Tuesday, March 15, 2016

In Blooper, State Department Spokesman Claims Demolitions in Southern Israel Prevent A Two-State Solution

In southern Israel, the problem of the Bedouin homes there is a complex problem, combining the issue of Bedouin claims with the Western media's willingness to unquestioningly publish them and the European Union to honor them.

Legal Insurrection discusses Negev Bedouin problems – real and imagined and Akiva Bigman discusses in an article for The Tower why the Bedouin's claims to the Negev are outrageous.

A central claim of the Bedouin is that they are indigenous to the Negev, thus deserving of special consideration and rights under international law.

Bedouin village in the Negev. Photo: Nati Shohat / Flash90 

While the EU is more than happy to accept this as fact, there is research by Havatzelet Yahel and Seth J. Frantzman explaining why the Bedouin are not indigenous to the Negev and that in fact “most of [the Bedouin tribes] arrived fairly recently, during the late eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries, from the deserts of Arabia, Transjordan, Sinai, and Egypt.” Although Bedouin tribes did reside in the area before then, the Ottoman Empire’s tax records from the 16th century indicate that that Bedouin tribes living in the Negev back then are related to those tribes living there today.

So what do the Bedouin tribes in the Negev have to do with Judea and Samaria -- the "West Bank" -- and the Two-State Solution for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs?

Absolutely nothing.

However, Israel's demolition of illegal houses is not limited to the Bedouins -- nor to the Arabs. So when he hears a question about alleged illegal demolition of homes in the Negev, State Department Spokesman John Kirby quickly opens his notes to get the right phrases, but in the process gets the entire context wrong and explains how Israeli demolition of homes in the West Bank have a negative impact on peace:

Despite the fact that Israel demolishes homes illegally built by Jews, just as it demolishes homes illegally built by Arabs, the topic of the state demolishing homes is a sensitive and controversial topic. It is a topic so sensitive, that the mere mention of it welcomes the kind of well-used boilerplate platitudes that Mr. Kirby is so quick to bring out. It is an honest mistake confusing house demolitions in the Negev with those in the West Bank.

Others, both in the media and in the West, are not so careful.

Hat tip: Regavim Advocacy Project

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