By Guy Aloni
For many years, Bedouin culture fascinated me.
Living in the desert, in black tents, nomads, the simple way of life and the their special connection to nature.
In April of this year I decided to research a little more closely, to listen to fascinating stories and as usual, to shoot from a distance.
The hours with them passed faster than I expected.
Maybe because I lost track of time.
That’s how it is when you’re in the open spaces, without technology around, and even your heart rate drops to the minimum required.
“Sit down, why are you standing?” Said to me Uda the Bedouin, “I will make you a cup of tea from plants and then I will tell you a story about women …”
“Here, look, I have 200 sheep, but I’m willing to give all of them for a woman’s love …”
You told me you have a wife, am i right?
“Yes, I did… But unfortunately she no longer loves me.”
“Listen to an old man’s experience, my friend, Guy – A woman who has children stops loving you; she only loves them”.
That’s why I might take another one, young, to feel loved again … ”
“Go and shoot the model Ismail,
He’s a shepherd, up there on the hill… See? You’ll see the most beautiful eyes in the Middle East … ”
“That’s why we Bedouin are allowed to take four women … so there are no problems …
But I will tell you something, even if it was allowed for us to take eight women – there are no women more beautiful than the Israeli ones”.
“Tell me”, I asked him, “Why don’t the sheep touch the wheat? Look at the beautiful wheat…”.
-“Because now it’s the third month, fresh wheat, stuck in the throat of the sheep. In five or six months, the wheat will dry a bit and it will pass through the throat”.
I took one last look at the shepherd, the herd of sheep, and said goodbye. “Goodbye, my friend”, he said and waved with his hand, “Come again to my home, to the desert”.
As I walked away I sat down on a stone, looking at the open spaces and inhaling the cold, clean air.
Last Friday I shot in Tel Aviv at some wild parties. On another Friday, I joined Neturei Karta in Mea She’arim, and today, I am in the open air, on the ground with the shepherds.
If I had the choice to live in one of those three scenes, I would have chosen without hesitation the earth and its expanses.
There are those who call it the “land of pursuit,” for others it is called the “Sultan’s land,” I also heard the name Jiftlik today.
One way or another, I already miss the home of the Bedouine.
The Bedouin are a grouping of Arab ethnic groups, nomadic peoples of the Middle Eastern deserts, especially of North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Syria and Jordan.
Bedouin means “Badiyah dwellers” in the Arabic language, as ‘Badyah’ means literally the visible land (the desert).
They are traditionally divided into tribes or clans and share a common culture of herding camels, sheep and goats.
While many Bedouins have abandoned their nomadic and tribal traditions for modern urban lifstyle, they retain traditional Bedouin culture with concepts such as traditional music, poetry, dances (like Saas), and many other cultural practices.
Urbanized Bedouins also organize cultural festivals, usually held several times a year, in which they gather with other Bedouins to partake in, and learn about, various Bedouin traditions from poetry recitation and traditional sword dances, to teaching classes like traditional tent knitting and playing traditional Bedouin musical instruments.