The state must establish places of employment and industrial areas in the Bedouin towns in order to develop incentives and grant its Bedouin citizens the ability to make an honorable living in normative occupations. The institutions of higher education in the state must be open and accessible to any Bedouin, man or woman, who is interested and capable of learning in them. On the other hand, the state must enforce the law to its fullest severity on anyone who deals in smuggling, “protection” or any other illegal occupation.
The state must use the educational system to impart to the young generation of Bedouins the concepts of citizenship that will supersede tribal laws. A Bedouin girl must learn that according to state law, as well as Islamic law, she has the right to choose a life partner for herself, even if he is from another tribe, and that she can marry him with the condition that he not take another wife after her. The educational system must provide the youth of the Bedouin sector with information and awareness regarding the genetic dangers associated with marriage between relatives, and that everyone – whether woman or man – has the right to learn, to progress in life and to develop a professional career.
The educational system must impart to the youth of this sector the obligation to obey the laws of the state and especially if they are contrary to the laws of the tribe. The prohibition against violence must be a guiding principle for every citizen, including the Bedouin. Education must relate to polygamy as something that is against the law and is therefore forbidden. The educational message must give to the new generation of Bedouin men the sense that their manliness does not stem from the number of wives that they have but from the way that each man relates to his only wife, and that the number of children is less important than their education and making sure that each child gets what any modern child should from his parents.
Educators in the Bedouin sector must act in accordance with the principle that their task is to impart to the young generation the desire and the ability to be a citizen with equal rights and obligations, that he is an autonomous person with the right to make decisions independently, and is not subservient to any group.
The state must enforce the law of National Insurance in such a way that it will not subsidize breaking the law, which forbids polygamy. The state must limit the children’s benefits according to each household, in such a way that every man can get benefits only for one wife to whom he is legally married, and her children. The state must stop the benefits to wives who were brought to the Negev from Mount Hebron, from Jordan, from Saudi Arabia or from the Gaza Strip, including Ismail Haniye’s sister. There is no reason that the state’s money should be spent on the citizens of foreign states.
The government’s policy towards the Bedouin sector must be consistent over the years, without regard to changes in government. Cultural change does not occur overnight and calls for a large and long-range investment. The state must allocate the necessary resources to bring this cultural change to the Bedouin sector in order to bring it into the twenty first century, otherwise this important sector will remain in the cultural desert of the Middle East.
The above article was written in Hebrew by Dr. Mordechai Kedar for the December 6, 2013 issue of the Makor Rishon newspaper, and translated to English by Sally Zahav.