AL-ARAKIB, ISRAEL — On July 26, Israeli police demolished 45 buildings in the unrecognized Bedouin village of al-Arakib, razing the entire village to the ground to make way for a Jewish National Fund forest. The destruction was part of a larger project to force the Bedouin community of the Negev away from their ancestral lands and into seven Indian reservation-style communities the Israeli government has constructed for them. The land will then be open for Jewish settlers, including young couples in the army and those who may someday be evacuated from the West Bank after a peace treaty is signed. For now, the Israeli government intends to uproot as many villages as possible and erase them from the map by establishing “facts on the ground” in the form of JNF forests.
One of the most troubling aspects of the destruction of al-Arakib was a report by CNN that the hundreds of Israeli riot police who stormed the village were accompanied by “busloads of cheering civilians.” Who were these civilians and why didn’t CNN or any outlet investigate further
(Link to the rest of the article above)
Those civilians referred to were Israeli high school students apparently taught to hate Israeli Arabs like the Bedouin people, who resided in the Negev village of AL-ARAKIB. No they are not Hitler Youth; they are normal Israeli high school students just reacting to the Israeli high school curriculum. These Bedouins are bad folk, who need to be removed from the land of Israel.
Here’s more coverage:
This sentence in the CNN report caught the eye of members of Ta’ayush, a small movement within Israel that organizes joint Palestinian-Jewish resistance to the Israeli occupation. They wanted to identify who the “cheering civilians” might be and so sent a delegation to al-Arakib soon after the demolitions took place. There they interviewed the village leaders and others, all of whom are now camped out in tents at the site of their demolished homes. The report of what they learned, accompanied by pictures, is now posted on the web. Here is some of what it says:
- The cheering civilians were all Israeli Jewish high school students who had volunteered as “police civilian guards” to take part in this assault.
- These teenagers did more then cheer. “Prior to the demolitions, the student volunteers were sent into the villagers’ homes to extract their furniture and belongings.” In the process they vandalized the sites, “smashing windows and mirrors…and defacing family photographs.” With the furniture piled up outside, the students “lounged around” on it while waiting for the bulldozers. This was done “in plain sight of the owners.”
- While the bulldozers were doing their work, the teens “celebrated.”
What Does it All Mean?
The incorporation of Jewish youth into the racist and destructive pattern of behavior exhibited in this incident is almost inevitable. You simply cannot raise up generation after generation within an environment of officially sanctioned racism and not get many of the young seeking confirmation of their place in the community through unjust socio-political actions. We can expect to hear more about this sort of officially organized youth thuggery in Israel. It is a logical tactic for the state to use, particularly at a time when the country is becoming increasingly criticized and isolated.
Max Blumenthal, wondering why Jewish Israeli high school students could react in such a way toward Arab citizens of Israel, came up with a report that went way back to 1963, when Israel was just developing but still had the remnants of the Palestinian people, who were somehow missed during the ethnic cleansing of 1948.
In my recent post about the “summer camp of destruction,” I cited figures from Israeli social psychologist Daniel Bar-Tal’s survey on the political attitudes of Jewish Israeli high school students. In polling conducted in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, Bar-Tal found that a majority of Israeli high schoolers favored at least some form of apartheid, and that the desire for apartheid among religious nationalist youth was nearly universal. The disturbing findings have been generally read as a reflection of Israel’s comprehensive shift to the hard right since the collapse of the so-called peace process (see Bar-Tal’s polling on Israeli attitudes toward territorial concessions here). But there is considerable evidence that a majority of Jewish Israeli youth had been been successfully conditioned to consent to indiscriminate violence against Arabs well before the most recent phase of radicalization, and years before the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza even began.
In his excellent collection of essays, “Israel: Politics, Myths, and Identity Crises,” Orr explored in detail the political attitudes of the generation born in independent Israel immediately after 1948. He identified the first curriculum approved by the Ministry of Education as a key factor in the radicalization of this generation of youth. Orr wrote, “Already in the early 1950’s special lessons on `Jewish consciousness’ were introduced into all schools to inculcate Jewish identity into the minds of the very young. These lessons present Jewish history as a unique — and inexplicable — martyrology… The motto is: `Masada will never fall again.'”
Orr described a document that exposed the consequences of indoctrinating the young and impressionable: A 1963 poll published by the Israeli psychologist G. Tamarin entitled, “A Pilot Study in Chauvinism: The Influence of Ethnico-Religious Prejudices on Moral Judgment.” Tamarin’s research compiled responses by over 1000 Jewish Israeli schoolchildren of ages 8 to 14 to two texts. (The children represented a broad range of social groups and classes spanning the whole of Israeli society — only Arab students were exempted). The first part of the first text presented to the children read:
(Read the full article to get an understanding of why the peace activists are in the minority in Israel, and the ethnocentric Zionists are in the majority.)
The impediments to Israeli-Palestinian peace run deep; how will two-states ever come to pass?
UPDATE: See the latest and very relevant Jeff Halper article posted as a comment below.