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Driven to despair
Jerusalem Post - Jerusalem
Author: Friedman, Ron
Date: Nov 13, 2009
Start Page: 18
Section: Features
Abstract (Document Summary)

"The reason many of the Beduin's lands don't have formal registry is because for many years registering with the authorities meant being under the thumb of the ruling empire. It meant having to pay taxes and being subject to conscription to the armies of the colonizing monarchs of the ages," El-Ahtamin explained. "Those [Beduin] whose land ownership is recognized by Israel, owe it to the records compiled by the Ottoman Empire and in turn kept by the British.

[Gilad Altman] wrote that the government's policies on the land issue serve to further alienate the Beduin community from the State. "The younger generation grows up in this reality [of life in the unrecognized village] and discovers that breaching the law is in its best interest and learns to ignore the State's demands. There is no one who counters this wrongdoing, and the State itself, in its actions, sends a message that delinquency pays off. The current habits of ignorance of the law and ineffective enforcement cause the crime rate to spread to other areas: from property damage to violence. On the whole, people prefer to belong to stronger, more just and higher quality society. From the point of view of the Beduin child in the Negev who grew up in such a reality, the State of Israel is not strong, as it does not enforce its laws; is not just, as it does not stand behind its promises; and is not of high quality, as seen by the low standard of living in his village. In such a reality, it is easy for a Beduin child to join one of the many separatist groups that oppose the State."

6 photos; SIX-YEAR-OLD Elial El-Ahtamin looks out the window of his family's house in the village. A VIEW of the Beduin village of Khashm Zanna, which is one of 46 unrecognized Beduin villages in the Negev. A LONG BLACK hose that runs along the ground is the only thing that connects Khashm Zanna with the state authorities. The hose carries water to a single faucet in the village center. 'My family has lived here long before the State of Israel was founded or even thought of,' says Atiah El-Ahtamin. BULLDOZERS ON the horizon. 'The government comes around every once in a while and tears down houses," says Khashm Zanna resident Atiah El-Ahtamin. ..CR:[Ron Friedman]

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