If we have to summarize 2020 in a few words, we would say it was a year full of inner and outer struggles, that prove the importance of Arab-Jewish collaboration and a shared society, solidarity between communities and creating empathetic societies that advocate civil equality.
The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected all our lives, expanding inequality all over the world and especially in remote and disadvantaged areas. In the Arab-Bedouin villages of the Naqab unemployment went up and children’s education, which in fact was shut down, caused unrecoverable damage and a loss of the school year due to lack of internet facilities in the villages. Sadly, we have witnessed the government’s eviction policy and home demolitions continue even during the pandemic. The government’s long years of neglect has made the Bedouin community in this time of crisis as the most disadvantaged community in Israel. Having said that, the solidarity and commitment we’ve seen across countries, communities and mainly within the Naqab residents, has given us plenty of reasons to move into 2021 with strength, hope and determination.
Photograph by Waḍḥah ʾAbū Jūdeh, az-Zaʿarūrah, 2016
Photograph by Ṣabāḥ ʾAbū Mdīġim, al-ʿArāgīb, 2011
As one of the lessons of the pandemic, NCF initiated a new project of digital literacy providing accessibility to information about rights that will enable Bedouin women from unrecognized villages to learn and access internet services through a community computer and a volunteer instructor in each village.
The project offers the option of online extraction of rights. We will provide in 6-8 Bedouin villages basic equipment and basic skills related to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). We will promote access to governmental services, employment opportunities for Bedouin women and access to other important information.
In 2020 we continued, as much as possible, with the documentation project of stills and videos taken by women and children in the unrecognized villages and released Recognized: Life and Resilience Captured by Bedouin Women. This exhibition presents photos by Bedouin women in the unrecognized villages on subjects such as human rights violations and the daily life in the villages.
Local Lobby and Women’s Employment
2020 brought a decrease in Bedouin women’s employment in the Naqab. This issue was one of the main topics for which we lobbied in the Parliament and on the local level. We met with MK Aaida Toma Suliman and with Mr. Yariv Man, in charge for the five years plan for the economic and social improvement of the Bedouin population in the Naqab. We emphasized our reservations as to the under performance of the five years plan.
During the yearly Negev Day heId in the Knesset (organized this year by MK Saeed Al-Khrumi), we presented to its Committee for the Advancement of Women’s Status, data concerning employment in the Negev in general and Bedouin women employment in particular.
As part of the Negev Day in the Knesset
International Advocacy and Reports
This year, we released two reports: one, “Homes and Structures Demolitions and Inequality in the Arab Bedouin Communities in the Negev/Naqab” and the second, about “Violations of the Human Rights of the Bedouin Community in the Negev/Naqab during Pandemic”.
We also contributed to the Human Rights report of the US State Department as well as reporting on Violations during Pandemic 2020 to the International Lands Coalition.
Together with our partner organizations Adalah and Bimkom we started working with the recently appointed Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate Housing towards applying mechanisms for the protection of Human Rights of Bedouins in the Naqab/Negev
We take this opportunity to wish you a joyful holiday season and a Happy New Year. May 2021 bring you good health, happiness and peace.
Our thanks for your efforts and achievements and looking forward to your cooperation.
In accordance with the law, the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality is proud to note that as a result of cooperation with friendly countries and international organizations that promote human rights, most of the funding for our activities comes from “foreign entities.”