Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Negev Bedouin rally in Tel Aviv against government-approved relocation plan

Protesters object to the cabinet's approval of plan addressing ongoing dispute between the state and the Bedouin over land ownership rights.

By Zafrir Rinat, Ha'aretz, Sept. 20, 2011

Negev Bedouin who oppose new government proposals to relocate some of the region's Bedouin residents and give official status to other currently unrecognized Bedouin communities brought their protests to Tel Aviv on Monday. They were joined by several hundred additional activists, including representatives of organizations active in social and human rights issues.

The protesters are objecting to the cabinet's approval two weeks ago of a plan that would address the ongoing dispute between the state and the Bedouin over land ownership rights. Although the plan grants official recognition to some unrecognized Bedouin communities, it also calls for the relocation of 30,000 Bedouin to recognized villages.

Monday's demonstration started at a building on Rothschild Boulevard that has become a center of the social protest movement. Among those attending the gathering was Sheikh Sayah Al-Turi of the unrecognized Al-Arakib village, which has been demolished and rebuilt 29 times. From there, the demonstrators marched to the government offices in the vicinity of the Defense Ministry headquarters.

"We have to tell the truth. Did we invade the State of Israel or did the State of Israel invade our land and the land of our ancestors when the state was established?" Al-Turi asked, adding that while the Bedouin wanted to forget what happened with the establishment of Israel in 1948, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted to revive the issue.

"[Netanyahu] said the Arabs in Israel have a high standard of living, but I live in a village without running water, electricity or medical services," the Bedouin leader said in reference to his unrecognized village. Al-Turi said the Bedouin were not prepared to move to other land.

"I don't understand how Netanyahu wants to make peace with the Palestinians and with the Arab countries if he is incapable of creating good relations with the Arab citizens of his country," Al-Turi added.

Photo: Bedouin protesting in Tel Aviv on Monday. Sign says, “Bedouin land taken, given to cronies.” Photo by: Moti Milrod

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Discrimination against Bedouin in Israel reaches unprecedented scale in the Netanyahu govt's new plan - Policy Brief offers an alternative solution

The Campaign for Bedouin-Jewish Justice joins with the Association for Civil Rights (ACRI) and the many in Israel who were appalled to learn that the Netanyahu government voted on Sept. 11, 2011 to approve the Praver Plan to address the problem of unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev.

Rather than recognizing the systemic violations of the rights of the Bedouin, the Praver Plan continues the discrimination of one of the most disadvantaged communities in Israel, at the very time when a mass Israeli protest movement has been calling for social justice for all citizens.

The Praver Plan, which was prepared without any consultation whatsoever with the Bedouin community in the unrecognized villages, will lead to the needless uprooting of tens of thousands of Bedouin from their homes, in flagrant violation of their human and civil rights.

An Alternative Master Plan, submitted by the Regional Council of Unrecognized Bedouin Villages and Bimkom - Planners for Planning Rights, proposes to keep all 35 unrecognized villages intact and to connect them to infrastructure and services, while saving Israel massive amounts of resources necessary for uprooting villages that have existed since before the State was established.

Only an approach based on respect for the human rights of the Bedouin population, that includes them in the process, will bring about a lasting solution for all residents of the Negev, both Arabs and Jews.

The Campaign for Bedouin-Jewish Justice is working with our allies in Israel - including the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Rabbis for Human Rights, Bimkom, and the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality - to build support in Israel and the U.S., both with the public and with NGO and government officials, for the Alternate Master Plan and to stop the Praver Plan.

To Read the 4-page summary Policy Brief on this issue, click here.

The Policy Brief, titled “Principles for Arranging Recognition of the Bedouin Villages in the Negev,” provides an overview of the Negev Bedouin, the Goldberg and Praver Plans, and guiding principles for the proposed alternative solution.

Help support our efforts to stop the expulsion of tens of thousands of Bedouin in Israel, gain recognition for the Negev Bedouin villages, and ensure respect for the human rights of the Bedouin citizens of Israel.

Jerusalem Post editorial criticizes Netanyahu govt's new plan for the Negev Bedouin

The new plan approved this week by the Netanyahu government on the Negev Bedouin “contains a number of critical faults that, if not addressed swiftly, could lead to a further deterioration of relations with an increasingly alienated Beduin community.

"Beduin have already vowed to call a general strike in protest against the plan, and other Arab Israelis might join in. At a time when Israel is facing numerous challenges abroad, from Turkey and Egypt to the Palestinian bid for statehood in the UN, it would be highly advisable to avoid a clash with the Beduin, a population that is rapidly growing (the average Beduin woman has between five and six children) and is relatively loyal (many Beduin men serve in the IDF)."

The Negev Beduin

Jerusalem Post - EDITORIAL


While it might not be realistic to meet all demands, a more serious effort needs to be made on the part of the gov't to open up channels of communication with the Beduin community in the Negev.

The Beduin population of the Negev has a list of genuine gripes against a cabinet decision Sunday to evacuate tens of thousands of Beduin from “unrecognized” villages such as al-Arakib and Tavil Abu Jarwal and resettle them in “recognized” and relatively urbanized locations such as Rahat, Hura, Tel Sheva and Kuseife.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was right when he stated that “given the situation in the Negev, the time has come to act.”

Unfortunately, the NIS 6 billion, five-year plan approved this week contains a number of critical faults that, if not addressed swiftly, could lead to a further deterioration of relations with an increasingly alienated Beduin community. Beduin have already vowed to call a general strike in protest against the plan, and other Arab Israelis might join in.

At a time when Israel is facing numerous challenges abroad, from Turkey and Egypt to the Palestinian bid for statehood in the UN, it would be highly advisable to avoid a clash with the Beduin, a population that is rapidly growing (the average Beduin woman has between five and six children) and is relatively loyal (many Beduin men serve in the IDF).

Conflict with the Beduin might also have international ramifications. Prof. James Anaya, the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, recently issued a report criticizing the Israeli refusal to recognize the rights of Beduin to land in the Negev.

The State of Israel has a moral obligation to provide the 200,000-strong Beduin population of the Negev with basic services such as roads, water, electricity and garbage collection. Besides, their demands are not outrageous.

They make up about 30 percent of the population of the Negev and if all their land demands of about 600,000 dunams (60,000 hectares) – in addition to about 200,000 dunams already recognized by the state back in 2003 – are met they would receive a total of 5% of the land in the Negev.

In October 2007, former Supreme Court justice Eliezer Goldberg was chosen to head an eight-man committee that included two Beduin representatives living in “recognized” villages in the Negev.

In December 2008, the Goldberg Committee presented a list of recommendations worded in conciliatory language. Statements such as “there is no justification for the state to treat the Beduin residents in these communities differently from the way it treats the rest of the citizens of the state,” and that Beduin have a “historic connection” to the Negev were received positively by the Beduin community as a basis for dialogue, though certain aspects of the report were criticized.

Where possible, wrote the Goldberg Committee members, an effort should be made to recognize the dozens of “unrecognized” villages throughout the southeastern Negev in the triangle created by Beersheba, Dimona and Arad, where the vast majority of Beduin now live, after being expelled from the western Negev in the years following the establishment of the state. The committee also recommended a generous compensation program in cases where recognition was unfeasible.

But for two years none of the Goldberg Committee recommendations were implemented. Eventually, a new body, the Prawer Committee, was formed. Devoid of Beduin representation, the Prawer Committee issued recommendations that were eventually adopted by the cabinet and have turned out to be bad for the Beduin.

As pointed out by Dr. Suleiman Abu Bader, director of the Robert Arnow Center For Bedouin Studies and Development at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, perhaps the biggest flaw in the Prawer Committee was its “top down approach” that made absolutely no attempt to incorporate the Beduin community in the decision-making process.

While it might not be realistic to meet all demands, a more serious effort needs to be made on the part of the government to open up channels of communication with the Beduin community in the Negev. Perhaps it is not too late to return to the positive atmosphere created by the Goldberg Committee’s approach that came close to striking a balance between recognition of Beduin historic rights to land in the Negev with the Zionist ideal of settling the area with Jews and “making the desert bloom” with the fruits of Jewish labor.

Monday, September 12, 2011

NYC Lunch and Learn - 9/23: The New Netanyahu Gov't Plan for the Negev Bedouin: A Harsh Blow to Human Rights in Israel

A discussion with

Dr. Yeela Livnat Raanan

Former Director of Bedouin Rights Advocacy, Shatil: Leading Social Change, An Initiative of the New Israel Fund, Beersheva, Israel

Date: Friday, September 23, 2011

Time: 12:30-1:30 pm

Location: Offices of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America / Human Rights First, 333 Seventh Avenue, 13th Floor, New York, NY

Bring your lunch; desert will be provided.
RSVP to:

Dr. Livnat Raanan will explain the new plan for the Negev Bedouin community just approved by the Netanyahu government, and now being debated by the Knesset. If enacted by the Knesset, the plan will involve expelling 30,000 Bedouin from their homes, demolishing 20 “unrecognized” villages. It will deprive the 200,000-strong Bedouin population of much of their land and livelihoods, containing the entire Bedouin community in a small part of the Negev. Dr. Livnat Raanan will report on the great challenges facing Israel’s most disadvantaged community, discuss possible scenarios and lay out a different approach that human rights groups in Israel and the US are urging the Israeli government to adopt.

Sponsored by the Campaign for Bedouin-Jewish Justice: A Project of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America and the Jewish Alliance for Change, and Jewish Voice for Peace

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Israel approves plan to uproot 30,000 Bedouin, by Joseph Dana, +972 Magazine

The approval of the ‘Prawer Plan’ concerning Bedouins in the Negev desert demonstrates that Israel’s principle of divide and rule, which has been perfected in the West Bank and Gaza, also applies to citizens of Israel living inside 1948 boundaries.

Perhaps the most violent component of Israel’s control over non-Jewish inhabitants since the founding of the state has been the (unequal) distribution and allocation of resources. In Area C of the West Bank, the area designated for full Israeli military and civilian control by the Oslo accords which makes up the majority of land in the occupied territories, Israel has demonstrated its ability to control the Palestinians of the West Bank through the allocation of resources such as water, electricity and building permits. In the West Bank village of Susya, for example, Palestinians are forced to purchase water at rates close to 10 times higher than an Israeli living in Tel Aviv. Their wells are destroyed by Israel’s civilian administration due to lack of permits which are almost impossible to obtain and many living structures are deemed illegally built and subject to demolition.

The deprivation of resources leaves Palestinians helpless in the face of bureaucratic measures which even Kafka could not have imagined. The point of this system is clear, make Palestinian life in area C villages so unbearable that they their only option is to move into cities in Area A, under Palestinian Authority control. The unclaimed land is then expropriated by Israel using out of date Ottoman laws. This amounts to an effective use of the classic colonial practice of divide and rule given the fragmented nature of Area A cities in the West Bank and the settlements which form almost natural barrier between them.

Interestingly, this is not just happening to West Bank Palestinians. Something similar is taking place to non-Jewish citizens inside Israeli territory. This morning, Israel authorized the controversial “Prawer Plan” concerning the resettlement of Bedouins in the Negev Desert.

Authored by Ehud Prawer, head of the Policy Planning Department at the Prime Minister’s Office, the report contradicts an earlier report on how to resolve settlement issues in the Negev desert. The first report, penned by former Justice Eliezer Goldberg, demanded that Israel make every attempt to respect Bedouins living in the Negev, noting in particular the need to allow them to remain in their villages and homes.

The Prawer report, which has been criticized by the Israeli civil liberties outfit, the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, has proposed that as many as 30,000 Bedouins be removed from their homes and villages, against their will and for little reason. Removal has been approved by the government according to a report in today’s edition of Haaretz (Hebrew).

The decision to evacuate as many as 30,000 Bedouins and relocate them to large Bedouin towns such as Rahat, Khura and Ksayfe with some financial compensation has been called by some a “declaration of war on the Bedouin.” It is actually a long time coming if the experience of the Bedouin village of al Arakib is any indication. The village has been destroyed almost 30 times by Israel in an effort to make way for a new Jewish National Fund forest in its place.

During the height of the hopeful J14 tent protests this summer, demands for better Bedouin rights could be heard filling conversations even in the heart of Tel Aviv’s Rothschild boulevard tent encampment. However, hope has taken a backseat in recent days as many of the tent protesters’ demands for Bedouin rights have been dropped, ignored or simply disappeared.

Israel policies of divide and rule, based on classical colonial principles, are not limited to its occupied populations. The adoption of the Prawer plan by the Israeli government has shown that Israel uses this mechanism of control to subjugate all non-Jewish inhabitants under its control from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea regardless of the status of their citizenship.

Reprinted from +972 Magazine

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Netanyahu gov't to approve plan to contain Negev Bedouin, forcibly relocating 30,000 people, reducing Bedouin land by two-thirds

"The plan is to concentrate them in certain areas, where they will receive land and till it…"

No, these are not the words of a Czar regarding the future of the Jews in the land. These are the words of David Rotem, an Israeli Member of Knesset from the Yisrael Beitenu party, deciding the future of the Bedouin, citizens of Israel, and the indigenous people of the Negev. His version of the Praver plan will be voted on by the Israeli government on Sunday, September 4th. (Link to Hebrew, "On the way to approval: large cut in lands for Bedouin, YNET, 9/1/11).

[Editor's note: The first report in Ha'aretz's English edition online whitewashed the story, omitting key passages from the Hebrew version, as we show here. About forty-eight hours later Ha'aretz English edition published an updated story under the headline: "Negev Bedouin to ask UN for help to quash Israeli transfer plan; Cabinet delays vote on plan to move thousands to recognized Negev towns," 9/5/11, which rectified some of the omission, but still left out some of the most provocative portions of the original Hebrew edition report.]

I don't know where to begin…

That the Bedouin have owned and used the Negev land for centuries before the establishment of the state of Israel?

That since the establishment of the state of Israel, their wish has been to become a legitimate part of their state?

That the policies of the state of Israel over the last 60 years have brought them to penury, living in tin shacks, at the threat of even these being demolished at the whim of a bureaucrat?

That the land they are holding on to now is no more than 3% of the Negev lands – and that the policies of oppression and destruction are in order to further reduce these lands to only 1.5% of the Negev land.

That on average a Bedouin farmer can use no more than 3 dunams (1 dunam = 1/4 of an acre) to support his family of 10, while a Jewish farmer in the Negev has no less than 30 dunams, and at times even 1,000?

So let’s remember how we got to where we are now:
  • Retired Supreme Court judge Eliezer Goldberg listened to many voices, and together with a small committee put together "the Goldberg Report" in 2008 under the auspices of the Olmert Government. This report, while using positive rhetoric, such as "the villages must be recognized, as much as possible," also recommended that Bedouins should not receive land beyond Route 40, re-establishing the norm that Bedouins, while being citizens, are not really a fully legitimate part of our country. The Bedouin community, which had fully cooperated with the Goldberg committee, was disappointed.
  • In developing this new plan, NO BEDOUIN were consulted. NONE. Creating a plan for a community, without even thinking of considering their voice, is a strong statement – indicating that Israel still perceives the Bedouin as less than citizens. It also means that the chance of implementing the plan is really low.
  • The Praver plan includes massive violent enforcement, concentration, no clear statement as to the recognition of villages, use of "divide and rule" tactics intended to split the community, and no option for the community for negotiations. The end result was to be – reduction of actual use of land by the Bedouin community from 300,000 dunams to no more than 200,000.
  • Naturally, the leadership in the Bedouin community felt betrayed yet again, and together with organizations such as ACRI (the Association for Civil Rights in Israel) and Bimkom: Planners for Planning Rights, expressed their disapproval of this plan. But, evidently, that was not important to Prime Minister Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu: his concern was the criticism from the Right.
It is with sadness, disappointment and a feeling of intense distaste that I write of the next steps decided upon by Netanyahu:
  • Netanyahu gave Yaakov Amidror, the director of the National Security Council (NSC), the mission to "correct" Praver's plan. Yet again, the Bedouin are treated not as citizens, but as a security issue. In addition, Foreign Minister Liberman assigned MK David Rotem, Chairman of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee in the Knesset, to study the plan, and insure it is in accordance with his party’s (Yisrael Beitenu’s) line.
  • MK Rotem is demanding that the maximum amount of land allowed to remain in the hands of the Bedouin be no more than 100,000 dunams, and that another 300 paramilitary police be assigned to enforce the relocation and containment of the Bedouin.
  • There are 100,000 Bedouin living today in the villages, an agricultural people and young population with an annual growth of about 5%. The entire land they utilize is 300,000 dunams – used for their homes, their livestock, and their agriculture. Rotem is demanding that it be reduced to 100,000 dunams. By contrast 50 newly established Jewish single family ranches in the Negev have received about 1,000 dunams each from the State. The words of MK Rotem "...concentrate them, there they will till their land", are extremely ironic pending this planned process of dispossession.
MK David Rotem's opinions on Arabs are well known. For example, he presented a law conditioning Israeli citizenship on service in the Israeli army. Now the Bedouin – who have no say in the plans for their future within their own country – have to accept the plans created for them by a person of MK Rotem's views.

I don't believe it is possible, even with the use of massive force: police brutality, bulldozers, arrests, fines, demolitions, and village erasures – to evict the Bedouin from their lands and contain them.

We are about to step into a very dark era in Israeli history, making the Bedouin community suffer tremendously before the government will change its ways.

Eventually, at some time in history, Israel will realize that its treatment of its Bedouin population must be one of inclusion and dignity. But I am fearful of what will happen until then.

For more updates see the website of Dukium, the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality, a group of concerned Arab and Jewish residents of the Negev engaged in collaborative Jewish-Arab efforts in the struggle for civil equality and the advancement of mutual tolerance and coexistence.

Please take initiative and do what you can to help change Israel's treatment of its Bedouin population.

Recognition Now calls on the Government of Israel to integrate the Arab-Bedouin community of the Negev into the region based on the principles of partnership, equality, human rights, and a future of prosperity for all the Negev residents.

For more information: Dr. Awad Abu-Frieh,,
Halil El-Amour,

الاعتراف الان
Recognition Now
הכרה עכשיו
اللجنة الشعبية لحقوق العرب في النقب הוועד הציבורי למען זכויות הערבים בנגב
ص. ب 5730 بئر السبع ת"ד 5730 באר שבע

English edition of Ha'aretz whitewashes Israeli govt plan to expel 30,000 Negev Bedouin

The English edition of Ha'aretz has again whitewashed a major story about the Negev Bedouin from the Hebrew edition: the sub-head in the Hebrew reads in part (omitted from the English version):

"The plan involves evacuating 30,000 people from their homes. Bedouin: 'This is a declaration of war.'"

Is Israeli reality too ugly for delicate Western ears?

The English headline sounds positively charming, as if this is all good: "Israeli cabinet set to vote on approval of unrecognized villages," a headline which grossly misrepresents what the Israeli government is about to approve: the NON-RECOGNITION OF MOST BEDOUIN VILLAGES AND THE FORCIBLE EXPULSION OF THEIR RESIDENTS. (For background on this vote on the "Praver Plan," see "Cabinet Ministers will vote on the evacuation of 30,000 Bedouin from their homes," Ha'aretz Hebrew edition translation by Campaign for Bedouin-Jewish Justice).

And the English version omits the sub-head in the Hebrew original which makes clear that the Netanyahu-Lieberman government's plan involves forcibly relocating 30,000 Bedouin Israelis. This fact is relegated to the last sentence of the English version, and is attributed to the NGO Bimkom, relegating it to secondary importance, as if it isn't a significant facet of the government's plan - not worthy of a headline.

Ha'aretz has belatedly rectified these omissions by publishing in the English edition a report under the headline: "Negev Bedouin to ask UN for help to quash Israeli transfer plan; Cabinet delays vote on plan to move thousands to recognized Negev towns," 9/5/11.

Israeli social protest leader tells 300,000 at TA rally: whether you're an evacuee from Gush Katif, or Bedouin, situation must change

Dafni Leef, who founded the "J14" social justice protest movement, spoke at length to 300,000 Israelis "about solidarity between all sectors in Israeli society, a new civic identity, and a political movement free of the right-vs-left discourse." Over 450,000 Israelis marched at protests for social justice held all over the country.

Whether you’re an evacuee from Gush Katif (in Gaza) or a Bedouin, she said, or a child whose parents can’t afford to send him on a school trip, the situation for you, too, must change.

Here is Dafni Leef's inspiring speech to the largest protest in Israel's history:

Speech given at mass rally in Tel Aviv’s Kikar HaMedina 3 September 2011
Daphni Leef was the person who initiated the J14 movement in Israel by pitching the first tent.

Hebrew original - Translated by Sol Salbe of the Middle East News Service, Melbourne, Australia

Something tremendous, something huge has happened during this summer. Summer 2011 has been the great summer of Israel's new hope. This hope was born, as many hopes are born out of a sense of despair, of alienation. It was born out of the disparities that none of us could handle; disparities that have become well-nigh insurmountable.

The Israeli society that is present here - and, it is important to say, that part of Israeli society that had chosen to stay at home tonight – has reached its red line. Then it rose up and said: Enough! No more! You can fool some people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time. This summer we woke up and refused to march towards the precipice with our eyes shut. This summer, we opened our eyes, and those eyes are not going to close again.

We have chosen to be. We are not invisible. If they can only understand numbers, then I would remind them today that there are more than seven million people, and every one of those people has a heart. There used to be a sign at Rothschild Boulevard [home of the original encampment-tr] that said: every heart is a revolutionary cell. It's true. Each of us forms a one person’s campaign headquarters.

We were confronted with a great obstacle course this summer. What hurdles didn’t they place in front of us. In what way didn’t they try to break us apart. The first thing they said about us was that we were spoiled kids who ate Sushi and smoked the hookahs. From that we learnt that our elected officials instinctively choose not to treat our actions with respect. Their first reaction was to say - it's nothing, nothing significant, just a bunch of kids. At that stage we only had the Rothschild encampment. They called us vague and dreamy. The resulting outcome: tent encampments were popping up all over the country. They had no choice but to figure it out that this is something bigger, something that belonged to all of us.

A miracle has happened here.

My generation grew up with the sense of being alone in the world. It's us facing the screen. The other is our enemy, which is our competitor. We grew up with the feeling that we live in a race which could not win; that we cannot lean upon on anyone else. We were taught that it was either you or the other. That’s capitalism – a competition that never ends. The fact that it is precisely this generation - the most solitary and withdrawn generation – that stood up and took action is nothing short of miraculous. The miracle of Summer 2011. Ergo, everything that we thought, everything that they taught us is not true! What happened here is precisely what needed to happen.

We were all closed in, each one in their own circle, the circle of dissatisfaction, of a sense of absurdity. And suddenly we started to talk, and more importantly, we started to listen.

So they told us that we were the extreme Left. They tried to pigeonhole us. How do they know who I am? How do they know who you people are? Where did they get the hutzpah to make those assertions anyway? The best answer to their contention did not come from me and my friends. It came from the encampments that were established in the Hatikva neighbourhood, Jesse Cohen, Kiryat Gat, Kiryat Shmona, Modi’in, Rahat, Qalansawe, in Jerusalem, Haifa, Beit Shean and Yeruham and dozens of other places. All of us right throughout the country understood that there is no Left or Right, we all had to serve.

They told us go to the periphery. What a terrible and condescending statement. What exactly is "Go to the periphery"? This contention seems to suggest that there are no people there, only wilderness and silence. And you know what, how fortunate we were that they sent us to the periphery. We discovered there what we had already known - the whole country is full of pounding hearts. I went there and found new friends, for life.

And anyhow what exactly is "Go to the periphery"? The State of Israel has been banging up the periphery in a systematic and orderly fashion from the day it was founded till today. Look at Education, health, infrastructure, housing, welfare, culture saying "go to the periphery" is the height of hypocrisy. To speak of this periphery is to remain stuck in the old repulsive discourse. It’s the discourse that tells people that they are being shunted to the sidelines: you are a long way away, your needs are not as important, your demands are not as important. This summer we have proven to everyone that there is no such thing as the periphery – We are all at the centre! Every single one of us! We have reduced the physical distance between us and we found that it is a good thing, we want to stay close. They will fail to split us apart.

Then came the security escalation. But even the missiles that landed did not destroy this protest movement. On the contrary - they showed just how strong and how genuine is the movement. The fact that we did not fold over, and I have said that before, is the most exciting thing about this protest. The time has come for the term “security situation” to cease being an intrinsic value. It needs to revert what if is – a situation , and a situation that needs to be changed.

Missiles fell and we were quiet for a few days, we marched in silence. And then they spoke and said that the protest is fading out. Instead of recognising the fact that we empathised with the pain of a million Israelis living under the threat of missiles, that we felt the hurt of the people who were killed and wounded and whose homes were destroyed. But instead of understanding that we are with those Israelis, instead of seeing that silence comes from love, they said that "the protest is ebbing". They tried to turn our solidarity into a manifestation of folding down.

Frankly, it was sad. How does any Israeli government dare engage in such divide-and-rule games. This is the government has forsaken its residents - the elderly , the sick, the immigrants, the weak. How can it then come to us with such a claim? Israeli governments have divided us for years, and when we finally joined up together and indicated that we are no longer willing to just sit there and gaze at the television, they told us that we lack a sense of solidarity? We lack solidarity? Look at what is going on???

When one talks about security, one talks about securing the life of human beings - how does this square up with the Israeli government's policy of abandonment of its citizens?

I'm 25 years old and my most memorable memories are of this country: the Second Lebanon War, the terrorism of the Second Intifada, friends who were killed then, the Rabin assassination and Gilad Shalit. Not to mention that I belong to the third generation of the Holocaust. That is the state of my consciousness - moments and memories that are all intertwined with death, bereavement, pain, fear, the feeling that everything is temporary.

Proud to be Israeli

At the Afula rally [on 13 August] I saw someone holding a sign: "I have been proud to be an Israeli had 31 days". Well, I am standing in front of you here and I've been proud to have been Israeli for seven weeks. I feel that between us we're putting together our self-esteem as a society. To saythat I deserve something means that the other also deserves it as do all of us. This summer brought a lot of good moments and memories - of hope, of change, of fraternity, of listening.

A discourse of life has been created here. This is the most important awakening here. We are not here just to survive, we are here to live. We are not here just because we have no other place to go to. We're here because we want to be here. We choose to be here, we choose to be in a good, just society. We want to live in a society; we don’t want to be a collection of disjointed individuals each sitting in front of one box called a television, and every four years, place a piece of paper in another box, called the ballot box.

We are here, not because we have no other country. We're here because this is the country we want. Without any of us noticing it, people have began returning from abroad. Suddenly there as a feeling around that something is happening, something that nobody wants to miss.

We have created a new discourse here. This is what the new discourse is about: we have replaced pity with compassion. We’ve replaced charity with justice, handouts with welfare, and consumer with citizen. Instead of talking about waiting we talk about changing and instead of talking about being alone we talk about being together. It's the biggest thing we did here this summer. I don’t know what you think, my friends, but I think the process is irreversible. We will not go back! We are marching forward, towards a better future, a more just country. “Social justice.”

We are all trapped in some sense in terms of our social status, where we live, our religion, and gender. Then I realised it is not just that we're imprisoned, it is that they have locked us up. We all have an overdraft, but us having an overdraft is in the interest of the banks, it’s in the interest of the country's entire economic system. It’s in their interest to keep us in some form of distress. This because when there is distress there is no hope, and when there is no hope there is no prospect for change and when there is prospect for change there is nothing to live for. But this summer, day after day, week after week, we went out into the streets and made it clear, not only to the government, but also to ourselves, that there is something to live for! And once we understood that, once we started to think about tomorrow together, we were all set free!

Because things must change

What will happen tomorrow? Everyone asks what will happen tomorrow. What about the tents, what will happen with the protest movement? Where are we heading and what we are doing and what’s next and saw on. All this yearning for a fateful day, a victory picture, a decisive moment - there is no such thing, friends. Was there one fateful day in which the disparities in our society had become unbearable? Was there triumphant moment for swinish capitalism? Can we put our finger on a single privatisation that went too far? There was no such moment. It was a process. Even now, there is moment - there's a process. Our process is just starting now. We have demands to the government and its head that things must change.

If you are a resident of [the development town of] Yeruham - things must change.

If you are a child whose parents have no money for the annual school excursion - things must change.

If you are a pensioner or a Holocaust survivor - things have to change.

If you are a Gush Katif evacuee - things must change.

If you are a Bedouin - they must change.

Forty per cent of us are considered to be "financially fragile". That means that forty per cent of us cannot deal with an unexpected expense: a child dental care, a plumbing mishap, an injury. We all live on the edge, on the dot, enticed to take another loan, consume more, save less. Our life has become a war of economic survival, while the state has forsaken our pensions for stock market games, and has privatised more basic services.

Do you know which is the worst turn of phrase? It’s the little guy. There are laws against insulting a public servant, but there's no law against insulting the citizenry, and we have been insulted enough in recent years: they have pushed into poverty, played cat and mouth games with us and set us at each other. The ministers who are meant to discuss ameliorating the situation are y the very ministers responsible for, among other things, the worsening of our situation in the first place! I don’t know what you, but I do not like people laughing at me and I do not like those who fudge around while dealing with me.

We have established a different discourse

The citizen is not the little guy! The citizen is the big guy! To be a citizen, a big-guy citizen, and comprehend its significance is the biggest challenge facing us. This campaign’s demands are on the realisation that are no longer willing to be “little citizens” consumers, we are no longer willing to be just a target audience, only a sector, only a decile. We will no longer willing to ensconce ourselves in our little bunkers and fight our own individual battle of existence. That era is over. From now on there is something new. Now we're together. We are demanding a change and we are demanding to be part of that change.

We have established a different discourse, a discourse of hope, of sharing, of solidarity and responsibility. I want to ask the prime minister and all politicians: Look at what happened here, look at what is happening here, is that what you want to beat? Is it something you can beat? You have been chosen by the people. You ought to be listening to the people. This protest, it gave so much hope to so many people is this the hope that you want to break? Is this what you want - to dispel the hope? You'll never succeed!

And after we had cleared all these hurdles and their spin failed, what form of attack remained in their armoury? Attack me personally. This whole thing started with a person who took action. I put up my tent in Rothschild Boulevard with a personal feeling of being or ceasing to be. A man who was very dear to me, Alex, had killed himself. He was a poet, he wrote that even if you have a heart of gold, you cannot change the world. Two months before the whole thing started he could not take being be here any more, he chose to cease being.

We all have a place

How could it be such a dreamer, an idealist, felt that he had no more room in this world? If there is no room for him in this world, than probably there is none for me either. And my heart ached. My heart was broken. What kind of world is it with no room for dreamers, idealists and poets? What kind of world is forcing them out? It's a world of poverty. We all dream and we all have the right to dream. Being poor is not only not having enough money to complete the month or being homeless. To be poor is to be so fundamentally preoccupied with these things, that you do not have the ability to dream, think, learn or hug your children.

So I started this thing. But once I started it, it is no longer just mine. It's not just my story, this is the story of multitudes of people who rose up and started to walk, rose up and began to act. We all chose to be. We chose to be here. Here we are.

This summer we learnt that we all have a place, that tomorrow would be what we'll make it to be. We don’t need somebody else to determine who we are, we know very well who we are. And after this summer we know is permitted to dream. More than that, we realised that dreaming is a must! To dream is to be!

Seven weeks ago I was 25 years old young woman struggling alone to realise her own dreams - to make films. Last week they attacked me from every direction, and almost managed to take me go back to when felt alone. I do not know what you, but I just started my protest.

I'll be here while it is necessary. I want to show Alex that yes, you can change the world, anyone can. You just need to believe, stand up and do. The responsibility is on all of us, rise up and walk and walk and talk and never give up. By us all going to the street, we found the home!