In Bedouin Town, Right-wing Minister Defends Displacement of Locals

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel says all will be welcome in a new community expected to be largely Jewish.

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The unrecognized Bedouin villages of Atir and Umm al-Hiran.
The unrecognized Bedouin villages of Atir and Umm al-Hiran.Credit: Albert Denkberg
Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel visited a Bedouin town in the Negev this week, launching the school year there and defending Israel's policy of displacing people from a nearby village.

“Although my wife and I had gone on a 40-hour vacation, we could not forget Hura,” Ariel said, speaking at the town's Rabin High School. Ariel is also responsible for the development of the Negev and the Galilee.

The minister visited classrooms and spoke to students. Eleventh-grader Dalal Alsabaileh asked him about the removal of the Bedouin residents of nearby Umm al-Hiran, where a new Jewish community is to be built.

Alsabaileh spoke of the Bedouin sense of discrimination, but Ariel insisted Israel's policy was fair.

“So far no house has been destroyed to build for someone else .... It's true that work has begun nearby to build a community that Jews can come to, and so can Bedouin and others,” Ariel said.

Another issue was the lack of employment opportunities for young people in the town. Two 12th-grade girls told Ariel they were taking the highest-level matriculation exam in math and biochemistry, and they aimed to study nursing.

When Ariel asked why they did not plan to study medicine, they told him they believed their Hebrew would not be good enough for the standardized exams. Ariel pledged to see how he could make the psychometric exams more accessible.

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