Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rahat March

As this article from Haaretz explains, far-right wing leader Baruch Marzel led a march through the Bedouin city of Rahat. In response, Bedouin threw stones at the demonstrators, one of which hit a policeman.

Marzel attempts, in the article, to equate illegal building in Rahat with settlement building in the West Bank. This is completely inaccuate. Rahat is an Israeli city (with roughly 43,000 residents) in which Israeli (Bedouin) citizens are sometimes building without permits. In contrast, outposts are often built outside of settlements without the permission of the Israeli government and certainly without the permision of Palestinians. Equating building in Israel by Israelis without a permit to illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank is like equating stealing a pack of gum to robbing a house.

The real reason for the protest may actually be that the settler movement, facing increasing pressure, is retaliating for the lack of support they are recieveing from the Israeli government and international community. This has nothing to do with Beduoin whatsoever, and is intended only as a provocation.

And ultimately, the marches will only further isolate Negev Bedouin society. While Marzel spoke of the prescence of the Islamic Movement in Rahat, demonstrations by far-rightists will only scare the population into seeking the protection the Islamic Movement can provide. As if the lack of integration by the Israeli government wasn't enough of an incentive already, Marzel is only contributing to the problem he so self-righteously was campaigning against.

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