The “Summer Camp Of Destruction:” Israeli High Schoolers Assist The Razing Of A Bedouin Town

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. (See video of of al-Arakib’s demolition here).

“]Israeli high school age police volunteers lounge on furniture taken from an al-Arakib family's home. All photos by Ata Abu Madyam of Arab Negev News.

Moments before the destruction of the Bedouin village of al-Arakib, Israeli high school age police volunteers lounge on furniture taken from a family's home. [The following four photos are by Ata Abu Madyam of Arab Negev News.

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?

I traveled to al-Arakib yesterday with a delegation from Ta’ayush, an Israeli group that promotes a joint Arab-Jewish struggle against the occupation. The activists spent the day preparing games and activities for the village’s traumatized children, helping the villagers replace their uprooted olive groves, and assisting in the reconstruction of their demolished homes. In a massive makeshift tent where many of al-Arakib’s residents now sleep, I interviewed village leaders about the identity of the cheering civilians. Each one confirmed the presence of the civilians, describing how they celebrated the demolitions. As I compiled details, the story grew increasingly horrific. After interviewing more than a half dozen elders of the village, I was able to finally identify the civilians in question. What I discovered was more disturbing than I had imagined.

Israeli police volunteers go through the belongings an al-Arakib family

Israeli police youth volunteers pick through the belongings an al-Arakib family

Arab Negev News publisher Ata Abu Madyam supplied me with a series of photos he took of the civilians in action. They depicted Israeli high school students who appeared to have volunteered as members of the Israeli police civilian guard (I am working on identifying some participants by name). Prior to the demolitions, the student volunteers were sent into the villagers’ homes to extract their furniture and belongings. A number of villagers including Abu Madyam told me the volunteers smashed windows and mirrors in their homes and defaced family photographs with crude drawings. Then they lounged around on the furniture of al-Arakib residents in plain site of the owners. Finally, according to Abu Matyam, the volunteers celebrated while bulldozers destroyed the homes.

“What we learned from the summer camp of destruction,” Abu Madyam remarked, “is that Israeli youth are not being educated on democracy, they are being raised on racism.” (The cover of the latest issue of Madyam’s Arab Negev News features a photo of Palestinians being expelled to Jordan in 1948 juxtaposed with a photo of a family fleeing al-Arakib last week. The headline reads, “Nakba 2010.”)

According to residents of al-Arakib, the youth volunteers vandalized village homes

According to residents of al-Arakib, the youth volunteers vandalized homes throughout the village

The Israeli civilian guard, which incorporates 70,000 citizens including youth as young as 15 (about 15% of Israeli police volunteers are teenagers), is one of many programs designed to incorporate Israeli children into the state’s military apparatus. It is not hard to imagine what lessons the high school students who participated in the leveling of al-Arakib took from their experience, nor is it especially difficult to predict what sort of citizens they will become once they reach adulthood. Not only are they being indoctrinated to swear blind allegiance to the military, they are learning to treat the Arab outclass as less than human. The volunteers’ behavior toward Bedouins, who are citizens of Israel and serve loyally in Israeli army combat units despite widespread racism, was strikingly reminiscent of the behavior of settler youth in Hebron who pelt Palestinian shopkeepers in the old city with eggs, rocks and human waste. If there is a distinction between the two cases, it is that the Hebron settlers act as vigilantes while the teenagers of Israeli civilian guard vandalize Arab property as agents of the state.

The spectacle of Israeli youth helping destroy al-Arakib helps explain why 56% of Jewish Israeli high school students do not believe Arabs should be allowed to serve in the Knesset – why the next generation wants apartheid. Indeed, the widespread indoctrination of Israeli youth by the military apparatus is a central factor in Israel’s authoritarian trend. It would be difficult for any adolescent boy to escape from an experience like al-Arakib, where adults in heroic warrior garb encourage him to participate in and gloat over acts of massive destruction, with even a trace of democratic values.

Youth volunteers extract belongings from village homes as bulldozers move in

Youth volunteers extract belongings from village homes as bulldozers move in

As for the present condition of Israeli democracy, it is essential to consider the way in which the state pits its own citizens against one another, enlisting the Jewish majority as conquerers while targeting the Arab others as, in the words of Zionist founding father Chaim Weizmann, “obstacles that had to be cleared on a difficult path.” Historically, only failing states have encouraged such corrosive dynamics to take hold. That is why the scenes from al-Arakib, from the demolished homes to the uprooted gardens to the grinning teens who joined the mayhem, can be viewed as much more than the destruction of a village. They are snapshots of the phenomenon that is laying Israeli society as a whole to waste.

After the youth clear out the homes, the police move in...

...and the destruction begins

...and the destruction begins

84 thoughts on “The “Summer Camp Of Destruction:” Israeli High Schoolers Assist The Razing Of A Bedouin Town

  1. Pingback: Karsh Dissembles; Truman Escapes; A Village Disappears « Wallwritings

  2. laviniam

    Max Blumenthal’s report ought to be a must see for all legislators who continue to ignore the crimes being perpetrated by Israel.
    Two things to those who would dispute this statement regarding the criminality of israel’s behaviour.
    The Fourth Geneva Convention contains within it more than 100 articles the protect the rights of Palestinians living in occupied Palestine.
    Some of you do not see the Negev as occupied territory but as part of Israel.
    Well, if that is the case, the ILO Convention concerning rights of indigenous and tribal peoples would be relevant. The UN Covenant on Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the international Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights also would apply. As well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
    As well as Numerous Security Council resolutions.
    That is for those who need the letter of the law to tell them that inhumane treatment of any peoples is unacceptable.
    And this action is just that. Unacceptable.
    And a crime against humanity.
    laviniam

  3. walt kovacs

    http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=183711

    tmma86

    the above story is in response to your ignorant comment

    oh, and the village itself was not standing since 48….they allege that it stood on ancestral grounds

    and is the term hasbara supposed to be a pejorative to you? like liberal used to be to the wingnuts?

    if so, i will wear that label proudly

  4. skaag

    Oh, horrible! horrible..!! Crying children!

    They setup some houses on land that was planned to be a forest, and they were evicted? horrible!!

    But wouldn’t Italy, France, and the US do the very same thing?! ;-)

    *Goes back to watching Television*

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  6. TheAZCowBoy

    How sad to see young Jewish kids and young men being turned into racist monsters.Is there a Torah in these people’s homes?

    TheAZCowBoy
    Tombstone, AZ.

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  8. Pingback: Israeli High Schoolers assist in razing of Bedouin town. - Christian Forums

  9. ss18

    can’t believe the lies these hasbarats spew out every day as they desperately con people into thinking this land of Palestine belongs to them. not gonna happen. countless people now know how the land of Palestine owned by its true owners, the Palaestinains, is being stolen by these khazar squatters who don’t even have a tinge of semite blood in them. these smelly ashkenazi bastards would like us to think the tall tale that Palestinians are raining rockets at them by the thousands (hahaha no. it’s true, that’s what they say) every day. they also would like us to believe in the fairy tale that a certain god told them Palestine is their land even though most of the were born in europe (no this is not a comedic script, they say it is true) and the Palestinians and those who care for the Palestinians plight are anti semitic, which they say is a fact even if the Palestinians are true semites and they are, well, let’s say descendants of mongols and turks and bolshevik bastards which make them mostly sons and daughters of terrorists and smelly europeans. i guess lies are the truth of these inbred smelly israeli cockroaches. one thing s true, these people have the devil as their god and father for the truth never comes out of his mouth just as these israeli liars live and breathe lies. no truth will ever come out of these crazy and delusional bastards. no one not even the most idiotic person (except the zionist christians who are brain dead assholes anyway) )believe in your absudities. to all the israeli hasbarat vermin here, you are a bunch of pathetic desperate liars. the good jews who oppose this evil would be saved from the wrath of the world but you hasbarat and zionist cockroaches will wish you had never been born when the time comes for payback.

  10. John Somebody

    Can someone please tell the world how it can be, that zionists claim to have a democracy, while winning elections by means of creating an artificial majority ? And furthermore, that majority status is achieved, by means of ethnic “cleansing”, and that cannot have happened without a few massacres along the way ?
    The above had to mean killing people for racial reasons. In case zionasties don’t know, this, (going by the legal definition, of genocide, not the zio – friendly, quick, shorthand version), means that Israel depends on genocide to exist, let alone for zionists to win electorally fraudulent elections.
    Where have I got something wrong?

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  14. tmma86

    Ah yes, of course walt, the whole build 104 outposts illegally, then destroy 4 and advertise them so you can claim to be doing the right thing, tell me if i’m so ignorant and your so clever, whats the ratio of illegal settlements/outposts built to those destroyed? I don’t expect an answer, just the usual changing of the subject I always get when a zionist is backed in to a corner! And for the record, no matter how you try to taint a sentence, you can never hide a true meaning! By Ancestral you imply that it is ancient, long before atheist zionists began expropriating Palestinian land, what you fail to mention is that the ancestral nature of the village is within the living memory of people who lived in what was once Al Arakiv, one of the hundreds of Arab villages ethnically cleansed between 1948-51. Just because these Bedouins refused to leave when your government ethnically cleansed them the first time, doesnt mean the land somehow becomes government land!

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