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Trees before humans: Bedouins in the Negev

By Silvia Boarini | The Palestine Monitor | October 26, 2011

When David Ben Gurion, from the southern Kibbutz of Sde Boker, declared: “It is in the Negev that the creativity and pioneer vigor of Israel shall be tested,” the first settlers rose to the challenge and a transfigured desert became a post-war reality.

Today, driving through southern Israel on the wide motorway that cuts through the barren landscape, what stands out is not the camels. It is the forests.

Out of nowhere, hundreds of trees planted thick—within straight, geometrical borders—come into view, only to be replaced by the dry and mono-color scenery moments later.

A forest in the desert is an awe-inspiring sight, but here it serves the same purpose–and has the same consequence–as an eight-meter high wall erected in the West Bank.

More and more, the Negev and other Palestinian sections of Israel seem to share a fate disturbingly similar to that of Area C in the West Bank.

Nearly twenty years ago, with the signing of the Oslo Accords I and II, the land in the West Bank was divided into three categories: Area A, B and C. Each category came with a varying degree of Palestinian autonomy from the Israeli occupation. Area A is nominally under full Palestinian Authority control and Area C is under full Israeli control, and represents 60% of the West Bank; Area B is somewhere in the middle. While the Accords intended for all of the land to eventually become Area A, it never did. Instead, Israel has made life in Area C and in some cases Area B nearly impossible, impelling many Palestinians to resettle in Areas A.

In the Negev, Israeli authorities have pushed Bedouins (Israeli citizens) off their ancestral land with the justification that they are squatting on state land.

The creation of Palestinian enclaves through means of forcible or coerced relocation—be it to Area A in the occupied Palestinian territories or Arab townships in Israel—appears to be Israel’s chosen means to appropriate land.

The JNF’s flagship program, “Blueprint Negev,” is—in their own words–“a major initiative to revitalize Israel’s southern region” by means of planting trees and settling half a million people.

Both the taming of the wild frontier and the creation of “man-made wilderness,” play into the pioneer narrative typical of settler societies the world over. The largest of which happens to be Israel’s biggest donor.

The JNF claims to have planted 240 million trees in the land of Israel over the past 107 years. Thousands of these trees have ended up on top of the ruins of Palestinian villages.

Israel’s New Historians, among them professor Ilan Pappe, call this erasure of any Palestinian life dating before 1948, a rewriting of Zionist history. This revision identifies the beginning of life in Israel as the arrival of the first Jewish settlers, who were helped by agencies like the JNF.

From forestation to human settlement in the Negev, the JNF focuses its donors’ attention on its eco-friendly credentials, so much so that today it actively promotes what it calls ‘Green Zionism’.

Instead of building checkpoints, the JNF builds a “green future.” Nevertheless, this future stems out of the destruction of Palestinian villages and generally directly benefits the Jewish section of Israel’s population.

The JNF owns 13% of the land in Israel. A small portion of this was acquired by the first settlers, but the majority consists of confiscated Palestinian land, sold to JNF by the Israeli government after the 1948 war.

Oren Yiftachel, professor of geopolitics at Ben Gurion University, likens the transferal of land from state to agency to “a black hole.” Once lands are confiscated from Arabs and passed on to a private agency they can never be recovered, he says.

In fact, as custodian of the lands of Israel, the JNF does not lease land to non-Jews. … Full article

The above is the second installment of a two-part series on al-Araqib and Israel’s dispossession of Bedouin land in the Negev. The first part can be read here.

October 27, 2011 - Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing | , ,

1 Comment

  1. A particularly ingenious touch is that the Zionists plant pines, which acidify the soil; over time, the ruins of the Palestinian villages will gradually disintegrate. Then no one will be able to prove that goyim had ever lived there, just as the fictional Zio narrative has always pretended.

    Comment by traducteur | July 1, 2015


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