Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Jahalin: No(w) where?

The 2000 film by Danny Verete,  "Yellow Asphalt" ("Asphalt Zahov"), is a core component of my introductory cultural anthropology class. The film was completed over seven years and stars the Jahalin clan (at the end of the film, the credits include each Jahalin family member in the film). It comprises three vignettes, each concerning the collision of Israeli and Bedouin values in the Judean Desert. Every semester I think about changing out the film and showing something more current, but the fact remains that stories dramatize issued that are still relevant and fresh. Yes, the trucks are dated, mobile phones and cell towers are absent, but the basic issues are unchanged. Whether it be the 1950s, the 1990s or 2014, the traditionally nomadic Jahalin tribe and the Israelis continue to clash.

In a 2002 review in the New York Times, A. O. Scott  wrote:

''Yellow Asphalt,'' . . . was completed before the outbreak of the second intifada a year and a half ago and does not directly address the volatile politics of the Middle East. The expulsion of the Jahalin from Israel in the 1950's, for example, and their further displacement by expanding settlements in the late 90's, are never mentioned. But the uneasy coexistence of Bedouins and Israelis is as unmistakable a presence in the film as the dust and wind of the desert.

This week,  Al Jazeera reported on Israeli plans to relocate West Bank Palestinians, including the Jahalin tribe, to Jericho. According to the article, "the UNRWA Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl said on Sunday that the implementation of such a plan would stoke concerns 'that it amounts to a 'forcible transfer' in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention'."  Below is a current photo of the Jahalin refugee camp. It looks the same as that depicted in "Yellow Asphalt" in 2000, and I would guess not much different from the 1950s.

Palestinian Bedouin village of the Jahalin today, from Al Jazeera
 For the complete Al Jazeera report, click here. 

Below, a selection of photos of the demolition of Bedouin by Israeli demolitions as reported last May in Al Jazeera.

The residents of al-Araqib have lived in the village cemetery since January 2011. The Jewish National Fund is planting a forest where their original houses stood.

Israel plans to demolish the unrecognised Bedouin village of Atir, and turn the area into a forest. 13-year-old Mousa Abu al-Kean's home was demolished in 2013.
Naif Agele's brother's house, in the unrecognised section of the Bedouin township of Kuseife, was demolished in March 2014. "It took my brother two months to build this house for his family. The state destroyed it in 10 minutes," Agele said.

"The state wants us to move to [the Bedouin township of] Hura," Fatma Abu Alkean (right) told Al Jazeera, "but Atir is our village. Our life is here. This is our land."
Israeli authorities demolished 74-year-old Khader Abu al-Kean's home in Atir in May 2013. "This part of Atir was home to 10 families. We rebuilt our homes, but for four months the bulldozers kept coming back every other week."

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