Monday, April 30, 2007

Bedouin & Brous & Bustan - Part 3

Today is Day 14,261 of the Maintenance of the Immoral (and Illegal) West Bank Settlements and almost the 40th anniversary of the start of the immoral (and illegal) occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Micah.6:8 “He has told you, O man, Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God

So much attention is appropriately devoted to the terrible illegal and immoral occupation and settlements and the terrible situation of the Palestinians. What is quite overlooked is the deplorable and shameful discrimination of the Israeli government towards the Bedouin CITIZENS OF ISRAEL LIVING IN ISRAEL.

Another one of the documents in the packet we forwarded to those who were interested in the fact-finding tour which we named “Recognizing Differences: Bedouin and Jews” (no one seemed to pick up on the double meaning of the title – both the idea of seeing that there were differences in the treatment of Bedouin and Jews and differences in whether your village was a recognized one). was this welcoming letter from Devorah Brous

Invitation to Join a Bustan Delegation

Shalom Aleichem,

We would like to extend a warm invitation to activists from Tikkun communities across the U.S. to join a fact-finding delegation and study an aspect of territorial conflict rarely highlighted: the Negev. On many levels it is a microcosm of the larger conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

We are looking to form a diverse cadre of writers, medical practitioners, environmental lawyers, human rights advocates, teachers, mediators, organic farmers, entrepreneurs, and photographers to spend two weeks in Israel to help in our joint struggle for justice and peace. Our aim is to generate public awareness. As Israel works to 'redeem the barren landscape,' and 'make the desert bloom,' how does this impact marginalized Israeli citizens living in the Negev?

This trip is designed to familiarize the participant with socio-economic, environmental, and political questions within the context of the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict over land. It will offer a lens into development in the Negev, the plight of the Bedouin, and the environmental impact of military, commercial, and industrial expansion on Israel’s fragile desert ecosystem.

We aspire to offer a balanced and dynamic approach with leading voices from the left and right. You will meet Jewish and Bedouin academics, government officials, eco-architects, journalists, urban planners, and entrepreneurs. You will meet Negev Bedouin villagers, and their spiritual and political leaders. You will meet a spectrum of Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jewish Israelis, including settlers and their opponents: ecologists, and human rights activists. Further, we have arranged multiple meetings with the Jewish Agency, and Jewish National Fund decision makers to explain the rationale behind the settlement expansion and Sharon's Negev Development Plan that necessitates the forced relocation of Bedouin from the unrecognized villages into the government built townships.

As reflected in the attached itinerary, we will see new Jewish settlements, neighborhoods, and single-family farms, and learn the difference between recognized townships, and unrecognized villages. We'll examine issues such as health care, housing, assimilation, environmental degradation, and women’s empowerment. We'll spend a day hiking Mitzpe Ramon. You will have the opportunity to work in a marginalized village and volunteer your professional skills toward a more conscious Israel.

Facts are being created on the ground. At the end of the delegation, you will be able to effectively draw your own conclusions about the continued unsustainable development of the Negev. It is hoped the Bustan delegation will buttress your knowledge and enhance your ability to effectively challenge the perpetuity of conflict between Jews and Arabs. We hope you will join us.

Devorah Brous, Founder of Bustan
Professor Ismael Abu Sa’ad, Founder of the Center for Bedouin Studies

United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination Signed by Israel 7 March 1966: Ratified by Israel: 3 January 1979In compliance with the fundamental obligations laid down in article 2 of this Convention, (Israel) undertakes to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights:The right to equal treatment before the tribunals and all other organs administering justice;The right to own property alone as well as in association with others;The right to housing;The right to public health, medical care, social security and social services;The right to education and training;The right to equal participation in cultural activities.

Deutoronomy 16:20 – “Justice, justice shall you pursue that you may live and inherit the land which God gave you” and the footnote in the 1980 Hertz Edition “(T)here is international justice, which demands respect for the personality of every national group, and proclaims that no people can of right be robbed of its national life or territory, its language or spiritual heritage.”

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