That is, if you're a Jew. If you're an Arab, however, the State may not be very interested in making sure that you live under first-world standards. Take, for instance, the Arab village of Darijat, in the Negev. This used to be one of the infamous "unrecognized villages," i.e. small population centers, mostly Bedouin, whose existence the state of Israel refuses to acknowledge. Since the villages are not on the map, they're not provided with services.
In 2004, Darijat was finally recognized by the State -- but it was not connected to either the water system or the electricity grid. The big news this week has been that after 5 years as a recognized village, Darijat is being hooked to the national water pipelines. Reports Haaretz:
Most of us do not rejoice at finding bills in our mailbox. But for the 900residents of the Bedouin village of Darijat in the Negev, the arrival of their first-ever water bills were indeed grounds for rejoicing: After 60 years without running water, the village was finally connected to the national water system two months ago.The next paragraph in the report makes clear the extent of the suffering caused by lack of running water:
Though residents say the village has existed for 100 years, it was recognized by the state only in 2004. And it took another five years before the village finally received running water.
Until two months ago, residents had to pump all their water from wells.
"Sometimes, the water would run out in the middle of a shower, or the children would have to brush their teeth in the morning and there would be no water," said Nasser, a Darijat resident. "It was very unpleasant. I paid NIS 35,000 to get a well dug and for the pumps, so that I'd have water in the house. Now I get that for free."
Running water has also eased another serious problem: the huge quantities of dust produced by the nearby quarry.Why would the State let some of its citizens' health be harmed so grievously? A partial explanation was given in 2003 by Shai Hermesh, then treasurer of the Jewish Agency and head of its effort to create a "Zionist majority" in the desert.
While technology exists to greatly reduce the amount of dust generated, it requires a regular water supply.
Hence only now that running water is available has the quarry been able to control the dust and let residents breathe easier.
The trouble with the bedouin is they're still on the edge between tradition and civilisation. A big part of the bedouin don't want to live in cities. They say their mothers and grandmothers want to live with the sheep around them. It is not in Israel's interest to have more Palestinians in the Negev.Where in the world, please tell me, can a high-ranking and respected official get away with crude stereotyping followed by a downright racist corollary? Only in Israel.
Back on topic, water is just one of the basic services. What about power? Darijat will have to wait a little longer, maybe five more years:
Now, they are hoping for the next big step: a hook-up to the electricity grid.This is in sharp contrast to what happens with illegal Jewish outposts in the West Bank, which are systematically connected to the electricity grid, as was documented by the Sasson report in 2006.
"Currently, we spend thousands of shekels a month on the generators in the village," said Abu Hamad. "We hope that soon we will have electricity in every house."
And if and when Darijat gets hooked to the power system, there will still be anywhere from 45 to 60 Bedouin villages waiting not only to be provided these basic services, but also to be recognized in the first place.
When we say that Israel can't be a Jewish state, we mean things like these. We assert that only in a binational state will all citizens be treated as equally human. We are not denying the Jews the right to a state. We are denying them the right to a state where some have plenty of water to tend to their lush gardens, while others have to breathe dust from a quarry.
Israel will be binational or it will be racist. We're fighting for it not to be racist.