Palestinians also draw inspiration from Black Lives Matter, and I asked if it persuaded Mr. Tasama to make any comparison between his struggle and theirs. He said he didn’t really consider it.
Indeed, the search for his rights probably pushed him in the opposite direction: what ultimately sustained him, he said, was his connection to this country as a Jew.
“It’s our right to be here,” he said. “This is the place God has given us.”
We missed the turnoff for the Bedouin Araqib in the Negev Desert. Arakib is not listed on the official map, and there are no signposts or slip roads from the highway. To find it, you need to know where to look.
Although the police knew where. An hour after we did, they arrived, in a truck carrying five police cars and two bulldozers, sending the villagers’ horses into the desert. Lying on the sand under a tree, waving his prayer beads, the sheikh of the old village fell at his feet, yelling at his son to chase the police.
“Take pictures of them!” He shouted.
It was a futile gesture. According to a Right Watchdog, police have broken into parts of the village 191 times since 2010; A camera did not stop them. This time, two of their bulldozers crashed into the tent, then left as soon as they arrived.
“It was number 192,” said Aziz al-Turi, the sheikh’s son.
The Al-Turi family are descendants of Bedouin Arab nomads who crossed the region for centuries and later settled in the Negev before the establishment of Israel.
Israel says most Bedouins have no right to land, as their ownership claims have not been recorded in the Ottoman-era land registry. For decades, the government has been trying to relocate more than 30 Bedouin communities from their traditional pastures in the Negev to seven purpose-built cities.
The most prominent holdout is Araqib. The residents showed us a copy of a purchase document which they say proves that they bought the land in 1905 from another tribe. The state says the Ottomans never registered a sale.