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Lane: Israel is not infallible

BY JOE LANE | DECEMBER 04, 2013 5:00 AM

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Growing up as a Jew, it is simply assumed that not only are the actions of the Israeli government and people justified, they are also morally correct. Period.

As I’ve grown older, however, I have learned to develop my own opinions. Ultimately, I usually do, in fact, decide that the Israeli government and people are acting appropriately.

But that is not the case with the Prawer-Begin Plan.

The “Prawer Plan” calls for the displacement of more than 30,000 Bedouins, a desert-dwelling people who live in dispersed tribes throughout the Negev in the south of Israel. If the plan goes through, 25 of these desert villages would be destroyed with little or no compensation from the Israeli government.

These particular Bedouin villages are threatened with displacement because they are unrecognized by the Israeli government. Should the plan go through, these Bedouins would be moved to seven government-built townships.

Opposition to the plan worldwide is overwhelming.

Joshua Bloom, the director of Israel Programs for Rabbis for Human Rights (the North American Branch), an organization based in Israel, in a piece for the Huffington Post argued that the Bedouins have long been the victims of the Israeli government.

“These Bedouin communities are not illegal squatters,” Bloom wrote. “Rather, their situation is a result of a long history of discriminatory and repressive government policies.”

The Prawer Plan is one of the first pieces of Israeli legislation in recent history that has caused me to question my steadfast support of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decisions.

In the summer of 2012, I went on a trip to Poland and Israel — spending one night in a Bedouin tent and learning about the culture. The experience was enlightening, and I learned a great deal about the Holocaust, Israel, and the Middle East.

After touring some of the concentration camps in Poland and seeing the devastation that Hitler’s Nazi Germany caused not only for Jews but also for people from all walks of life, one of our speakers had the following to say: “There is not the Jewish state of Israel because there was a Holocaust. There was a Holocaust because there was not a Jewish state of Israel.”

While I by no means support the idea of forcibly removing people from their homes, regardless of religious affiliation, I understand that Israel is the only Jewish state in the world and if these actions are a measure to prevent the demise of such a nation (an ally of the United States no less) then I also have difficulty arguing against it.

However, all things considered, I do not feel as though the Prawer Plan is a piece of legislation designed to prevent the demise of the Jewish nation. I also believe that this legislation is especially problematic at a time when Israel is in the midst of global tension over Iran’s nuclear progress.

As I’ve grown older, I no longer recklessly accept that Israel is acting appropriately; I do often stand with Israel, however, because, as a Jew, I understand the importance of a Jewish state and, as an American, the importance of an ally in the Middle East. But I also recognize that Israel is not infallible.


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