MembersExploring Israel’s Bedouin Culture

Exclusive Israel Today interview: “We are building bridges and strengthening bonds between the Bedouin and the Jews of Israel.”

By Rachel Avraham | | Topics: Israeli Arabs, Bedouin
Israels Bedouin community is very unique
Photo: FLASH90

A Bedouin proverb states, “When you sleep in a house, your thoughts are as high as the ceiling, but when you sleep outdoors, your thoughts are as high as the stars.” The Bedouins are a unique sector within Israel’s Arab community, making up 3.5% of the overall population, with around 130,000 living in the Negev and approximately 60,000 living in Central Israel. The Bedouins are a nomadic people, who in the past mainly lived in tents. Many still do.

Traditionally, the men were shepherds, who herded goats, sheep, and camels as they traveled from place to place. The Bedouin women traditionally raised the children, cleaned the home, and made unique embroidery, as they resided in tents. The Bedouins of Israel also have a high fertility rate, standing at 5.5%. It is one of the highest fertility rates in the world.

This is because polygamy is common amongst elements of the Bedouin community. The Israeli government reports that 20% of Bedouin families are polygamous, but women’s rights activists estimate that the...

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