Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A dark-skinned innocent man brutally killed by Israeli mob in Beersheba--no surprise there. But what about the Bedouin?

An asylum seeker from Eritrea was shot by a policeman and then brutally stomped to death by a mob of Israeli Jews in the city of Beersheba on Oct. 19. The atrocity took place in the vicinity of a shooting that killed an Israeli soldier and wounded ten others at a bus station. The man who did the shooting was then shot to death by a policeman. He was later identified as a Bedouin citizen of Israel.

It isn't surprising that a mob of Israeli Jews would kill an innocent dark-skinned Eritrean man, thinking that, naturally, he was the dirty Arab who shot a rifle into a crowd of people at a bus station. Their reasoning is the standard way of thinking in the Jewish colonial-settler state. Jews are white people. When in doubt about who killed a Jew, just find someone who looks like an Arab or a black man and kill him. This mob killing simply expresses not only racism, but the true politics of the Israeli state.

The real surprise is that the man driven to attack Jews during this latest uprising is a Bedouin.

Since 1948, the Israeli state has conferred a higher status on Bedouins than to the lowly Arabs (meaning Palestinians). As part of the divide and rule caste system used in Israel since its inception, Jews have had all rights, Druze have the second rank of rights and the historically nomadic Bedouins have had a better status than Muslin and Christian Palestinians.

It's significant that this latest rebellion, mainly of frustrated youth, is not confined to the occupied West Bank, but is happening inside Israel proper. Palestinians who are Israeli citizens have had a somewhat better life than West Bank Palestinians, who have no rights at all and have been under martial law since 1967.

Why did a Bedouin shoot at Israeli soldiers? What pushed him to the breaking point? We can see that West Bank residents are frustrated by the last few years in which Israel has been building settlements at an accelerated pace, destroying Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem as well as the West Bank, and stepping up shootings and detentions of unarmed Palestinians (for the last 5 years the death toll of Palestinians civilians in the occupied West Bank killed by settlers and the IDF has been running at about 100+ a year, nearly 2 a week)

Two years ago the Israeli government started to implement what was called the Prawler plan. forty thousand Israeli Bedouins were to be moved out of their homes in the Negev desert and be put into new housing areas. We should say "concentrated" housing areas, where they can be monitored and controlled. This plan created a large backlash and protests were joined by many Jewish Israelis who saw the injustice of this discriminatory move.

The plan has been delayed, but still hangs over the Bedouins. They never have been able to legalize the homes where they have been living for generations. Israel started to demolish Bedouin homes. The residents would rebuild their homes and they would be demolished again. This is in the Negev desert, inside the borders of what the world recognizes as the State of Israel and is being done to Israeli citizens.

The incident in Beersheba not only reveals the depth of racism (over the last couple of years there has been an escalation of Jewish incitement against African immigrants seeking asylum-seekers along side the usual tirades against Palestinians), but shows how previously quiescent people are reaching a breaking point and are joining the rebellion against a life made intentionally intolerable by the Israeli state.

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