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December 08, 2013

NY Times Inflates Number of Bedouins Facing Relocation

Just one week ago, The New York Times correctly reported that, according to human rights groups opposed to the Prawer-Begin plan to regulate settlement in the Negev, 30,000 to 40,000 Bedouins will be relocated as a result of the controversial initiative. This figure is consistent with the number provided by Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which notes that 30,000 Bedouin living in unrecognized communities will have to move a short distance, while 60,000 more also living in unrecognized locations will be permitted to stay where they are.

Indeed, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), which opposes the plan, reports: "The plan will lead to the uprooting and forcible eviction of dozens of villages and 30-40,000 Bedouin residents." Rabbis for Human Rights, which also opposes the plan, writes that it "could potentially cause the demolition of 34 'unrecognized' Bedouin villages in the Negev and the forced expulsion to urban areas of 40,000 Israeli Bedouin."

According to the Prawer-Begin Plan itself, there are 70,000-90,000 Bedouin who currently live in unrecognized communities, and "the vast majority of residents who reside in locations that today are not regulated will be able to continue to live there in the future within formalized settlements."

So, why then, does a New York Times caption currently featured on the paper's site state the plan will "forcibly relocate about 70,000 residents from 35 unrecognized villages"?

nytimes bedouins slideshow 5.jpg

How did the figure of 30,000 to 40,000 jump to 70,000 in the space of one week? What has changed? Has the government introduced a more draconian plan? In fact, nothing has changed.

The photograph accompanies a news article which itself is highly misleading about the number of Bedouin facing displacement ("In an Israeli Plan, Bedouins See a Threat to Their Way of Life"). It reports:

There remain 35 unrecognized villages like Abdeh, with a total of 70,000 residents, who could face forced relocation. . . .

Most would get half or a quarter of the land, plus some cash. The rest of the land would be seized by the state for its own use, or redistributed to Bedouins from far-flung areas . . .

Seven paragraphs later, towards the very end of the article, the article quotes a representative of the government, reporting that Ami Tesler said "he hoped that 80 percent of the Bedouins would remain in place."

Nowhere in today's report does The Times make clear that opponents of the plan and the government, which agree on little else, both acknowledge that relocation would apply to 30,000 to 40,000 Negev Bedouin, and that another 30,000 to 40,000 (depending on which figures you accept) who live in currently unrecognized villages will be permitted to remain in place. (And according to the government, as many as 60,000 out of 90,000 Bedouin living in unrecognized communities -- the vast majority -- will be able to remain where they are.)

A New York Times source has promised CAMERA follow up on the matter.

See CiF Watch's related post.

Posted by TS at December 8, 2013 06:49 AM

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