Displacing Bedouin in the Name of a False God

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The site of Umm al-Hiran, a Bedouin village that the government wants to plow over.
The site of Umm al-Hiran, a Bedouin village that the government wants to plow over.Credit: Eliahu Hershkovitz

In his book Cities of Salt, which takes place in the Great Arabian Desert, Abdul Rahman Mounif tells of a wise man who prophesizes that the day will come when the tribe asks for mercy for a certain grave robber. And indeed, after the grave robber’s death, people started to say: Allah have mercy on him, as opposed to his son, the deceased at least left the bones of the dead in their place and did not scatter them about in every direction.

And thus, Allah have mercy, David Ben-Gurion at least left a few dunams for the Arabs living in Nazareth when he built Upper Nazareth on its lands. His heirs are now trying to steal the land of Umm al-Hiran and to uproot its Arab residents.

In the great desert they scattered the skeletons of the dead, in our little desert they scatter live skeletons. But as a sworn optimist, I truly hope that we will not ask for mercy in the future for Ben-Gurion’s heirs. After all, with the blessed trends of uprooting, it is impossible to know which monster lies in wait.

They tell of a barber who every few minutes would leave his barbershop to air out from the flatulence of the customer sitting in his barber’s chair. The customer asked: Why are you going out all the time? I am checking the weather, the barber answered. Will it rain, asked the customer? And the barber answers: If the situation continues, we should expect a rain of shit. The Arabs say: “What is pushing you to bitterness, if not thee bitterer than the bitter.”

The residents of Umm al-Hiran were expelled from their village in 1948 and Kibbutz Shoval was built on part of their lands. In 1956, after years of wandering, they were allocated a plot of land in Atir by the state. Absurdly the state now claims - to the District Court - that they are trespassers, and the court had no choice but to reprimand the state for falsifying the facts.

My impression is that the judges are not happy to clash with the state. They are busting their brains in administrative matters and, once in a while, they urge the residents to turn to the government ministries which will decide on the transfer - so as to settle the matter. And that is how the court puts into action the prophecy of the poet al-Mutanabbi, who said over a thousand years ago: “The dispute is with you, and you are also the opponent and also the judge.”

Moreover, the court relates to the state as to God, in whose offices at the moment sits Naftali Bennett, Uri Ariel and Avigdor Lieberman. It is within the authority of this godly council to take the land, which previously was granted to Arabs as compensation for the land stolen from them. As is said in the funeral service: The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be blessed.

The court’s self-deprecation before the authorities when it concerns Arabs cries out from the earth. It seems that not much can be expected now from the legal system that authorized the great theft.

If we reconcile ourselves with this holy role, then how is it that God, one of whose outstanding characteristics is justice, can discriminate against his Arab son compared to the Jewish one? For now, Jewish settlers with a healthy appetite are waiting alongside the village for the opportunity to set upon the bleeding prey. National Geographic is proud to present, live, the laws of the jungle at their best. But in a jungle as in a jungle - today’s predator is tomorrow’s prey. Therefore, the wise and strong pave a path based on ethics and justice for the hard times ahead.

And if it is hard for the democrats among the readers to hear about the injustice only a step away, then they should go out en masse to the village; explain to the false God that the good God will not allow the abuse one of his sons. I know that you must pick up the kid at preschool, buy a few things at the supermarket; but most of the historical horrors happened because the good people were busy with their small matters.

It is possible to relax. The barber’s forecast will not happen here. We are just sinking in pleasant apartheid, compared to which raining shit is just French perfume.

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