No public services, no democracy for Israel’s Bedouin minority

by Yaniv Reich on December 7, 2009

One would think in the middle of unprecedented criticism of Israel for apartheid practices and ethnic cleansing, it would hold back just a tiny little bit on new, additional measures of anti-democratic repression. You would be wrong.

Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, voted at the last minute today to cancel indefinitely the first local council elections of the Bedouin communities in the southern Negev. Israel’s treatment of the 45 “unrecognized” Bedouin communities, which are comprised of about 90,000 people, has always been one of the darker stains on Israel’s claims to being a democracy for all its citizens. These villages have fought for recognition since 1948, they receive absolutely no public services (including water, electricity, and health care), and they face constant threats of house demolitions. The Israeli government treats them in this way because it believes they try to live on “government-owned land”, despite the fact that the area is the ancestral homeland of the pastoral Bedouins for many centuries, if not millennia.

Now, their most recent hope for progress has been destroyed by yet one more manifestation of Israel’s de jure apartheid regime.

(Thanks for Electronic Intifada for running this story, the full version of which can be found here.)

Update: Another great article on this from Ben White for the Guardian UK.

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