Educational Trip ” The Negev”

An exciting day waited for the Sabeel women on Wednesday, April 2. It was the day that all went to the Negev, a trip that everyone was looking forward to since they first heard that participants of Sabeel’s International Conference (in November 2013) visited this southern area. After the conference, the women started asking to have a Negev trip for them, to witness a part of their country they still had not discovered.They want to go and see and learn about both the ancient past and present struggles of the Negev.
We had 52 women who met at the Sabeel Jerusalem office in the early morning for a bus ride to meet with the Rev. Kamal Farah at the Monastery of Latrun where the women had breakfast and bought organic honey.
Afterwards, we left on our journey to Tel Arad, an area which has been turned into a nature preserve where we could see the archaeological remains from the time of the Canaanites, including two castles of King Solomon and an ancient housing unit.
Later on, we went to Tel Sheva, where we walked to an ancient well from Abraham’s time that was used to give water to families of that village and is now an archeological site. We all had the chance to go down underground to explore this magnificent site by foot.The Rev. Farah, who specializes in archeology relating to the Bible, the Church, and the Palestinian people, explained the history of the sites.
Then we went to Lakiya, a Bedouin village in the Negev where the Women of Lakiya welcomed us and prepared lunch, a traditional meal of Mujadara (lentils and rice).The founder of this women’s association, NimehSanee’, told the Sabeel women how the Bedouins were moved by the Israeli government from their lands in Tel Arad to the urban center of Lakiya, and talked about their traditions and the importance of remaining on their land.
Then a young activist by the name of Ashraf talked about the Israeli government’s Prawer Plan, which is a plan to demolish the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev.There are 38 villages, and only 11 are recognized by the Israeli government. In these unrecognized villages, the Bedouins– all citizens of Israel – live without secure housing structures, electricity and other essential services. Tens of thousands of people in these impoverished communities, hundreds of years old, are threatened by the Prawer Plan, he explained. This plan would evict them from their ancestral land and relocate them for the benefit of Israeli Jewish citizens. The Prawer Plan was defeated in the Israeli Knesset in November 2013, and temporarily placed on hold.
Time was given to relax, and go to the small store of handmade embroidery done by the Bedouin women. The selling of the embroidery helps the Bedouin women improve their economic situation.
We concluded our time drinking coffee together and reflecting on what we heard and saw. Most of the women considered this an educational trip as well as a spiritual trip, learning about the biblicalNegev site from the time of the Canaanites.They enjoyed listening to the women from the Bedouin association and they enjoyed learning from Ashraf, who continued discussing with them and answering their questions.They wanted more time to be spent with the Bedouins.
We concluded our day by thanking them, and the women asked us to take them to similar places so they can learn and affect their community in a better way.