Bedouin Crime Bosses Are Seeding Chaos in the Negev

Sept. 30 2022

Over one third of the Bedouin population of southern Israeli live in so-called “dispersed areas” rather than incorporated towns and villages. These are not idyllic desert encampments, but impoverished shanty towns without schools or running water. With no police presence or formal government control, power in these areas is often in the hands of mafia-like groups who terrorize their fellow Bedouin while causing problems for other Israelis. David M. Weinberg explains the problem:

The Bedouin of the Negev are the fastest-growing population in the world, doubling in size every fifteen years through mass (and illegal) polygamy, today numbering close to 300,000 people. . . . It’s no surprise, then, that these Bedouin communities suffer from extraordinary high rates of unemployment, poverty, violence against women, and especially criminal activity. Islamic radicalization is on the rise too, leading to increased Bedouin involvement in terrorism against Jewish Israelis.

Last year, Mansour Abbas of the Islamic Israeli-Arab party Ra’am . . . secured tens of billions of shekels from the Israeli government to support Bedouin development, including at-least-temporary electricity hook-ups for tens of thousands of illegal structures in squatter camps. Some thought this was a harbinger of hope for more comprehensive long-term arrangements and solutions. In fact, on [a] study tour this week, I saw hundreds of government-developed plots of land (with all necessary modern infrastructure in place) ready for home construction in Bedouin towns like Hura—except that they remain empty and unused. . . . Why?

Broad clan-based Bedouin criminal gangs control just about anything that moves or wants to move in the Negev. They “regulate” the allocation of plots in every township and on every sand dune; they “own” the large business sectors in the south (including arms smuggling, drug manufacture and trade, trucking, and the “supply” of Palestinian women from Gaza and the West Bank for Bedouin men). And they prevent any Bedouin from the “dispersed” areas from moving into towns like Hura, especially if those that don’t belong to the right Bedouin clan or pay enough to the local Bedouin chieftain.

Most frightening of all, these Bedouin mafiosi run Negev-wide protection rackets, forcing Israeli Jewish residents of the south and their businesses to pay through the nose to ward off violence and destruction.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Bedouin, Israeli Arabs, Negev

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship