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(AP) On Hadra al-Faqira’s wedding anniversary, just weeks after she gave birth to a daughter, her husband walked out and took a second wife.
She hasn’t seen him since he moved down the road in their dusty Bedouin town and started a new family, with seven more children.
Thought - Al-Faqira - Wife - Household
“I can’t bear the thought of her,” al-Faqira said of the second wife. “He destroyed my household when he started another.”
Although Israel outlawed polygamy decades ago, it’s widespread in the impoverished Bedouin sector.
Israel - Custom - Time - Bedouin - Polygamists
Israel is now trying to end the old custom, for the first time prosecuting suspected Bedouin polygamists. But many Bedouins, who complain of systematic neglect and discrimination by successive Israeli governments, see only a ploy to curb their population growth and criminalize their community members.
The Justice Ministry’s director-general Emi Palmor, who spearheads the campaign, says she’s determined to enforce the law but is trying to do so with input from the community. She said she has spent two years researching the issue and discussing solutions with Bedouin activists.
Bedouin - Community - Place - Country - Polygamy
“The Bedouin community is the only place in this country where polygamy is legitimate, out loud, exposed, and no one is ashamed,” she said. “It’s a delicate issue, but it has to end.”
Critics of the campaign, including Bedouin women opposed to polygamy, mistrust the government’s motives and the timing of the campaign. “It’s simple: polygamy means more Bedouin children, and that means more demographic concerns from a Zionist perspective,” says human rights lawyer Rawia Aburabia.
Bedouins - Descendants - Tribes - Part - Israel
The Bedouins, descendants of nomadic tribes, are part of Israel’s Arab minority of 1.8 million, or about 20 percent of Israel’s population. Some 240,000 live in the southern Negev Desert, many in makeshift encampments lacking electricity, sewage or running water.
Most Bedouins fled or were forced out of what is now Israel during the 1948 War of Independence. Israel did not recognize...
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