Photo Credit: Otzma Yehudit
Bulldozer removing a structure in Ma'ale Paula with Ben-Gurion's poster, Feb. 9, 2022.

A new Jewish settlement was established in the Negev Wednesday night, near the Bedouin town of Rahat and Kibbutz Shoval. It is named Ma’ale Paula, after Paula Ben-Gurion, the wife of Israel’s first prime minister – although the posters announcing the new community are adorned with Mr. Ben-Gurion’s familiar portrait, white hair blowing in the wind and all.

“The state of Israel has abandoned the Negev,” the poster declares. “There’s no governance and no sovereignty. The scattered Bedouin are spreading and the government whitewashes illegal villages and connects them to electricity.”


“Therefore, we hereby declare the establishment of a new Jewish settlement in the land of Israel: Ma’ale Paula,” the poster announces in red letters over a red background. “Now is the time for Zionism.”

Maale Paula poster / Screenshot

The poster then quotes a line from a January 17, 1955 speech by Ben Gurion: “In the Negev, the people of Israel and their state will be tested.”

For history buffs, this is the rest of the paragraph, it is quite inspiring:

For only with the cohesive effort of a volunteer nation and the planning and executing state can we measure up to the great task of blooming the wilderness and settling it. This effort will determine the fate of the State of Israel and the status of our people in the history of the human race.

In 1963, Ben-Gurion left office and moved with Paula to Kibbutz Sdeh Boker in the Negev. A man of his word.

The founders of Ma’ale Paula built temporary structures on what they claim is state land. Police rushed in the evacuate them, because, you know, it’s what they do. They brought a big water gun – which should be useful in blooming the wilderness and all. Residents of a nearby Bedouin village came to demonstrate against the openly Zionist act.

(L-R) MKs Simcha Rothman, Shlomo Karhi, Orit Strock, at the new settlement of Ma’ale Paula, Feb. 9, 2022. / Twitter screenshot

MK Itamar Ben Gvir arrived in the middle of the night and a great commotion erupted, as the local Bedouin started shouting at him. Ben Gvir did not shy from confrontation (in case you thought he would) and shouted back: “We are the landlords. It’s ours. Anyone who wants to live here, it’s fine, but we are the landlords.”

MK Ben Gvir issued a statement, saying: “The Bedouin takeover of state lands in the Negev is an illegal phenomenon that must be stopped and the solution is to establish more and more Jewish outposts that will prevent this and establish a fact on the ground, today is just the beginning.”

The mayor of Rahat, Faiz Abu Sahiban, told Haaretz: “I called the police and asked them to evacuate this outpost and the settlers as soon as possible, otherwise I can’t be sure what the consequences would be. There are calls in the city and on the social networks to get to the place and clash with the settlers.”

The activists were evacuated, which spurred the following statement from the Regavim movement, which, you’ll have to admit, is pretty funny:

Regavim movement: Evacuate Ma’ale Paula Immediately
The Regavim movement calls on the Israeli government to immediately evacuate Ma’ale Paula, along with the rest of the illegal construction in the Negev, which grows by an additional 3,500 buildings every year.
Regavim’s CEO Meir Deutsch said: “Today, too, we will remind you that what’s worse than not enforcing the law is enforcing it selectively.”

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