BOOK REVIEW: Indigenous (In)justice: human rights law and Bedouin Arabs in the Naqab/Negev

Within Israel’s imperialist-supported colonial expansion, the issue of Bedouin in the Naqab remains largely on the periphery, despite its centrality to the wider context of ramifications pertaining to the colonising of land and the Palestinian indigenous population. The lack of visibility is evident in the historical portrayal of hostile narratives – a trend recurring in Zionist media portrayal of the Bedouin, as well as through the absence of a complete analysis of colonisation, expropriation and home demolitions in the Naqab.

Indigenous (In)Justice: Human Rights and Bedouin Arabs in the Naqab/Negev (Harvard University Press, 2013) is a collection of essays that seek to address the discrepancies within the incomplete discourse by adopting a historical perspective that takes into account Israel’s settler-colonial project. This includes legislation manipulation to ascertain dispossession, international law with regard to the indigenous populations and specifically within the context of the Bedouin, as well as the importance of placing indigenous rights within a broader context of citizen and human rights in order to analyse the structures preventing proper recognition, identification, self-determination and autonomy for the indigenous population.

Colonialism and subsequent nation-states have ensured a dominant narrative that restricts resistant expression of the indigenous. At national and international level, legislation has catered for the threat perceived mostly by settler states that indigenous demands constitute a threat. “Indigenous communities’ demands for recognition of their land rights have been traditionally designed not to threaten the existence of the nation-state but rather to reassert the basic rights cherished and required by indigenous people in order to ensure their survival.”

The introduction clarifies the centrality of the Naqab Bedouins as “part of the broader indigenous Arab people of Palestine,” emphasising on the repercussions of Israel’s colonisation plans as detrimental to the broader concept of dispossession and land appropriation in Palestine. In particular, the central theme recurrent in this collection of essays is the subject of settler-colonialism, which is regularly eliminated in a manner that reflects international frameworks of separating current political issues from the historical colonial and imperialist plunder. Read more.

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