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Nomads of the Nagev

  March 27th, 2009

We spent the morning speaking with a Bedouin couple, Juma and Salima, who live in an “un-official” village out side of Mitzpa Ramon. Our visit was facilitated by Amir, a PhD student at Hebrew University who also acted as a guide and translator. Salima represents a very small but emerging population of progressive Bedouin women. She is a mother to 6 kids by day (including a set of triplets) and attends university in the evenings. She has also managed to open up a guest house to earn a flexible income. Her academic and entrepreneurial pursuits are all totally uncommon for a woman in a community where most are discouraged from completing more than an elementary education. It was amazing to hear first-hand the experience of a woman fighting against the constraints of her strongly patriarchal society and the closer judgment of the community and neighbors. Her educational pursuits are motivated simply by a desire to learn and study linguistics and literature.
From the outside, the guest house we were ushered into looked like a structurally dubious tin shanty, but the inside was covered in colorful mats and rugs giving it a clean, comfortable palatial feeling. Juma (Salima’s husband) served us all several cups of tea and furnished us with seating cushions. We had over half of an hour to exchange questions and translated conversation. By far one of the major highlights of the trip…

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