This is what happens when a private, civic matter becomes to a collective national controversy • The folly of the Begin Law: When the Bill Comes Due
The violent protests against the Begin Plan last weekend were far from spontaneous • The organizers are known activists in various radical organizations, all of which are tied to the New Israel Fund one way or another • The same fund whose daughter organizations work constantly to smear Israel throughout the world on the Bedouin dispute while inciting the local population against the state • This is what happens when a private, civic matter becomes to a collective national controversy • The folly of the Begin Law: When the Bill Comes Due
It’s hard to understand why the Bedouin are so angry. The cursed Zionist government plans to grant 12,000 Bedouin hundreds of thousands of dunams of land and millions of shekels as compensation for fantastical ownership claims which no court – Ottoman, British or Israeli – has recognized. But why be petty? Inter Bedouin silent leges.
Still, we’ll have to put something of a damper on the present media frenzy: the demonstrations portrayed in some media outlets as ‘spontaneous’ are nothing of the kind; scratch the surface a little and you’ll find known activists from radical ‘human rights’ groups swimming in EU money. Against the background of the delegitimization and incitement campaign run by the NIF conglomerate, we appear to be facing a significant escalation of the radical left’s struggle against Israel.
Propaganda Masquerading as Journalism
Let’s start with the media. The articles covering the demonstration focused on interviews with activists in the field: an emotional mix of Jews, Arabs, men and women that is so calculated it’s almost as if the pieces were based on an outline from a ‘Journalism for Dummies’ book or its equivalent.
For instance, take the main piece in ynet, one of the primary Israeli internet news outlets. The article, displayed prominently on the home page for two days, included a number of interviewees brought by reporters Hassan Shaalan and Mati Silber: Huda Abu-Obeid from Beer-Sheva (“if this law passes, it could cause a third intifada”), Noah Levi from Jaffa (“what’s happening is a great crime committed by our government”), Yuval Drier-Shilo from Jerusalem (“the Prawer plan…is a danger to a large populace”) and Sapir Slotzer-Amran from Tel Aviv (“this law is racist and undemocratic. We have to continue to fight it”). All of course are “demonstrators” who merely “showed up” to protest.
What Silber and Shaalan failed to mention was the demonstrators’ backgrounds, easily revealed by a brief web search: Noah Levi is one of the event’s facebook organizers and a Hadash activist. Yuval Drier-Shilo is an activist at B’tselem. Huda Abu-Obeid is one of the founders of ‘Al-Hiraq Al-Shababi Binegeb’ which organized the “day of rage” demonstrations; she is also the daughter of Sultan Abu-Obeid, the head of Shatil’s Negev branch. Shafir Slotzer-Amran, meanwhile, is a serial activist for various left-wing organizations (public housing, the struggle over Israel’s offshore gas profits, etc.) all of which are backed one way or another by Shatil and the NIF.
The connection between the NIF and ‘Al-Hiraq’ to the incitement and violent demonstrations becomes clearer upon a perusal of the facebook page of “the third day of rage – together we will stop Prawer and his government from making another Nakba”. Among the event’s promoters was Rouan Bisharat from ‘Al-Hiraq Al-Shababi Binegeb’.
This organization, which means ‘the Organization of the Negev Youth’, was established a few months ago in order to fight the Begin law – from an explicitly Palestinian nationalist standpoint. The organization doesn’t have a website and available information on it online is very partial, but its extremist tendencies are clear just from a perusal of its facebook profile. This organization is apparently the leader in organizing the series of days of rage Israel has seen lately.
Words That Can Kill
The profound involvement of NIF organizations in anti-Israel incitement and their encouragement of a Palestinian-nationalist identity among Israeli Bedouin Arabs was fully exposed in a report by NGO monitor presented before the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee last week. These organizations are working constantly to present Israel as a racist apartheid state in the UN and the EU, all the while calling for international intervention in the Negev dispute.
Many are already familiar with the Rabbis for Human Rights video ($104,110 from the NIF in 2012). But it turns out this is only the tip of the iceberg of an extensive anti-Israel smear campaign.
Representatives of the Negev Coexistence Forum participated in the annual convention of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP) in July 2013. There they called for the “urgent intervention of the international community” regarding the “plan of forced removal of the Bedouin community”.
In another Forum report submitted to the UN Committee for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in October 2010, it was argued that Israel is conducting a policy of “discrimination”, violating many Bedouin rights including the right to an “adequate standard of living” through “forced proletarianization” as part of a “policy of dispossession”.
In another instance, when Adala and the Coexistence Forum representatives appeared before the EU Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights in June 2011, it was clear that these organizations’ target audience got the message: after they presented the “Begin Plan” and argued that “the proposed law expresses two principles: apartheid and martial law”, EMP David Martin interrupted and stated that “I want to take our guests’ words one step further, they describe it as apartheid. I don’t use this word lightly but I think what we’re seeing is ethnic cleansing…”
Adala and Coexistence Forum publications accusing Israel of ‘dispossession’ and ‘forced uprooting’ of Bedouin from their land are routine. But the message of Thabet Abu-Ras, head of the ‘Adala’s Negev branch, in a position paper presented in Europe explaining why “the EU must intervene to stop the Prawer plan”, was unquestionably an escalation in the organizations’ tactics. Abu-Ras went to Europe to “draw attention to the Prawer plan…which threatens to forcibly uproot the Arab-Bedouin…and forcibly dispossess them from the land of their fathers”, this in order to “encourage policy makers to increase diplomatic pressure on Israel…”
In case you were wondering, the Coexistence Forum was supported by the NIF to the tune of $45,532 in 2012, in addition to 109,279 (currency not stated) from the Swiss Foreign Ministry. Adala, meanwhile, received $356,911 from the NIF and an additional $1,948,549 from “foreign state entities” in 2012.
The “Days of Rage” were also planned – not just in Israel but throughout the world with the purpose of turning the issue into an international incident.
The NIF Organizations’ Crocodile Tears
When following the events over the past few days, the following pattern emerges: The NIF and its organizations unofficially organize violent demonstrations. The police then forcibly put these down, creating many opportunities for accusations of ‘police brutality’ and other such anti-government buzzwords. In turn, the NIF ‘human rights’ organizations then protest the violence employed by “the government” towards the local natives and then run off to tell everyone abroad how horrible it is to live in the Israeli racist ethnocracy.
Begin Errs, We Pay the Price
Avigdor Liberman summed up the events best on his facebook page:
This is not a social problem nor a housing one, but a struggle for land, such as was already in the 19th century already with the founding of the first [Zionist] settlements and which has continued ever since. Nothing has changed since the “Tower and Stockade” days. We fight for the Jewish national lands and there are those who are intentionally trying to steal them and forcibly take them over.
But what’s even more disturbing is what comes next in the facebook status, where Liberman argues that his decision to support the law was based on the prestige and honesty of ex-Minister Benny Begin, who used these to convince the other ministers of his plan’s necessity:
We objected to the Prawer plan but eventually decided to support it after ex-Minister Benny Begin said that the plan has the agreement of all the tribal heads and would therefore end the matter once and for all. But in reality the opposite happened, as we feared, and the Bedouin are only interested in getting the carrot, compensation and other lands, but are using every method, including violence, against the “stick” – they must evacuate the lands they illegally settled.
As Mida already showed, Begin’s main error was turning a private-civilian matter concerning at most 12,000 Bedouin to a national-collective one requiring special legislation and unique procedures. Thus did extremists and nationalists, with the encouragement of NIF-funded incitement, gain a wide berth for hostile activity and for increasing their anti-Israel campaigns among an essentially friendly populace.
The minute the government decided to go the path recommended by Begin, the Bedouin ownership claims were fated to inflate to the point of a national conflict, leading Israel down the steep slope of increased international intervention and the mortal wounding of its sovereignty.
Translated by Avi Woolf.