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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
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The Bedouin Problem Is Not Land But Polygamy

To date, all the Bedouins’ legal land ownership claims that reached the courts have failed.
The 5,829 Bedouin women listed as eligible for single mother benefits in the Negev, raising 23,855 children, are actually silent polygamous wives.

The 5,829 Bedouin women listed as eligible for single mother benefits in the Negev, raising 23,855 children, are actually silent polygamous wives.
Photo Credit: Matanya Tausig flash 90

At the end of November, 2013, Israel experienced a series of demonstrations throughout the Arab areas, some of which were violent, as part of the “Day of Rage” over the government’s decision to implement the “Prawer Plan” to solve the problems relating to land in the Negev. Arab spokesmen – all of whom are Israeli citizens – threw around slogans such as “third intifada”, “Land Day II” and “Bedouin revolt”, slogans that were meant to incite the Arab public, which represents a fifth of the citizens of the state. Politicians and leaders of the Islamic movement tried to stir up emotions against the state and its decision regarding the Bedouins settling on state lands in the Negev.

The impression is that the problem is about land, because the Bedouins, who live scattered over the area, have built houses on land that belongs to the state without permission or building permits, without general planning or infrastructure. Now the state wants to put matters in order, so questions arise such as how much each Bedouin should receive as part of the arrangement and how much monetary compensation he will get for the territory that he gives up, despite the fact that no Bedouin has or had any proof of ownership of the land that he claims is his. To date, all of the Bedouins’ legal claims that have reached the courts have failed because of this, and now the state is interested in solving the matter of illegal Bedouin settlements through legal procedures.

However, the truth of the matter is that the problem is not only an issue of the land and the Bedouins’ illegal settlement on state lands, but is both wider and deeper. Wider – because there are still serious problems between the state and the Bedouins, and deeper – because all of these differences stem from the tremendous gaps between the Bedouin culture and a state culture.

Another problem related to the Bedouins is the problem of polygamy. Approximately four years ago (April 21, 2009), in The Marker, Haaretz’s economic supplement, Meirav Arlozorov published information stating that at that time, 5,829 women were listed as single mothers in the Negev, who had 23,855 children between them. At that time, 155 women had 10 children each, and there were even two women with as many as 17 children each. Anyone can easily understand that these are not single mothers, but each woman is the second, third or fourth wife married, according to Islamic Shari’a, to one man, and living together with him in one household. If this was the situation four years ago, what is the situation today?

The current situation is made possible because of two factors, cultural and economic. The cultural factor is that within the traditional Bedouin culture, a man is expected to marry more than one woman in order to prove his manhood. A man who lives with one woman is thought to be weak and worthless. In addition, a man hopes to expand his family as much as possible so that it will have more economic, social and political weight in the system of Bedouin society. For example: the number of votes in elections to the local council will be greater, so all of the candidates will come to him to solicit his support.

The economic factor in polygamy is that the government welfare institution grants subsidies according to children’s benefits for each woman separately, regardless of whether she reports herself as married or single, so bringing children into the world is a productive business. This year (July, 26, 2013), in the Tzedek supplement of the Makor Rishon newspaper, Yehuda Yifrach publicized the fact that Bedouin families receive hundreds of millions of shekels per year from government welfare programs by means of fictional divorces in Shari’a court, awarding negligible alimony to the “divorcees” (who usually continue living with their husbands) so that the government welfare institution would be obligated to give them supplemental payments.

About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.


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25 Responses to “The Bedouin Problem Is Not Land But Polygamy”

  1. Anonymous says:

    baby jihad

  2. Anonymous says:

    baby jihad

  3. Either Minnesota or Massachusetts has a welfare system set up to fund Islam men with more than one wife. The state pays for the single mother with children of these men because they can only register one wife. No one works and they live off the state. That state has phone set up press 3 for Arabic.

  4. Maureen Moss says:

    This is so obviously fraudulent. Israel should not have to pay for the children of these extra wives.

  5. If a man cannot provide for his children, he should not have children. If he cannot take care of one wife and her children, he is a fool to marry another. And why doesn't Islamic law forbid Muslims from taking welfare from Jews? They are allowed to take Jewish heads, but I heard nothing about taking Jewish charity. Funny how they operate.

  6. Natasha Aiken says:

    There are plenty of men out there who have children they cannot provide for, even with one wife. I don't see the point of discriminating just because it is polygamous, if it was one man with 16 kids by one woman would that make it somehow more palatable? Since you cannot regulate how many children any woman has and the State chooses to pay benefits for the children it is unreasonable to discriminate, Either take the money away from all types of families or leave them alone. Social engineering doesn't get anyone anywhere.

  7. Natasha Aiken says:

    ermmm, doesn't ALL welfare systems allow single mothers to get welfare and if the 3 button is in Arabic doesn't it follow that number 1 is English and 2 is Espanol? Or is it only Islamic polygamy that exists in the USA now (maybe I am imagining all the Mormon English speaking polygamists)?

  8. There's a difference between a man who has difficulty finding the employment to raise a family and a man who has as many wives as possible and knows that he doesn't have to find employment because the state will raise the children. The burden of raising children has fallen on the woman for too long. If a man is not willing to be the main bread-winner for his family, he should be sterilized. In an arid region where food production isn't the greatest, allowing people to have limitless children which are supported solely by the government is a major disaster waiting to happen. In the US, where food production is high, we allow this behavior where a guy will have a dozen children between several women, but eventually, the population will outstrip production (and it could happen next year if the right events take place), leading to social unrest and cannibalism. And this problem will be much worse in Israel when the population grows exponentially while food production doesn't match the growth. If you're man enough to produce a child, you should be man enough to provide for them. The problem is, in both the middle east and America, we think being a man is the same as being a sperm-donor. We are sadly mistaken.

  9. Dorothy Myers says:

    The problem is that if you pay people to do something, they will continue to do it. That is, if you pay for children you encourage more children to be produced. If the govt bureaucrats feel guilty that some children live in poverty, then take money from those who work and redistribute it to those who are in poverty, then they wonder why the incentives are perverse — people encouraged to have more children to get more benefits and people who work discouraged from higher productivity because taxation is higher to pay for somebody else's children. If polygamy is bad, then paying for the children through state aid perversely encourages polygamy. Not a good solution for this tribal issue.

  10. Natasha Aiken says:

    Roasted Locust Polygamy equals cannibalism….how hysterical can you get? The birthrate is so low in many places that we can't afford to take care of the old, I am hardly to worry about a small population with a high birthrate unless of could there is another reason for your hysteria?

  11. The State of Israel must take away the Israeli citizenship of the Arabs and of all other non-Jews, because the State of Israel is a Jewish state, so that only Jews can be citizens in Israel. This is not racism, because any person, of any race or ethnicity, can convert to Judaism.
    The State of Israel must expel the Arabs from its territory, because it is written in the Torah, in Bamidbar (Numbers) 33:52, that God commanded Israel to expel the other inhabitants of the Land of Canaan, which is the Land of Israel, which includes all the Palestine. The Arabs invaded the Land of Israel in the year 635 CE, so that they are invaders, and must leave Israel, and return to their own land, which is Arabia. This is not racism, because any person, of any race or ethnicity, can convert to Judaism.

  12. ITS OK AS LONG AS YOU ARE WILLING TO PAY THE BILL.

  13. Natasha Aiken says:

    Roberta Gabor I don't mind, but then again, I don't have the almost fetishistic animosity to taxation that some people exhibit.

  14. Natasha Aiken says:

    Roasted Locust I don't have time for strawman arguments RL, ask me a question minus the (yes, hysterical) strawmen and I will answer you.

  15. Natasha Aiken, don't lie. You don't want to answer the questions because you can't answer them. Governments and taxpayers are not an infinite source of wealth. You can keep raising taxes, but eventually, doing so weakens the economy. A weak economy leads to a weak society. Nobody's saying to let these children starve. We're just saying that people should make informed decisions about how many children they have and fathers who produce those children should provide for those children. You're acting like that's an insane request. The craziness in the room is the person who's acting like resources are unlimited, that fathers shouldn't have to take care of their children, and polygamy is a good thing. I'll dust off my Accounting 101 book and teach you a few basics that the folks in Washington haven't even learned yet.

  16. Natasha Aiken says:

    Roasted Locust So you send me a huge paragraph full of strawmen and insist I answer them or I am a liar? How about you ask a proper question instead of expecting me to defend myself against claims I never actually made? Getting insulting and calling me a liar first off will not get you any answer you seek and won't get you the attention you desire, it is not big nor clever and no, I did not bother to read anything after the first line. Well done you!!!!

  17. Natasha Aiken, the Other wives of Islamic men are NOT single women. BUT because the USofA doesn't recognize more than ONE wife, the Islamic men are able to register OTHER wives as single mothers and the state then pays for that wife and children rendering it NOT NECESSARY for the rest of the family to search for employment. The Mormon religion does not practice polygamy anymore.

  18. Of course 1 is English and 2 is Spanish

  19. Of course 1 is English and 2 is Spanish

  20. Natasha Aiken says:

    Dixie Vangelisti I am referring to Mormon Fundamentalist Polygamists Dixie, of whom there are an estimated 30k in the USA…all English speaking and often accused of just the same practises wrt welfare fraud, my question is where is your indignation about them?

  21. Natasha Aiken, just because a white man does it, doesn't mean it's right. Why should any modern government support any tradition that allows men to turn their own daughters into slaves? These Mormons you talk of have been known to sell girls as young as 13 to the highest bidders, and the same thing is happening in Israel, at the expense of the tax-payers there. Why do you feel any state should support a culture that treats its girls as sex slaves? Because white men do it too? That's your best answer?

  22. Natasha Aiken says:

    Roasted Locust Actually I don't for one second mention 'white' anything. As I told you before, if you ask a sensible question, you will get a sensible answer, otherwise don't bother.

  23. Natasha Aiken, I've asked you dozens of sensible questions, but you aren't sensible enough to answer them. Your only defense of polygamy is "Well, Mormon fundamentalists do it, so what's the big deal?" When confronted with a simple question, you attack the one posing the question without touching the question itself. You've given no good reasons why Israel should support, without question, families where the father has multiple wives and little responsibility to them and their children. You say it's a form of social engineering to try to change this system of slavery, but you don't even understand what social engineering is and how nearly every form of government practices it (taxes on unhealthy products, public education and television, welfare, medicine, etc.). Get real…when the government is paying for everything, it becomes the government's job to reduce costs by "nudging" people into making the right decisions for their own health and the health of the nation. Now grow up and take an accounting class and try to understand that women deserve to be treated as equals and taxpayers aren't responsible for raising the children of others…it's an act of charity, which is not required. They're lucky the Israelis are so kind, because the Israelis could use that money for other purposes. You think money is as free as the air though, but even the air has limits, except for maybe the air coming from your lungs or head…

  24. Natasha Aiken says:

    Roasted Locust Your "sensible" questions are hidden behind your strawmen and your bad attitude, that is why I won't answer you, why should I? Why would it benefit me? Your not actually entitled to a response from me and frankly I couldn't care less what you think.

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