Annexation in My Back Yard
By Tali Shapiro at Feb 28, 2009
It’s a convenient misconception about Beduins, that they are nomads. Unlike Gypsies, Beduins don’t move around aimlessly, but move back and forth from several grazing territories for their livestock. Modern society has no place for such practices.
“Them” and ”Us”
My parents live in a small suburb of Be’er Sheva, in the south of Israel, called Omer. Ever since I can remember, this tiny town has been third place in the list of “quality of life”, surveyed every year. We’ve got a country club, 12 years of in-town education, a movie theatre and tons of trees. Oh yeah… We also have a small, impoverished Beduin tribe, living a few miles away.
The Tarabin tribe, used to live right outside my window. Their donkeys would graze on my hedge, their herd of sheep would pass by my bus stop every morning, their camels would sit on our round-abouts, with the ridicules smiles that camels have. I still hear the Muezzin 5 times a day, echo on the wind.
Lest I’d be suspected of one-sidedness, I’ll mention here that they would steel our cars very often and there were a few break ins, into houses. They’d also be a good source to get your hash, if that would be your recreational activity of choice. This is what impoverished societies do here. But then again, these neighbors were never invited to my house for a cup of coffee and their kids never went to school with me. Quite frankly, “they” scared the shit out of me and I never got to know them.
Omer, municipally, is a bit less than 5000 acres. When I was in Junior High, about 10 years ago, we moved to “the new neighborhood”. In order to build a new neighborhood, Omer commenced negotiation, to re-accommodate the Beduins, in its open teritories, a few miles further away. I wish I could tell you more about that, but I just wasn’t aware enough at the time.
The Greenest Community in Israel
Yesterday I stumbled upon the Ha’aretz article, letting me know, Im about to become part of “greenest community in Israel”:
“Two months ago the local council in Omer, a relatively wealthy community east of Be'er Sheva, undertook a monumental project which will eventually surround the community with forests, making it the greenest community in Israel. Through the project, however, the local authorities also hope to discourage the incursion of Bedouin in the area who have been settling on open land in the town.”
I admit I never bothered to look up the word “incursion”, but in this context it seemed suspicious enough to do so:
And ironically enough, this is what the thesaurus had to say about that:
Sure there was always petty crime, but never an incursion! (WTF!?)
The cynicism doesn’t end there, as the article goes on to lay out Omer’s plans to keep the local grazers out:
“Omer Local Council chairman Pini Badash points to three primary goals in planting the ring of forest: To assert control over the land within Omer's municipal boundaries, to transform Omer into the greenest place in Israel, and to attract tourism. The plan calls for the construction of a hotel and golf course in Omer.”
And the Beduins? Like Beduins:
“[Pini Badash] can do what he wants. We will come back here in any event, but then it will be much nicer with the trees.”