bedouin village, khan al-ahmar

Have you heard of the Bedouin village, Khan al-Ahmar?

This is a devastating story that has ironically made me optimistic to the possibility of peace.

It's 2018, a day and age where Israel has legal control over an area internationally recognized as Area C.

Area C has a policy that allows Israeli government officials to demolish any building, structure, or village that does not have a master plan approved by their High Court. In response to this, the people from Bedouin Villages have sent in a number of plans to be approved. They have even worked with attorneys, Israeli urban planners, and Israeli settlers to construe a sufficient plan that one may think would work for the area. Yet, every attempt has either been rejected or outrightly ignored. (Actually, only one request was formally rejected, the rest have just been ignored.)

To be clear, this is the process: if a building or anything of the sort (village, school, house, etc.) does not have a master plan approved by the Israeli government, it is vulnerable to receiving a demolition order. The order goes to the High Courts and from there a decision is made about the fate of the structure. In the same sense, master plans are submitted to the High Courts to be approved.

On February 7, 2018 the High Courts executed demolition orders for 17,000 Bedouin structures.
On May 24, 2018 the courts announced that the village of Khan al-Ahmar may be effectively demolished any day after June 1, 2018.
This is both horrible and worrisome.

The idea of a village being demolished is horrible in and of itself. Yet, what is seemingly worst is that with the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar follows the demolition of the famous 'tire-school' within it. This tire-school allowed not just the children of Khan al-Ahmar to receive an education, it allowed for children from neighboring villages to also get an education— serving 191 students in total.

The demolition of the tire school will be especially bad for the girls in the villages. In Bedouin-Muslim culture, girls are not allowed to travel far distances from their families, even when it is for the sake of receiving an education. And thus, even if they re-build the school elsewhere (as the Israelis have proposed) it will not be of significance to the young ladies in the village. They will be cut-off from any chance of receiving an education.

Further, the Israeli officials plan to move the Bedouin villagers to Al-Jabal, an urban area a ways from Khan al-Ahmar. This is problematic because the Bedouin people chose the area they are currently inhabitants of for the very reason of it being rural. The Bedouin are herders, their livelihood involves their animals, their tents, and sleeping under the stars.

This is their chosen style of living. In 2003, different human-care groups came to Khan Al-Ahmar to build homes and built them with roofs. This was pointless to them. They are not unaware of the progressions society have made, and while they would like access to water and electricity, they are entirely comfortable and happy with their way of life. Putting them in a city would be, as the saying goes, pulling a fish out of its water. They will not know how to survive.

On another note, Al-Jabal will combine all Bedouin villages into 10-acres of land. These various villages do not all get along and will all have to sell their animals in order to make the land work for them. Stripping them of their livelihood and culture, while at the same time making peace even more difficult.

If carried out, Khan al-Ahmar's demolition will serve as a symbol for many, many other villages in the area (remember there are 17,000 demolition orders). In the past, the courts would never go forward with a demolition unless there was a viable alternative for the villagers—or Palestinian people. Yet, in the case of Khan al-Ahmar they are disregarding this.

They do not care that their present plan of relocating the Bedouins will simply not work.

If they demolish Khan al-Ahmar a new precedent will be set. It will be clear that Israeli officials do not care about the future of the Palestinians or Bedouins. It will be clear that a viable alternative is not a concern to them.

And I must emphasize: this conflict has nothing to do with Israeli settlers. Although, and I think it is clear that, demolition orders are only being made for the sake of expanding Israeli settlements (there are actually a huge number of structures that do not have approved plans, yet only Palestinian structures have demolition order). That has nothing to do with the settlers themselves; there are a great number of settlers who do not want Khan al-Ahmar to be demolished. To the extent that they have come to the courts, alongside Israeli activist, to support the village.

Israel's civil defense has even stepped in and expressed many signs that they do not wish to demolish the village. They have stated that it is completely out of their hands.

Currently, Jewish settlers, activist, and allies are sleeping in the tire-school to stand in alliance with the village of Khan al-Ahmar, and what a beautiful thing that is.

It is true that the existence of Bedouins constricts Israeli expansion, and it is also true that the Bedouins were there first. But you know what? Human beings have the capacity to care about each other; human beings have the capability to compromise. Honorable Israeli individuals joining the fight of the Bedouin people are a perfect example of this.

These individuals are both Jewish themselves and strong supporters of the state of Israel. Hence, you have no business even considering calling them anti-semitic. They identify with Israel as their homeland yet they understand what may happen to the Bedouin people is wrong; they accept that the future fate of their village is under attack.

Their efforts should teach a lesson of rationality.

You can disagree with a part of something without rejecting the whole. Namely, you can say that Israel is making a mistake without saying Israel should not exist or that Israel is the worst nation in the world.

None of that is true (in my mind).

What is true is that human beings are suffering due to political impositions. All while I have strong hope that, if left alone, the citizens in the surrounding areas could make peace with one another.

Putting aside any questions of a one or two state solutions, let us consider the trust being formed between the Bedouin villagers, Israeli settlers, and citizens.

Am I crazy to think that peace is possible if approached correctly?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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