A few days ago I travelled to Tel Aviv to hear Ari talk about the truth. As interesting as it was, what was more interesting was what hee had to say about the disfunctional Israeli system; the Knesset members are ignorant, the Justice Department protects the arabs and persecutes the Jews, the Courts protect the Muslims and make it ver difficult to stoop the activities of the Beduoin or to tear down illegally built homes unless their are Jewish homes. Â It is a scandal. He says his organization,Â Regavim, believes it is a systemic problem so it is trying to change the system. Â Ted Belman
One could argue that if the conflict with the Palestinians was miraculously solved, the next conflict simmering under the surface would be the fate of the Bedouins in the Negev.
For decades, NGOs have educated the world with a shocking narrative of an indigenous population under threat of extinction. We are told that the Bedouin citizens of Israel live in a mere 45 historical villages and are forced to build illegally because their communities are not recognized by the state. That they can’t provide for their families because the government doesn’t allocate adequate funding to their communities. Above all else, apparently all they are asking for is 5% of the Negev.
This would be fair and logical arguments, if any of them were based on fact or an iota of truth. In reality these are six major myths or mantras that have been repeated so many times that even members of the government of Israel have blindly adopted them as truth.
The first of these myths is the issue of indigenous status. Internationally accepted determinants of indigenous status rely on the following five determinants being met: 1. Original Inhabitants. 2. Extended period of Time. 3. Pre-Colonial Sovereignty. 4. Group connection to the Land. 5. External Validation.
The Bedouin that currently reside in the Negev are not the original inhabitants of the area. Even if a very limited amount of these nomadic tribes were in the area two or even three hundred years ago, this is not considered as an extended period of time warranting the title indigenous. This does not place them in the area before the first colonialist invasion by marauding Arabs from Arabia in the 8thÂ Century CE or the beginning of the long period of Ottoman domination that started in the 1500’s.
Nomadic life also precludes any specific fixed connection to the land. There is no long-standing proof in Bedouin tradition establishing a spiritual connection between them and the Negev specifically, a logical result of their relatively brief presence there and to their nomadic lifestyle.
Although the UN Committee on Indigenous People did bestow indigenous status on the Bedouin of the Negev, the fact that no other Bedouin tribe in the Middle East ever made a claim of being indigenous raises …read more