Op-Ed: Part 3 of 6: The Truth About the Negev Bedouin
For parts 1 and 2, click here.
Myth 3: Are there only 45 "unrecognized Bedouin villages"?
Another myth speaks of the existence of only 45 villages where tens of thousands of Bedouin live. Their present tactic is to claim that the Negev is a huge territory and “all we are talking about is the recognition of only 45 villages,” as stated in a position paper circulated by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Bimkom, and the Council of the Unrecognized Villages, which claims that the institutional recognition and legal organization of these “45 villages” would solve the prolonged dispute between the Bedouin and the State of Israel:
“The Goldberg Commission has recognized that the main solution to the arrangement of Bedouin settlement is recognition of unrecognized villages, in order to prevent the deterioration of an already intolerable situation and to bring about an historic solution to the dispute. This is the central principle that stands at the heart of any solution, and we must follow it in order to bring about an agreement. As will be detailed below, this principle can be applied to every unrecognized village in the Negev.”
The Bedouin connect this claim to 45 points on the map of the Negev (See the 45 blue dotes on the map published by the Council of Unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev). What they neglect to tell us is that these points are attached to thousands of clusters of structures spread all across the Northern Negev, in the area between Beersheva, Arad and Dimona, creating one large contiguous territory of illegal Bedouin villages.
From: Position paper - Principles for recognizing the Bedouin villages in the Negev: ACRI, Bimkom etc. May 20, 2011. See n. 4)
A bird’s eye view over the village of “Al-Ara”, one of the blue dots on the previous map (south of the town of Kseifa), with the help of “zoom in” and “zoom out” functions (which can be easily replicated in Google Earth), reveals that, rather than the 45 indicated villages, there are actually thousands of clusters of Bedouin residences in various stages of development. spread across the Northern Negev.
The red markings on the following photographs of Al Ara are polygons indicating illegal construction clusters. As you zoom out, thousands of these small areas merge together to create the most accurate picture of Bedouin settlement in the Northern Negev. It is clear by comparison, that using the 45 points on the previous map does not provide an accurate picture of the number of Bedouin villages or the extent of settlement.
The map below shows the overlay of the 45 blue dots from the previous map on an aerial photo including the actual Bedouin settlement areas described above.
Aerial photography proves conclusively that the claim of “only 45 villages” has no basis in reality. The ‘Regavim’ investigation as signified by the red layer of markings on the aerial photography points to the existence of over 2000 villages/clusters/hamlets.
Additional pictorial proofs of the mendacity of claims about "historic" Bedouin settlements (described in part 2)