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Recognition Forum - Coalition of Organizations for the Recognition of the Unrecognized Bedouin Arab Villages in the Negev

You stand at a village that has been demolished yet again after who knows how many times, and see the people setting up shelter out of anything they can lay their hands on, and there is nothing you can do. You think about the State which, beyond demolishing their miserable dwellings again and again, does absolutely nothing for them. You come to another village and see more demolitions by the State. You go to yet another village where all the homes have been issued demolition orders by the State. In their anguish people grasp at anyone willing to help, desperately few and far between.

By political legislation, the State of Israel has made the lives of the Negev Bedouins a veritable hell. The clash between law and morality-justice has become unbearable! The State treats the Bedouin citizens of Israel like human livestock that can be transported here today, there tomorrow. And who are they to resist?! All of this is due to the misfortune of being born Bedouin in the State of the Jews. The most dangerous brand of racism in Israel is that of its government. We call upon you to help us make the relevant government ministers understand that we will not accept government racism towards the Bedouins, nor keep silent in view of the terror acts perpetrated by the government against the Bedouin villages. We call upon you to help us with this letter-writing campaign, and take part in this struggle against Israel�s policy of violence, coercion and destruction. Please write and distribute letters to the ministers whose email addresses we have listed below.

For years an unwritten government policy has been implemented towards erasing whole villages of Negev Bedouins. The repeated demolitions of Twawil Abu Jarawal (fifty times) and the current wave of twenty-two demolitions of Al Arakib, in addition to the resolution taken to increase the number of demolitions of Bedouin homes in the unrecognized villages from 250 to 700 a year � these are an apt illustration of this policy. Furthermore, other unrecognized Bedouin villages such as Alsira, Tel Arad and Um Al Kheiran are threatened with demolition and expulsion. Now the JNF is sent out on forestation projects on lands stolen from Bedouins. At Tawawil Abu Jarawal a forest has already been planted, and at Al Arakib preparations for planting are nearly completed. We now hear of a new government plan to accelerate the process of grabbing what is left of the Bedouins� lands so that they will end up with a mere 150,000 dunams (15,000 Hectares), and finally be all forced into the government-built towns. We now know of the intention to demand of Al Arakib inhabitants to pay the State�s expenses of demolishing their village time and again!! Current legislation initiative at the Knesset will force anyone to pay the State�s expenses for demolishing their home.

Thanking you, sincerely,
Recognition Forum

The Recognition Forum consists of the following organizations:
The Association of Forty, Gush Shalom, The Society for the Support and Defense of Bedouin Rights in Israel, Social TV, Alternative Information Center, Yesh Gvul, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, The Negev Co-Existence Forum for Civil Equality, New Profile, Coalition of Women for Peace, Rabbis for Human Rights, Taayush � Arab-Jewish Partnership.
Address: P.O.Box 1335, Kefar Saba 44113, Israel Telephone: 09-7670801, 050-5733276
The Negev Co-Existence Forum for Civil Equality: ,
Cell: 050-7701118, P.O.Box 130, Omer 84965, Israel

Proposed letter form

Prime Minister of the State of Israel,
Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu
3 Kaplan St. � Governmental offices complex
Jerusalem, 91950
By mail:
Fax: ++972-2-5664838

Dear Sir,

Re: My objection to the policy of your government, demolishing Bedouin villages in the Negev

I have learned of your government�s plan to deprive Bedouin citizens of Israel of the remainder of their lands and concentrate all of the Bedouins inside towns, leaving them with about 150,000 dunams.

If some other state were to decide to concentrate its Jewish citizens in towns especially constructed for them and begin to demolish their own homes and confiscate their property, would Israel not engage in a struggle against such criminal intentions? I assure
you I would take an active part in such a struggle!

I cannot possibly understand why you do this to your Bedouin citizens. Why have you demolished Tawail Abu Jarawal fifty times?! Or Al Arakib twenty-two times? Why do you demolish hundreds of Bedouin dwellings a year in the Negev? Why have you created the authority for enforcing the resolutions of planning and construction, a special police force for the protection of those out to demolish homes?! Why do you uproot thousands of fruit trees belonging to Bedouins in Al Arakib and planting a forest in their stead?! Why do you destroy Bedouins� farm produce over thousands of dunams every year? Why do you not allow the Bedouins to live on their lands and farm them with pride?

I have a growing suspicion that you do this to them only on account of their being Bedouins in the Jewish State.

I appeal to your honor to please put an end to your war against your Bedouin citizens and enable them to live on their lands and farm them with dignity.

Please write also to:
Interior minister Mr. Eliahu Ishai
Ministry of Interior
Kiriat Hamemshala
Jerusalem, Israel
Fax: ++972-2-5666376

Construction and Housing Minister, Mr. Ariel Atias
Ministry of Construction and Housing
Kiriat Hamemshala
Fax: 02-5824111

Interior Security Minister, Mr. Itshak Aharonovich
Ministery of Interior Security
Kiriat Hamemshala
Fax: 02-5428039

Negev and Galilee Development Minister, Mr. Sylvan Shalom
Ministery for Negev and Galilee Development
Sderot Shaul Hamelech 8
Tel Aviv, Israel
Fax: 03-6954156

In 1948, as the State of Israel was about to be founded, about 110,000 Bedouins were living in the Negev. After the war, their expulsions from the southern part of the country persisted. The 1960 census shows that 11,000 Bedouins remained in the Negev. In the early 1950s, the State of Israel concentrated the Bedouins in the Sayag region (see map appended). Entire tribes were removed from their own lands in the western and southern Negev desert into the Sayag area. They were told the army needed their lands for maneuvers, and for their own safety they must leave for about half a year. They were promised that half a year late4r they would be allowed to return. These promises were not fulfilled and instead, a law was passed (the land purchase law of 1953) to transfer ownership of the property to the State � pure land grab through legislation. The State declared a large part of the Sayag area where the Bedouins were relocated as a region devoid of any municipal authority. The planning and construction law passed in 1965 declared all of the Sayag as agricultural lands, and thus no building was permitted on them. Every home already existing there was considered �illegal� as a result. Thus, with a mere political resolution, the Israeli government turned the entire Bedouin population into lawbreakers when they simply came to realize their basic human right to shelter. The Bedouin villages within the Sayag that existed since before the founding of the State were not recognized either.

In the late 1960s a new phase began in the concentration of Bedouins in even more reduced areas. The State began to construct a small number of towns intended for Bedouin habitation. In order to encourage the Bedouins to move into those towns, the government implemented a policy of home demolitions, destruction of farm produce, confiscation of sheep and goat flocks and denial of basic services � water, electricity, access roads, schools, clinics, sanitation etc. Only after extended legal and public struggles, was the State finally forced to build twenty regional schoolhouses for the unrecognized villages, as well as eight clinics, and connect a few villages to the water supply grid. Not only were the Bedouins� lands nationalized and taken from them and only a bare minimum remained in their ownership, this policy of dispossession and robbery was accompanied by an extensive publicity campaign to demonize the Bedouins.

In 1973 the government enabled the Bedouins to claim their lands. Their claims then totaled 1,000,000 dunams.

The towns are a failure from every point of view. They suffer from the highest rates of unemployment in the country, severe crime problems, violence, a lack of employment possibilities, no public transportation, banks or big business, etc. The number of planned and existing Arab localities in the southern part of the country (fifteen) is very small and constitute 6.25% of the total number of localities in the region (240) and 11% of the total number of localities in the Beer Sheva district . The municipal jurisdiction of Arab localities in the Negev covers the total area of about 119.3 square kilometers and constitute 0.92% of the total area of the Negev (12,954 square kilometers), while according to the statistics yearly, at the end of 2009 the Bedouin Arab population of the Negev consisted of 192,000 persons and constituted over 30% of the general population in Beer Sheva district, amounting to 613,090 persons.

The Bedouin tribes, spread throughout the Negev desert and intensively using about 2,000,000 dunams of land, now live on about 350,000 dunams and are struggling to retain their ownership of another 450,000 dunams. The Bedouin population lives in dozens of unrecognized villages (about 80,000 persons) and in eight State-built towns (about 110,000 inhabitants) and seven localities currently undergoing recognition processes. If the State manages to concentrate the Bedouins, their habitat will be dramatically reduced.

From all of the above we learn that the State of Israel persecutes its Bedouin citizens and desires the remainder of their lands. The miserable situation inside the towns proves that no concern for the Bedouins� welfare brought about their construction, but rather the will to expel them from their own lands.

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