Israelis Play Tourists in a Bedouin Town in the Negev


“Rahat is not only what you read in the media, the negative things, there are also good things,” Mayor Talal al-Krenawi told the tour group at a spotless industrial park on the edge of the city, built to alleviate unemployment.

For $28, the six-hour Ramadan Nights trip promised a guided bus tour of “the secrets” of Rahat, as well as traditional debka dancing and sweet-making workshops, shopping in the no-frills market and home hospitality for Iftar, the festive meal that ends each day’s sunrise-to-sunset fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

While some alternative tourism companies offer Bedouin desert experiences, Rahat has no listed hotels. Established in the 1970s, it was one of seven towns built in the Negev to accommodate the traditionally seminomadic Bedouin herders as part of a government policy of resettlement and integration into Israeli society.

The largest of the towns, it now has more than 70,000 residents.

The Bedouin birthrate, among the highest in the world, has been increased by the practice of polygamy. More than 200,000 Bedouin live in the Negev region, out of Israel’s total population of nearly nine million, and they have long complained of discrimination.

Source : Nytimes