Huberman bedouin

  • Issue: February 1990
  • Designer: Y. Granot
  • Stamp size: 30.8 x 30.8 mm
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

The Bedouin Tribes of the Negev

Some 75,000 Bedouin, in some 30 tribes and clans, live in the Negev. A high proportion live in settlements of which Rahat (pop. 20,000) is the largest.

The movement to live in settlements is continuing apace, with government encouragement and help in enabling Bedouin to buy land and housing on good terms. The transition from tents or tin huts to modern housing is fraught with complex problems because of the traditional nature and the close family and tribal relationships of Bedouin life. The Bedouin has given up the open spaces of desert and pasture and his camp-fire to move to much more crowded conditions. His dealings with sheep and goats and camels are dwindling. Half the camels have already disappeared from the scene, while tractors and modern combines take the place of beasts of burden.

About half the Bedouin earn their living in building or agricultural work: both as employees and self-employed. Most of the teachers in the Bedouin schools are themselves Bedouin of the area, and Bedouin children finishing High School go on to higher education, becoming lawyers, doctors, bookkeepers and bankers, heads of municipalities and senior government officials.

This younger generation will soon be taking over from the old traditional leadership which has ruled the tribes for hundreds of years.

The Joe Alon Museum of Bedouin Culture, near Kibbutz Lahav, is the largest museum on this subject in the world. It displays items of the physical, the traditional and the artistic culture of the Bedouin tribes in recent generations. From time to time the Museum also puts on original exhibitions which draw visitors from all over the country.

The Bedouin of the Galilee

Some 40,000 Bedouin, from some 22 different tribes and clans, live in the Galilee today. The majority came from over the Jordan, some were from Egypt and North Africa, and others, of Kurdish, Turkish, and peasant origin, became Bedouin to escape forced conscription into the army.

The movement of Bedouin into the Galilee began in the early 16th Century and continued until the 1930's. They left their native environment in search of water and pasture and also because of internecine conflicts, blood feuds and clashes with the authorities. In the Galilee they found fertile, unpopulated land, and a humid climate. They settled both in the fertile lowlands and in the uncultivated hilly areas where they found natural grazing ground for their herds. They lived in tents and made their livelihood breeding cattle and from a little home-agriculture. Stronger tribes would plunder weaker ones or demand "protection money" from neighbouring villages, and passing merchant caravans.

Until the early '20s most Bedouin were nomadic; since then they have made themselves permanent homes. In the War of Independence many fled over the border, so that many tribes were split up between Jordan, Syria and Lebanon and Israel, bringing about new attitudes to settlement and to economic activity. Today some 26,000 Bedouin live in permanent, Government-recognised settlements, others in makeshift settlements without benefit of municipal services and the rest in Arab villages in the area. Four permanent settlements were originally planned for the Galilee Bedouin, including Bosmat Tivon (pop. 4,000). Later, an additional four settlements were recognised.

Most Bedouin now earn their living as building, industrial and agricultural employees; a significant group work with the Armed Forces, and the Police, where they use their renowned skills as trackers; some still breed cattle and work in home-agriculture. Those who complete their higher education return, for the most part, to their villages to educate the new generation in one of the 25 local Bedouin municipal schools.

The Bedouin have recently set up a Centre for the Heritage of the Galilee Bedouin, in Shibli on the slopes of Mt. Tabor. In this connection, the "El Batzia" Society was set up to preserve and document the traditions of the past and the glorious heritage of the Galilean tribes which have now reached the end of their nomadic journey.

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The bedouin in Israel