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In 1838, Congress voted to displace 12,000 Cherokee from their native land. Israel’s “Prawer Plan” currently being debated in the Israeli Knesset will do the same to 40,000 of its own Bedouin citizens.

President Andrew Jackson's Case for the Indian Removal Act
December 8, 1829 Toward the aborigines of the country no one can indulge a more friendly feeling than myself, or would go further in attempting to reclaim them from their wandering habits and make them a happy, prosperous people. I have endeavored to impress upon them my own solemn convictions of the duties and powers of the General Government in relation to the State authorities. For the justice of the laws passed by the States within the scope of their reserved powers they are not responsible to this Government. As individuals we may entertain and express our opinions of their acts, but as a Government we have as little right to control them as we have to prescribe laws for other nations… And is it supposed that the wandering savage has a stronger attachment to his home than the settled, civilized Christian? Is it more afflicting to him to leave the graves of his fathers than it is to our brothers and children? Rightly considered, the policy of the General Government toward the red man is not only liberal, but generous. He is unwilling to submit to the laws of the States and mingle with their population. To save him from this alternative, or perhaps utter annihilation, the General Government kindly offers him a new home, and proposes to pay the whole expense of his removal and settlement. . . .

Israeli Government’s Case for the Begin/Prawer Plan
November 4, 2013 Recognizing that the Bedouin of the Negev need assistance, the government of Israel created a comprehensive policy - called the Begin Plan - aimed at improving their economic, social and living conditions, as well as resolving long-standing land issues… There have been attempts to attack the Begin Plan ...This opposition is unfortunate, particularly for the Bedouin who will benefit greatly from the Begin Plan. This new policy constitutes a major step forward towards integrating the Bedouin more fully into Israel's multicultural society, while still preserving their unique culture and heritage. Most importantly, the Begin Plan guarantees a better future for Bedouin children. No longer will they have to reside in isolated shacks without electricity or proper sewage. Now they will live closer to schools and will be able to walk home safely on sidewalks with streetlights, alongside paved roads. They will have easier access to health clinics and educational opportunities. Their parents will enjoy greater employment prospects, bettering the economic situation of the whole family. To oppose the Begin Plan is to oppose improving the lives of Bedouin children.

A special blessing for candle lighting
Baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech ha’olam, asher yatzar or b’choshech, shir b’maavak, v’kehila b’yimei milchama . Blessed is the holiness that fills creation, which creates light in darkness, song in struggle, and fellowship in times of war.

Candle 1: A light on the history of the Bedouin in the Negev/Naqab
Bedouin have lived in the Negev/Naqab since the 7th century. Before the establishment of the state of Israel, about 92,000 Bedouin lived in the Negev. By the end of the war in 1948, only around 11,000 Bedouin remained.

Candle 2: A light on the “unrecognized villages”
By the 19th century, the historic villages of the Bedouin were largely fixed and stabilized, with privately owned and collectively held pastures. Some 35 historic villages are now deemed “unrecognized villages” by the State of Israel and denied access to all basic services including water, electricity, schools and health clinics. Meanwhile, in 2011 the Knesset retroactively authorized 60 Jewish villages that were built without proper permits.

Candle 3: A light on the numbers
The Bedouin currently make up 30% of the population of the Negev/Naqab, but are requesting recognition of their land claims on just 5% of the land of the Negev/Naqab.

Candle 4: A light on discriminatory policies and practices
The 70,000 Negev Bedouin living in the unrecognized villages are citizens of Israel who are forbidden from building, buying or selling a home, receiving full government services, or running for or voting in local government elections.

Candle 5: A light on the JNF
The Jewish National Fund (JNF), owns 13% of the land and explicitly only allocates it to Jews. The JNF is currently engaged in a $4 billion "Blueprint Negev" project to ensure that the area has a majority Jewish population. Their plan includes economic development projects that seek to attract young Jewish Israelis and Jewish westerners to the Negev.

Candle 6: A light on rural life
Rural life is not incompatible with modernity. Bedouin citizens of Israel should be given the right to choose whether they wish to continue their pastoral livelihoods in rural communities or move their families to cities, but should not be denied access to basic services or the comforts of modern life.

Candle 7: A light on International resistance
International human rights groups are raising their voices against Prawer. and Jewish Voice for Peace have together gathered over 30,000 signatures against Prawer. More than 775 rabbis, cantors, and rabbinical and cantorial students signed a letter opposing Prawer which was delivered to the Knesset.

Candle 8: A light on the Bedouin communities’ alternative plan
Bedouin communities and Israeli human rights groups have put together principled guidelines for recognizing the villages instead of moving forward with the Prawer Plan’s mass forced displacement. These guidelines call for gradual recognition of Bedouin villages, ensuring access to education and housing, and an end to discriminatory planning. WWW.JVP.ORG/STOPPRAWER