Israeli “scholar” urges ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Bedouins

 

Arnon Sofer, University of Haifa

A prominent Israeli professor at the University of Haifa, Arnon Sofer, is urging the government to act fast to ethnically cleanse Palestinian Bedouins lest Israel be “destroyed” by them.

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For years the Israeli state has mobilized all its resources to complete the ethnic cleansing of Bedouins – Palestinian indigenous people – and the “judaization” of their land. Already much of their land has been taken, and the few places they’ve found refuge are under threat.

The ethnic cleansing proceeds with the full support or active participation of Israel’s Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund which uses bogus tree-planting initiatives to greenwash the theft of Bedouin land.

The Jewish Agency, for example, recently conceded that the goal of government plans in southern Palestine’s Naqab region “is to grab the last remaining piece of land and thereby prevent further Bedouin incursion into any more state land and the development of an Arab belt from the south of Mount Hebron toward Arad and approaching Dimona and Yeruham, and the area extending toward Be’er Sheva.”

All of this is based on the racist notion that Bedouins – who are struggling to hold on to their land and way of life for example in the village of al-Araqib – are actually invaders and that the land naturally belongs exclusively to Jews.

 

Sofer provides intellectual cover for ethnic cleansing

Enter Sofer (sometimes spelled “Soffer”), the Reuven Chaikin Chair in Geostrategy at the University of Haifa, who has long been in the forefront of warning about the “demographic threat” to Israel from too many non-Jewish babies.

In a December speech, reported on 15 December 2011 by The Marker, the Israeli financial publication syndicated by Haaretz, Sofer raised the alarm about the supposed invasion by Bedouins and other undesirable non-Jews and urged the government to act, presumably to expel them and retain the land for the exclusive use of Jews.

The Hebrew article was translated for The Electronic Intifada by Dena Shunra. In it Sofer warns that Israel is “filling up” with non-Jews and warns that in certain areas of the country, non-Jews (mostly indigenous Palestinians who are nominally citizens of the state), are already the majority. Sofer speaks of these areas as being “lost” – indicating a view that despite their nominal citizenship, non-Jews can never really be part of Israel.

Even worse, Sofer presents the Bedouins as such a threat that Israel is on the verge of being “destroyed.” Naturally so grave a threat obviously warrants Israel acting to destroy it first.

From the article:

Sofer added that the Bedouin population is managing to take over every clear plot of land, and so it turns out, according to Sofer, that as of today, the percentage of Jews in Israel and in the Judea and Samaria regions comes only to 52%. “In the northern district alone there are 44% Jews, and in the central Galilee there are 23% Jews. What is Nazareth Illit [Upper Nazareth] today? It’s Lower Nazareth. Has anyone heard of the Bedouins in the South? Most of you drive along the road and see only both sides of the road, but in practice, the dimensions are entirely different, and you don’t know where we are living. Have we lost the Northern Negev? We certainly have.”

But it is not just the Negev that the Bedouins have taken over. “As far as Rehovot, around the Weizmann Institute, there are about 19 new Bedouin settlements. In Rishon Lezion there are about 12 Bedouin colonies, and near the Asaf Harofe hospital they’ve already set up a city without us paying heed. It is starting to come to Tel Aviv. The government must start taking action, and not flounder in the defense. We do not have another country. If I am not wrong about this terrible map, and I hope that I am wrong, Israel will simply be destroyed.”

What’s also notable is that the article on Sofer appears in the Real Estate section of The Marker, an indication of the banality and normalization of such racism in Israeli discourse.

 

Academic complicity

Sofer has been active for many years, but what gives him credibility and even an international audience for such raw and primitive racial hatred and incitement is his perch at Haifa University. It’s an example of the complicity Israel’s universities have in disseminating ideologies that confer legitimacy on Israel’s violence, ethnic expulsions and racist policies.

 

Translation of article originally found in The Marker

The Bedouins Are Taking Over the Center Region, Too – the State has got to wake up (Update) Professor Sofer at the Israel Construction Center convention at the Dead Sea: “600 thousand people are living in Israel without ID papers – that’s approximately 10% of the population”

15 December 2011

By Ranit Nachum-Halevy

A grim and dramatic forecast was heard this morning from Professor Arnon Sofer, Chair of the Chaikin Geostrategy Chair. According to Sofer, who spoke at the Discount Business Conference of the Israel Construction Center, by the Dead Sea, Israel is the most densely populated country in the West, and nothing can be done other than changing the nature of construction in the country.

“Israel is the most densely populated country in the West, after the Netherlands. The situation is more serious in Israel, as 60% of its territory are desert and firing ranges. There will be no space in Israel, now or ever, for another highway. Where can we build? If we don’t build upward, we’ll have to start talking about a war over every green dunam. This is a blueprint for a third-world country, and in light of regional developments, we are under incessant strategic threat.”

Professor Sofer’s conclusion is that the state should wake up. It should complete construction of the separation wall, and halt the takeover by Bedouins who are, he says, already coming to the central region of the country.

“This country is filling up with people who come to it,” said Sofer. “We did not want fences, and today the Palestinians are already part of us. According to government data from about a year ago (18 June 2010), approximately 300 Palestinians have already entered Israel and are already part of us, approximately 30 thousand immigrants are already in Israel, between Tel Aviv and Eilat, and nearly 100 thousand tourists have assimilated into it, without being citizens of the country. The result is that approximately 600 thousand people live in Israel without identification papers. That’s nearly 10% of the population. This has astonishing and fateful implications.”

Using data from the Israeli army, Sofer noted that 2.4 million Palestinians reside in the Judea and Samaria regions [sic], and 1.5 million Palestinians reside in Gaza. In 20 years, he noted, the population there is expected to double itself.

Sofer added that the Bedouin population is managing to take over every clear plot of land, and so it turns out, according to Sofer, that as of today, the percentage of Jews in Israel and in the Judea and Samaria regions comes only to 52%. “In the northern district alone there are 44% Jews, and in the central Galilee there are 23% Jews. What is Nazareth Illit [Upper Nazareth] today? It’s Lower Nazareth. Has anyone heard of the Bedouins in the South? Most of you drive along the road and see only both sides of the road, but in practice, the dimensions are entirely different, and you don’t know where we are living. Have we lost the Northern Negev? We certainly have.”

But it is not just the Negev that the Bedouins have taken over. “As far as Rehovot, around the Weizmann Institute, there are about 19 new Bedouin settlements. In Rishon Lezion there are about 12 Bedouin colonies, and near the Asaf Harofe hospital they’ve already set up a city without us paying heed. It is starting to come to Tel Aviv. The government must start taking action, and not flounder in the defense. We do not have another country. If I am not wrong about this terrible map, and I hope that I am wrong, Israel will simply be destroyed.”

Another topic touched upon by Sofer was the negative immigration from the Northern cities towards the Center. All of the Jewish youth between the ages of 20 and 45 is already on the road to Tel Aviv. They have nothing to do in Qiryat Shmona. Safed is also emptying out, and so is Haifa, this is classic globalization.”

On the topic of the population in the Middle East in general and in Egypt in particular Sofer said that “the population of the Middle East has doubled itself between 1950 and 1980. Egypt has doubled itself, from 20 million to 44 million people, and another demographic doubling was recorded by them in 2011. Anyone who sees these data understands that Egypt is heading for destruction.”

“Israel today has approximately 6 million Jews, and according to estimates we will reach 7 million Jews by 2025. The numbers of the Palestinian population is higher in the joint territory of Israel and Jordan comes to about 9 million people. All this should have turned on a red indicator light a long time ago. Look what’s happening demographically in Lebanon, and in the south of Syria. Damascus is already sliding towards the Golan Heights, we can see it, year by year. Around and adjoining Israel there are 17 million people today, who may double their number and become 35 million. We are becoming the ‘paradise’ that everyone wants to come to.”

“See what’s going on around the world? In 17 years you will get another billion people into this planet. India will come to about 1.6 billion people, China will remain with 1.3 billion, Africa will come to a billion people, and the Muslim world will rise from 1.7 billion to 3 billion.”

 


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