Inside Israel’s Bedouin communities, the practice of killing women who stain the family’s “honor” is experiencing a dark revival.
The Bedouins in Israel occupy an interesting place from the point of view of citizenship and tribal loyalty. They are Israeli citizens who serve in the Israeli military; they are also Muslims and so find themselves in awkward situations when appointed at Israeli checkpoints, where they are seen by their fellow Muslims as collaborators. There’s also deep prejudice among the Palestinians against the Bedouins; they are considered ignorant (one of the terms for a certain tribe of the Bedouins in the Judean desert is jahalin, which literally means “ignorant”) and thought to carry with them dark desert customs from before the birth of Islam. When I discussed honor killing among the Bedouins with my Palestinian friends, they said almost unanimously that “those people” still lived in Ayame Jahalia, the Age of Darkness before Islam.
The family I was dealing with had originally come from Be’er Sheva, the largest city next to the Negev. They now lived in a poor neighborhood of Ramle called Juarish, where there was a kind of desert lawlessness, which most of its residents were complacent about. The flying debris and open sewage were the first of many shocks that would unsettle an unprepared visitor. There were a few extravagantly decorated houses, which everyone knew were built on drug money.