Partners for Progressive Israel is part of a coalition of American Jews and Israelis opposing an Israeli government plan to forcibly resettle 30,000 to 40,000 Negev Bedouin from their current homes, entailing the demolition of their villages and seizure of land. Our board chair, Theodore Bikel, narrated a YouTube video on this subject last May.
The following is adapted from a press release:
A delegation of rabbis and leaders from American Jewish and Israeli organizations met on Tuesday [Aug. 20] at the White House with National Security Council and State Department officials regarding the Israeli-government sponsored “Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev.” This legislation, which seeks to resolve longstanding land disputes between Bedouin Israelis and the state, will likely lead to the expulsion of 30,000 to 40,000 Bedouin Israelis from their homes, the demolition of as many as 25 villages and the loss of most Bedouin land.
The groups at the White House meeting have all urged the Government of Israel to suspend the plan currently under discussion and allow for greater exploration of its implications and impact. It is their view that any plan to resettle members of the Bedouin community must be developed with leaders of that community rather than be forced upon them. The groups have expressed concerns that the resulting sense of displacement raises the potential for increased poverty and unrest that is not only harmful to those communities but endangers Israel’s security and American strategic interests at a time of great instability and violence in the region.
American Jewish and Israeli participants in the meeting included:
- Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel, The Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism
- Rabbi Arik Ascherman, President and Senior Rabbi, Rabbis for Human Rights (Israel)
- Dina B. Charnin, Vice President, Partners for Progressive Israel
- Rabbi David Shneyer, OHALAH: The Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal
- Joshua Bloom, Director of Israel Programs, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
- Dr. Morad El Sana, an Israeli Bedouin attorney and former New Israel Fund Civil Rights Leadership Fellow who just completed a doctorate in law at the American University Washington College of Law specializing in Bedouin land rights
- Gidon D. Remba, Executive Director, Jewish Alliance for Change, and Director, Campaign for Bedouin-Jewish Justice, who organized the meeting.
“Bedouin community leaders have been outspoken in rejecting the Israeli government’s plan as
discriminatory, failing to recognize our historical land rights, and threatening the Bedouin way of life,” said Dr. Morad El Sana, an expert on Bedouin land rights in Israel who participated in the meeting.
Read more about Bedouin human rights here:
- At the T’ruah web page on Bedouin rights
- Background Paper from the Recognition Forum: The Coalition of Organizations for Recognition of the Unrecognized Negev Bedouin Villages
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