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February 14, 2014

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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 14, 2014 Israel must develop Negev for benefit of all By Theodore Bikel LOS ANGELES (JTA)--This past May, I made a YouTube video with the Israeli NGO Rabbis for Human Rights that drew a parallel between my role as Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof," in which the Jews in Sholem Aleichem's tale faced expulsion from the Russian shtetl of Anatevka, and a Knesset proposal to forcibly displace up to 40,000 Bedouin-Arab citizens. The video included anguishing footage of the July 2010 demolition of the unrecognized Bedouin village of EI-Araqib. The proposal, known as the Prawer-Begin plan, has reportedly been withdrawn, but this is not certain. A Knesset committee debated the bill even after the supposed withdrawal. There are also indications within the governing coalition that force may yet be used to expel thousands from their desert homes with a law shaped to be more punitive than PraweroBegin. The Bedouin have been living in the territory of the Negev Desert for many generations. After Israel's War of Independence, during which some Bedouin actually fought for the emerging state, much of the population was uprooted and concentrated in a siyag, or enclosure, in a barren part of the Negev's northeast. Subsequently, the government maintained a policy of ambiguity. Villages that became home to roughly half of Israel's Bedouin were not officially recognized and were denied state Letter from Israel It can't last00or maybe it can By Ira Sharkansky Slogans of the left are that Israeli occupation of Palestinian land cannot last, or alternatively, that the international community will not tolerate the lack of agreement between Israel and an independent State of Palestine. It has lasted for coming onto 66 or 47 years, depending on whether you begin at 1948 or 1967. Those who say it can't last, and must be interrupted by an agreement with Palestine overlook two things: The impossibility of predicting the future, perhaps especially amidst the turmoil cur- rently apparent. The apparent impossibility of reaching an agreement with the Palestinians to recognize the legitimacy of Israel--with or without the clause "Jewish state'--give up on the refu- gees including unlimited generations of their descendants, and to cease all future claims. Forever is a long time, beyond the life his- tory of the Roman, British, or Soviet empires, formidable as they seemed. Also beyond the lone position of the U.S. at the pinnacle of world politics. That began in 1945, may have found its limits in Korea less than a decade later, and more certainly in Vietnam after another decade. Since then the United States has been more influential than any other country, but that influence--never mind sheer power--continues to be tested. The Jews of Israel ought to know by their history the dynamism of events and the fluidity of any status quo. They also should be alert to the problems in being sure that action X will assure result Y. Read that iswithdrawing more settlements, agreeing to Palestinian terms, and expecting levels of peace equivalent to those of North America or Western Europe. There is no end of what is roiling history, and getting in the way of any certainty that the Palestinians can reach an agreement with Israel, or that peace will occur as a result of such an agreement. Muslims are fighting among themselves. This can work to lessen European and North American certainty that it is worth the efforts of creating another Muslim state, especially one making a point of not wanting Jews as residents. It can also work to make the Pales- tinians even more nervous than usual about agreeing to accept Israel's existence, and thus falling afoul of one or another of the many factions claiming to fight for the true principles of Islam. The European Union has several issues on its plate, which may detract from its concern with this part of the Middle East. The current fashion to boycott goods from the West Bank, or from all of Israel, may go the way of other fashions, without having great impact. Russia and Ukrainian elements allied with Russia are involved in what is looking more and more like a run up to a civil war, focused at least partly on whether the Ukraine will join Europe or remain a satellite of Russia. Analysts are concerned that such developments can also spread to other former Soviet satellites that the EU would like to absorb, such as Latvia and Lithuania. Egypt is as close as the Ukraine to a civilwar. The incidence of car bombings and ambushes of security personnel suggests that the Muslim Brotherhood and other aggressive Islamists will not go quietly. The growing and restive Muslim popula- tions in Europe might lead some Europeans to express greater support for Palestine in order to buy quiet at home. But it may lead other Europeans to abandon the Middle East as hopeless, and concentrate on their own problems with Islam. Syria is not only a source of great unrest on the border of Israel and very close to Palestine. The fighting there has also attracted extremists who wander the region looking for opportu- nities to advance Islam. They have recruited European as well as American Muslims, some of whom may go home further inspired to blow up train stations, shopping centers, or other symbols of the infidels. Last Wednesday night's news showed John Kerry moralizing at the conference meant to bring peace to Syria. He described in his most serious tones the carnage that he laid at the feet of the Syrian president. But then he was shownwith head in his hands, and covering his face in something that looked like pain as the Syrian prime minister lectured him about his ignorance of the Syrian civil war. The Syrian put all the responsibility on the foreign forces aiding what he called terrorists fighting the legitimate government. He blamed Israel but not Saudi Arabia for aiding the terrorists. We might chuckle at that bit of Arab obfuscation. Neither it nor Kerry's moralizing is likely to contribute to anything on the ground, where Sunni financed fighters battle Alawi and Shiite fighters, with some of the Sunnis fighting among themselves, as well as doing what they can to spread the civil war into Lebanon. There are several reasons toview SaudiArabia Sharkansky on page 12A THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT.   CENTRAL FLORIDA'S INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICE   1SSN 0199-0721 Winner of 43 Press Awards Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Assistant Editor Gene Starn Kim Fischer Chris DeSouza HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- Society Editor Bookkeeping dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage Account Executives paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. Barbara do Carmo * Marci Gaeser POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Contributing Columnists Fern Park, FL 32730. Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky David Bornstein Ed Ziegler MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Production Department Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 David Lehman Gil Dombrosky emaih Joyce Gore services, such as utilities and roads. But the government largely left these villages alone. During the 1970s, the government allowed the villagers to file legal claims for their land. These were contested over many years, with two-thirds eventually denied. Six years ago, the government organized a commission headed by a retired Supreme Court judge and a former state comptroller, Eliezer Goldberg, to prepare recommenda- tions regarding Bedouin property rights and unregistered villages. In 2008, the commis- sion proposed that the homes and villages be legalized, pursuant to a regional plan, and land claims resolved. The implementation of these recommendations, however, was outside its purview. The following year, the government orga- nized a committee headed by the former deputy chair of the National Security Council, Ehud Prawer, to draft an implementation program. The committee included no Bedouin and prepared its work without consulting the af- fected communities. The resulting plan called for expropriation of at least half the claimed land, at minimal cash compensation, and the forced relocation and destruction of at least 25 villages where 35,000 to 40,000 people reside. Even this proposal was too generous for one committee member, who called for the expropriation of all claimed land. Benny Begin, recently retired from the Knesset and a former cabinet minister, was tasked with further shaping the Prawer Plan into legislation. He supplemented it with programs for urban development to address the historical neglect of Bedouin residing in seven poverty-stricken and crime -ridden urban townships. But with the details of relocation left vague arid uncertain, most Bedouin in the 35 unrecognized villages understand- ably viewed Prawer-Begin as a scheme that threatened them with dispossession and forced urbanization. Those previously pushed into townsgenerally found inadequate employment opportunities and poor social conditions. Understandably, most Bedouin distrusted this kind of deal. In addition, some Bedouin prefer agrarian lifestyles for cultural reasons and were deeply disturbed by the prospect of being forced out of their homes and lands. Jewish groups both inside and outside Israel also spoke out against the proposal. In the Knesset, a mix of left- and right-wing legislators opposed the government bill. Those on the left objected to the prospect of forced relocation, while the right opposed Begin's proposed package of inducements and compensation for the Bedouin. Israel and its Bedouin citizens are at a crossroads. They could return to a hostile policy that destroys homes and fields and con- demns thousands of Bedouin to displacement from their unrecognized villages and neglect in the townships. Or the government could implement provisions of the Goldberg Com- mission, resolving land claims and legalizing villages as part of a regional plan developed in consultation with the affected population. Bimkom, an Iraeli planning group, has sug- gested an alternative master plan, to guide the integration of these villages into a broader regional framework. Working in this way, Israel can move forward to restore trust between the state and its Bed- ouin citizens, and to establish a constructive program of developing the Negev for all. Theodore Bikel is an internationally ac- claimed singer and actor who serves as board chairman of Partners for Progressive Israel. The phantom Iran nuclear deal By Ben Cohen When it comes to the most asinine response to the purported deal between the world's main powers and Iran over the latter's nuclear program, tophonors to go Harvard University's Stephen Walt. Walt was the co-author, with his academic colleague John Mearsheimer, of "The Israel Lobby," a badly researched, poorly argued screed about how a cluster of pro-Israel orga- nizations have cajoled successive U.S. admin- istrations into doing things they otherwise wouldn't have done. Paranoically obsessed with what he regards as the malign influence of Israel and its sup- porters, Walt has made it his personal mis- sion to defend the Iranian nuclear deal. Like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he thinks it's the deal of the century; unlike Netanyahu, he thinks the main beneficiary is not the Iranian regime, but the United States! Hence Walt's recent tweet: "75 percent of NatSec experts support Iran deal. So what explains Congressional opposition?" Great wit that he is, Walt added, "(Hint: maybe a powerful lobby?)" Just who are these "National Security ex- perts" to whom Walt refers? The answer is found in a survey carried out by the National Journal, a title popular with Washington, D.C. insiders. And, indeed, 75 percent of those questioned did believe the deal is a good thing--but with so many qualifications added, the notion of "support" becomes almost meaningless. As one of the analysts pointed out, "If it becomes the final deal, it's disastrous." Quite. And to that we can add that it's a very big "if." The immediate question mark hanging over the Iran deal isn't related to the objections of Israel and its congressional supporters, though those are important voices. Rather, the awful truth is that no deal has actually been agreed upon. At best, the Geneva talks yielded an understanding that Iran's nuclear program has to come under more stringent monitoring in the near future, in exchange for a significant lightening of the sanctions imposed on the Iranian regime. But because of the fanfare that the Obama administration deliberately stoked around the Geneva talks, governments and international financial institutions are starting to behave as though the sanctions have already been lifted. That is a problematic development, to say the least, given that further talks with the Iranians are to be held in Vienna this week. As Reuters reported, "Western diplomats said the experts must iron out nitty-gritty matters of imple- mentation not addressed in Geneva before the deal can be put into practice." Well, if Iran's mullahs are already reaping the rewards of an unsigned deal, and if most of the world thinks they have already been very cooperative, then they have little incentive to go the extra mile to ensure that the International Momic En- ergy Agency is able to carry out rigorous and effective inspections of their nuclear facilities. The ham-fisted diplomacy of Secretary of State John Kerry appears fatally flawed not just in this area, but in others too. By granting Iran the right to enrich uranium, the principles articulated in Geneva violate several U.N. Se- curity Council resolutions that insisted Iran had to end all enrichment activity. The regime's reactor at Arak will remain operational, with every chance of producing weapons-grade plutonium in the future. Incredibly, there is not even an acknowledgement of the clandestine origins of Iran's nuclear program, and therefore no mechanism for ensuring that the regime doesn't start enriching uranium at secret sites like the one at Fordow, exposed in 2009. Against this reality, President Barack Obama's recent claim that "for the first time in a decade, we have halted progress of Iran's nuclear program" comes across as halluci- nogenically false. All such a statement does is deepen the suspicion that the president is quite happy for Iran to weaponize its nuclear program--just not while he's in the White House. In turn, that allows us to engage in rea- sonable speculation about the true motives of the partisans of this undone deal with Iran. For those like Stephen Walt, as well as organizations like the pro-Tehran National Iranian-American Council, the goal here is not to peacefully resolve the Iranian nuclear question. They are quite happy for Iran to have nuclear weapons, because that would result in Israel, a country they loathe, losing its military edge, thus forcing the U.S. to question the strategic wisdom of its historic alliance with the Jewish state. That's why it's vital to remember thatwe have not, yet, arrived at such an outcome. And that's why it's equally vital to back Israel's insistence that it be allowed to respond independently to the continuing Iranian threat--including, if necessary, through a military strike. Ben Cohen is the Shillman analyst for JNS. org. His writings on Jewish affairs and Middle Eastern politics have been published in Com- mentary, the New York Post, Ha'aretz, Jewish Ideas Daily and many other publications.