While the Age of the Negev project is an excellent initiative, it will not solve the problem of the deprivation of the Bedouin’s living expanse, with the Prawer Law still threatening the relocation of most of them.
“[…] Apparently, the college has been in the pipeline for over six years already, at the initiative of local agents. The answer then, according to activists Safa Abu Rabia and Amal El-Sana, is a definite yes. Education and intellect are no less important aspects of life, they say, and it’s time for the public image of the Bedouin to reflect this, and not only poverty and squabbles over land; after all, books are read and computers are used in the non-recognized villages too.
The college is being planned as part of the Age of the Negev project: an employment park – employment, not industrial, stresses Sigal Moran, who heads the Bnei Shimon Regional Council, where the park is located. An employment park because the emphasis there is not on industry but on employment – in other words, on people, and primarily on Bedouin women from the area. The stated goal: Of the 3,200 jobs on offer, at least half of them, at all levels, will go to Bedouin women.
This excellent initiative comes from the former head of the regional council, Moshe Paul – cooperation among the Bnei Shimon Regional Council, which has a ranking of 6 on the Central Bureau of Statistics’ socioeconomic scale, Rahat, which has a ranking of 1, and Lehavim, with a ranking of 9. Moreover, although the park itself is located in the jurisdiction of Bnei Shimon, Rahat has been given a 46-percent stake in the joint company that will manage it. In other words, Rahat will get 46 percent of the municipal taxes collected – no less important a matter for the men and women of the city than the employment.
Another important matter is the fact that one of the 21 enterprises that have already been approved for the park is the SodaStream factory, which has moved there from Ma’aleh Adumim. Apparently, it is possible: cooperation between Jews and Bedouin for the good of all within the borders of sovereign Israel, instead of participation in depriving the Palestinians of their living expanse.
But the Age of the Negev project will not solve the problem of the deprivation of the Bedouin’s living expanse, with the Prawer Law still threatening the relocation of most of them – in a manner that will allow the state to register as much land as possible in its name and concentrate the Bedouin on as little land as possible, leaving many of them without property, without rights and without a roof over the heads.[…]”
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