|29/9/04||The Women and Children of the Jahalin Bedouins|
|WHATEVER YOUR POLITICS, MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN PALESTINE TODAY
NEED YOUR HELP. SUPPORT THEM BY SENDING DONATIONS OF MONEY, BOOKS AND ART MATERISLS AND CONTRIBUTE TANGIBLY TO A WORTH-WHILE PROJECT
Until the 1950s the Jahalin Bedouins lived in Tel Arad in the Negev desert, part of the post-1948 State of Israel. In the 1950s they were transferred by the Israeli state to the West Bank. Until the 1967 war the Jahalin kept to the traditional Bedouin lifestyle and made a living mostly by herding sheep in the area of Abu Dis and Al Azarieh near Jerusalem.
At the onset of the Israeli occupation after 1967, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) took over the Jahalin grazing lands for 'security reasons' and pushed the Jahalin into a narrow strip of land near the Jerusalem-Jericho road. Later, they were further curtailed in order o make room for the expansion of nearby Jewish settlements. In July 1994, the IDF ordered them to move, and in May 1995 the Israeli Supreme Court rejected their appeal and permitted their removal in order to enable the expansion of Ma'ale Edomim.
The Jahalin were forcibly removed from their source of livelihood and after further appeals to the Supreme Court, an agreement was reached between the state and the Jahalin tribe, according to which the group would move to a site designated by the state (which is located beside the Jerusalem refuse plant). In return, the group was given a small number of metal containers as living quarters, and was allocated a small number of building sites.
THE END OF THE JAHALINS' TRADITIONAL LIFESTYLE
This forced agreement has brought to an end the Jahalins' traditional lifestyle. Today, 30 houses are under construction on the site, and almost none of the Jahalin continue to herd sheep. Most earn their livelihood by working in Al Azarieh and other adjacent towns. Like other Palestinians with residence permits in Jerusalem, the Jahalin can travel to Israel only with special permits.
The site – located on a barren hill in the Judean desert – has a primary school, established by the Palestinian Authority, where the Jahalin children study for the first four years and from the fifth class onwards they walk half an hour to school in Al Aazarieh in the hot dry desert climate in summer and in strong cold winds in winter. The site has only partial electricity and water supply, no medical centre or pre-school facilities.
THE PROJECT THAT HELPS EMPOWER JAHALIN WOMEN AND CHILDREN
Some years ago, volunteers bought a caravan where after-school classes in English, cookery and sewing are being held for the Jahalin women. Three years ago, a German volunteer Anna Crummenel, assisted by Rabbis for Human Rights, began organising English classes for the children and the women, and computer courses for the five Jahalin female students who study in the Abu Dis branch of the Al Quds University.
In addition, the women take art materials home and made embroidered bags, cellular phone carriers, hair bands and so on, for sale in Germany.
Last June several other volunteers, including my friend Nitza Aminov, joined Anna to organise art painting, collage, doll and jewellery making workshops during the children's summer holidays. Now that school has re-started, the volunteer group continues to work with the children, organising English and art classes. More recently, a women's committee has been established with Jahalin and volunteer members, with the aim of empowering the Jahalin women, who experience oppression as women, Palestinians and Jahalins.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The project needs children's books in English for all levels. It also needs art materials – good quality pastels and crayons.
* €30 would pay for one English lesson for a group of children
YOU CAN HELP BY:
* sending children's books in English and good quality new arts materials to me (Ronit Lentin, Dept of Sociology, Trinity College, Dublin 2), and I shall mail them on to Nitza (or mail directly to Nitza, address below)
EACH CONTRIBUTION WILL BE ACKNOWLEDGED WITH A RECEIPT AND A PHOTOGRAPH FROM THE PROJECT.
IF YOU WISH TO VISIT THE JAHALIN ENCAMPMENT, PLEASE EMAIL NITZA AMINOV, email@example.com