June 2, 2015

1626 ISRAEL - Negev Bedouins

The Bedouins (desert dwellers in Arabic) are an Arab ethnocultural group, descended from nomads who have historically inhabited the Arabian and Syrian Deserts. Their territory stretches from the vast deserts of North Africa to the rocky sands of the Middle East, and they are traditionally divided into tribes or clans, which share a common culture of herding camels and goats. While many of them have abandoned the nomadic traditions for urban lifestyle, they retain traditional music, poetry, dances, and many other cultural practices. Traditions like camel riding and camping in the deserts are also popular leisure activities for urbanised Bedouins who live within close proximity to deserts or other wilderness areas.

A widely quoted Bedouin saying is "I against my brother, my brothers and I against my cousins, then my cousins and I against strangers". This signifies a hierarchy of loyalties based on proximity of kinship. The individual family unit (known as a tent) typically consisted of three or four adults (a married couple plus siblings or parents) and the children. When resources were plentiful, several tents would travel together as a goum. These groups were sometimes linked by patriarchal lineage, but were just as likely linked by marriage, acquaintance, or only a simple shared membership in the tribe. The largest scale of tribal interactions is the tribe as a whole, led by a Sheikh (literally, "old man"). Bedouin traditionally had strong honor codes, and traditional systems of justice revolved around such codes.

Prior to the 1948 Israeli Declaration of Independence, when the Negev became part of Israel, an estimated 65,000-90,000 Bedouins lived there, but during the war that followed most of them resettled in neighbouring regions. In 1999, 110,000 Bedouins lived in the Negev, 50,000 in the Galilee and 10,000 in the central region of Israel. The ones who remained in the Negev belonged to the Tiaha confederation as well as some smaller groups such as the 'Azazme and the Jahalin. Israeli administrations tried to urbanize Bedouins, building townships for them since 1967. The largest is Rahat, which has a population of over 58,700, being the largest Bedouin settlement in the world.

As for the rest, they live in so-called unrecognized villages. The Israeli government want to relocate 30.000-40.000 Bedouins from the areas not recognized to the townships, but this forced transfer encountering opposition. The problem for government is that the rate of growth of the Bedouins is the highest in the world (even if infant mortality rate is the highest in Israel, and one of the highest in the developed world), and the population doubles its size every 15 years, so it could exceed half a million by 2035, which troubles Israelis determined to preserve the Jewish character of the state. On the other hand, the Bedouins suffer from extreme rates of joblessness and the highest poverty rate in Israel, and the crime rate in Negev is among the highest in the country.

About the stamps

The first two stamps are part of the series Gerberas (Definitive Stamps), designed by Tuvia Kurtz & Miri Nistor, and issued on February 5, 2013. The Gerbera, or Transvaal Daisy, is an ornamental plant belonging to the sunflower family (Asteraceae). It was named in honor of German botanist Traugott Gerber and originates from the Transvaal region of South Africa.

The last stamp, designed by Shlomit Ben-Zur & Gustavo Viselner, was issued on February 2013 under the name Water- the source of Life. Israel is situated in a water-scarce area, on the edge of a desert belt, so its constant and prolonged need to cope with this lack of water has necessitated increased efficiency and led to the development of technologies, professionalism and excellence, which have positioned Israel’s water industry at the forefront of technology. Desalinated water currently constitutes some 40% of all water provided to cities and homes in Israel.

Bedouin - Wikipedia
Negev Bedouin - Wikipedia

Sender: Oleg Malkin (direct swap)
Sent from Tel Aviv (Israel), on 12.03.2014
Photo: L. Borodulin & Garo Naibandian

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