“. . . We have, friends, the right to die as we desire . . .” (Samih Al-Qasim)

Israeli policemen stand guard as bulldozers demolish homes in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev desert, on January 18, 2017. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

“We should transform the Bedouins into an urban proletariat – in industry, services, construction, and agriculture. 88% of the Israeli population are not farmers, let the Bedouin be like them. Indeed, this will be a radical move which means that the Bedouin would not live on his land with his herds, but would become an urban person who comes home in the afternoon and puts his slippers on. His children will get used to a father who wears pants, without a dagger, and who does not pick out their nits in public. They will go to school, their hair combed and parted. This will be a revolution, but it can be achieved in two generations.”  — Israeli General Moshe Dayan to Haaretz, 1963

❶ Israel demolishes Palestinian Bedouin village for 114th time

  • “Contested Indigeneity: The Development of an Indigenous Discourse on the Bedouin of the Negev, Israel.” Israel Studies.

❷ Israel blocks Bedouin road, prevents 100 kids from school

  • “Bedouins’ Politics of Place and Memory: A Case of Unrecognised Villages in the Negev.” Nomadic Peoples.

❸ The Palestinian Bedouins
❹ POETRY by Samih Al-Qasim
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
Ma’an News Agency    
June 14, 2017      Israeli forces demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev region of southern Israel for the 114th time since 2010 on Wednesday morning, and for the sixth time this year, according to Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned WAFA news agency.
___WAFA quoted witnesses as saying that officials from the Israel Land Authority (ILA), accompanied by Israeli police and bulldozers, raided the village and demolished all the tin homes in the area, which were built by the village’s residents following the most recent demolition of raid last month.
[. . . .] Al-Araqib is one of 35 Bedouin villages considered “unrecognized” by the Israeli state. According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Bedouins in the Negev reside in unrecognized villages.  MORE . . .

Frantzman, Seth J., et al. “Contested Indigeneity: The Development of an Indigenous Discourse on the Bedouin of the Negev, Israel.” Israel Studies, vol. 17, no. 1, Spring2012, pp. 78-104.
From “Conclusion”:  The development of an indigenous Bedouin identity has taken place in three key phases. It began with the initial decision by Abu-Saad, apparently influenced by his comparative work on the United States, to describe the Bedouin as an indigenous community with all the political ramification that this word contained in the 1990s. It was developed by Israeli Jewish academics and then elite Israeli Bedouin academics in the context of the international discussion regarding indigenous peoples, land rights, and ethnocracy. The last phase has seen the campaign by NGOs, academics, activists, and the Bedouin community for international recognition.
___As for the Bedouin themselves—in practice—the elite members of the community were an important instrument in re-designing and re-modeling the public debate and, perhaps also, the community’s self-identification.  The shift from being defined as Bedouin or former nomads living in the Negev, to being recognized as an “Indigenous Palestinian Bedouin” group in the “Naqab”, took place very quickly, over a period of only ten years. For the Bedouin the recognition in theory can help put local and even more important international pressure on Israeli authorities, mainly to accept their demands for land rights. . .    SOURCE . . .

Days of Palestine  
Jun 13, 2017       Israeli occupation has installed guardrail on Israeli highway, isolating Palestinian Bedouin community, preventing around 100 children from schools.
___A report issued by the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah) said that the Israeli occupation effectively sealed off Umm Bidoun, a Palestinian Bedouin community in Al-Naqab, by blocking off the only dirt road connecting the village to Highway 31 with a guardrail.
___The road surface markings on the highway near other passage out of Umm Bidoun have also recently been changed, making it illegal for vehicles to cross the road, Adalah added.
___Recent changes have effectively prevented any vehicles, including school buses, from accessing the village, Adalah said.   MORE . . .

Hall, Bogumila. “Bedouins’ Politics of Place and Memory: A Case of Unrecognised Villages in the Negev.” Nomadic Peoples, vol. 18, no. 2, July 2014, pp. 147-164.
[. . . .]  . . . the community’s continuous presence in the Negev, the changing character of its lifestyle and the sense of attachment to the land seem to be ignored both in the Israeli legal framework and the dominant representations of the Bedouins and the region. Since the establishment of the state, Israel has denied the Arab Bedouins their indigenous land rights, depicted them as rootless nomads and characterised the Negev as historically uncultivated and uninhabited land. Today, there are approximately 200,000 Bedouins in the Negev. While half of them live in seven government-planned towns, and eleven villages recognised by Israel, the other half reside in villages not recognized by the state. This means that the Bedouin villages have the status of illegal settlements and thus are not marked on Israeli maps and are denied basic services, such as electricity, running water, public transportation and basic sanitation. . .  The Israeli authorities’ attitude towards the Bedouins was best reflected in the Prawer-Begin Bill . . .  halted in December 2013 after the successful ‘Stop Prawer Plan’ campaign. The law, if fully implemented, was going to displace up to 70,000 Bedouins and destroy all the ‘illegal’ villages. The resettlement scheme was couched in the colonial language of “. . . grant them, and particularly the younger generation the tools necessary to successfully cope with the challenges of the future and help Bedouin children to ‘exploit their talents and realise their natural right to happiness . . .”  However, the Bedouins were under no illusions. As Nasser, a resident of an unrecognised village of al-Sirra put it:
It may be a new law, but not a new policy, we know very well what the
state plans for us. It’s been now fifty years of efforts to give an end to the
Bedouin identity and lifestyle. We are not just going to obey.  [. . . . ]    SOURCE . . .

This Week in Palestine, Issue 112      
Arturo Avendaño
August, 2014        [. . . .]  The Bedouins, with their specific values, codes of behaviour, and livelihood, are a Palestinian community of tribes that have a common history, culture, ancestral bloodline, and lifestyle that link the various tribes together. The tribes, which include the Jahaleen, Ka’abneh, Rashaydeh, Ramadeen, ‘Azazme, Sawarka, Arenat, Ejbarat, Hanajra, and Amareen, share a nomadic past that has been highlighted by Western travellers’ tales of camel breeding and romantic desert images. Bedouins have become famous for their extraordinary survival skills in an extremely hostile environment. . . .       MORE . .    

Behind this dune we have an oasis. Leave me alone.
Leave me to rinse myself off in a bit
of its mirage. I’m tired of running after myself
to catch myself before I die.
Take―old friends and my companions―my body,
the shadow of its body’s shadow,
and hold it for a while,
so I can reach my time in time.
Behind this dune we have an oasis.
Sustain your longing with dates and water,
without despair.
Listen with me to the songs of the girls
beneath the palms, but do not follow
the voice of my silence.
We have, friends, the right to die as we desire.
But there’s still some hope, behind that nearby dune.
And we have the right to make the stranger
a stranger’s friend,
and we have an oasis―
and a bit of rest in the house
of the loved one who left us.
He will come from behind this dune.

  • (Blogger’s personal note: Al-Qasim was not, himself, a Bedouin. I have been unable to find poetry by Bedouins, but this poem seems possibly to treat of the Bedouin experience. If any readers know of Bedouin poetry, I welcome comments identifying it.)

From: Al-Qasim, Samih. SADDER THAN WATER. NEW AND SELECTED POEMS.  Trans. Nazih Kasis and Adina Hoffman. Jerusalem: Ibis Editions, 2008.  Available from Amazon.
About Samih Al-Qasim.

bedouin camel
Palestinian Bedouins are protesting against discrimination by the Israeli government [GETTY image, from Al Jazeera, April 7, 2010)

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