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Tell Obama to Oppose Israeli Plan to Evict 40K Bedouin, Protect Right to Protest
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 8 August 2013 - 12:00am
Next week, I'm traveling to Israel/Palestine with a delegation of US peace activists. One thing that we will be doing while there is meeting with Israelis and Palestinians resisting the Israeli government's seizure of Palestinian lands. Such land grabs have become a regular facet of life in the West Bank, but it's not only Palestinians in the West Bank who are subject to them.
The Israeli government has plans to remove upwards of 40,000 Bedouin in the Negev desert in southern Israel from their homes and their lands. As in the West Bank, attempts to protest these seizures have been met by force from the Israeli military and police.
The US has yet to publicly oppose either the Prawer Plan or Israeli suppression of peaceful protest. Join me in calling on President Obama and other US officials to publicly oppose the Prawer Plan and to press the Israeli government to respect the right to peaceful protest in Israel and the occupied territories.
You can also help support my trip to Israel/Palestine by making a tax-deductible donation:
If you've seen last year's Oscar-nominated documentary 5 Broken Cameras, you know something about the Palestinian struggle to resist Israel's seizure of Arab land and the Israeli military's response to such resistance.  The demonstrations in Bil'in, where 5 Broken Cameras was filmed, as well as Ni'lin, Nabi Saleh and other villages, have become regular features of Palestinian life.  Every Friday, Palestinian villagers, often accompanied by Israeli and international activists, march against the confiscation of their land for settlement expansion, barrier walls and military zones. Each week, they are met by tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades. They are arrested, detained, harassed. Under Israeli occupation, the right to peaceful protest has been effectively nullified.
The Bedouin of the Negev are Israeli citizens of Arab ethnicity. Their ancestors were pastoral nomads. Today, some Negev Bedouin live in cities and townships built for them by the Israeli government, others in “unrecognized” villages that lack basic utilities, such as water and electricity, but where they can continue to practice their traditional pastoral customs. 
The Israeli government does not recognize many Bedouins' rights to the lands they hold.  As it has frequently done in the West Bank, the Israeli government is claiming these lands as state lands, to be disposed of as the Israeli government sees fit, without serious consultation with the Bedouin communities affected. 
The Prawer Plan passed the first of three readings in the Knesset at the end of June. Since then, two major days of protest have taken place, with demonstrations being held throughout Israel and the West Bank. As has become routine, peaceful protesters were met with violence from the Israeli military.  
The UN and the EU have both condemned the Prawer Plan, but the US has leverage over the Israeli government that no other entity has.  Yet, the US has shown itself unwilling to use this leverage. In fact, when Palestinian activists in the West Bank began erecting protest villages on confiscated land earlier this year, the US government response was to condemn the demonstrators, not the Israeli military that responded with tear gas, pepper spray and bulldozers. 
The US cannot help bring peace if it remains silent on gross injustices it has the influence to stop. Tell President Obama and other US officials to publicly oppose the Prawer Plan and call upon Israel to respect the right to peaceful protest.
Thank you for all you do to help bring about a more just US foreign policy,
Just Foreign Policy
Help support my trip to Israel/Palestine—make a tax-deductible donation today!
1. For background on land confiscation in the West Bank, check out our primer: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/babs-factsheet; 5 Broken Cameras is available for streaming on Netflix
2. “Is This Where the Third Intifada Will Start?” Ben Ehrenreich, New York Times, March 15, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/magazine/is-this-where-the-third-intif...
3. “A Snapshot of the Lives of the Bedouin Tribe of 'Al-araqib',” Marina Watson Pelez, The Independent, June 30, 2013, http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2013/06/28/a-snapshot-of-the-lives-of-the...
4. “Collision Course: Plan to displace tens of thousands of Bedouin passes first Knesset vote,” Noam Sheizaf, +972, June 25, 2013, http://972mag.com/collision-course-plan-to-displace-tens-of-thousands-of...
5. “The Prawer Plan,” T'ruah (formerly Rabbis for Human Rights—North America), http://www.truah.org/issuescampaigns/bedouin/government-response/prawer-...
6. “Crackdown on anti-Prawer demonstrations shows unequal right to protest,” Mairav Zonszein, +972, July 19, 2013, http://972mag.com/crackdown-on-anti-prawer-demonstrations-shows-unequal-...
7. “Live blog: Activists hold 'day of rage' to protest Prawer Plan,” +972 blog, August 1, 2013, http://972mag.com/activists-hold-day-of-rage-to-protest-prawer-plan/76779/
8. “European Parliament condemns Israel's policy toward Bedouin population,” Jack Khoury, Haaretz, July 8, 2012, http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/european-parliament-condem...
9. “US Equates Palestinian Nonviolent Protest with Israeli Settlement Activity,” Megan Iorio, Just Foreign Policy blog, January 16, 2013, http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/1359; for a primer on the protest villages, see http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/babs-factsheet