New Article: Suwaed, Bedouin-Jewish Relations in the Negev 1943–1948

Suwaed, Muhammad Youssef. “Bedouin-Jewish Relations in the Negev 1943–1948.” Middle Eastern Studies 51.5 (2015): 767-88.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00263206.2014.985663

 

Abstract

On the foundation of the first Jewish settlements in the Negev, at the start of the 1940s, the Bedouins welcomed the Jewish settlers. The local personal connections and mutual acquaintance between them created a feeling of closeness. The symbiosis of daily life and mutual help in the fields of personal needs, from medicine to transport, replaced their mutual fears.

However, two factors quickly changed this attitude. The first was a severe drought, which struck the Negev in the winter of 1947, and brought with it a difficult economic situation, followed by several robberies and disputes, and damage to property. The second factor was the incessant encouragement given by the leaders of the Palestinian National Movement to the Bedouins to join the struggle against the Jewish population, especially after the UN decision in November 1947, that is, after the partition of Palestine and the inclusion of the Negev within the borders of the Jewish state.

Most of the Bedouins joined the Palestinian National Struggle. Friends of yesterday became today’s enemies. The years 1947–1949 were a period of anarchy, which continued well into the 1950s. In this period the State of Israel was established. Consequently, the Jewish population in the Negev was no longer the party responsible for the relationship with the Bedouins, as the Israeli government took its place. Also contact between neighbors was reduced after the Bedouins were evacuated toward the ‘fence’ region, in the Beer-Sheva Valley. The freedom the Bedouins enjoyed before the war did not exist anymore.

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