The Bedouin of the Naqab
As soon as we established our brand, it was clear that we wanted to work solely with professionals who have been preserving indigenous Palestinian crafts and techniques. When searching for those upholding Palestinian embroidery and...
As soon as we established our brand, it was clear that we wanted to work solely with professionals who have been preserving indigenous Palestinian crafts and techniques. When searching for those upholding Palestinian embroidery and weaving traditions, we discovered craftswomen and men who live and breathe the Palestinian practices that we were so determined to incorporate into our work. We reached out to specific art centers who, to this day, maintain thousand-year-old traditions — specifically "Nasij" & "Manajel"— handmade Bedouin weaving techniques.
As our collaboration with art centers in Bedouin communities developed, a strong connection and sense of commitment grew among the ADISH founders toward the Bedouin women and men we work with. As part of that growing commitment, we could no longer ignore the degrading conditions in which these vast indigenous communities live. We felt the need to spread information about the policies these communities are subject to and dictate their day-to-day lives.
The Bedouin's economy — historically a nomadic society visible in the MENA region for thousands of years — was based on herding and crafts. For centuries, they enjoyed the freedom to move between territories according to seasonal conditions and their communities' changing needs, divided into tribes and familial groups.
For centuries, the Bedouin of the Naqab (aka the Negev desert) has been a part of the region. Due to their herding and nomadic lifestyle, they roamed large areas of land and could, for the most part, move freely across long distances. Before the Nakba (the 'catastrophe' describing the expulsion of Palestinians by Israeli forces in 1948), Bedouin lived in the Negev and owned land under a defined traditional system of individual and communal land ownership.
A gradual process of sedentarization in the region began under the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th century and was further accelerated by Israeli authorities after the war in 1948. Tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouin were forcibly expelled and fled to neighboring countries, alongside more than 700,000 urban and residing village Palestinians. The Bedouin who remained in Palestine underwent a series of government decrees designed to concentrate them into designated areas forcibly.
Between 1968 and 1989, Israel built concentrated townships for the Bedouin to urbanize their communities, thus cutting through thousand-year-old lineages and traditions of the indigenous lifestyle. Although basic infrastructure was established in the Bedouin townships, they still lack many basic resources and constantly suffer from water, electricity, and health services shortages. Communities both in urbanized Bedouin townships and the unrecognized villages outside of them face the constant threat of home demolitions and confiscation of materials carried out by militarized police forces.
Today, with an estimated population of 200,000-230,000, the Bedouin community in the southern Negev Desert is one of the most impoverished communities in Israel, deprived of basic human rights, including the right to water, shelter, and education. The Israeli authorities have pursued a process of suppressing Bedouin's most basic rights by refusing to recognize their villages, consequently exposing them to harsh restrictions on construction and infrastructure development.
What can you do to support and advocate for Bedouin communities directly?
On November 18, we will be offering a first-time opportunity to purchase a curated selection of Rugs and Pillows from the Sidreh organization- with 100% of the proceeds going directly to them. Sidreh brings together over a hundred Palestinian Bedouin craftswomen from the area as it preserves the Bedouin weaving artistry, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to them.
In addition, set forth below is a list of advocacy groups and human rights organizations that champion the Bedouin rights cause (Not Associated with Adish):