Friday, October 18, 2013

Bedouin Success Story

Eoin Murray of the Independent  has written a highly biased and inaccurate article on the Bedouins. An actual Bedouin responds:

I was very surprised to read Eoin Murray's reporting of Israel's policy towards the Bedouin community in Negev, Israel (October 11). Being a Bedouin myself, and an Israeli diplomat, my perspective is different and, I believe, more informed.

Descendants of nomadic tribes who migrated to the region in the 19th and 20th centuries, we, the Bedouin community in Israel, are part of the Israeli success story. There are close to 190,000 Bedouins in Israel: some in Galilee, in northern Israel, while the majority (160,000) live in Negev. The Galilee community is generally more organised, educated and integrated into modern Israel, while 40,000 Bedouins in Negev still live in unregulated villages.

Since Israel was established 65 years ago, various Israeli governments have attempted to help the Bedouins adopt a modern lifestyle, providing free education, infrastructure, medical care and more. This takes time, and requires the full participation of community leaders. What is needed is a united community leadership, which sadly does not exist at present.

A shepherd cannot be transformed into a hi-tech engineer, and the government must retain a realistic understanding of the population. The Bedouin are a nomadic people who are not by nature landowners. Yet the government suggests, for example, free land to build houses. It would be more successful, instead, to allow the building of agricultural farms, similar to the Jewish kibbutzim.

Until I was eight years old, the Bedouins in my Galilee community lived in tents. Now, most Bedouins are living in concrete homes, attending college, holding positions in government, and more

Ishmael Khaldi
Counsellor for Civil Society Affairs
Embassy of Israel, London

Here in the Bay area,  Ish is a familiar face.  From 2006-2009, he was Israel's Vice Consul for the region.  (That quite an apartheid state, btw.)

Ishmael Khaldi, taken in San Francisco at Israel in the Gardens

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