W. Bank rabbi: Pay Beduin to move to Libya, Saudi Arabia

Rabbi Lior says state should encourage Arabs to "return to countries they came from"; Safed rabbi: Arabs want whole world to convert to Islam.

By
April 26, 2011 21:47
Rabbi Dov Lior

Rabbi Dov Lior 311. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

 
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Israel must offer cash and other incentives to encourage Beduin citizens of the state to emigrate to other parts of the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia and Libya, a West Bank rabbi said on Tuesday.

“We must launch incentives, even offering money to encourage their return to the countries they came from.

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Today there is a lot of land in Saudi Arabia and in Libya, too – there’s lots of land in lots of places,” Rabbi Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Hebron and the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, told the fourth annual Ramle Conference on Tuesday.

Lior admonished those seeking a diplomatic solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. “The Arab population is against the very existence of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, so I don’t think there is a solution that can sate their desires,” he said, adding that the issue of land ownership in Israel is “a tool used by Arabs” in their campaign against Israel.

He also said that if they are allowed to stay in Israel, “there will never be a solution [to the conflict], because they are working against our very existence.”

Organizers of the Ramle Conference said it was devoted to “holding a public debate on the uniqueness of Israel and its relations to the other peoples living both within and outside of the State of Israel.”

The theme of the conference – which was organized by the right-wing organization “Komemiyut” and sponsored in part by the Ramle municipality and the local Ramle Garin Torani, was “Land of the nation or land of all the nation’s citizens?” A small group of around a dozen protesters demonstrated outside the conference, which they called a “racism conference,” but left shortly after police arrived.

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The conference dealt mainly with the issue of “mixed cities” and what speakers described as a worrying increase in the number of Arab Israelis living in such cities and buying property and land in Israel.

They also spoke of what they described as a usurping of open areas in Israel by the Arab population, especially in the Negev.

The list of speakers did not include any Arab Israelis or Arab parliamentarians or community activists, but an organizer told The Jerusalem Post that was not by design and that they had tried to host Arab and Druse speakers but the plans fell through.

Instead, the list of speakers was heavy on rabbis and parliamentarians identified with the right wing of the Israeli political spectrum.

One of those rabbis was Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, who gained notoriety last December after he penned the so-called “Rabbis letter,” which implored Jews not to rent or sell property to non- Jews, and which was signed by over 50 rabbis from around Israel.

Eliyahu said that Israel is involved in a war over its land and its Jewish character and that “today in Israel there is another war. There is an ongoing campaign to buy up Israel’s land. Are we going to be quiet in the face of this attack?” Eliyahu dismissed claims that he is a racist, saying “whenever I’m interviewed I ask the interviewer if they would want an Arab to live in their neighborhood.

Would they feel secure? Would they trust the Arabs whose national identity is Palestinian, who identify completely with Hamas and Hezbollah?” The rabbi added that “they [Arabs] want the whole world to convert to Islam,” and warned that the violence breaking out in the Arab world should be a warning sign about “these cultural standards which we can’t allow to enter Israeli society.”

He also said that the rabbis’ letter worked in Safed, where today, according to the rabbi, no Jews are selling or renting property to non-Jews.

Pini Badash, mayor of the Negev town of Omer, also spoke at length at the conference on the issue of Beduin communities growing and spreading across the Negev, which he said has already been lost by Israel.

Badash said that “the State of Israel has no teeth” in dealing with illegal Beduin construction, and that the state must found an ad hoc court to deal with the issue of land ownership.

Badash said that financial compensation should be offered to those Beduin whose homes are ruled to be illegal, adding that the houses “must be evacuated by force; there is no other solution. No Beduin will move on his own.”

A later panel of mayors of mixed cities appeared to have a more pragmatic and measured tone, with former Lod Mayor Ilan Hariri, Acre Mayor Shimon Lankari, and Ramle Mayor Yoel Lavi speaking of the challenges of running a mixed city and the importance of equality in funding and opportunities for all citizens of such cities, Arab and Jew.

Hariri said, “You must strengthen the Arab sector and help them grow. Otherwise, if they don’t have the opportunities, you have people in the streets, and people in the streets do bad things. If we want quiet and prosperity, there must be equality.”

Lankari disagreed with contentions that the Arab population doesn’t pay municipal taxes and said that in Acre nearly 90 percent of the Arab population pays the tax, and that “we need people to reach out and bridge across the different sectors.”

He disagreed with the contention that growing Arab populations drive out residents of such cities, saying, “People won’t leave a city if it’s a quality place, no matter who their neighbors are. I live in a neighborhood with Arabs. With Arabs and Jews there will always be tensions, always, it’s built inside of us and nothing can change this. They watch Al-Jazeera and we watch Channel 10 and Channel 2, and there is nothing to do about this. If the city is strong, if the population is strong, people won’t leave the city.”

After the conference on Tuesday, Israeli Arab MK Taleb El- Sana, from the Beduin town of Tel Arad in the Negev, dismissed Rabbi Lior’s cash-foremigration offer, and instead suggested that “we are happy to pay for a one-way ticket for him to leave Israel.”

He added that “our land rights are part of our basic rights, and we wouldn’t trade them for any money in the world.”

In response to Pini Badash’s statement, El-Sana said “Badash immigrated here from Tunisia, he has no roots here.

We accept him here as a guest, but the guest is trying to expel the host.”

He added that the “Negev has room for everyone, it’s 60% of the State of Israel, and we can live here together.”

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