Urban Ethnocracy and Structural Marginalization in Beer Sheva

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Beer Sheva is a city in the Negev desert, which was planned to be a living and leisure area, to make the desert bloom (Wiley, 2008) The immigrating settlers from Europe, the middle East and Russia, pushed the Bedouins, who were already living in this area for ages, to the margins of society (Segal, 2008). 65.000 Bedouins live in illegal settlements across the Negev as a result of the marginalization. Ehud Prawer, former head of the planning department, wants to solve this issue by demolishing the illegal settlements and forcefully migrate the Bedouins into legal planned settlements (Yiftachel, 2008). The goal of this research is to contribute to the revelation of underlying structures and bottlenecks that lead to the marginalization of the Arab Bedouins in Beer Sheva’, by analyzing interaction processes between the Zionistic and resistance movements of the Ashkenazim and the Arabs in Beer Sheva from the ’50 untill now. The theories used for this research are the theory on Ethnocracy of Oren Yiftachel, which explains that in Beer Sheva the ethnos dominates the demos (2006). Yiftachel states that in an ethnocracy the driving axle is the Judaization and resistance of the subordinated peoples, which together lead to the ethnocratic situation. Laclou and Mouffe’s see the same dynamic in their Critical Discourse Theory: The meaning on society is always changing, because of resisting meanings or according to Foucoult says through time perspective. Foucoults theory is in this research is used to understand how power is diffused and devided in discourse. And how knowledge contributes to power, because knowledge decides what is true and what is not (Foucoult, 1998). The methodology used to structure the research is the Critical Discourse method of Laclou and Mouffe. The reason for this is that the analysis aims to contribute to social change of moral equal power relations in society. Laclou and Mouffe analyse discourses, which cause social actions. Laclou and Mouffes analysis takes place on three levels: on the societal, group and identity level (Jorgenson & Philips, 2002). The societal level and group level are explained in chapter 4, 5 and 6. Here the societal and group dynamics are brought down to two ethnical dynamics in Beer Sheva between the Ashkenzim and the Bedouins: the Judaization and the resistance against it. In chapter 4 and 5 the group identity of both ethnicities is described. In chapter 7 the identity and knowledge of ten inhabitants of Beer Sheva are regarded. These are the discourses that are based to the marginalization of the Bedouins. In chapter 8 the division of power among the different levels of analysis is devided. On the societal and group level the people can be divided in two main groups: the Jews and the Arabs. In this case: the Bedouin and the Ashkenazim in Beer Sheva. The Ashkenazim, have a fear for losing the area in the Negev, to the fast growing Bedouin population (personal communication Liron, July 2013). Therefore they use Judaic organizations to legally confiscate land, where the Bedouin live. Land of which the Bedouin claim it is their ancestral land. The Ashkenazim use planning as a tool in the ethnocratic regime, to push the Bedouin to the margins of society. The Jewish use a divide and rule strategy to control the Bedouin in recognized establishments where personal or group development is very difficult. The Bedouin never get permission of the state to build on their ancestral land. Meanwhile, the Jewish get permissions to build there. Next to discrimination in planning the Bedouins are discriminated by law. The result of the discrimination is that the Bedouin towns are the most impoverished areas of Israel (Yiftachel, 2006). The unserviced Bedouins become more and more antagonistic (Yiftachel, 2010). They continue living in unrecognized villages and refuse to leave from their ancestral land. And cling on the identities, which are created by memory building (Yiftachel 2008). Their steadfastness is their way of resisting the ethnocratic regime. These dynamics protract the conflict even more (Yiftachel, 2006). Above the large societal dynamics are divided amongst ethnical lines. These are social consequences of discourses that feed these actions. The information on the discourses in this research consist of interviews of people in Beer Sheva and their positions towards meanings that create discourses: The Arabs and the Bedouin live segregated in the Beer Sheva area. The Bedouin live outside of the city, while the Ashkenazim and Mizrahim live in the city centre. The Bedouin are discriminated and have difficulties living up to the same standard as the people in Beer Sheva. The knowledge/presumptions the different ethnical groups have on each other, are based on how people were raised and educated, based on the media and on stories that go around in the area, They often contradict each other. Bedouins according to Ashkenazim are criminals. Most of the times younger Bedouin steal. They are bored and have no education and not much to do. They lost their connexion to the traditions and see what the Israelis have and what they don’t. Some Bedouins steal out of principle. They feel land is taken from them, so they will take things back, what they feel is theirs. The land is from their ancestors. They don’t need a piece of paper to prove the land is theirs. They want to live fro their crops and herds, but they don’t get enough space for this. 7 Bedouin are unwilling to pay taxes. But why would the Bedouin ay taxes if they have no access to facilities like electricity and water. They now live in the poorest municipalities of Israel: even the recognized villages very poor. According to one side, this is because the municipalities are corrupted, but according to the Bedouins, the government is not putting any effort in the villages like they do for the Jewish communities. There are almost no job opportunities in the Bedouin areas and also public transit is not available for the Bedouins like it is for the Jewish towns. The government aims to develop the Bedouin community from the traditional life to modern life, by obligate them to live in recognized villages, like everybody in Israel. Many people see this as a good solution. Opposed to his others interviewees claim that the government does not aim to help the Bedouins, but they put them in recognized villages to control the population. The Israeli are afraid of the fast reproducing Bedouins, because they are associated with Arabs. The discourse of the Ashkenazim and Mizrahim take a lead in Israel. The government uses the law to overrule the Bedouins. The Bedouins are weak, because of their difficulties to change from their traditional life to modernity. They cannot resist as a group, because the meanings towards the situation are divided. Also they don’t have the tools to represent themselves. Therefore they are negatively represented by the other ethnicities.
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