“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

You will not hear about the “Prawer Plan” in the US press. It is after all about the ethnic cleansing of 45 - 65,000 Bedouins from their ancient lands.

'This is our land': Protests at government plan to remove tens of thousands of Bedouins from their ancestral villages

The so-called 'Prawer plan' is being fought in and outside Israel


Stun grenades, tear gas, rocks and a dispute over land – one could be forgiven for mistaking this for the West Bank. But although the plot is familiar, the characters are less so.
Stun grenades, tear gas, flying rocks and a dispute over land – the scene might be familiar, but the players are less so. Used to running battles with Palestinians over territory, Israel is now facing opposition from another group of people who do not want to leave their homes: the Bedouin. In northern Israel, a plan to remove tens of thousands of Bedouins from their ancestral villages and resettle them in specially designed towns is meeting resistance. Israel’s Bedouin do not want to move. And that is increasingly becoming a problem, not only for the Bedouin themselves, but also for the Israeli government, which is behind the unpopular plan.
The protests are getting bigger, and they are attracting more attention. Last Thursday, more than 1,000 largely Arab protesters, many of them bused in from towns and cities across the country, held demonstrations against the so-called “Prawer plan”, which, if  implemented, will lead to the removal of between 40,000 and 70,000 – depending on who you ask – Bedouin from 35 of their traditional villages.
Wadi Ara, in Israel’s north, is a typical Arab-Israeli town. At least 500 flag-waving Palestinians, the vast majority of them young men and woman, gathered for a protest against the Prawer plan. After speeches in the local park, where the protesters held up signs reading “the new generation will surprise you” and “stop Prawer”, there were the inevitable clashes with security forces – who insisted they would not let the demonstrators reach and block the main road nearby.
Within minutes, onions – used to combat the effects of tear gas – were being thrown at the police, who responded by dragging individual protesters out of the crowd. The onions were soon replaced by glass bottles, rocks and fireworks.
“We have a legal right to be here,” said Eman Hanna, one of the protesters. “We are citizens of this country and have a permit to have the protest, and look, we’re being treated like the enemy. What sort of democracy is this?” Ms Hanna was later pushed back into the main crowd by a female police officer after refusing to step down from a small block to take photographs.
“Did you see that?” asked her friend, Fatima Birro, who had travelled from the coastal town of Jaffa for the demonstration. “Is this law to protest only available for Jews in this country? These people are lawyers and doctors and have a right to be heard. This is not a protest against the Jews, but this is my home too and the Prawer law is denying our right to be in our homes. We are being treated like second-class – no, fifth-class – people in our own land. It’s part of the process of the ethnic cleansings of the Arabs.” Firing stun grenades and tear gas, the police sent the protesters running for cover. After running into a local park, Rana Bishara, another protester wearing a T-shirt denouncing the Prawer law in English, Arabic and Hebrew, spoke of her opposition to the plan.
“They won’t even stop in a children’s park,” she said. “But why are we surprised? The law to remove the Bedouin, who have been there for thousands of years, is all part of the same policy of ethnically cleansing this land of the Arabs. It’s the same with the way the Palestinians are treated in the West Bank behind the Apartheid wall [the security barrier which divides the occupied West Bank and Israel] they built. Where are we supposed to go? They just want us to vanish. They think the new generation will simply forget what has happened, but we won’t.”
This protest, and similar ones in the Negev desert, came less than a week after John Kerry, along with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, met for the first direct peace talks between the two sides. Although the demonstration was relatively tame and broke up without serious injury, the wider issue of the Bedouin and the Prawer plan is not likely to dissipate quite so quickly.  Israel argues that the Prawer plan, which has been approved by ministers but not yet the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, offers the Bedouin the chance to live in recognised villages with modern infrastructure, and represents, the government claims, a compromise over land rights that have been in dispute since Israel was founded in 1948.
The Bedouin see it differently. They say the plan tramples over their rights pertaining to land they have lived on for generations and will lead to the destruction of existing villages, where they wish to stay. Israel considers the villages “unrecognised” and the inhabitants “trespassers on state land”, so it denies, say groups representing the Bedouin, citizens’ access to state infrastructure like water, electricity and sewage.
The Bedouin cause is attracting support not only from Israeli-Arab groups, but also from further afield. Last month, the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, slammed the Israeli government for its policies towards the Bedouin. “As citizens of Israel, the Arab Bedouins are entitled to the same rights to property, housing and public services as any other group in Israel,” Ms Pillay said. “The government must recognise and respect the specific rights of its Bedouin communities, including recognition of Bedouin land ownership claims.
“I am alarmed that this Bill, which seeks to legitimise forcible displacement and dispossession of indigenous Bedouin communities in the Negev, is being pushed through the Knesset. If this Bill becomes law, it will accelerate the demolition of entire Bedouin communities, forcing them to give up their homes, denying them their rights to land ownership, and decimating their traditional cultural and social life in the name of development.”
Last month, 90 writers from Canada, including Margaret Atwood and Yann Martel, penned an open letter to the Israeli and Canadian governments saying the Prawer plan “violates the constitutional rights of the Bedouin to property, dignity and equality”. They argue that planned evacuations of Bedouin families are unjust and will do great damage to Israel’s reputation.
But for all the protests, the Israeli government looks set to press ahead with the new law. And no matter how it tries to extol the benefits, the Bedouin people are not for moving. And so last Thursday’s clashes will not be the last. 


  1. Youth Against Settlements organized the protest as part of wider actions to protest the displacement plan of some 40,000 Bedouins in the Negev, Ma'an reported Saturday.


    UN human rights chief Navi Pillay slammed the bill last week, urging the Israeli government to reconsider its plans.

    1. How many American Indians were displaced creating America?

      How many Poles were displaced by Germany?

      Was it 850,000 Jews displaced by the Arabs from 1948-1967 or a million?

      So why should we care about the internal affairs of Israel when the rest of the world does worse on a daily basis?

    2. Australia?

      Turkey in Cyprus?

      China in Tibet?

      Britain, well just about everywhere?

      America in Hawaii? Guam? Manhattan?

      Russia displaced MILLIONS under stalin and settled ethnic russians across it's lands.

      One standard of disgust for Israel, no standards for anyone else.

    3. How many Kurds were displaced by Saddam? Hundreds of thousands?

      How about the shia in Iran?

    4. Interesting WiO, you don't dispute the article you simply justify it by noting other genocides. Pretty damn sad really.

    5. Ash, how living in your occupied lands?

      Pretty sad...

    6. ash, an honest discussion is not possible here.

      i simply was pointing out the hypocrisy.

    7. ash: justify it by noting other genocides

      The situation described in Israel is not in any way shape or form "genocide".

    8. The term "Bedouin" derives from a plural form of the Arabic word badawī, as it is pronounced in colloquial dialects. The Arabic term badawī (بدوي) which means "desert dweller"[1] and derives from the word bādiyah (بَادِية), which means "plain" or "desert".[6] The term "Bedouin" therefore means "those in bādiyah" or "those in the desert".

      So "bedouin" are nomadic arabs...

      the article states: The law to remove the Bedouin, who have been there for thousands of years, is all part of the same policy of ethnically cleansing this land of the Arabs.

      If the "bedouin" are arabs then AT MOST then settled in area in 640 ce. So at most they have been squatting on those lands for 1500 years. Hardly "thousands"

      as for the 2nd point.

      "is all part of the same policy of ethnically cleansing this land of the Arabs"

      There are MORE arabs as "citizens' of Israel today than were arabs in the entire area in 1948, including the west bank and gaza.

      Hardly ethnic cleansing.

      Now if you want to talk about ethnic cleansing?

      in 899/900th of the middle east, Jews lived for almost 3000 years.

      today? they have been ethnically cleansed where now there is a tiny rounding error number of Jews left.

    9. So there ya go ash, some "points" to show that the article was garbage.

      I await your rational response while you are occupying another's land that you ethnically cleansed of it's natives.

  2. The Bedouins from the desert began to come into 'Palestine' and Israel after the Jews fleeing the horrors of Europe, pre and post holocaust, along with the indigenous Jews, began really do something with the wasteland, and began creating jobs, and something resembling prosperity out of nothing but their own intelligence and will to live their culture.

    You won't read about that on this site.

    Neither will you read about the plans of the 'Palestinians' to create a "Jewish Free State" and ultimately to 'push all the Jews into the Sea'.

    1. And if the Bedouin and the 'Palestinians' and the rest of the scruff should succeed in pushing the Jews into the Sea, it won't be long before there will be a reversion to true Bedouinism, a drift toward fellahenism, the burning of camel and goat dung for heat and cooking, abject poverty and ignorance, the subordination of women, a dramatic loss of population, occasional starvation, and occasional internecine warfare and daily smoking of hashish.

      In other words, 'the good life'.


  3. Dozens suffered tear gas inhalation in Kafr Qaddum near Qalqiliya as Israeli forces used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse protesters. They were treated on the spot, Ma'an reported Friday.


    Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades at the protesters as they neared the wall.

  4. On this day in 1945, the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, marking the first time a nuclear weapon was used during battle.

    1. Please note, America did not USe tear gas or rubber coated bullets on the Japs...

      SO all is ok...

  5. Germans relocated after WWII

    The later stages of World War II, and the period after the end of that war, saw the forced migration of millions of German nationals (Reichsdeutsche) regardless of ethnicity, and ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsche) regardless of which citizenship, from various European states and territories, mostly into the areas which would become post-war Germany and post-war Austria.

    These areas of expulsion included pre-war German provinces which were transferred to Poland and the Soviet Union after the war, as well as areas which Nazi Germany had annexed or occupied in pre-war Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, northern Yugoslavia and other states of Central and Eastern Europe.

    During World War II, the Allies decided to deport the German minorities from east-central Europe after the defeat of Nazi Germany ... The expulsions were part of the geopolitical and ethnic reconfiguration of postwar Europe; the Allies wanted to create ethnically homogeneous states in East-Central Europe because the German minorities were perceived as potentially destabilizing and to recompense for atrocities and ethnic cleansings that had occurred during the war.

    During the final months of the war many German civilians fled with the retreating German forces or were deported to the Soviet Union for forced labor. The expulsions of the remaining Germans were carried out by the Soviet backed post war governments in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Ethnic Germans were not expelled from Romania and in Yugoslavia most emigrated to West Germany.

    By 1950 total of at least 12 million Germans had fled or were expelled from east-central Europe, some sources put the total at 14 million if one counts emigrants to Germany after 1950 and the children born to the expellees.
    This was the largest movement or transfer of any population in modern European history.

    The largest numbers came from the former eastern territories of Germany acquired by Poland and the Soviet Union (about 7 million) and from Czechoslovakia (about 3 million). It was also the largest among all the post-war expulsions in Central and Eastern Europe, which displaced more than twenty million people in total. The events have been variously described as population transfer, ethnic cleansing or genocide.

    The death toll attributable to the flight and expulsions is disputed, with estimates ranging from at least 500,000 confirmed deaths up to a demographic estimate from the 1950s of 2,2 million. More recent estimates by some German historians put the total at 473,000 attested deaths, they maintain the unconfirmed reports of 1.9 million missing persons are unreliable. The German Historical Museum puts the figure at 600,000 victims, they maintain the figure of 2 million deaths in the previous government studies cannot be supported.

    However, the position of the German government, the German Federal Agency for Civic Education and the German Red Cross is that the death toll in the expulsions is between 2.0 to 2.5 million civilians.

    1. When the Israeli lose the Palestinian land they have illegally annexed, they will treated as justly as were the Germans when they were removed from the land they had annexed in Europe, just as legally as the Israeli have annexed Palestine

      These areas of expulsion included pre-war German provinces which were transferred to Poland and the Soviet Union after the war, as well as areas which Nazi Germany had annexed or occupied in pre-war Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, northern Yugoslavia and other states of Central and Eastern Europe.

    2. You don't know your international law as it relates to the West Bank.

    3. The Israeli-occupied territories, also called the disputed territories,[1] are the territories which have been designated as occupied territory by the United Nations and other international organizations, governments and others to refer to the territory seized by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967 from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. They consist of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; the Gaza Strip, much of the Golan Heights; and, until 1982, the Sinai Peninsula.

      The West Bank and Gaza Strip are also referred to as the Palestinian territories or "Occupied Palestinian Territory". The Palestinian Authority, the EU, the International Court of Justice, the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council consider East Jerusalem to be part of the West Bank and occupied by Israel;

      The International Court of Justice, the UN General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council regards Israel as the "Occupying Power".

      The term "Occupying Power" has taken on a precise legal meaning following the International Court of Justice advisory opinion in July 2004 that Israel is occupying this territory in violation of international law. The Israeli High Court of Justice concurs with this language, and has ruled that Israel holds the West Bank under "belligerent occupation".

    4. The Israeli High Court of Justice concurs with this language, and has ruled that Israel holds the West Bank under "belligerent occupation".

  6. The Israeli High Court of Justice concurs with this language, and has ruled that Israel holds the West Bank under "belligerent occupation".

    1. Myths and Facts
      Mitchell G. Bard

      "Israel "occupies" the West Bank."


      In politics words matter and, unfortunately, the misuse of words applying to the Arab-Israeli conflict has shaped perceptions to Israel's disadvantage. As in the case of the term "West Bank," the word "occupation" has been hijacked by those who wish to paint Israel in the harshest possible light. It also gives apologists a way to try to explain away terrorism as "resistance to occupation," as if the women and children killed by homicide bombers in buses, pizzerias, and shopping malls were responsible for the plight of the Arabs. Given the negative connotation of an "occupier," it is not surprising that Arab spokespersons use the word or some variation as many times as possible when interviewed by the press. The more accurate description of the territories in Judea and Samaria is "disputed" territories.

      In fact, most other disputed territories around the world are not referred to as being occupied by the party that controls them. This is true, for example, of the hotly contested region of Kashmir.

      Occupation typically refers to foreign control of an area that was under the previous sovereignty of another state. In the case of the West Bank, there was no legitimate sovereign because the territory had been illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967. Though the Palestinians never demanded an end to Jordanian occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state, only two countries — Britain and Pakistan — recognized Jordan's action.

      It is also important to distinguish the acquisition of territory in a war of conquest as opposed to a war of self-defense. A nation that attacks another and then retains the territory it conquers is an occupier. One that gains territory in the course of defending itself is not in the same category. And this is the situation with Israel, which specifically told King Hussein that if Jordan stayed out of the 1967 war, Israel would not fight against him. Hussein ignored the warning and attacked Israel in 1967. While fending off the assault and driving out the invading Jordanian troops, Israel came to control the West Bank. Had Hussein heeded the warning, the Palestinians of the West Bank would in all likelihood be happily living as Jordanian citizens.

      By rejecting Arab demands that Israel be required to withdraw from all the territories won in 1967, the UN Security Council in Resolution 242 acknowledged that Israel was entitled to claim at least part of these lands for new defensible borders.

      Since Oslo, the case for tagging Israel as an occupying power has been further weakened by the fact that Israel transferred virtually all civilian authority to the Palestinian Authority. Israel retained the power to control its own external security and that of its citizens, but 98 percent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza came under the PA's authority. The extent to which Israel has been forced to maintain a military presence in the territories has been governed by the Palestinians' unwillingness to end violence against Israel. The best way to end the dispute over the territories is for the Palestinians to fulfill their obligations under the Oslo agreements and stop the terror and negotiate a final settlement.

    2. I don’t blame Mr. Ibish for his anxiety. For years now, Ibish and other critics of Israel’s occupation have had the field pretty much to themselves. It has become one of the world’s hard-rock truisms that Israel’s occupation is “illegal,” repeated reflexively throughout the world’s media and spawning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to isolate and delegitimize the Jewish state.

      So, you can understand if these critics were somewhat flummoxed last July when a respected juror, former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, led a commission that concluded that “Israeli settlements are legal under international law.” I quoted that report in my article, and, interestingly, Mr. Ibish never refers to it in his rebuttal. Apparently, Ibish is so sure that this is a black and white issue that he won’t even waste his time studying a report that introduces plenty of gray.

      Is the issue of the settlements’ legal status really so settled? How can we assess whether it’s even worthy of debate? Well, keep reading and decide for yourself.

    3. French court rules: Israeli occupation of West Bank not illegal

    4. The historical fiction of Israel’s “occupation”
      CommentsPermalink Posted by William A. Jacobson Monday, May 27, 2013 at 11:00am

      And on and on and on.

      Big dispute going on.

    5. There is no "big dispute"

      One one side there is ... the EU, the International Court of Justice, the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council... they ALL consider East Jerusalem to be part of the West Bank and occupied by Israel

      One the other side, referencing the French ... "a shitty little country."

    6. Yes, How dare Israel assert the Jewish quarter and the Western Wall of the temple mount be controlled by Jews.

  7. That hardly means that success is guaranteed. But close listeners have recently detected a change in Prime Minister Netanyahu's thinking.

    He seems, at long last, on the way to reckoning with reality. Were he beloved, as he assuredly is not, he might pull others in Likud along.


    "May you live in interesting times" is thought to be a Chinese curse. Whatever its actual provenance, its status as a curse rather than a blessing is well-established.