Is Anything Improving for the Bedouins in Israel?




A couple of years ago, I met with Faisal Sawalha, spokeperson for the Regional Council of the Unrecognized Villages (RCUV) of the Negev, on a visit to Beer Sheva.  This visit has been documented in this blog.  On Friday, September 1, I received another update from Faisal on the latest Bedouin home demolitions in the Negev desert:

From his email:

"What can we do?" Mrs Talalqa asked again and again, as she sat on a mat in the tent that the government buldozers did not demolish today. What can we do? Where will we go when it rains? And the sheep – they all ran away to the hills when the government buldozers destroyed the pen. Where will I make dinner? How can I wash dishes? Where will the children sit to do their homework? And the bathroom… we don’t have a bathroom!

This morning at 9:00am, when the men were at work, three government appointed buldozers, accompanied by about 50 police people came to destroy ALL the homes in the village of Twiel abu-Jarwal. Today there are 34 more homeless children.

Every year the Government of Israel demolishes more than one hundred houses in the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Israeli Negev. This year they have doubled their efforts…

The Bedouin problem in Israel is currently lost in the continuing roar of the crisis in Gaza and the wrenching self-criticism that is the aftermath of the Lebanese war.  But it is a problem, and it is not going away.  As with many other unresolved socio-political and economic issues in Israel, the basic math is not good for the future of the State of Israel– how many homeless citizens with no hope of a better future does it take to convert into radical fundamentalists who only care about destroying "the other"?  Not many.

There are 130,000 or more Bedouins in the Negev, and they are Israeli citizens.

Instead of demolishing homes, the government should be emphasizing job creation and facilitating Bedouin participation in the economic enterprise zones that are being established in the Negev.  This may already be happening, and if it is, I, and perhaps many others, would love to hear about it.  But the only email messages I am receiving from the Bedouin leadership are about increasingly organized protests and more home demolitions. 

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