The Baal Shem Tov, or Besht —  the founder of Chasidism — 
met the soul of the Messiah during an ascent to heaven. 
The Besht asked him, "When will the Master come?" 
The Messiah answered, "When your wellsprings break forth to the outside!" 
(from a letter written by the Besht to his brother-in-law about one of his soul ascents) 

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Al-Arakib—gov't renews demolition of Bedouin villages

Sign a new petition against the renewed destruction of Bedouin villages.

[From Rabbis for Human Rights, Sept 13, 2010]

The village of El-Araqib was demolished – erased today for the fifth time in as many weeks. Aiman Uda, the General Secretary of the Hadash party was arrested – just because he was there.

The village of El-Araqib has been in this location for hundreds of years. Travel logs from a hundred years ago describe it. Aerial photos from 70 years ago show it. Land taxes were paid to the British, and the official paperwork exists. The grandchildren of those paying the taxes still live in the village. [Read more...]

[The following is a description of the first demolition of Al-Arakib, from the BBC, with our notes added. The villagers have returned four times to rebuild their homes. Each time their shelters were destroyed again by the ILA.]

July 27, 2010: Around 300 Bedouins living in Israel's Negev desert have been made homeless after police raided their village and razed their homes.

Israeli activists said 1,500 police arrived in Al-Arakib village at dawn. They destroyed 30 to 40 makeshift homes and uprooted hundreds of olive trees belonging to the villagers, they said.

[Note: It is a Torah prohibition to uproot fruit trees even in a time of war, all the more so in a case like this. Destroying the sustenance of the people is forbidden under any circumstances.]

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said the homes had been "illegally built" and were destroyed in line with a court ruling issued 11 years ago. "Several hundred people were taken back to the Rahat area where they originally came from," he told the AFP news agency, referring to a nearby Bedouin town in Israel's arid south.

[Note: Al-Arakib existed before the state of Israel, and some of the residents, who were evacuated in 1948, returned in 1951, it has been reported. Some residents who came from Al-Arakib also returned there ten years ago from Rahat. We don't know the exact facts of the situation yet.]

More than 150,000 Bedouin live in Israel, mostly in and around the Negev desert. Around half live in villages that are not recognized by the state, and have no access to municipal services like water and electricity. Many live in extreme poverty.

Land battle

At dawn on Tuesday, women and children in Al-Arakib watched as Land Administration bulldozers demolished their houses, Israeli press reports said.
Minor scuffles erupted as the villagers and around 150 rights activists tried to stop the police from carrying out the demolitions, said Chaya Noach, head of the Negev Coexistence Forum, a group fighting to protect the rights of the Bedouin in the Negev. "We were stunned to witness the violent force being used," Al-Arakib spokesman Awad Abu-Farikh told Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot following the razing. "This operation is the first step in the uprooting of many villages. We shall return to our villages, build our homes and not leave this place." Olive trees were uprooted and orchards destroyed, activists said

The authorities say all the homes are illegal, built without permission. The Bedouin say they have lived in the area since before the foundation of the state of Israel. They resist efforts to re-settle them in towns and villages, saying it goes against their traditional way of life.

A Land Administration official, Shlomo Tziser, told Yediot Ahronot the officers were implementing a final court order for the evacuation of the area. "Today we shall evacuate them and should they return we'll do it again," he said.


Note: We are currently trying to learn if JNF will be involved in planting a forest on the site of the village. JNF has released a statement saying that they have no connection to the demolition. In the meantime is hosting a petition to the Israeli gov't against the destruction of Bedouin villages which you can sign.



Design in progress © Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg 2006