Sunday, October 28, 2012

Joshua Bloom and Bedouins are Back

You remember Joshua Bloom right? I can see why you might not, he's yet another "human rights activist" that exists on the Huffington Post solely for the purpose of bashing Jewish people. First he claimed that Jewish youth groups "glorified violence," and now he is following such prestigious Israel haters as Max Blumenthal and MJ Rosenberg to the "Bedouin issue." And if you're expecting him to bring anything new to the issue, don't count on it. Let's get into it shall we?

He begins by talking about a Bedouin village that supposedly has been at "this location" for hundreds of years, even to the time of the Ottoman Empire. I found this to be an interesting claim since Blumenthal and Rosenberg both told us that Bedouins are nomads, and by definition nomads don't stay in one place. In fact if you recall Blumenthal specifically attacked Israel for wanting the Bedouins to give up their nomadic nature. As usual, on the Huffington Post Israel is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't. Mr. Bloom points that out that because the Bedouins set up on land that doesn't belong to them the "Jewish press" (his words) call them illegal squatters. If this sounds familiar, it is also how Israeli settlers are labeled. But here is Mr. Bloom's response:
"These Bedouin communities are not illegal squatters. Rather, their situation is a result of a long history of discriminatory and repressive government policies....After the War of Independence in 1948, Israel did not recognize the Bedouin traditional system of communal and individual land ownership."
Long story short, the Israeli government wanted the Bedouins to live in seven specific areas, what Blumenthal referred to as "reservations." Presumably if they didn't want to live there they can move to other places, but instead they choose to break the law. But rather than actually discuss the issue at hand, Mr. Bloom starts talking about off-topic issues. He accuses Israel of discrimination, and says that "forced eviction" is bad. Apparently he doesn't know about eminent domain. He then quotes something about not stealing stuff (apparently that doesn't apply to Bedouins) before pulling out the Jewish angle:
"As a nation of people that know all too well what it means to be an oppressed minority, Israel has a moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable within its midst."
Really? So because the Bedouins have a good PR team Israel should just sit back and let them break the law? And stealing land is hardly the only crimes Bedouins have committed there. But because the Bedouins are Muslims they are exempt from criticism as well as the law. You may have noticed at this point that Mr. Bloom has never come right out and said either (a) Bedouins are breaking the law but that's okay because of XYZ or that (b) Bedouins aren't breaking the law. Instead he prefers to simply ignore the actual issue and use the wagging finger method instead. Only at the end does he start to broach the subject:
"Demolishing homes, forcing people off of their land and denying basic government services builds animosity among the Bedouin population toward the state and toward their Jewish neighbors. Making more Bedouin move into impoverished urban slums against their will where there are few economic opportunities will breed crime and further entrenches cycles of poverty."
First of all, if the Bedouins are nomads than how can you honestly say that they are being "forced off their land?" If they have no concept of land ownership than how can it be taken from them? Furthermore, if they want to preserve their nomadic lifestyle then wouldn't they want not to have basic government services? You can't have it both ways.

This is also the classic Huffington Post style of criticism without suggestion. What does Mr. Bloom want Israel to do? Let the Bedouins continue to break the law and abuse asylum seekers? Why are they above the law just because Mr. Bloom sees them as victims? I also like how he feels it is necessary to label the new towns as "impoverished urban slums," to justify the Bedouin's refusal to join the 21st century. Sure, there's a legitimate point to be made here. But he's not the one to make it. If only the Bedouins had someone who didn't clearly just have an ax to grind against Israel to stand up for them, they'd probably go a lot further.

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