I’ve had several conversations with Israelis recently during which I was asked, “You know there are two sides to this, right?” Of course I know there’s more than one side; I even know that there are more than two sides. This isn’t
a two-dimensional plane, it’s a freaking amoeba. I may not be sure of a lot of things, but I’m sure of that. And because it’s complicated, speaking about it as if there are two sides – as if it’s black and white – is both inaccurate and dangerous.
That being said, some things happen here that are truly indefensible. Bulldozing a village, no matter how
“illegal” its existence, is wrong. The kids who are forced to live in the cemetery aren’t the ones making the village’s political decisions, but they’re the ones that have to do their homework under tents in the blistering desert heat, if they even make it to school in the first place. And if they do, expecting them to focus on their lessons after their homes have been destroyed before their eyes five times in the last two months seems unreasonable.
The government is trying to move people from the 45 “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in the Negev to seven government-created towns, which also happen to be seven of the ten poorest towns in Israel. It is no wonder that people prefer to stay where they are rather than give up claims to their ancestral land in order to move to pockets of urban misery where they will find few jobs and inadequate public services.
Of course the legal and
historical dimensions of this issue are complex, but a line has been crossed. I’ve been talking and reading about this issue daily for several weeks and I have yet to hear a decent argument from the so-called “other side” that justifies what’s going on in that desert.