Planning for an Ethnic Minority: The Bedouin Arabs of Israel
This chapter discusses and evaluates the Israeli Government's Negev bedouin resettlement program from the State and target community perspectives. The role of planning and its impact upon indigenous peoples and the ability to quantify and qualify these impacts are the central themes of the chapter.
Development planning among indigenous Fourth-World communities is notorious for its cultural shortsightedness, ethnocentric and/or western biases, and a seeming disregard for the views of those for whom the planning is being undertaken. Instituted in the mid-1960s, Israel's bedouin resettlement program has long been the subject of such criticism and debate. This is due primarily to the fact that the program has been designed and implemented by Israeli Jews for the minority bedouin Arabs with little, if any, input by the bedouin in terms of their needs, attitudes, or interests.
Using primary data gathered in one bedouin town in 1993 and 1996, the public service planning program is evaluated, and gaps in user access of services are measured and analyzed. The overall effects of urbanization upon the bedouin economy and social structures -- as seen, for example, through the changing communal identity and politicization of the post-nomadic community -- are also addressed.
Analyzing, measuring, quantifying, and defining the successful implementation of any planning project is not always easily accomplished. These tasks are all the more difficult when the planning project in question is plagued by political intrigue and the fact that the group for whom the planning is being carried out differs from the governing planners in terms of religion, ethnicity, economy, and lifestyle. Such is the case of a planning project to resettle the Negev bedouin, a minority population of about 120,000 Arab Muslim nomads living in the barren desert regions of southern Israel.