Bedouins of Negev Desert Feel Betrayed by Israel Resettlement Plan

Ancient Nomadic Groups Face Relocation to Towns

Long Fight: Israel claims it is doing what’s best for Bedouin peoples of the Negev desert by resettling them in nearby towns. But the ancient people vow to keep rebuilding their makeshift settlements — and fight for their homes.
getty images
Long Fight: Israel claims it is doing what’s best for Bedouin peoples of the Negev desert by resettling them in nearby towns. But the ancient people vow to keep rebuilding their makeshift settlements — and fight for their homes.

By Reuters

Published August 28, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

The Israeli position is that developing the region provides an opportunity to address the needs of a long neglected segment of the population.

“We are determined to narrow the gap (between the Negev and the rest of the country),” spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mark Regev, told Reuters. “They are citizens of Israel and are entitled to all the opportunities associated with being citizens.”

ALIENATING THE COMMUNITY

Wadi Na’am, an unrecognised village like Atir, lies down a sunblasted stony track a short drive from the heart of the Negev “wine route”, with leafy Jewish-owned ranches that are popular weekend destinations for wine and cheese tasting.

Sitting in his small, concrete home, which a generator-powered fan labours in vain to cool, electrician and village council member Najib Abu Bneiyeh says Israeli policies are alienating the community.

Unlike the Arabs of the cities and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, the Bedouin traditionally shied away from political activism and have volunteered in small numbers for Israel’s army, gaining renown for using ancient tracking skills to guard Israel’s frontiers.

“Many of us used to volunteer for military service,” Abu Bneiyeh said, looking at the yellowing pictures on the wall of relatives in combat fatigues. “But with the pressure we’re put under, the demolitions and the acts of racism we experience, the Arabs are doing this less and less.”

One complaint is that the committee drawing up the Prawer Plan, named after top Israeli planning official Ehud Prawer, had no Arab members and did not formally consult with the local representative body of the unrecognised villages.

“If the government were to recognise their villages, it would be obligated to provide services,” said Ofer Dagan of the Negev Coexistence Forum, a civil rights group.

“But the only way modernisation is offered to the Bedouin is through urban settlements, whereas the Jewish population is allowed a range of rural and agricultural modern settlements.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.