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"Gifts by the JNF have nothing to do with civic equality - they create dependence and are paid for with acquiescence" - G. Algazi, Tarabut (Email 20.10.2012) [23.10.2012]

Gadi Algazi (Tarabut): Gifts by the JNF have nothing to do with civic equality ... Bei der Verteidigung seiner Unterstützung für den JNF, stützt sich der Bonner Oberbürgermeister offenkundig auch auf die deutschen 'wikipedia'-Seiten, die neben krassen Fehlern und bewussten Manipulationen auch die Behauptung enthalten, dass der JNF dem Beduinen-Township Rahat ein Wasserreservoir zur Verfügung gestellt habe.

Diese Art 'Geschenke' - wenn es denn überhaupt welche seien - müsse man primär politisch beurteilen, meint dazu Tarabut-Aktivist G. Algazi, der sich zur Zeit in Berlin aufhält:

I have asked my friend Awad [Dr Awad Abu-Freih ist Sprecher von Al-Arakibs 'popular committee'] to send some specific information about the water reservoir. I don’t know whether is benefitting Rahat alone, and why the JNF built it (and not a state’s organ), how it was financed, what one had to give ‘in return’ (as usual with such gifts).

From here I can only refer to the fundamental parameters, not the details, but this is perhaps not completely misplaced: The KKL has been referring for years to its projects for the Bedouins in response to charges about its role in colonization and displacement. But it’s the basics that count:

1. Our claim is not about the KKL being ‘bad’ or just ‘against the Bedouins’. We are talking about politics, about colonization and displacement. Entwicklungshilfe im kleinen (kleinsten?) Maßstab cannot mask dispossession. KKL is at the forefront of the dispossession process; the use of artificial forestation to ensure control of the land is documented as KKL practice since 192, and in the case of Al-Arakib the minister of agriculture was honest (or clumsy) enough to admit it in a parliamentary discussion on March 3, 2010.1 The next project is already under way – the ‘Goral Forest’ whose space is to be doubled – from 14000 dunum to 28000. This means the displacement of existing Bedouin communities in the area. The other aspect is colonization: The KKL supports the Jewish colonization of the Negev massively. It is proud of its support for 30 ‘single-family farms’ built throughout the Negev without building permits as part of a systematic attempt to secure ‘the land of the nation’, that is, the exclusive property of Jews to land. The ‘farms’ – rich in acreage and public resources – were built illegally, without building permits; none was demolished. They were retroactively legalized just a few weeks before the first demolition of the Bedouin village al-Arakib.2 The KKL prides itself of having supplied the infrastructure for these farms. At the moment, settlers who are to take the place of the Bedouin communities Umm Hiran and ‘Atir are waiting for the removal of the Bedouins in the JNF facilities at Yatir Forest.

2. There is no doubt that most of the money spent by the JNF in the Negev is used to expand Jewish settlement. This is its open policy. Projects in Bedouins communities are tiny in comparison.
But more importantly – they are used in order to buy the consent of impoverished communities, that is, they are used as a political instrument to maintain patronage and dependence. The more the Bedouin communities are discriminated by the state – the deeper becomes communities’ dependence on benefactors of all kinds. There is nothing mysterious about it: Impoverishment creates dependency; benevolent project by a colonial administration are nothing new. Bedouin communities do indeed need large investments in development – but not from a private-public corporation as the JNF, but as citizens entitled to full equality, as a right and not as an act of grace. Finally, such projects are used by the KKL in order to bolster its image outside Israel; you would always find a grateful local mayor being paraded in order to sing the praise of the KKL. Rahat township is entitled to water supply (and to education, employment measures, land for development, etc…); this is the state’s responsibility. Gifts by the JNF have nothing to do with civic equality – they create dependence and are paid for with acquiescence.

3. Since nearly all the Bedouin land and water sources have been already taken in the 1950s, those in control can always give away a bit in order to safeguard most of it. It makes good PR. Hence, in some cases the JNF cedes a bit land in order to bolster its image – or in order to pave the way for forcing Bedouins communities to relocate into townships. The basic democratic issue is, of course, the basic division of resources and the issue of property and control: A corporation that is not a state organ, nor controlled by democratically elected officials – the JNF, can make radical, irreversible ecological changes (forestation) and controls the most precious lands within Israel.


1 "… You know as well… that in every place where a forest is planted, national land is best preserved there, for all sides know not to touch a forest that has been planted. For my part, from my professional standpoint, I think that the more forests that are planted in order to preserve the land of the nation [Jewish land], even if in the future it will be necessary to uproot them in order to use the land for other purposes – that is the most correct course of action. It is correct in the Galilee, it is correct in the Negev, it is correct in the center of the country, it is correct in all possible places. At the end of the day, it makes no difference what is decided regarding the land; that [forestation] is the best way to protect the land from being appropriated for incorrect use.” (Knesset Discussion, 10.3.2010).
2 Erez Tzfadia, The Difference between an ‘Unrecognized Village’ and a ‘Single-Family Farm’, Haaretz, 18.7.2010 [Hebrew].

 (ts)

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