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Being Bedouin in a Jewish State

Tuesday, April 7, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

| $5

Dispossessing Palestinian-Israeli Citizens inside Israel

Amos Gvirtz, a long-time Jewish activist in Israel on a tour of Canada and US – Don’t Say We Did Not Know – will speak to the situation of the non-Jewish population in Israel with a specific focus on the Bedouin of the Naqab or Negev and their struggle to remain on their ancestral land.

Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel, inhabitants of the Naqab desert since the seventh century, are the most vulnerable community in Israel. For over 60 years, the indigenous Arab Bedouin have faced a state policy of displacement, home demolitions and dispossession of their ancestral land. Today, 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens live in 35 villages.  The State of Israel considers the villages “unrecognized” and the inhabitants “trespassers on State land,” so it denies the citizens access to state infrastructure like water, electricity, sewage, education, health care and roads to “encourage” the Arab Bedouin citizens to give up their ancestral land.

In 2011, the Israeli government approved the Prawer Plan to destroy the unrecognized villages and force displacement of up to 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens. This plan is a gross violation of the constitutional rights of the Arab Bedouin citizens to property, dignity, equality, adequate housing, and freedom to choose their own residence. In June 2013, the Knesset passed Prawer-Begin Bill by 43 votes to 40.  The Prawer Plan continues to be implemented formally and surreptisiously despite steady protest and international condemnation from activists and governments alike.

Amos Gvirtz
Amos is a long-time Israeli peace activist.  He is among the first to refuse to serve in the Israeli army.  His peace activism has taken him to participate in many Israeli peace groups, including anti-nuclear work in Israel and among the activists who established the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.  Currently he is active in supporting the rights of the Bedouin in the Negev as a member of the Israeli Co-Existence Forum.

Amos has developed an international audience with his Don’t Say We Did Not Know weekly emails about unpublicized incidents, events, and government actions affecting the Palestinian and Bedouin communities in Israel and Palestine. His newly published book (in Hebrew), Don’t Say We Did Not Know, deals with the moral questions Israelis must face today and why they don’t want to know about the crimes being committed in their name.  He hopes to have the book translated into English and published in the US.  “Writing this book has brought me some new ideas. Some surprised me and some frighten me,” he says.

Amos is a co-founder of the local FOR (Fellowship of Reconciliation) chapter in Israel called “Israelis and Palestinians for Nonviolence” (Palestinians who have an Israeli passport).  For many years Amos has been a member of the board of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, based in Alkmar, The Netherlands.

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Need to know:
– Doors open at 6:50
– $5 donation (suggested minimum)
– Accessible on demand via portable ramp; washrooms not accessible
– Please avoid using strong-scented products due to sensitivities

Tasty refreshments (non-alcoholic) with Zatoun oliveoil+za’atar dipping.