According to Harvard’s Middle East Initiatives lecture in November 2012, titled “Indigenous Challenge to Legal Doctrine: Bedouin Land Rights in Israel/Palestine,” Israel is a country that persecutes Bedouin Arabs. Oren Yiftachel, a professor at Ben-Gurion University who is best known for writing a book titled Ethnocracy that argues that Israel isn’t democratic and who frequently declares that Israel is undergoing “creeping apartheid,” spoke, in addition to Ahmad Amara, who is a BDS supporter and the head of a Palestinian organization called Karama. Both Amara and Yiftachel have co-authored a book titled Indigenous Injustice that like their lecture argues that the Bedouins are an indigenous people who are being discriminated against by Israel.

Students listening to this lecture weren’t informed that the Jewish presence in Israel predates the Bedouins by over a millennia; implying that to the contrary of what Yiftachel claimed, Bedouins cannot be compared to the indigenous peoples of Asia and Africa that were colonized by Europeans. Furthermore, none of the students at Harvard was informed by either of these two lecturers that Bedouins serve in the army, as professors in universities, and have even joined the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Pro-Israeli Bedouin voices are invisible to Yiftachel and Amara, who don’t proclaim that Bedouins enjoy more rights as citizens of Israel than they would receive in any Arab country.

Indeed, instead of being enlightened about the true status of Bedouin living within Israel, Harvard students heard from Yiftachel, Israel is a “settler state very much interested in Judaizing the land. […] The Judaizaition of Palestine has occurred over the years. Before 67, it was within the green line. After 67, it was also in the West Bank. […] Until 1947,” Palestinian geography “occupied the main center of Palestine and then, after the Nakba (Catastrophe), remained mainly in the West Bank and Gaza.” He continued, “There is a huge impact of the Nakba on the Bedouins, 87 percent of Gaza, Jordan, the West Bank.” Yiftachel asserted that the Bedouin that remain are being displaced today due to the Prawer Plan, which he implied was a continuation of the “Nakba.” It is critical to note that Yiftachel views Israel’s independence to be a catastrophe. Amara was not much better.

The Middle East Initiatives lecture in October of this year, featuring the PA’s former legal adviser Dianna Buttu, was even worse than the November lecture. Arutz Sheva reported that Buttu taught Harvard students “Qassam rockets don’t have explosive heads and cause no casualties in Israel; Grad rockets were not fired into Israel in the years 2008 or 2009; Richard Goldstone hardly retracted any portion of his eponymous report; and not one Israeli was murdered by a suicide bombing in Israel from the years 1996-2000.” Furthermore, she insisted that “the idea of Israel as a Jewish state exists solely to facilitate the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the Levant.”

As a CAMERA report vividly illustrated, none of these statements are correct. From April to May 2008 alone, 30 grad rockets targeted Ashkelon. In one such attack, a grad rocket hit a shopping mall and 90 people were injured. Not to mention that the primary accusation of Goldstone’s report that Israel intentionally targeted Palestinian civilians was retracted, implying that the raison d’être of Goldstone’s report was removed since his revisions imply that no war crimes took place. Also, between 1996 and 2000, several dozen Israelis were murdered by Palestinian suicide bombers. In fact, in March 1996, thirteen Israelis were slaughtered by a Palestinian suicide bomber outside Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv. Furthermore, Buttu’s statement regarding the “ethnic cleansing of Palestinians,” demonstrated, as CAMERA argued correctly, “profound ignorance of the history of Zionist thought, or more likely, in light of the above, a continued willingness to flatly lie to her audience.”

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Reported by: Rachel Avraham for United With Israel

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