In May of 2015, Israel’s Supreme Court approved the demolition of a Bedouin village to make way for a new Jewish community However, the United Nations has expressed concern that this controversial decision may constitute a human rights violation against what is already one of the poorest ethnic groups in the world
So who are the Bedouins? And what’s their story? Well, the word “Bedouin” is a derivative of the Arabic word for “nomad” They are an ethnic group known for roaming the deserts of the Middle East and North Africa, often with pastoral herds of goats and camels since as early as 9th century BC Today, many subscribe to the Sunni [SOO-ni] Islam faith However, Bedouin culture is thought to predate the spread of Islam Like many nomadic tribes, they live under a strict code of honor, which reportedly includes a form of lie detection that involves placing a hot spoon on the tongue of the alleged liar
They also have a well defined hierarchy of loyalty, summarized by the widely-quoted proverb: "I against my brother, my brothers and I against my cousins, then my cousins and I against strangers" As nomads, the Bedouins historically thrived by protecting and operating desert trade routes However, in the last few centuries, the Bedouin way of life has changed With the rise of the Ottoman empire, and modern government’s emphasis on land-ownership, much of the land that Bedouins used pastorally was no longer available Many clans had no choice but to settle down, and become more semi-nomadic
One of the most prominent Bedouin clans settled in the Negev region of what is now Israel, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries At the time, the newly formed Israeli government originally set aside specific land for the Bedouins However, some groups settled on empty government property, sparking off intense territorial disputes that still continue today Currently, there are may be as many as 3 or 4 million Bedouins in the world, and the status of many of them, even outside of Israel, represents a murky political and social question Many countries make efforts to preserve the ethnic group, through aid programs
But they still face persecution and difficulty in gaining citizenship in some parts of the Middle East If you’re interested in learning more about lesser-known cultures around the world, make sure you check out our video on the Romani people, more commonly known as the Gypsies Thanks for watching TestTube, don’t forget to subscribe!