When I read this report in Ha’aretz, it was hard for me to believe what I was reading:
Driving along the road from Be’er Sheva to Arad, shortly before the turn toward Darijat, you can see the unrecognized Bedouin village that was home to Manhash al-Baniyat, the Israeli soldier who was killed yesterday in a clash with Palestinian gunmen near the Gaza Strip border, across from Kibbutz Be’eri.
In order to reach the village, you have to travel for several hundred meters along a dirt path, until you come to a few houses, built close together. One of these is the house Manhash built for himself in preparation for his marriage, next month. Since building permits are not granted to Bedouin, he had no choice but to build the house illegally. A demolition order has already been issued. The only water pipe leading to the village is also disconnected. Yesterday, a mourners’ tent was added to the already harsh landscape, erected by the army. Now that the army’s there, at least there’s water, someone remarked half-jokingly.
There are a lot of Israelis or supporters of Israel who say that since Palestinians with Israeli citizenship aren’t treated as badly as those in the occupied territories, Israel couldn’t possibly be an apartheid state. If that’s the case, then I’m not sure how we account for al-Baniyat, who died for the state that’s bulldozing his home. His sister puts it well when she says, “Sometimes you feel like belonging to the state, but sometimes you get fed up because you build a house and they come and destroy it.”
It just so happens that I read a piece by Roger Cohen today that mentions a video of a black woman during the civil rights movement who sums up the situation perfectly: “If we can’t live in our country and be accepted as free citizens and human beings, then something’s the matter with something — and it isn’t me.”