AKUS’ postcard from Israel, Day 1: The Joe Alon Center for Bedouin Culture

A guest post by AKUS

[CiF Watch regular contributor ‘AKUS’ recently visited Israel and will be filing a few blog ‘postcards’ from his trip over the next few days. This is his first installment. – A.L.] 

Who killed Joe Alon?

A few minutes before 1 A.M. on Sunday, July 1, 1973, Col.Yosef (Joe ) Alon and his wife Dvora returned to their home in a quiet Washington, D.C., suburb. Alon, the air attache at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, had been at a farewell party for an Israeli diplomat. They parked the car. Dvora went into the house and then heard five gunshots. 

Joe Alon was one of the founders of the Israel Air Force, with Ezer Weizman and Moti Hod. His murder has never been solved.

While training and commanding air force units in the Negev, Joe Alon became familiar with the local Bedouin and the special character of the Negev. The Joe Alon Center near Kibbutz Lahav, not far from Beersheva, focuses on the life and culture of the desert tribes and is dedicated to this man who respected his fellow desert dwellers and their way of life.

Ouda Abu Kahud from the Bedouin township of Hura near Beersheba is a well-known guide in the area, and guides visitors from Israel and abroad around the two-storey Joe Alon Center exhibits depicting the daily life of the Negev Bedouin and their counterparts in Sinai.


Ouda Abu Kahud talking to group of policeman touring the area to learn more about Bedouin culture and life about typical Bedouin customs and life and how they differ among the various tribes.  His talk is punctuated by jokes about the Bedouin themselves, and their interactions with the wider world around them, adding his dry humor to the learning experience.

He is standing  in front of a model of an encampment of Bedouin of the Negev. Particularly interesting was the section on the Jebalyia tribe (Jebal/Jabal -= mountain). Ouda Abu Kahud explained that the tribe is descended from Christian slaves s brought from Romania by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD to serve and protect the Santa Caterina monastery on the presumed Mount Sinai. Over the centuries they intermarried with the local tribes, and are now Muslim.

Some of the many exhibits:

Full-scale models illustrating the lifestyles of different Bedouin tribes

Old Bedouin farming utensils, now superseded by modern tools

Woven and embroidered patchwork quilt made by Bedouin women to illustrate their communities and to express their dreams for their lives and the lives of their children.

Finally, in a full-size example of a Bedouin tent, Ouda Abu Kahud prepares coffee for his guests while he explains the complexities of Bedouin hospitality and the coffee ritual.

If you are in the Beersheva area on your next trip to Israel, make a small detour and spend a few hours at the Joe Alon Center – it’s well worth it!

27 replies »

  1. The Bedouin coffee ritual looks really similar to the way Druze elders prepare their traditional coffee. I happened to see it first hand on a tour of a few Druze villages in Israel last year.

    • There was a very good museum of Bedouin heritage under the Mount Tabor monastery in the village of the Sibli hamoula. The local lady who was the keeper and guide left the village and the museum has been closed down.

        • I just wanted to show you that we “Israelis” as you say (naturally the Druze and the Bedouins are not) have more then one zoo. And I’m a big fan of them even visited in Norway some Viking heritage places, In Australia the museums showing the life and history of the native Aborigine people, in New Zealand numerous Maori sites, in Tanzania the Masai memorial site, not mentioning the many zoos of Canada and the US presenting the different aspects of the history of the natives.
          And not to forget to say that tomorrow after taking a swim in the blue Mediterranean I will drive to the Golan just to enjoy the Syrians killing each other. With some luck even I can harvest some fresh organs and sell it to the Israeli Health Ministry.

          Apropos sanity speaking about health, have you got your .gall checked lately? I have a feeling that your bile filled up your cranium killing your only previously functioning braincell.

          • The Bedouins are alive and currently living in shanties in the Negev desert they have been roaming for centuries because the Government of Israel refuses to connect their tents to electricity and water.

            And now you want to put them in a zoo????

            That;s sick. And very telling.

            • Nat(urei Karta) why are you bashing your pal sanity? He suggested that all these heritage sites are zoos not me. But I don’t expect from you understand these small details so don’t worry keep it up with your broken disk style posting.
              That bedouins are living in shanties you have to tell the settled Bedouins in Sibli and Arab-al Aramshe. I have a feeling that seeing your place would be a terrible nightmare for them compared to their well maintained villas and gardens.

            • These Bedouin shanties are for you Nat

              ….Shibli High School is attended by 270 Bedouin Arab students, many from underprivileged backgrounds. Special educational programs introduced at the school have boosted the Bagrut matriculation pass rate and percentage of graduates attending university….

              Arab al-Aramshe (Arabic: عرب العرامشة‎, Hebrew: עַרַבּ אל-עַרָמִשָׁה‎‎), officially Aramisha (Hebrew: עַרָמִשָׁה, עראמשה‎‎), is a Bedouin village in Israel’s Western Galilee, situated south of the Lebanese border, not far from the Mediterranean coast. The village belongs to the Mateh Asher Regional Council.

              Aramshe, as it is popularly called, was founded as a permanent settlement for Bedouins living in the area. The predominant surnames among the population are: Majis, Maz’el, Suidan, and ‘Ali. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, at the end of 2006, the population stood at 1,100.[1]

              Over the years, Aramshe residents have experienced attacks by Katyusha rockets launched from Southern Lebanon by the Hezbollah. During the 2006 Lebanon War, Fadiya Juma’a (age 60) and her daughters Samira (33) and Sultana (31) were killed by a Katyusha that fell in the garden of their home on August 5

    • Hey Sanity – this is Adam Levick’s blog. He can publish whatever he wants on it. He doesn’t need your permission. OK?

      • And given he has an open comment policy, I’ll comment if I like.

        Now, I’m just pointing out that the mission statement of this blog is apparently to monitor anti-Semitism on CiF. But actually, we all know it’s a vehicle for Levick to spread his venomous vicious ethnoreligionationalism.

        • Quite why Adam indeed has such an open comment policy despite facing preposterous accusations of “venomous vicious ethnoreligionationalism” is beyond me.

            • I suppose you could show us, being the very astute ape that you are(your words, not mine), where Mr. Levick has referred to, or anything derived of, your choice pearl of “religioethnonationalism”?
              (a worse neologism, I have yet to encounter, “Professor”; frankly, it bespeaks a lot about your ‘scholastic’ resume).

              • prezlauerberg, you haven’t really understood what this is about have you? there are some good honourable people out there who care about anti-Semitism and stopping it. these are people who are humanists, who truly believe in the value of human dignity.

                then there is this website, run by people who are actually just nationalists. if they cared abou anti-Semitism, they wouldn’t describe glenn greenwald like they do. they wouldn’t bang on about bedu exhibits. or about fucking deligitimisation. they would instead be worried about anti-Semitism. But they aren’t. You need to learn that.

                • Nationalists? Have you any proof of this?
                  Or do you suppose that anyone, not opposed to(or in your mind, heaven forfend, supportive of) Israel’s right to exist a Jewish state, is somehow a “rabid, venomous”(insert your tawdry diatribe here) Nationalist?
                  I guess that makes every European nation-state a locus of “venomous”, frenzied Nationalism… Have the 500 Million + Europeans been told yet, that they are all closeted Fascists?
                  Why wouldn’t one question Glenn Greenwald? One who represented Nazis in the US(and championed their rallies), should be liable to scrutiny…
                  Furthermore, regarding delegitimization(“Professor”, That’s how you should’ve spelled it), the EU’s definition of anti-Semitism, considers denying Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, Denying the Jewish People’s right to self-determination therein, drawing comparisons of Israel’s policies to Nazism(sometimes made by various CiF contributors).
                  This blog does courageous, informed, and selfless work.
                  The sooner you stop trolling here, the faster we can clear these comment pages for poignant and meaningful discussions, without your vagaries of “religioethnonationalism”.

        • “But actually, we all know it’s a vehicle for Levick to spread his venomous vicious ethnoreligionationalism.”

          No, “we” don’t all know that.
          I find it mildly amusing when a poster, such as yourself, resorts to using the Royal “we”.
          If there is a “we” who agree with you who are they?
          Do they exist, the voices in your head do not count.

    • Although not specifically the purpose of my little trip to the Joe Alon Center, it actually has a great deal to do with the Guardian by showing aspects of Bedouin life and the respect Israel has for the Bedouin in Israel that the Guardian deliberately refrains from presenting.

      You, too, could learn a great deal by visiting it.

    • I believe you’re free to open your own blog, and post whatever you like in it.
      But tell me “Professor”, does your salary(read, welfare dole) cover trolling other peoples’ sites?
      Is it tax-deductible?
      I wonder how I could get in on that; Lots of anti-Semites I might harass then, and get paid for it! Woohoo!