Opinion

Jews, Make Your Voices Heard

The prime minister won't go quietly. Bulldozers are the ultimate refuge of the criminal suspect.

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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A Bedouin woman reacts during a protest against home demolitions on January 18, 2017 in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran.
A Bedouin woman reacts during a protest against home demolitions on January 18, 2017 in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran.Credit: MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

In the eyes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu all Arab citizens are terrorists, or, put euphemistically — they’re all a “demographic problem.” That’s been his theory forever, even when he was finance minister, and in light of the latest campaign by former senior security officials to keep Israel “Jewish and secure,” this legacy is not solely his.

Here are a few words about the demographic threat that “our forces” took care of on Wednesday in Umm al-Hiran. His name is Yakub Abu al-Kiyan, and he is a math teacher in Hura’s high school. His wife is Dr. Amal Abu Sa’ad, his brother Jabar is an Education Ministry inspector, and another brother Hamad is the principal of a school in Hura.

Koby, an activist in the Negev Coexistence Forum, reported on today’s encounter with this “threat.” He said that from the start police were aiming loaded weapons at people.

“I heard a few shots, and then I saw a white van start to move away from the policemen, not towards them,” he said. “After he started to move, he [the driver] was surely scared and tried to get away, the barrage of fire from the policemen started. They surrounded the truck, fired from all directions, some from in front and some from behind; at that point the driver was apparently wounded, lost control, continued down the hill, and that’s when the policemen were hurt. As far as I could tell, the driver was wounded and wasn’t in control of the vehicle.”

So this is the equal treatment referred to by Netanyahu, who conducts expulsions broadcast live, which will be remembered as the shame of the Jewish people for generations. This time it is impossible to declare, as in days of yore, that the Arabs are “rising up to destroy us,” or fled of their own free will.

Today all the authorities of the state of the Jewish people, from the government to the Supreme Court, are partners in a chilling action: Arabs out, Jews in. In dark times in history, the slogan was different, but the idea was the same: “Juden, raus” — Jews, out. I apologize for the free association working overtime on this insane day.

During the early years of the state, the Abu Al-Kiyan tribe was expelled from its lands in Hirbet Zubala, which they had cultivated for generations. After a period of wandering they were ordered in the 1950s by the military government to move to the Wadi Yatir area, where they established the village of Atir Umm al-Hiran. For the 60 years since, they’ve been fighting for recognition of their village, whose lands they occupied by government order.

But there is no shame. The government, with the backing of the Supreme Court, decided to expel the 1,000 residents, destroy the homes that were built with sweat and tears, and move the residents to a different village, which itself is overcrowded. Replacing them will be members of the chosen people.

The poet Mahmoud Darwish once wrote under similar circumstances, “Hooray for the conqueror of the village Hooray for the tyrant who subdues the girl with eyes lined in blue.”

A few days ago Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel released his five-year plan as tidings for the Bedouin of the Negev. Attorney Sana Ibn-Bari managed to expose the plan’s intent to uproot unrecognized villages, so we now understand the plan’s true purpose. This is what the state is toward the Arabs: a state of bulldozers.

Writing in Haaretz last Friday, Yossi Verter predicted that Netanyahu wouldn’t go quietly. He will leave scorched earth behind, and the Arabs will be the first to feel his anger over the suspicions concerning his lust for power and love of luxury.

Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Bulldozers are the ultimate refuge of the criminal suspect. It’s important for those Jews who refuse to be part of this spectacle to make their voices heard.