The Israeli Bedouin issue beyond The Telegraph’s sensationalist headline


Phoebe Greenwood’s report in The Telegraph, Ex-South African Israel ambassador likens Bedouin treatment to Apartheid‘, June 19, is in many ways quite typical of mainstream media framing of issues relating to the nomadic Arab tribes living in the Negev region in Israel. Though Greenwood balances the sensationalist charge of ‘apartheid’ leveled by the the former ambassador with a response by a foreign ministry spokesperson, the title and text legitimize an extremely misleading narrative about the remarkably complex interplay between the Israeli government and the Bedouin.

Whilst my colleague Hadar Sela has done some superb reporting on the issue (which you can read here, here and here), blogger Elder of Ziyon recently filmed and narrated a very informative video on the subject – while on location in the Negev – that succinctly explains a few of the more vexing challenges faced by the Israeli government in determining how best to deal with unauthorized villages established by citizens who are part of this itinerant culture. 

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28 comments on “The Israeli Bedouin issue beyond The Telegraph’s sensationalist headline

  1. The key point to bear in mind is the radicalisation by Islamists of Bedouin tribal structures: a difficult problem made impossible for Israel. The upshot is a potentially violent outcome if the Islamists are not targeted and identified as a major player that has contributed to the problem.

  2. A reasonable article but it fails to address the obvious difficulty

    Someone once wrote in the Guardian that the Apartheid slur was ghastly and should be fought as it is so insulting for the millions of decent Israelis but appealed as to what exactly is the definition of the political nature of Israel.

    She was answered by the double response ..it is the only true democracy which ignores the fact that many claim millions are disenfranchised by not being allowed to become Israelis and of course it is the Jewish homeland.

    Yet whilst this is morally correct ( In my opinion ) neither responses address the issue of the million non Jews in Israel nor the greater poser as to how to find peace in an era when the power of the US is waning visibly ( today the news is the US is impotently appealing for Snowden to return and looking like an angry husband whose bride has skipped off )

    If Israel is to survive in a post US top dog world she has to define herself in a manner that is accurate and relevant. Simply being powerful and ignoring the world has worked so far but I wonder what people here think

    • “Simply being powerful and ignoring the world has worked so far but I wonder what people here think” rascal burnout

      People here think you are a hopeless sanctimonious imbecile.

    • For Israel to be an apartheid state, people would have to be denied citizenship, votes, access to public services and education, and segregated. None of this applies to Israel. Israeli Arabs and minorities are able to participate equally – Israeli hospitals are full of Arab doctors and nurses for example and 1000s of Palestinians apply for (and get) Israeli citizenship every year. Contrast that with Lebanon, where even after 60 years Palestinian Arabs and their descendants are treated as foreigners – denied the opportunity to apply for over 20 different types of job, own property, or apply for citizenship. That is apartheid.

    • Check this pearl from the self-styled “Israel lover”:

      “If Israel is to survive in a post US top dog world she has to define herself in a manner that is accurate and relevant.” roscoes burnoes

      Note the traditional delegitimization smears: Israel as the US puppet in need to “define herself” (to whom!??) so as to be “relevant” (to roscoe, the Judge of the Universe?).

      Listen, Rascal Burned, Israel is the Jewish State, that’s her relevance. No need of your approval nor you fake friendship.

      • “Listen, Rascal Burned, Israel is the Jewish State, that’s her relevance. No need of your approval nor you fake friendship.”
        Standing ovation!

  3. Not surprised to see Mr Ismail Coovadia using the Apartheid accusation of Israel.Most Ministers in South Africa still blame Apartheid for all the ills in South Africa.Mr Coovadia and many of his ilk see Israel and the Jews living on stolen land.I dont believe Israel should take much notice of these ANTI-SEMETIC rants by ill informed fools.

    • ” Most Ministers in South Africa still blame Apartheid for all the ills ”

      This is especially relevant now as Mandela reaches the end of his time. Nowhere will you read that he did nothing to change the wealth structure and because he was no socialist simply allowed the banks and the industries to remain in the hands of the rich whites.

      It was clever releasing him when he was 72 and possibly unable to physically take the strain of organising a proper revolution which is why the corruption and inequality is no better now and in many ways worse. They can vote. Big deal.

      • “…organising a proper revolution which is why the corruption and inequality is no better now and in many ways worse. They can vote. Big deal.” rascal boredom

        Oh, right. So democracy is meaningless and you preach a proper revolution, with plenty of civil war, purges and corpses, just like Stalin did. Man, didn’t your “famous in-laws” teach you anything of value?

  4. A clarification is required. Bedouins are nomadic people and by definition do not have fixed abode. They have also lived in the area for a millennium. How does one decide they are unauthorized. If their villages are unauthorized than perhaps as people they are also unauthorized. Let us hear who has the authority to decide another people unauthorized? And if they are unauthorized what is the solution? Culling perhaps.

    • As in every nation of the world with the rule of law, the local or federal government decides where its citizens can lawfully live, rent or own property. Additionally, every nation reserves the right to kick squatters off land they do not own. All legal determinations regarding such land disputes are of course debatable, but – whether we’re talking about the Travelers in the UK, or the Bedouin in Israel – individuals can not decide to ignore the law of the land. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/sep/18/evicted-uk-travelers-forced-to-hit-the-road/?page=all

    • The Bedouins are not the only people whose nomadic way of life is being eroded. We in the UK do not treat travellers very well either but nor do we feel we can let them pitch camp wherever they like. Strange, is it not, that the foreign press only uses the word apartheid when applied to Israel.

    • And if they are unauthorized what is the solution? Culling perhaps.

      Oh please. Nobody is suggesting that – and you know it.

    • So you, Adrian (and Jim below) fall into the usual pattern prompted by the Guardian and the South African. You criticise Israel for having laws and taking responsible actions which are absolutely routine for any developed country with a nomadic or travelling element to the population. See
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomads_of_India for example.
      Not only do you criticise, but you exaggerate, project (culling?) and attach vile lables (apartheid , ethnic cleansing etc) to distort what is truly a total non-story.

  5. Of course Adam its assertions like yours that go to make the holocaust. There is no dispute. The Bedouins have exercised their right to make a living out of the environment they live in for at least 1000 years. They have every right to continue doing so. No new arrivals from Europe has any authority to declare them unauthorized. Individuals can and must ignore unjust laws. It is essential for humanity to survive.

    • “Of course Adam its assertions like yours that go to make the holocaust”

      Priceless, Jim. Truly priceless.

    • Perhaps your opening point/accusation there is a tad too subtle for us mere mortals. Care to elucidate?

    • “The Bedouins have exercised their right to make a living out of the environment they live in for at least 1000 years. They have every right to continue”

      The one thing they do not have is the right to break whichever law suits them and continue their ancient practice of raiding, pillaging and wrecking of land tilled by others. Like others culturally distant from modernity, they have to mature or face the consequences.

  6. Of course It is not being suggested but it is being done. They are deprived of a living. Not allowed to live in their normal environment they are accustomed to for centuries. Of course we know gypsies in Europe are still receiving the same treatment. I am ashamed to admit in Britain they are treated very badly. We know what happened to the gypsies and the Jews in the last century in Europe. Humanity should have learnt and not allow similar treatment anywhere.

  7. I do not know about Adrian but I would have opposed any racist laws whether in the Europe of the last century or in the Middle East today.

    The racial policy of Nazi Germany was a set of policies and laws implemented by Nazi Germany, asserting the superiority of the “Aryan race”, and based on a specific racist doctrine which claimed scientific legitimacy. It was combined with a eugenics programme that aimed for racial hygiene by using compulsory sterilizations and extermination of the Untermensch (or “sub-humans”), and which eventually culminated in the Holocaust.

    • “…I would have opposed any racist laws whether in the Europe of the last century or in the Middle East today.”

      Good. Then you condemn the intention of the Arab fakers claiming to be ‘Palestinian’ to make their Palestinian state (if they ever behave decently enough to get one) judenrein?

    • Hey, Jim Jones, why don’ you euthanize yourself and your sock-puppets “nick”, “jim jerbyl”, etc? Do this favor to the world.

    • One of these notorious heroes ex post. Your lip services may please yourself, but nobody else, hypocrite.

    • Jim, it’s not by Chance that your tenuous arguments have earned you the reputation here of new resident idiot.

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