Bedouins of the Negev: Ethnicity and Ethnic Identity among Bedouin Adolescents in Israel
Authors: Salman Elbedour, Anthony J. Onwuegbuzie, Qun G. Jiao, Aref Abu-Rabia, Mohammed Morad, and Joav Merrick
Abstract: While the focus on ethnic identity in the Middle East conflict has tended to be on Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, there has been a paucity of research on the effects of this social construct on the marginal groups that are directly or indirectly affected by this political dispute. Methods: A sample of high-school students from five Bedouin schools in the south of Israel (n = 351). Results: Sample members (46.9%) ranked religion as the most important factor in forming their identity. Although they were Israeli citizens, 73% of the participants stated that the term “Israeli” was not an appropriate definition of their identity, and 44.9% stated that the term “Palestinian” was. Moreover, when given a list of six ways of characterizing themselves (i.e., Arab, Israeli Arab, Israeli, Palestinian Arab, Israeli Palestinian, Palestinian), “Palestinian Arab” received the highest endorsement (33.5%), followed respectively by “Israeli Arab” (29.7%), “Arab” (18.7%), Israeli Palestinian (11.7%), and Palestinian (3.5%); only 2.9% characterized themselves as Israelis. Conclusions: This indicates that their Arab/Palestinian ethnic identity is predominant and that an acceptance of their Israeli identity, while secondary, also is widespread. More than two-thirds (68.6%) of the respondents were in favor of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The implications of these and other findings are discussed.