The struggle between Zionists and Palestinian Bedouin over land in the Negev/Naqab has lasted at least a century. Notwithstanding the state's continuing efforts to concentrate the Bedouin population within a small swath of land, scholars have documented how the Bedouin have adopted their own means of resistance, including different practices of sumud. In this paper we maintain, however, that by focusing on planning policies and the spatio-legal mechanisms deployed by the state to expropriate Bedouin land, one overlooks additional technologies and processes that have had a significant impact on the social production of space in the Negev. One such site is the struggle over the right to education, which, as we show, is intricately tied to the organization of space and the population inhabiting that space. We illustrate how the right to education has been utilized as an instrument of tacit displacement deployed to relocate and concentrate the Bedouin population in planned governmental towns. Simultaneously, however, we show how Bedouin activists have continuously invoked the right to education, using it as a tool for reinforcing their sumud. The struggle for education in the Israeli Negev is, in other words, an integral part of the struggle for and over land.
Bedouin Sumud and the Struggle for Education
Michal Rotem is a human rights activist based in the Negev/Naqab. She is the research and international advocacy coordinator of the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality. Her master's thesis examined the right to education and its relation to the struggle over land in the Negev/Naqab.
Neve Gordon is a professor of politics and government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and a visiting Leverhulme professor at SOAS, University of London. He is the author of Israel's Occupation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008) and coauthor of The Human Right to Dominate (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).
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Michal Rotem, Neve Gordon; Bedouin Sumud and the Struggle for Education. Journal of Palestine Studies 1 August 2017; 46 (4): 7–21. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jps.2017.46.4.7
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