Marcy M. Wells


Since its inception in 1948, the state of Israel has based development plans on an agenda of nation-building that has systematically excluded Palestinian Arab citizens such as the indigenous Bedouin. Policies of relocation, resettlement, and restructuring have been imposed on the Bedouin, forcing them from their ancestral lands and lifestyle in the Naqab (or Negev, as it is called in Hebrew) desert of southern Israel. The rapid and involuntary transition from self-sufficient, semi-nomadic, pastoral life to sedentarization and modernization has resulted in dependency on a state that treats the Bedouin as minority outsiders through unjust social, political, and economic structures. The exclusionary and discriminatory policies and practices of the state have brought poverty and degradation to the Bedouin, rather than the improved quality of life and higher standards of living normally associated with modernization. The Bedouin population has the lowest socio-economic status within Israel. This has been particularly harmful to Bedouin women, for whom modernization has resulted in greater social restrictions and loss of power. Thus, Bedouin women face overlapping forms of discrimination. For them, the policies of the state have become an instrument of oppression in both the public and private spheres.

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