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News and Resources

To Be but Not to Be: The Bedouin of the "Unrecognized Villages"

News and Resources
By Julia St. Thomas, Rooftops Canada Intern
Approximately 180,000 Bedouin Arabs live in Israel’s Negev. Half of them inhabit 45 villages unrecognized by the state that are under continuing threat of demolition.
Traveling to Jerusalem, Israel in December as part of my Rooftops Canada internship with the Habitat International Coalition-Housing and Land Rights Network (HIC-HLRN), I learned what it means to be invisible in the eyes of the state. We met with the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages (RCUV), a grassroots organization that represents the villages unrecognized by Israel. They described the plight and struggle of the Bedouin in these communities.
Inhabiting the land long before the creation of Israel in 1948, the Bedouin are now citizens of Israel, but their villages and all the structures in them are denied legal recognition. Instead, demolition orders are issued and home demolitions are carried out almost daily. The victims are left without alternative accommodation and means of survival - the land is their livelihood.
New villages for the Bedouin are being designed and built as part of development plans for the Negev. These are segregated from those for Jewish communities and the Bedouin have been denied participation in the planning process. The result has been culturally inappropriate villages that remain largely uninhabited. Many Bedouin have fabricated tents and sleep next to the rubble of their former homes.
The RCUV, with the support of HIC-HLRN and others, is advocating the right of the Bedouin to propose their own solutions. Through sharing in the process of resolution, Israel can recognize and fulfill the rights of all its citizens.