The Voice behind the Image - Eretz Israel Museum

The Voice behind the Image
Children photographing the Bedouin villages in the Negev

The photos in this exhibition tell the story of the children of the unrecognized villages in the Negev – a story that incorporates childhood experiences in the wide open spaces of the desert and the struggle to exist under grueling circumstances, in view of the fear of the demolition of their homes.

In the past decade the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality (NCF) has embarked on a project that equips the children of the unrecognized villages in the Negev with photographic skills and expertise. So far 240 children have taken part in the project which operated in the spirit of the Photovoice method: provided with cameras, participants were asked to take photos – from their personal point of view – of their daily life, their close environment, events and happenings, all under the guidance of the project team and photographers from all over the country. The objective – beyond learning and acquiring hands-on experience in photography – is to encourage the children to engage in activity and creativity: presence themselves, reinforce their involvement in their surroundings, voice their opinion on various issues, thus enabling them to reach the decision-makers and bring about the recognition of their villages. The use of the camera affords the children the capacity to inspect reality, to document it, to present it in their own way, and to tell their story, thus becoming active partners in improving their quality of life.

NCF was founded in 1997 by Arab and Jewish residents of the Negev, with the objective of becoming a framework for cooperation and a basis for the struggle to attain full equal rights for Arabs, making social justice anddistributive justice possible. One of the goals of the organization is to attain the state’s recognition of the Bedouin villages in the Negev.

Over the years, the State of Israel has adopted a policy of transferring the residents of the unrecognized villages to planned small towns. While thepolicy of this enforced resettlement has witnessed “success” to some degree and the majority of the Bedouin population in the Negev (some 160,000 people) currently lives in the towns, many of the villages continue to exist. In most of them there are no schools, kindergartens or medicalclinics; they lack electricity and water infrastructure, paved roads, sanitation services, and more. The residents are devoid of civil, political and social rights; they are not represented in the local governmental bodies and are not entitled to participate in municipal elections. In addition, they live under a constant threat of the demolition of their homes and are sentenced to a life of poverty and distress.

Yoram Peres Exhibition curator, photographer and project mentor

Thanks to all the participants:

The children-photographers and their families who took part in the project;

The steering team and project coordinators: Haia Noach – The Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality CEO, Ilan Molcho – project initiator, forum secretariat, Basma Abu Huti, Yusra Abu Kaf, Michal Rotem,
Nura al-Saghayra, Sabrin Abu Kaf, Abeer al-Atrash;

The photographers and workshop mentors: Ayub abu Mdeghem,
Ilana Avidov-Mor, Tomer Appelbaum, Udi Goren, Yoav Galai, Shahaf Haber, Oren Ziv, Arkadi Zaides, Dan Haimovich, Rivka Israel, Oren Lavon, Obaydah el-Mtirat, Keren Manor, Omar al-Nabari, Esti Neubach, Emil Salman, Ahmad al-Asseybi, Yoram Peres, Hagit Keysar, Ariel Caine, Miki Kratsman, Dana Shalev, Amit Shaal.