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Who Has Time to Care About Mass Evacuation?

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Kaffiyeh-clad Mohammed Assaf, after winning 'Arab Idol' last year. Credit: AP

When my column from last week was published, my friends (in the real world and on Facebook) continued on their way without showing any signs of shock. And I actually had thought that the two texts about the mass expulsion presently being planned would provoke more reactions from them.

I received a few phone calls and emails, mainly from women active in Machsom Watch who see the reality of the Bedouin expulsion before their eyes, and that’s it. And then I started to try to explain the failure to react and the absence of shock. Of course, I first thought that maybe it was me. That there was something defective about the writing, the headline, the opening, the style. I won’t go into that so it won’t look as though I’m trying to extort polite denials or encourage an enthusiastic confirmation (that there is a defect).

Later, S. from Tel Aviv called to say that she had read it, and it made her feel sick. And I rejoiced. Two people from New York thanked me for the anger with which I wrote about the Israeli plan to expel thousands more in the near future. The rest don’t imagine that I need any emotional support, a charging of batteries, after composing such obscene sentences.

Then I started to blame its location on the website, and I immediately restrained myself. Location is a scientific and entirely objective matter, of course. A calculation of probabilities taking into account viewing habits, the graph of seconds that a surfer is willing to invest in texts that contain words beginning with “o” and ending with “n.”

The location on the website would have been entirely different, I imagine, if instead of the expulsion plan and the preparation of thousands of additional dunams for luxury suburbs for Jews, I had written about Mohammed Assaf, the Palestinian singer who won the “Arab Idol” song competition and will be singing at the soccer World Cup opening ceremony in Brazil.

I started to go ad hominem over the names of my various friends. I couldn’t be angry at G., Q., A., A., and A. for not even clicking "Like" for my transfer stories, because they spend much of their time in the southern West Bank and along with others (whose collective name begins with “P” and contains an “s” and a “t”) are trying to block the daily attempts at transfer there. Settlers taking over another piece of land, the army helping them to remove those who cultivate it (in order to prevent any friction), a court that accepts the takeover because of the statute of limitations. A defense minister who legalizes outposts. The Jewish cow is fat and showers every day, while the nearby rainwater cistern is under a demolition order.

A. and A. and A. from Tel Aviv and Acre didn’t even have a chance to read it, in my opinion. Or their reservoir of shock was already filled by reports about the administrative detention of the hunger strikers. The shock begins with the very fact of arrest without trial for years on end, and the fact that the vast majority is not upset by that. The shock is about a hunger strike that has already been going on for 45 days, which doesn’t interest anyone, and the shock continues with a focus on the punishments administered by the prison authorities: no family visits, no lawyers’ visits, chaining prisoners to their hospital beds (to anyone who skipped a part and reached this point: I’m not talking about Tibet).

Nor could I be angry at M., F., N. and F. in Gaza. They live between electricity blackouts and dragging bottles of purified water upstairs to the seventh floor, and are already mired in the problems of the unity government: Hamas employees and policemen have blocked access to the bank for employees who receive their salary from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. They were angry that Ramallah refuses to pay their salaries. Where will this end?

L. and M. and S. and J. from Ramallah rarely read Haaretz. And if the articles about the transfer were translated into Arabic, they got lost among all the other reports: Israelis set fire to an orchard near Nablus, the Shin Bet security service and the Israel Defense Forces arrested eight people last night (or 12, or five) in the West Bank, the IDF resorted to violence to disperse the weekly demonstrations, the family of the man from Hawara who was killed rejects the possibility that their son – a father of two – fired at a military outpost and that’s why the soldiers killed him.

And besides, everyone is busy with the matriculation exams or the Palfest – the sixth Palestinian Festival of Literature. Writers and poets from all over the world come to read from their works to an audience of the elite, and then to report to the world what they saw: Hebron and its emptied markets and streets as a parable for transfer-loving Israel.

And my friends who support the Zochrot movement? They do a wonderful job bringing the 1948 expulsion, the Nakba, to public awareness, and are planning the formation of a truth and reconciliation commission, but they apparently have no time left for the acts of expulsion that can be prevented today.

G. and H. and H. and A. from Tel Aviv were preparing for a session in the High Court of Justice concerning the expulsion from the Negev village of Al-Araqeeb. They didn’t have time to click on Like and tell me that they had also read the next chapter in the history of the expulsion of the Bedouin in the Negev, their wanderings to the West Bank and the restrictions on their freedom of movement and their living space since 1967.

The High Court discussed a petition against the decision of Be’er Sheva District Court Judge Sarah Dovrat to reject the lawsuits of the Al Ukbi family, claiming ownership of the land from which they were expelled in 1951. The High Court justices agreed to the petitioners’ proposal for a mediation process. The state has to present its position within two weeks.

And on the other side of the Green Line? Next Tuesday the Civil Administration is scheduled to discuss the date for officially publishing the plans to expel the Bedouin from their encampments and concentrating them against their will in crowded townships that will destroy their way of life, their livelihood and their social fabric. Here is another expulsion and injustice. And they can still be prevented.

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