Israeli Bedouin slam new anti-polygamy move as ‘cultural apartheid’

The law makes it so that families will only be allocated one plot of land regardless of how many wives.

Women prepare traditional flat bread in the Beduin village of Umm al-Hiran, northeast of Beersheba.

Members of Israel’s Bedouin community have criticized a recently approved law denying additional land grants for polygamous families, calling the move “cultural apartheid.”

The law, proposed by Social Equality Minister Amichai Chikli and Justice Minister Yariv Levin to combat polygamy, makes it so that families will only be allocated one plot of land regardless of how many wives there are.

“This is against the principle of democracy,” one Bedouin Israeli told Maariv.

“It’s no wonder that the current government is fighting millions of citizens who oppose the damage to democracy by the legislation that harms the courts. So all the more so is its attitude towards Arab citizens, and especially the Bedouin in the Negev under the cry of: ‘The Bedouin are taking over Israel’s land.’ It hurts hundreds of families in the Negev. And one day, they will learn that this decision gave birth to criminals because they won’t have a roof over their heads.”

Another Bedouin told Maariv, “This is a cultural apartheid that would not pass in any democratic regime in the world. Only in Israel. The laws are personal and culturally dependent. What sinister regime is this suitable for? This is a religious war and cultural coercion, a collective punishment that ultimately harms the women themselves. This is a form of birth control against a cultural ethnic minority. The law will force more women into poverty. What is also certain is that the law won’t lower polygamy by even half a percent.”

What is Israel’s stance on Bedouin polygamy?

Polygamy is illegal in Israel, as it is in most countries around the world. However, there are two exceptions, first is when Jewish men are allowed to have a second wife in a very specific circumstance, the other is for Bedouin, which routinely practices it, and the state looks the other way.

Up until now, Bedouin would receive land and financial grants for families as part of government attempts to regulate the many unrecognized Bedouin villages in Israel. However, according to lawmakers, this would up being an incentive to continue polygamy.

“From the day I took office as the head of, among other things, the [Bedouin Settlement and Development Authority], I made the government’s fight against polygamy a top priority,” Chikli said in a statement.

Levin said that this move “will help deal with polygamy and its negative consequences.”

The right-wing NGO Regavim, which has long voiced its opposition to Bedouin polygamy practices, hailed the move as “a significant step in returning the rule of law to the Negev.”

August 3, 2023 | 2 Comments »

Leave a Reply

2 Comments / 2 Comments

  1. They never heard those words in their lives! Cultural apartheid.
    Just get bunk beds and stack up those wives.

  2. There is Israel’s law and there is Bedouin law. The government of Israel decides matters not on a weak claim to practice bigamy after some tribes illegally occupy State land and then plead ‘cultural apartheid’ if denied their own brand of society not sanctioned here in Israel. If someone wanted to settle here legally they must obey Israeli law. Bigamy is not allowed. Jewish law also allows multiple wives, but no Jew today accepts this practice. Why should Bedouin be allowed to do so? There are plenty of places in Muslim lands where they can live as their culture permits, but not here. Muslims and Christians seem to flourish in Israel despite the ‘hardships’ they may have with the government.
    The Temple at the time of the descendent of King David to rule will clarify once and for all time whose land this is and whose people may rule with wisdom and strength. It is a long way until Israel regains its former greatness, but it will come. We pray for it.