The Happy Arab News Service

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wild South

The incident in Rehovot in which a Bedouin car thief drew a screwdriver through the neck of a police officer shocked many Israelis. Yet as The Jerusalem Post writes the surprise is misplaced. This is because:

When lawlessness is allowed to reign over an entire region, no other part of the country can expect to remain immune. The nature of violence is to spread if it is not stemmed at the point of origin. If criminals are allowed to get away with felonies in one area, they feel encouraged to expand operations elsewhere - in this case, to Rehovot.

The situation in Negev has become so lawless that it's referred to as Israel's Wild South even by police. The author of this blog has a friend from Dimona and had a short trip through the area a year ago. The thing that impresses itself most on the mind are obvious signs of a demographic bomb going off. Israeli towns in the area are encircled by makeshift Bedouin camps. The impression is that the region goes through a demographic explosion in its Bedouin sector.

And the criminal situation in the area, according to my friend, is worsening every year. It's not only about nomads stealing cars and breaking into homes. Even road signs are torn away for reasons not clear but probably because they play some role in the nomadic interpretation of the home automation's concept. The situation in Beer Sheva and elsewhere in Negev as described by the Post is shocking both by the scale of the crisis and its slide into violence. Daily robberies, thefts and stolen cars are the least of the troubles. It's the scale of protection rackets operated by Bedouins that is most shocking. It is not only entrepreneurs who are harassed but even regular homeowners. Those who refuse to pay protection fees risk to have their homes ransacked and their businesses set on fire.

In Beersheba's Emek Sarah industrial zone, stores are reportedly being raided openly, without hesitation, during daylight business hours. Pick-ups are driven through showroom windows and loaded with merchandise. Some establishments - most popular are those selling electrical appliances and building supplies - have suffered a dozen such attacks.

Insurance firms are said to be refusing to offer their services to Emek Sarah entrepreneurs. . .

The situation seems to be particularly severe because while the residents accuse police of apathy, police complains on lack of cooperation. The Post reports that a recently planned protest failed to materialize because people are just too scared to be identified and punished by the extorters. The same goes about entrepreneurs who mostly prefer to pay rackets fees than standing up to racketeers. The Post provides no statistics but it's reasonable to assume that such a situation could not have developed without people fearing direct physical violence and with a good reason.

The Knesset Interior Committee recently heard harrowing accounts from southern farmers of their plight. Some told the MKs they feel so abandoned and unprotected that they are contemplating leaving agriculture altogether. They said everything from irrigation equipment to ripe produce packed for distribution is being stolen by perpetrators who are becoming alarmingly brazen. They are also becoming increasingly violent.

Still more troubling is the evidence that some of these same Bedouin gangs, with this increasing proclivity to violence, are responsible for much of the smuggling across the border with Egypt.

The farmers told the Knesset committee that the rolling fields of Israel's south seem to be outside the law and beyond control. They warned that if the scourge is not quickly addressed, it will spread northwards.


In fact, as the Post reasons, what happened in Rehovot signals that the situation is already getting out of control and spreading northwards. The fact that Israelis may feel so massively threatened in their own homes without the authorities moving a finger about it or the issue becoming a central debate in the media indicates in what a disarray this society currently is.

Yet the apathy and indifference with which Israeli society and its political establishment treat the growing problem of Bedouin unlawfulness in the South is just a part of the general indifference to all kinds of threats, mostly of demographic nature, coming from Israel's Muslim/Arab sector. Israel has grown to become so paralyzed by the politically correct that discussing such issues at the national level is close to impossible now and those who try to do it are immediately attacked with accusations in racism by leftist watchdogs.

Yet demographics are very important especially given the tremendous Sunni Shia civil war unfolding in Iraq and the fact that two of our neighbors, Lebanon and the Palestinians, may be sliding into their own civil wars. As far as the Palestinians are concerned they are almost there already. Given the utter failure of the Arabs, when left to their own devices, to live peacefully with each other, it's highly intriguing why so many Israelis are so sure that they can do it any better with the same Arabs. The real danger for Israelis is not only to lose their majority but to get a civil war with their Arab minority emboldened by its swelling numbers.

In fact it's not for nothing that the Arab share of Israel's population has been always hovering around 20% since 1948. It testifies to the extreme demographic robustness of the Arab sector that holds out against all 'aliyot', big and small, whether they are from Morocco or from Russia. More than one million 'Russians' came to Israel over the last 15 years. Yet the Arab sector survived them all, stuck at 20%. It's hard to believe that the coming decades will bring massive Jewish immigrations as apart from the US heavily assimilated community, there are left not so many Jews in the world. This means that the following decades may be critical and if nothing is done we will be soon talking about something much more than 20%.

On the bright side Israeli Arabs are apparently experiencing a sort of demographic downtrend. High living and education standards are detrimental for demographics. Israeli Arabs may be lagging behind other sectors, but Israel grew so prosperous that even lagging behind in this country is a lot. I did not see any statistics recently but it's reported occasionally that the growth rates are dropping in both the Jewish and Arab sector which means that the demographic race is getting less intense though the Arab sector is still ways more demographically robust than the Israeli one.

Yet I suspect that the statistics may be misleading since they treat the Arab sector as a whole ignoring the hardcore demographically intensive nucleus forming itself in Negev. Next years may bring a gradual increase in the population growth of the Arab sector with the nomads reversing the trend. As the Bedouins' share of the general Arab population is increasing the overall growth rate will start moving closer to the Negev standards. Anyway it's only my guesses because to expect from the media an honest discussion and analysis of the demographic situation is really too much these days.

In fact it's not only the media, but at the personal level too, too many Israelis live now firmly in grip of political correctness. Yet, however hard some Israelis may try to suppress disturbing thoughts about their demographic situation, the existential fears swarming under the surface of the brave and nonchalant appearance put on by many people, are all too palpable.

The author of this blog had an interesting discussion of the demographic problems with Tsedek here. Tsedek started by expressing concern for the Jewish majority in Israel. She followed 'Nobody' all the way until 'Nobody' redefined the problem from a Jewish majority problem into an Israeli majority problem. 'Nobody' did it approaching the problem from the other side by defining who is not Israeli. The author of this blog considers Israel's Muslim Arab minority a primary source of demographic worries because of its split loyalties which largely go either to the Arab nation or to Islamic Umma. I am also of the opinion that Israeli Arabs largely cannot become Israelis because .. well.. because they are Arabs. From the moment Tsedek heard that 'Nobody' suspects Israeli Arabs in split loyalties she immediately declared that she never saw such a thing in the nature and ran away apparently in a hope that the demographic problems will somehow sort themselves out by themselves.

Well. They may.

Or they may not.

:D :D

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