Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blacks in Palestinian Territories Are Still Seen and Used as Slaves

(PTM) The community of black Bedouins ("Afro-Bedouins") in the desert town of Rahat faces racial and class discrimination deeply rooted in the social conventions of the traditional Bedouin community in the Negev. The black Bedouins' roots lie in East Africa, where they were captured by Arab slave traders and sold in the markets of Zanzibar and Saudi Arabia to white Bedouin tribes. These markets operated until the early 20th century; many of those abducted and their offspring continued to serve as slaves in Palestine until 1948 (when Israeli law came into force), hence they are still referred to as "abed" or "abda" (Arabic for slave, servant). It is a minority that has endured deprivation and oppression. Their negative image pervades the local social, family, and education systems, preventing their personal as well as professional advancement and limiting their independence and freedom of choice.

The Film Class was created in Rahat in 2005-06 as part of a filmmaking workshop for black Bedouin women taught by director Uri Rosenwaks. While working with these women, teaching them the principles of cinematography, their daily confrontation with the harsh racism and the repressed historical origins of their discrimination are unveiled.