My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XI The Bedouins

My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XI The Bedouins


The Bedouins in Israel

Bedouins from various tribes came to the Negev desert (now Southern Israel) from the Arabian Peninsula, and some of them arrived there before the expansion of Islam in the 7th century (Abu-Rabia, 1994). In the late 1940’s, there were about 100.000 Bedouins and 95 tribes in the Negev. (Bedouins also lived in the Galilee area in the north of Israel.) After the establishment of the State of Israel, the Israeli authorities started to relocate the Bedouins, leaving in the Negev only about 13.000 by 1955. During the following years the Bedouins were forced to settle down in allocated towns and villages, which created major changes in lifestyle (Falah, 1985). Still, many Bedouin families live from raising flock, a practice found to be a cohesive factor in the Bedouin family (Samovar et al., 2009).

Bedouin society is a male dominated society. Several researchers described the hardships of the Bedouins in Israel, especially from a gender perspective, in the fields of health care (Al-Krenawi, 1996); Stavi et al., 2007), social work (Al-Krenawi & Graham, 1997) and education (Abu-Rabia-Queder, 2007; Lyons, 2010; Pessate-Schubert, 2003. They all pointed at the highly delicate position of Bedouin women. Polygyny among Israeli Bedouins is common, while some families seem to cope better with this conflictual situation than others (Al-Krenawi & Slonim-Nevo, 2008); Slonim-Nevo & Al-Krenawi, 2006).

The struggle of the Israeli Bedouins lasts until the current times. Bedouins in Israel continue to be marginalized, by an inclination derived from nomadic social and political structure, by their positioning vis-à-vis the competing Jewish and Palestinian nationalities, and by their economic position (Jakubowska, 2000). “Bedouin resistance to Israeli land and settlement policies began to mark the Bedouin increasingly as a ‘dangerous population’. As a result, the interest in preserving the Bedouins’ cultural specificity gave way to a new emphasis on the need to modernize the Bedouins” (Belge, 2009), p. 82. “Bedouin identity” remains strong despite the changes in lifestyle, but it is slowly making place for two different identities, that of the Arab/Palestinian/Muslim and that of the Bedouin/Israeli (Dinero, 2004). The case of the unrecognized villages of the Bedouins in the Negev desert in Southern Israel has recently been in the news, because of forced eviction and recurring destruction of their property by Israeli Authorities (Amnesty International, 2010a).


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About the Author

Daniel Weishut

Daniel WeishutDaniel J.N. Weishut, born in the Netherlands but living in Jerusalem, is a professional with a diverse background. He holds an MA in Clinical Psychology and an MBA in Integrative Business Administration, both from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a PsyD in Clinical and Organizational Psychology from the Professional School of Psychology (Sacramento). He has about thirty years of experience in consultation and therapy with a wide variety of clients and issues, more than twenty years of practice in group facilitation, and over fifteen years of know-how in governance and management in various organizations. Daniel Weishut offers his services as a "Partner on the Way", while taking a world-view that people are diverse but equal. He works with a variety of clients, but his special interest is in work with those who have found themselves persecuted or otherwise in conflict with their social environment, because of their culture, identity or belief system. For example: migrants, expats, refugees, Holocaust survivors, soldiers, pacifists, and individuals from religious, cultural or sexual minorities. Daniel Weishut is a social activist and in this capacity he volunteers as Chairperson of the Israeli Association of Group Psychotherapy, as Member of the Membership Appeals Committee of Amnesty International and as forensic expert for the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. He also is involved in raising awareness about the situation of Bedouins around Jerusalem; awareness which led among others to the writing of his dissertation "My friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: Challenges and opportunities in intercultural friendship".

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