Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Apartheid Mindset: Israel's Demolitions and their Supporters

In an Orwellian twist, the state of Israel is suing the Bedouin village of al-Arakib for the cost of its demolition. Al-Arakib has been demolished 18 times in the past year - against, obviously, the wishes of its residents. The state of Israel is determined to remove the residents of al-Arakid as a part of it the Jewish National Fund's “Blueprint Negev.” That's right, Al-Arakib is located in the Negev desert, not the West Bank. It is not located in the Palestinian territories, but inside Israel itself.

Al-Arakib is one of 45 "unrecognized villages" who are struggling for their most basic legal rights. Since 1948, the state of Israel has refused to acknowledge the existence of these communities. Unrecognized villages do not receive the services that the state provides to recognized the rest of its citizens, like garbage and sewage services, electricity, roads and schools. They are Israeli citizens - technically.

The ongoing struggle of the unrecognized villages is one of the clearest examples of how Israel is than a military occupier but an apartheid state. The ethnic cleansing of Al-Arakib also gives us a potent look into the apartheid mindset.

The Jewish National Fund describes the Blueprint Negev as a "far-reaching and visionary plan to increase the area’s population and improve living conditions for all of its inhabitants." According to JNF, "The needs of the Bedouin community and the changes that must come about are one of the original pillars of Blueprint Negev." On their website, JNF describes the Bedouin community by through the following statistics: "The unemployment rate for Bedouin is 90%. The rate of birth among the Bedouin community is extremely high -- 6.5% -- the highest in the world -- continuing the cycle of poverty. School through age 16 is mandatory by law, but 90% of the population does not receive a high school education. Only 10% of the girls go to any school at all. Communities have high crime rate and substance abuse rates. Few social activities or venues exist for the children." The JNF neglects mention that the Israeli government has created these conditions. Without that context, these statistics reinforce racist stereotypes of Bedouin people, painting them as rootless, degenerate people who should be displaced for their own good.

The same logic justifies charging Al-Arakib village for its demolition: clearly, those people should just have the sense to stop interfering with what's best for them.

This apartheid mindset is also behind a comment an anonymous poster made to my blog a week ago about the Caterpillar bulldozers used by the Israeli army to demolish homes:

What a wonderful tool and such a great opportunity exists for it's use. I think there should be ten D 9's or D 10's placed outside the Al Aqsa mosque fuel in them keys in the ignition with drivers standing by. The word should go out that at the very next provocation of any terrorist act by the Arab population in Israel, Gaza or Judea / Samaria that by these acts and caused by their hands the machines will be driven forward and level the mosques from the face of this earth. The population can of course decide to behave itself if they don't want this to happen. I think these wonderful machines can convince the Arab population to behave themselves in an appropriate manner. Of course if need be I suppose the entire area of Gaza can be turned into a parking lot in a matter of hours if a few more of these machines could be acquired - yet another good idea if the idiots inside the fence keep lobbing missiles at women and children in Israel. These are great machines and they could be put to such practical use too.

Behind this hateful comment, behind the JNF's Blueprint Negev, and behind Israel's absurd suit against Al-Arakib lays a single attitude: Arabs, Palestinians and Bedouin, are less than fully human. They deserve to be coerced and displaced because Israel knows what's best for them. This is the apartheid mindset. It ought to make all of us, but especially ethical Israelis, very nervous.

1 comment:

Jon said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences. As a Christian American, I support peace there and believe it is possible when the Golden Rule is honored and practiced above ALL other religious and beliefs and political objectives.

I believe that the vast majority of rational people from at least all Western nations would love to see a day where all Arab governments acknowledge the Jewish nation's right to exist and the individual people that make up the nations would eventually live peaceably, as neighbors. They would not have to be 'friends' or like each other much, but they would have to stop teaching their children to hate each other and stop plotting each other's destruction.
I sincerely wish Peace to you and hope for the entire Middle East region.