved in any other activity with the Bedouin of the Negev. Continue Reading

April 28: RHR Planning Appeal against housing demolitions!

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