The Negev Bedouin Population and its Leaders – Values, Strengths, and Challenges

This study was part of a multi-faceted research program for the Government of Israel’s five-year plan to promote the wellbeing of the Bedouin in the Negev, carried out in cooperation with the Senior Division for the Socio-Economic Development of the Bedouin Society in the Negev


Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute conducted an in-depth study designed to provide a basis for optimal adaptation of the programs and services to the Bedouin population in the Negev, according to its unique characteristics, values ​​and needs.

In the first phase of the study, an international review was conducted of the best practices employed by various countries to reduce the social and economic gaps between minority populations with characteristics similar to those of the Bedouin population in the Negev and the majority population in their countries of residence. To read the review see:;

In the second phase of the study, qualitative interviews and a focus group were conducted with community leaders and officials in the local authorities, with social leaders and with academic researchers, as well as a survey among a representative sample of the Bedouin population in the Negev. This presentation summarizes the findings of the second phase of the study.


  1. To understand the values of the Negev Bedouin, their priorities, the characteristics of their community resilience, and their attitudes towards the local authority and the state.
  2. To examine differences in values, strengths, and challenges between different groups within the Bedouin population so as to suit specific programs to each of the groups.
  3. To understand the perceptions of the local Bedouin leadership regarding the unique values and needs of the population and the way in which these needs are met by the services and programs developed for this population.
  4. To identify challenges in the implementation of plans to promote the socio-economic development of the Negev Bedouin, such as the five-year plan, and to make recommendations for their optimal implementation.


The study used qualitative and quantitative research methods and included:

  1. 18 semi-structured in-depth interviews with community leaders and officials in the local authorities, social leaders, and academic researchers.
  2. A survey among 331 respondents. The sample consisted of two age groups, 19 to 34 (young persons) and 35 to 64 (adults) and was representative of the Negev Bedouin population in terms of gender, type of place of residence (e.g., Rahat and smaller towns, villages), and level of education. The survey consisted of 64 face-to-face interviews and 167 telephone interviews.


  • The main problems facing the Negev Bedouin are: (1) personal security and protection from crime; (2) housing; (3) public infrastructure – transportation and the development of residential areas; (4) income and standard of living. The issue of personal security and protection from crime stands out as the major problem the Bedouin population struggles with.
  • The level of community resilience of the Negev Bedouin is lower than that of the general population in Israel as well as that of the Jews in the communities bordering the Gaza Strip and is similar to that of the Israeli Arabs in the Arab towns and villages adjacent to the Green Line (known as the Triangle).
  • Community attachment, reflected in a strong sense of belonging to and pride in the place of residence, was found to be the major aspect of community resilience of the Negev Bedouin.
  • Trust in the leadership, whether local or national, was found to be the weakest aspect of community resilience of the Negev Bedouin. Most do not trust the decision makers: 52% of the Negev Bedouin believe that the local authority fails to act to promote the local population or does very little to that end, and 67% believe that the government fails to act to promote Negev Bedouin or does very little to that end.
  • Differences were found in the various components of community resilience among different groups in the population, indicating the specific strengths and challenges of each group.
  • Strong feelings of discrimination and lack of partnership by the government in making decisions related to the Negev Bedouin were expressed in the interviews. Possible courses of action to improve the relationship were suggested.
  • The areas of life most important to the Negev Bedouin are: (1) health; (2) education; (3) personal security and protection against crime; (4) income and economic status.
  • The overarching values of the Negev Bedouin are conservation and self-transcendence. Their dominant motivational values are security, benevolence, conformity, and universalism. It was found that the Negev Bedouin value conformity while the Jews value self-direction and achievement. Understanding the differences in values between different groups in the population helped to show trends and changes that the Bedouin population is going through. Recognizing specific needs and priorities of different groups can help adapt programs to their needs.
  • Examining eight profiles (groups) in the Bedouin population, according to gender, age group, and type of place of residence showed that the society is in a process of change and transition, where the respect for and desire to preserve tradition are evident along with openness to change. These different trends could lead to age and gender-based conflicts. In addition, mapping these profiles provided a unique opportunity to deepen the understanding of the heterogeneity within the population, and to better understand the challenges and strengths of the different groups.


  1. Tailor services and programs to the values, needs and priorities of the Negev Bedouin. Taking into consideration unique needs, such as the need for personal security and protection against crime, would contribute to the strengthening of trust in and collaboration with the government.
  2. Mobilize the strengths of the Negev Bedouin to achieve common goals. The strong sense of belonging to the place of residence characteristic of the Negev Bedouin is a source of community resilience that could be leveraged to develop initiatives and programs to develop their towns and villages. The values of security and benevolence are a source of community resilience that could be mobilized to preserve the Bedouin culture and promote the socio-economic status of family and community members. This could be achieved by strengthening local family businesses, establishing social businesses, creating authentic cultural and artistic works of art, establishing home-based businesses for women, developing tourism, selling local food products, and more.
  3. Promote the incorporation of mechanisms for strengthening trust and collaboration between the Bedouin population, the local authorities and the state government. The findings show a significant lack of trust in the official leadership in the local authorities as well as in the state government. The best practices indicated by the international review conducted as part of this study should be adopted, including the development and budgeting of mechanisms for public participation in policy forming and decision-making related to and impacting the life of the local population as well as the promotion of active involvement of the population in all stages of developing  government plans and services: definition of needs, planning, formulation, implementation, follow-up, and evaluation.
  4. Continue to examine different groups within the Bedouin population on a more comprehensive and in-depth scale, to culturally adapt the services to their unique needs and characteristics. Programs and services should be developed to respond to the specific needs of each group based on the analysis of gender, age and type of place of residence profiles. Thus, for instance, programs should be developed to enhance trust in the local leadership among young men in the Bedouin villages as well as social trust among women in Rahat and the smaller Bedouin towns; to strengthen the sense of community attachment among women in the villages; to include aspects of cultural preservation in programs targeting Bedouin men or adults; and to respond to the needs of young men and women in the villages for change and self-development.

Citing suggestion: Or Sharvit,  Z.,  Aizik, I., Kapranov, E., Falk, A., & Rivkin, D. (2022). The Negev Bedouin Population and its Leaders – Values, Strengths, and Challenges. S-217-22. Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute. (Hebrew)