Monday, June 25, 2007

Film Tries to Capture 'Truth' of Bedouin Life [Israel's democracy & Arab on black racism inside the Bedouin Muslim community]

Film Tries to Capture 'Truth' of Bedouin Life [Israel's democracy & Arab on black racism inside the Bedouin Muslim community]

Film Tries to Capture 'Truth' of Bedouin Life, in All Its Hues

June 21, 2007 - Carin M. Smilk, Managing Editor

Exterior of "A Step Forward" in Rahat

Nothing is ever black and white, especially when it comes to people.

Take, for example, the situation with Israel's Bedouin population, particularly in the south of the country, in the Negev Desert. There, some 180,000 Bedouin reside -- all citizens of Israel, but some black, and some white.

The so-called white Bedouin are often dark-skinned, in typical Middle Eastern fashion, like many Sephardic Jews. The black Bedouin are actually former Africans, who were kidnapped by Arab slave traders; auctioned off in Zanzibar, Saudi Arabia and Egypt; and eventually brought through the Middle East -- and into the Negev. With the establishment of the State of Israel, they were freed, and later settled, for the most part, with many of the white Bedouin in desert towns and villages.

Israel keeps no record of the number of black Bedouin as opposed to white; population figures go by ethnicity, hence all Bedouin are counted together. But a sizable community lives in their own neighborhoods in Rahat, one of seven recognized towns established in the late 1960s and early 1970s by the Israel government for certain Bedouin tribes. Less than 30 miles due north of Beersheva, modern-day Rahat is now a bustling city of more than 40,000 people -- the second largest Arab city after Nazareth in the north.

Alia Al Kamalat, headmistress of the Omar bin Al-Khatab elementary school in Rahat, Israel

But these people are not faring so well, and their hardships led a Jewish filmmaker to take a snapshot of life in Rahat, seen through the eyes of a handful of black Bedouin.

Uri Rosenwaks, originally from Beersheva, came to teach a film class to a group of women amenable to the idea, and along the way, learned a lesson or two himself.

For one, Rahat -- which means "collective" -- ranks as one of the poorest cities in Israel, with an unemployment rate of about 18 percent, twice the national average. Some 50 percent of Rahat's adult population and 60 percent of its children live below the poverty line. It boasts one of the largest birthrates in Israel, with especially low education and employment rates for women, and especially high dropout rates when it comes to boys and school. Statistics point to the blacks as having an even rougher time of it than the whites.

Documentarian Uri Rosenwaks with Bedouin NGO director Majid Al Kamalat after a screening of "The Film Class"

"Israel," says Rosenwaks, "is turning into a capitalistic jungle," and it's leaving behind some of its struggling citizens. With no previous knowledge of the status of black Bedouin, Rosenwaks took what he absorbed in 18 months and turned it into a 53-minute documentary called "The Film Class," completed in 2006 and now weaving its way through the Jewish film-festival circuit.

'An Unfounded Stigma'
Superficially, the documentary centers on women of different ages understanding the mechanics of film production, but its real value lies in the self-knowledge and ancestral history they gain from interviewing others. For instance, they learn that older women know little in the way of their family trees, reaching back only to a grandparent at best. They know little of how they even wound up in Rahat. Male subjects seem to know more, like the nearly 90-year-old man who tells of black Bedouin, both male and female, being stolen as children, dragged away to be sold.

At times, the women visibly wrestle with their reactions to the stories they hear. They also get the chance to travel to see firsthand where they come from -- the group, with grant money for the making of the film, go all the way to Zanzibar to uncover their roots and find out more about the hardships of former slaves. (They also fly to England for quite a different adventure, one that addresses a serious familial issue, but also adds a bit of levity to the production.)

And it isn't just the past that stings. In an on-air talk with Talal Alkiernawi, the mayor of Rahat, the women challenge him on contemporary issues, like the discrepancies between blacks and whites.

In that interview, the women ask him rather bluntly, "Don't you feel that there is racism inflicted upon the blacks?"

The mayor distinctly pauses before answering with, "I don't see any racism."

Look, he continues, "I am a Muslim like you, an Arab like you. We speak the same language; we share sorrows and joys. I don't see any racism."

But another response to the same question is offered by Majid Al Kamalat, the 36-year-old director of "A Step Forward," a nongovernmental organization founded in 2000 by young Bedouin professionals to help residents from the grass-roots up. Its office in Rahat serves as a natural meeting place, as well as the location for part of "The Film Class."

This time, Rosenwaks plays interrogator, referring to something Al Kamalat quietly notes on film: "When you talk about a stigma, what do you mean?"

Replies Al Kamalat: "There is a stigma about the Afro-Bedouin community -- an unfounded stigma -- that we are all thieves and criminals, that we don't care about anything, but the opposite is true. As one of the community, I think it's the opposite. I see positive things, but people tend to see only the negative."

One such positive is the career of Al Kamalat's wife, Alia, who serves as headmistress of the Omar bin Al-Khatab elementary school -- kindergarten to grade six -- in Rahat. A working mother of three, Alia Al Kamalat represents one of the very first female Bedouin principals, though several more have followed in her footsteps. At 35, she is setting a trend for a new generation.

As is her husband, who notes that he appears in the film "for the future of the children," meaning all of the children in his city and elsewhere. And because of his own young daughter, he says he wants to further opportunities for women in general.

Those in the film class mention the exact same thing. They are empowering themselves and their families. They are undergoing an awakening of sorts. Be it operating the camera, setting precedents for their children, contemplating higher education or, for a few of the younger women, dabbling with the idea of marrying someone white, the assembly of students winds up earning an "A" -- for awareness.

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Israel should have [a long time ago] press the UN for:
1) Condemming Arab Muslim 'Palestinian' parents, teachers, leaders, Mullahs, for using Arab kids as human shields and as human bombs, clarifying the real culprits in Arabs' deaths.
2) Violations by ILLEGAL PA Arabs "settlers" on Israel's "agreed" borders by the UN.
3) "Palestinian" Violation of virtually ALL agreemants pacts with Israel (Oslo, Camp David, etc.).
4) The PA official media & education = hate (crimes) campaign on "the joos", (not just on Israel...).
5) Exposing the constant intimdation on nations by the GOLIATH ARAB MUSLIM (oil) block, to tarnish innocent Israel in the UN.



1) Are you denying that the Arab racist attacks on Jews in Israel/"palestine" has started since 1838 (Safed) [so were the attacks in 1883, 1920, 1921, 1929 - Hebron, etc.]?

2) Had Israel be a (mostly) Arab-Muslim State, would the intolerant Arab-Muslim Goliath world not accept them?

3) Why is there a complete silence on the historical fact of Arab immigration late 1800s early 1900s into Israel/"palestine"?

4) What anti-Israel bigotry is stronger, the "Arab racism"; factor? or the 'Islamic-Jihad' factor?

5) 'Moral equivalence' Do you have Arab activists on behalf of Israeli victims, just like you have Jewish, Israeli, Zionists activists for the (so called) 'Palestinian cause' (whatever that is...)?

6) If humane Israel would really go after "unarmed poor palestinians" as the 'Pallwood' propagandists tell us, How many Arabs would have survived Israel's might?

7) Who's more at fault, the Arab Muslim "Palestinians" parents pushing for Shahid-isim, or the indoctrinating Mullahs, Imams in the holy Mosques for using "Palestinian" kids and women as human bombs and as human shields (so they can blame the Zionists when Arab kids die)?

8) What would have happened if Arab Muslim "Palestinians" would have invested as much energy in rebuilding their lives as they do in destroying both nations' lives in fascistic Jihad, total hatred and campaign for GENOCIDE [to "drink the blood of the Jews" or to "push them all to the sea", or to "wipe them off of map"]?

9) Why does "bad" IDF Israeli army announce an area residents' civilians to evacuate before an operation against terrorists?

10) Why did Humane Israel's IDF invented specially low range missiles designed to hit ONLY the [terror] target and minimize collateral damage?

11) When was the last time the "Palestinian" well oil-ed propaganda machine has retracted [or even apologized] for it's usual PALLYWOOD fake images industry?

12) What's the difference between a Christian in Indonesia, Buddhist in Thailand, Christian in Nigeria, in Philippines, Australians in Bali (2002), non Muslims in London (0707/2005), in Madrid (bombing), "not the-right-kind-of-Muslims" in Shiite-Sunni hateful massacres in Iraq, oppression & massacres in the "Islamic Republic of Iran", and Israeli victims of the same "evil ideology"?

13) What's a harder oppression, your "average" Arab Muslim regime's on it's own people, Hamas-tan Islamic Apartheid [which most "Palestinians" supported!] on non Muslims, or the pro-Jihad parents' on their kids?

14) What would have happened if at least ONE Arab Muslim nation [regular or oil-ed one] would really care about the Arab [brothers, that since the 1960's started to call themselves as] "Palestinians" and let them get off the terror slum into normality and even prosperity?

15) What part of 'BLIND FASCISM' do Arab-Muslims deny, the usual obsessed anti Israel demonization [no matter what Israel does] or the reluctance to see Israel's super kind gestures for those that are trying to kill them [releases from prison, giving away own land vital to it's security, humanitarian aid, etc.] not as goodness but as "weakness"?

16) Why is it that when Islamists terrorists [Hamas or Hezbullah, Islamic Jihad, etc.] succeed in making sure Arab kids die [with their known tactics of cowardly firing among or behind children, etc.] the Arabs, Muslims rejoice and the Israelis, Jews are saddened ?

16) How can land be an issue [or the blatant lies the Arab lobby's financed: Jimmy Carter has said, though he admitted that Israel is a great equal democracy for all, Arabs and Jews alike!'] if "moderate" Palestinian official government still has venomous hatred and pro 'death cult' in it's regular curriculum and on it's official TV, or that such "moderate" Arab media outlets [like Al Jazeera] still glorify mass murder as "martyrdom"?

17) Who's more powerful, the Arab Muslim Goliath Oil mafia "lobby" on the world or a Chinese, Italian, Israeli, Irish, pharmaceutical, cigarettes lobbyists in Washington?

18) Had the International Arab Muslim lobby of nations in the UN [or the EU] not threatened other nations to bash Israel 24/7 [motivated by intolerance only!], What would be then the outcome?


Let's make it clear, even if there will be a "Palestine" state, it will never change the factual history, that a group of foreign Arab immigrants came into the (historic) land of the Jews (and started to call themselves as "Palestinians" in the 1960's) and hijacked the world comunity via terrorism and Arab oil power to give them yet a second 'Palestine' state (after Jordan).



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