Many people -- certainly outside of the country, but also right here -- are unaware of the land theft by Arabs that is taking place in Israel. It is occurring in Judea and Samaria, and in the Negev.
This is a problem of huge dimensions. In the main, it is being addressed by a splendid organization called Regavim -- http://www.regavim.org.il/en/index.php/about-us/about-us -- which describes itself as a social movement established to promote a Jewish Zionist agenda for the State of Israel.
They are involved with the problem in a number of ways:
--gathering of significant data
--fighting for Zionist rights
--taking legal action against violators in the courts
--drafting implementable recommendations for addressing the situation
--doing advocacy work
They believe that exposing the problem, which has been hidden for too long, is a critical part of the fight. And that ultimately the State must respond to this complex and widespread situation.
In order to educate people about the situation, Regavim is holding a dual event over hol hamoed Sukkot: "Eyewitness to History -- A Campaign to Save the Negev."
As many visitors are expected to attend, it will be held entirely in English.
I want to encourage you to consider participating if you live here in Israel or will be visiting over Sukkot. In fact, I also encourage you to let others who might be interested know.
On Wednesday, October 3, there will be a Forum at the Menachem Begin Center in Jerusalem. Doors open at 4:30 PM, the Forum will run from 5:00 - 7:00 PM. Keynote speaker: Minister Yuli Edelstein. There will be two panels of experts to address the crisis in the Negev and Regavim solutions.
On Thursday, October 4, there will be a guided bus tour into the Negev to witness the crisis first hand. Buses depart from the parking lot next to Liberty Bell Park at 9:00 AM, with return expected at 4:00 PM. A kosher lunch will be served in a Sukkah in the Negev.
Cost for the Forum: $10/36 NIS Cost for the bus tour: $60/240 NIS
Discount for both events: $63/250 NIS
Advance Registration strongly suggested. To register or secure more information:
Ari Briggs: firstname.lastname@example.org 054-428-8663. From the US: 972-54-428-8663
I recommend two recent articles by Ari that will give you further insight into the problems being dealt with by Regavim, problems that must concern us all. (Emphasis here has been added.) Please read the entire pieces:
"Illegal Arab building defies Supreme Court Ruling"
"The illegal 'building intifada' being waged by the Palestinian Authority on state lands in Area C of Judea and Samaria, (the West Bank), has become the latest battleground for the radical Left in conjunction with foreign-funded Israeli so-called human rights NGO’s such as B’tselem and Bimkom.
"This unlawful land theft is being carried out with the full support of the EU, foreign aid organizations and the UN.
"Under the Oslo Accords, Israel was allocated full administrative and security control over Area C. Allocation of final sovereignty in Area C was to be determined in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap of 2002.
"Instead, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad has sought to unilaterally extend the PA’s control over undeveloped state lands within Area C in an attempt to pre-empt the outcome of any such negotiations, or in the more likely scenario, do away with the need for them completely.
"Fayyad made his intentions very clear in an interview in the Arab daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat on September 1, 2009...'We assert that these are Palestinian National Authority territories where the state will be established.'
"To achieve this objective, the construction of thousands of illegal Arab structures has gathered pace all over Area C as the PA pursues this policy of encouraging illegal land grabs, illegal outposts and building on state lands.
"Such activity is very evident in the South Hebron Hills, in the area near the ancient Jewish town of Sussiya.
Arab shepherds from the nearby town of Yata, a Palestinian Arab city of 80,000 in Area A, have created a new village there called "Khirbet Sussiya.
"They claim that their families have lived on this land for decades, if not centuries. Their struggle has become the cause célèbre of the cadre of foreigners and locals wishing to harm Israel and its standing worldwide through misrepresentations and outright lies.
"In truth, this is just a matter of squatters illegally trying to grab state lands. These illegal squatters will always be portrayed as helpless, weak and vulnerable, but they are nothing of the sort. They all have alternate, permanent homes in Yata and are encouraged by the PA to grab land."
"Tower and Stockade Settlements -- Version 2"
"In the middle of the Arab uprising of 1936, the Jewish settlement of Kfar Hittim in the Galilee was established, on 2,000 dunams (200 hectares) of land which the Jewish National Fund had purchased in 1905.
"David Ben-Gurion, who was then the head of the Jewish Yishuv, gave his tacit approval, as long as it could be completed in one day, and the plan was carried out.
"The purpose of the settlement, and others like it, was to establish facts on the ground, to ensure that Jewish-owned land would be included in the future State of Israel.
"Those were tough days. Arab gangs were intent on killing as many Jews as possible and wreaking havoc in order to convince the British to limit Jewish immigration. Kfar Hittim was the first of many Tower & Stockade settlements, so called because those were the first two building constructed on the land, in order to protect the brave pioneers who would dwell there. It was successfully defended on its first evening against Arab gangs.
"...Today, in the Negev, one doesn’t have to travel very far off the beaten track to find new Bedouin settlements.
"But these settlements follow their own rules. Unlike the case of Kfar Hittim, no Bedouin National Fund purchased the land. The residents just took it. Whether it is privately owned Jewish land, as in the case of Al Zarnoog, or Bir El Daj, built on JNF lands or state lands, doesn’t matter to them.
"The Bedouin understand that their communities must also have means of defense, but their 'Tower & Stockade' is not physical. It’s virtual, but very effective.
Their protective Stockade' consists of NGOs such as the Negev Coexistence Forum (NCF), Adalah, ACRI and the like. Their virtual Towers are the New Israel Fund (NIF), the EU and the UN, all of which are extremely well-funded and focused on protecting the 'rights' of the Bedouin to the lands on which they have built illegally."
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.