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Police that Protect the Robber Instead of the Robbed
Amos Gvirtz August 1, 2016

You go there as a Jewish-Israeli human rights activist. After all, in school you learned about the persecution of the Jews throughout history because they were a minority among other nations. Again and again you heard how people were persecuted not because of their deeds, but because of the group they belonged to. If you took the matter seriously, then you can`t understand how the country of the persecuted is able to persecute a minority living in its midst. After all, the robbery of the lands of the Bedouin of El Araqib is and was carried out only because they are Bedouin in a Jewish state. If they were Jews their ownership of the land would be respected. And anyone who dared to try to rob them of their land would confront the Israeli police, who would arrest them and bring them to trial.

And lo and behold, you arrive at the site where the robbery of the lands of the Bedouin Abu Mde`am family is taking place, and you see that it is the JNF (Jewish National Fund) that is sending its bulldozers to work these lands, and the Israeli Police, instead of arresting the robbers, is protecting them against the landowners, who in their desperation protest against the robbery. And so the arrested are not the robbers, but those who are protesting against the act of robbery!

All this is being done of course in the name of Zionism: They came to an `empty land` and `made the desert bloom.` And if the country isn`t empty, they empty it. And if there is no desert, they create one, and afterwards make it bloom again!

And I, who grew up in a very Zionist kibbutz and household, as the years passed and I continued to encounter these practices, I had to choose between Zionism and morality. Yes, I feel much more at home among my (secular) Jewish friends than among my Bedouin and Palestinian friends. But morality must be blind to national, religious, gender and other differences. Robbery is robbery; theft is theft; violence is violence; oppression is oppression.

The human (Jewish) mind invents ways to achieve its ends. Land laws were created that gave legal legitimacy to acts of land robbery. And where this did not suffice, doubtful legal means were created to complete the mission. And so in almost, and maybe even, all cases in which Bedouin land ownership reaches the Israeli courts, the Bedouins lose!

But it doesn`t end there. In the 1950s, alongside the expulsion of the Bedouin from the country, which lasted until 1959, the State of Israel concentrated most of the Bedouin remaining in the Negev in the Sayag area south of the West Bank. Nevertheless, the country recognized neither the Bedouin villages which had existed in the Sayag area prior to the establishment of Israel, nor those that it itself had created! The 1965 Planning and Building Law, and the designation of most of the land in the Sayag area as agricultural land, created a situation in which all Bedouin structures and tents became illegal. Every Bedouin living in his/her village, embodying the human right to a roof over their heads, was breaking the law. They could neither request nor receive building permits.

And here in a nutshell is the whole method: turning the victim into a criminal! When he fights for his landed property he is breaking Israeli law. When he builds his house, he is breaking the law.

I know, my words will anger many people. Some will ask me: So are you against our right to come to the country? And I answer, I don`t know if there is or isn`t a right to come to the country. What I do know is that to the extent that we do have a right to come here, we don`t have a right to harm the already existing inhabitants. When we harm these inhabitants we undermine our right to come to the country. All that remains is the power that allows us to do it. What a shame!

It`s possible to see the struggle for human rights in Israel as the struggle for our right to come to this country!

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