Monday, September 13, 2010

Bedouins in the News

Lots of stories about Israel's treatment of Bedouins have been reported lately. They all center on the demolition of "unrecognized", ie, off-the-grid settlements, in the Negev. Anti-Zionist critics like Neve Gordon have used terms like "ethnic cleansing", "Judaizing the Negev region", or "a declaration of war on the Bedouins", while MJ Rosenberg who hosted Gordon's video of one such demolition at the Huffington Post could hardly contain his glee at Israel's perfidy.

Israeli Bedouin women are increasingly going to college.

Needless to say the story is far more complex than usually presented; their story is full of ups and downs but many of the Bedouins have in fact benefited from citizenship in Israel. Bedouin women, in particular, have gained alot from the educational and social opportunities that have been made available to them.

Doing a Google search of Bedouins in Israel yields dozens upon dozens of hits about the demolitions. Israel, being fully accessible to the news media, cannot hide behind secrecy. However, one is hard pressed to find information about the Bedouins who reside (or roam) in other parts the Middle East although lately there have been stories about the serious conflicts between Sinai Bedouins and the Egyptian state. I've found articles that describe the general problems of poverty and land expropriation but very little detail and no (as far as I could find) international condemnation and outcry about their treatment at the hands of Arab authorities. In Syria, there is almost no available information. Yet from what I've read, the Bedouins face almost identical issues of modernity v. tradition v. states' development requirements, everywhere.

Here's a roundup of some stories for a bit of context:

Ynet report on demolitions:,7340,L-3925793,00.html

Honest Reporting deconstructs mainstream reporting:

Egypt sentences Bedouins to life imprisonment | News by Country | Reuters:

The Economist on the Sinai Bedouins:

NGO Monitor on HRW's unfair condemnation of Israel:

Excellent program on PBS about the changes lives of Bedouin women in Israel:

M. J. Rosenberg hyperventilates at the Huffington Post:

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