Thanks to Ben White for alerting me to this BBC report on the Bedouin inhabitants of the Negev, who are facing the renewed threat of ethnic cleaning as Israel intensifies its Judaisation programme.
Ben has written about his successful challenge to a claim by BBC reporter Tim Whewell on this story that “Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel are guaranteed full equality by law.” They most certainly are not, as he explains in his blog.
There’s actually some good material in the BBC report, chiefly because it allows those involved to speak. A Zionist leftist group Ayalim, which settles Jewish students in the Negev, explains its “mission”.
“Dany Gliksberg of Ayalim says a Jewish majority in the Negev is essential to preserve the democratic nature of the state. Otherwise, he says, ‘we will be a minority ruling a majority of non-Jews’.”
But what’s more disturbing, as often with BBC reports on Israel-Palestine, is the reporters’ own framing of the story.
Part of the problem is that Whewell allows a series of false statements echoing Israeli misinformation to pass unchallenged – such as the one exposed by Ben, and another from Mark Regev that the Bedouin have been “consulted” in the plan to remove them from their historic lands.
But more insidious is the overall framing. The opening par states: “Could Israel one day risk losing effective control of a vast tract of desert which its founding father said was key to its survival?” Later the report amplifies: “60 years on, new Zionist groups fear the wilderness which makes up more than half Israel’s territory could eventually have an Arab majority population.”
This is all reported as though it should be a quite normal concern for any state, and in no way contradicts Whewell’s later statement that Jews and Arabs are guaranteed equality. But one only needs to pause a moment to see how problematic Whewell and the BBC ought to find the idea that Zionist groups, backed by the government, are worried that a group of Israeli citizens might one day make up more than half the area’s residents, or that such an eventuality would equate to Israel “losing control” of the Negev.
Just change the word “Bedouin” or “Arabs” in this context to “blacks” or “Jews” and see how obscene it all sounds.