Saturday, August 23, 2008

Israel's racism

No, the Palestinians of the West Bank are not the topic this time, with their separate licence-plates and roads. The Globe & Mail has a good article about the Bedouins today, an ancient people also suffering the ceaseless lash of Israeli apartheid.

Driven from their land in both the West Bank and Israel proper by settlers and the IDF, and continually threatened with violence, home demolition and forced relocation, the Bedouins are living in poverty and fear. In the West Bank they depend upon UN emergency supplies simply to stay alive.

Under Israel's first president, David Ben-Gurion, the Bedouins were expelled from the relatively fertile Western portion of the Negev desert and confined to an area known as the "enclosure zone." Later they were squeezed into a few special villages. A more detailed description of the subsequent and continuing oppression of the Bedouins may be found here.

Ali Abu Sheita recounted how his parents had been torn from their tribal land and transferred to a barren region where for years they had had to walk fifteen kilometers with their camels and donkeys just to bring water to the village. Yet in the Jewish village nearby, Abu Sheita continued, pipes delivered water directly to every sink. Halil al-Aseiby pointed to the high-voltage electric poles just outside the shack, emphasizing the regulation that forbids "unrecognized Bedouins" from connecting their homes to the power grid. "Even people who need to keep life-saving medicine refrigerated do not receive an exception," he said. Another man suddenly waved a demolition order that was pasted on his "illegal" shack on April 25. "Any day now," he said, "the bulldozers might arrive."

Anyone who still wants to play with the meaning of the word "apartheid" to give Israel a pass should think again. What's happening to the Bedouins is no different, no different whatsover, from this.

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