Legislation is currently pending in the Israeli Knesset that could result in the forced displacement of tens of thousands of Bedouin citizens of Israel from their homes and historic lands in 35 unrecognized villages. Already, just last Sunday, the Israeli Cabinet decided to demolish Umm al-Hiran, an unauthorized Bedouin village in the Negev, and to replace it with a new village for religious Jews.
The fate of the residents of Umm al-Hiran, is a microcosm for the broad and ongoing disregard for Bedouin Israeli’s land rights. Legislation is currently pending in the Israeli Knesset that could result in the forced displacement of tens of thousands of Bedouin citizens of Israel from their homes and historic lands in 35 unrecognized villages. As a people that has faced exile and expulsion throughout Jewish history, and as Zionists who never forget the eternal bond between our people and the land of Israel, we are extremely sensitive to Bedouin Israelis’ ties to their traditional villages.
While some consultation was undertaken between the Israeli government and Bedouins, the current legislation, the Prawer-Begin bill, fails to respect Bedouin rights and was not developed through a process where the Bedouin community was fully engaged in resolving the land issues. If implemented, the Prawer-Begin bill would impose tremendous hardship on vulnerable Bedouin Israelis and would run counter to the core democratic principle of equality that Israel was founded on.
Ameinu issued a statement calling on the Israeli government to suspend consideration of this controversial piece of legislation.
Please raise your voice for justice and democracy by sending a message, in your own name, asking to suspend consideration of the Prawer-Begin bill and to instead institute a new collaborative process with the Bedouin community to resolve these issues in a mutually acceptable manner.
Below please find a sample email and addresses for Ambassador Rafi Barak and Chargé d’Affaires Eliaz Luf, of the Israeli Embassy in Ottawa, Canada.
Please consider copying this message that calls to protect Bedouin rights and Israeli democracy.
Sample Email Message to Ambassador Barak and Chargé d’Affaires Luf
Dear Ambassador Barak and Chargé d’Affaires Luf,
I am greatly concerned by the Prawer-Begin legislation that is currently pending in the Knesset. This bill, if implemented, could result in the forced displacement of tens of thousands of Bedouin citizens of Israel from their homes and historic lands in 35 unrecognized villages. This is of great concern because of the tremendous hardship it would cause Bedouin citizens of Israel and because it runs counter to the core principle of equality that Israel was founded on.
It is vitally important that Negev land questions be resolved in a manner that protects Bedouin land rights and is undertaken through a process that fully engages the Bedouin community to find mutually acceptable solutions to these complex legal, political and moral issues. I strongly believe that consideration of the Prawer-Begin bill should be suspended and that the Israeli government should instead create a new collaborative process with the Bedouin community to address issues of land rights, resources and social service delivery to Negev communities.
Both the Canada and Israel are built on the core belief that a government must be responsive to the needs of all of its citizens. As Israel’s chief representative in the Canada, I urge you to play a leading role in helping to ensure that this essential value is served through the process of resolving land claim issues in the Negev.