Posted by: sean | June 26, 2007

Andrew Jackson would be proud

Ha’aretz has a story about the Israeli Land Administration and a group of Palestinian Bedouins that’s been moved for the second time since the war. It’s short and is worth quoting in full:

ILA destroys Bedouin homes to make way for Jewish town

By Mijal Grinberg, Haaretz Correspondent

The Israel Land Administration (ILA), with the assistance of a large police force and IDF soldiers, demolished dozens of tin shack homes Monday in the unrecognized Bedouin villages Um Al-Hiran and A-Tir in the northern Negev.

The ILA is destroying the village built on government-owned land and evacuating its inhabitants so that a Jewish Community named “Hiran” can be established in the area. Fourteen shacks, which housed some 100 people, have been destroyed by bulldozers so far.

Bedouin women attempted to get their children out of the house but police wanted to speed up the process so they grabbed the play pens with the children inside and did not let the mothers come near.

“Tonight we will sleep on the ground”, Fajua Ab Abu Al-Cian said.

Young men, roughly 18-years of age, wearing orange shirts are taking part in the evacuation, removed the Bedouin’s property from their homes and placing it in piles on the ground outside.

Haaretz has discovered that these teenagers are workers employed by sub-contractors hired by the ILA. According to the evacuators, they are being paid in cash and denied labor rights.

According to Adallah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the residents of the village have been living there for 51 years. They were transferred to the site in 1956 while under martial law. The land they originally owned was transferred to Kibbutz Shoval, while the Bedouin were leased 3000 dunam of land for agriculture and grazing.

In August 2001 the ILA submitted a report on the establishment of new communities, which included Hiran. The Bedouin residents living in the area appeared under the title of “special problems” that may affect the establishment of the community.

The government approved the establishment of Hiran in 2002, and in 2004 the state submitted a court order claiming that residents of Al Hiran should be evacuated as they are using state lands without permission.

For those who don’t remember Andrew Jackson’s role in land appropriation from the Native Americans, Dee Brown has a refresher in the first chapter of his Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee:

In 1829, Andrew Jackson, who was called Sharp Knife by the Indians, took office as President of the United States. During his frontier career, Sharp Knife and his soldiers had slain thousands of Cherokees, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles, but these southern Indians were still numerous and clung stubbornly to their tribal lands, which had been assigned them forever by white men’s treaties. In Sharp Knife’s first message to his Congress, he recommended that all these Indians be removed westward beyond the Mississippi. “I suggest the propriety of setting apart an ample district west of the Mississippi … to be guaranteed to the Indian tribes, as long as they shall occupy it.”

Although enactment of such a law would only add to the long list of broken promises made to the eastern Indians, Sharp Knife was convinced that Indians and whites could not live together in peace and that his plan would make possible a final promise which never would be broken again. On May 28, 1830, Sharp Knife’s recommendations became law. 

 We all know how things worked out for those tribes and their ancestral lands…


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