Tell JNF leaders: Don't forest over the Bedouin village of Al-Araqib

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The Bedouin village of Al-Araqib in Israel’s Negev has been demolished by the Israeli government and rebuilt by its residents more than a hundred times in the last few years. Now, the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) is preparing to follow the government and plant a forest over the rubble of this village, after the government permanently expels its residents and demolishes it for the last time. Your protests stopped KKL-JNF bulldozers before. Only a massive outcry of public opposition can stop them again and save the village of Al-Araqib from being forever wiped off the map and replaced by a KKL-JNF forest.    

Enter your name and info on the right to send our letter - as is, or with your own comments, to KKL-JNF World Chairman of Daniel Atar, and JNF-USA CEO Russell Robinson, along with other JNF leaders in Canada and the U.K.    

The traditional Jewish belief is that on the High Holy Days – from Rosh Hashana through Yom Kippur – it is decided who will live and who will die in the coming year. Our tradition also teaches that our actions during this time can change our fate. This year, it is in our hands to help determine the fate of four villages in imminent danger of demolition and displacement. Though there are other villages in similar danger, Susiya and Um al-Kheir in the Occupied Territories and Um al-Hiran and Al-Araqib in the Negev have specifically called out to the Jewish community for support. Many of you took action on behalf of Susya in August. During these High Holy Days, we ask you to act to save Al-Araqib.

Many "unrecognized" Bedouin villages are in danger, and the Israeli government minister in charge of Bedouin affairs has recently threatened to go back to legislation to authorize their destruction. However, the previous minister made it clear to Bedouin leaders that, while there is room for discussing the fate of the other villages, there is nothing to talk about regarding Al-Araqib.

You already saved Al-Araqib once in 2011. Keren Kayemet-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) forests were converging on Al-Araqib from all directions. KKL-JNF didn’t set the policy, but as Araqib residents testify, the JNF trees are the soldiers carrying it out. Thousands of you wrote letters to KKL-JNF leaders. Many of you explained that generations of your family had put money in KKL-JNF "pushkes" to buy land for the Jewish people. But, you hadn't contributed in order to forest over the villages of Israeli citizens. KKL-JNF froze their forestation efforts. We believed that this would remain the case until land ownership was resolved.

We were wrong.

Last November a new international KKL-JNF board was installed. This summer, their bulldozers returned to prepare for planting lands they had been working on just before the 2011 freeze. Those members of the KKL-JNF board opposed to this work were powerless to stop it. The regional director of the Israel Lands Authority – which determines policy along with the Israeli government – made it clear they would be back in the fall to plant. We expect that to happen sometime between November and January, unless you take action now to stop it.

Enter your info and click on the right to send our letter to the leaders of KKL-JNF in Israel, the U.S. and other countries. You can send our letter as is, or add your own comments before sending.

Background: Purchase documents show that starting in 1906, the El-Turi Bedouin tribe bought from the El-Nukbi tribe the lands they’re fighting to save today. The earliest Bedouin graves in their cemetery go back to 1914, and there was a polling booth in the village for the first Knesset elections after the establishment of the State of Israel. The Israeli High Court has ordered the District Court to hear the people’s land claims. However, the village has been destroyed 103 times since 2010, and those hanging on in simple lean-tos and cars have been jailed for trespassing on their own lands. Between the multiple arrests, a case appealing the NIS 2 million bill for the first demolition, and their case to prove their ownership, the people of Al-Araqib are mired in legal debts.

Together, we can give Al-Araqib a chance to live. Speak out to JNF leaders now.