General, Occupied Territories

Summer camp for Jahalin Bedouin Children kicks off!

0 Comments 16 July 2017

For over a decade, Rabbis for Human Rights has worked to organise and run summer programs and trips for Jahalin children in the West Bank in collaboration with nuns from the Comboni Order. The programs give the children a chance to grow, develop, and play in a safe and supervised environment alongside mentors from the Bedouin community as well as international and Israeli volunteers.

Bedouin program director and RHR volunteer working with small group of children during summer camp at Jabal al Jahalin

Bedouin program director and RHR volunteer working with small group of children during summer camp at Jabal al Jahalin

Last week, summer camp began for around a hundred children at Jabal al Jahalin near Azaria. Rabbis for Human Rights’ volunteer Zoe Bray, an artist and anthropologist currently based in Jerusalem, drew a sketch and reflected on the day:

Yesterday, I accompanied Rabbis for Human Rights to a summer camp for Jahalin Bedouin kids at the Jabel, near Azaria. After loads of physical activities, the five to twelve year old boys were invited to do a relaxing activity to wind down, threading necklaces for their loved ones. The conventional expectation was of course that the necklaces would be for their mothers. One child declared he was making one for his goat.

Most of the kids were understandably suspicious of me. At the end of the morning, one kid, eyeing me defiantly, asked me, quite rightly: “Why are you here? In this horrible place?” Of course, the first thing that came to mind was indeed the difficult political, economic, environmental, social etc situation his community is in, but then I answered: “Because you are here!” He appeared surprised, and grinned.

Winding down under the shade of two sycamore trees, Jabel, near Azzariyah, East Jerusalem. On the horizon, view of the desert, Jordan valley and the Dead Sea, and the landfill of Jerusalem's trash.

Winding down under the shade of two sycamore trees, Jabel, near Azaria, East Jerusalem. On the horizon, view of the desert, Jordan valley and the Dead Sea, and the landfill of Jerusalem’s trash. Drawing: Zoe Bray

In the coming weeks, Rabbis for Human Rights will also be involved in summer programs at Abu Nawahr 1, Abu Nawahr 2, El Muntar and Wadi Katif, all of which live under the threat of demolitions or have recently experienced demolitions. In fact, only a few days ago, we received the bad news of a home demolished in Abu Hindi, another community RHR regularly works with. In addition to our programming for the children, RHR is also involved in advocacy work aimed at protecting the rights of the Jahalin community.

Brief background: The Jahalin Bedouin live in a number of encampments around the Maale Adumim settlement area outside Jerusalem, on the northern edge of the Judean Desert. They represent one of the most vulnerable groups living in the West Bank, and are plagued by extremely high rates of poverty and unemployment. The Jahalin also suffer under the constant threat of home demolition and forced displacement due to discriminatory building and planning policy as well as on-going pressure to expand nearby settlements. Already displaced from their ancestral lands in Tel Arad, the Jahalin have been forced to mostly abandon their agrarian/herding lifestyle for an urban one.

More on the Jahalin

Rabbis for Human Rights would like to thank Children of Peace along with our many other donors  for their continued support which allows this program to continue.

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If you are interested in volunteering or supporting this work in another way, please be in touch with Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann at [email protected]

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