Ahlam Shibli

Goter

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Goter

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Ahlam Shibli©

 

 

 

Goter

“We should transform the Bedouin into an urban proletariat in industry, services, construction and agriculture. 88% of the Israeli population are not farmers, let the Bedouins be like them. Indeed, this will be a radical move which means that the Bedouin would not live on his land with his herds, but would become an urban person who comes home in the afternoon and puts his slippers on… The children would go to school with their hair properly combed. This would be a revolution, but it may be fixed within two generations. Without coercion but with government direction ...  this phenomenon of the Bedouins will disappear.” Moshe Dayan, 1963

Since the mid-1960’s the Palestinians of Bedouin descent inhabitants of the Naqab (Negev) have been subjected to a policy of dispossession of their traditional lands and relocation to seven townships planned by the Israeli government, largely without consultation of the people affected. The land they leave behind is then made available for use by Jewish citizens. At present, approximately half of the 110,000 Palestinian Bedouin in the Naqab are living in these townships. According to official statistics, they are among the very poorest of all communities in Israel, lacking sufficient public services, haunted by high rates of unemployment and criminality, and denied viable prospects of development.

The remaining half of the Palestinian Bedouin in the Naqab has so far refused to move to these townships, to avoid losing their lands and being subjected to culturally adverse and socially degrading living conditions. They live in more than 100 unrecognized villages, where the laws of the Jewish State prohibit them from building permanent structures, where houses are regularly demolished, fields deemed illegal by the authorities sprayed with toxic chemicals, families evicted from their homes, and where there is no public access to electricity, running water, or public services such as health care, sanitation and education beyond primary school level.

Ahlam Shibli’s work, Goter, photographs from unrecognised villages and recognised townships”, addresses the position of the Palestinian of Bedouin descent in the state of Israel: where there is a house there is no home, where there is a home there is no house. “Goter” is a word foreign to the Arabic language, used by the Palestinian Bedouin of the Naqab. According to local people, it is derived from the English “Go there”, a command Palestinian Bedouin would hear from the military during the era of the British Mandate (1917-1948).