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Jewish Voice for Peace

"What does 'unrecognized' mean? It means they do not recognize the suffering it [the Prawer Plan] causes us."

Our allies tell us that Knesset members are specifically feeling the pressure from those of us outside Israel to stop the displacement of 40,000 Bedouins.  

Sign our petition
to Ambassador Oren,
and keep the pressure coming!

Dear Supporter,

See that photo? That's Sheikh Abu Aziz, whose village, Al Araqib, has been raized by the Israeli government at least 50 times.

When I was in the Negev three years ago, I had the chance to spend the day in Al Araqib, and to hear the story of the devastating losses and undiminished resilience of the Bedouin communities in the Negev. 

The experience of the families in Al Araqib may soon be echoed throughout the Bedouin community in the Negev. 

If we don't work together to stop the Prawer-Begin plan, 40,000 women, children, and men who live in dozens of villages will be displaced in this same way.

Sheikh Abu Aziz can tell you much more clearly than I what the Prawer-Begin plan would mean for the Bedouin communities of the Negev. I was lucky to talk to him this week, and here's what he wants you to know:

I have lived in my village, Al Araqib, my whole life.  The Israeli government says my village is "unrecognized" - and so has bulldozed everything more than 50 times.

What does "unrecognized" mean? Of course they see the buildings, the olive trees, and the men, women, and children living here.  You do not send bulldozers, helicopters, and soldiers to destroy something that you cannot see.  

It does not mean they do not recognize the suffering it causes us. You cannot see people screaming and crying each time you remove them from their homes, and think it has no impact. 

What it means is they do not recognize our legitimate rights as human beings to live in peace and dignity where we have always lived.  It means they do not recognize that we are fully human.

Their insistence on destroying Al Araqib means they do recognize one thing: that much more than Al Araqib is at stake.  Why go to all the trouble over one village, otherwise?

What the Israeli Government understands is that its power - I do not say legitimacy, I say power - comes from the refusal to recognize any opinion, any view of history, other than its own.  If they demolish Al Araqib again and again, they will do the same to dozens of other Bedouin villages in the Negev as part of the Prawer Plan. They will not stop at the Negev. Why not Susiya in the Occupied West Bank? They refuse to let us live in our own land." 

Sheikh Abu Aziz asks - and answers - a truly critical question here.  And the best way to answer it is with principled, strategic action: 

Please click here to sign the petition today, and help us get to 18,000 signatures before the plan takes another step forward.

It's still unclear when the Knesset will have a second reading of the Prawer Plan. But what we have heard is that international pressure is having an impact.

Which means that without ever going to Al Araqib, or meeting Sheikh Abu Aziz, we can still work together.  And it's an opportunity we should all seize.

15,000 people have already signed our petition to Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren urging him to do everything he can to make sure the Israeli government understands that it would be a grave mistake to pass this displacement blueprint into law.  

Please add your name today.


Sydney Levy
Director of Advocacy

P.S: It's not clear there's any connection, but Ambassador Oren announced his resignation last week - effective sometime this fall. We're definitely monitoring what this transition will bring, but until his last day in office, it is still his job to hear our concerns and relay them back to the Israeli Government.