In the unrecognised Bedouin villages in the Naqab, Palestinians suffer from state negligence, deprived of equal representation and access to essential services like healthcare and education. Whereas previous scholarship points to cultural, lifestyle, or societal conditions to account for the trends of poor health and education in Bedouin communities, this article seeks to identify the underlying structures of dispossession that produce everyday obstacles to the livelihoods of Palestinian children. Student dropout rates or socially threatening behavior amongst Bedouin children is misrepresented as stemming from Bedouin society rather than from biopolitical attempts to use children as politicised tools within a settler colonial society. In analyzing Israeli policy and testimonies collected from children living under these conditions, I argue that the advancement of a culture of blaming for this exploitation and impoverishment furthers eliminatory efforts against native Palestinians and reveals the culpability of the state in the technologies of violence in the lives of Bedouin children.
… Reading children’s insights and experiences uncovers challenges to the permanency of their subordination and disappearance. I came to realise and identify the intersecting logic and tactics of Israeli settler colonial domination over years of interviews and studies with Palestinian families and children experiencing it in their everyday, ordinary lives. These constitutive forces, and the voices of those speaking back to them, emphasise the totality of the Israeli state’s settler colonial techniques of oppression. The children I spoke with, while encountering this logic on a daily basis, continue to resist and refuse the dispossession of their land and homes and the impoverishment of their families and communities. Thus while elimination, Orientalism, and racial logic govern their lives, they find space within the structures of settler colonialism to grow, to think and to imagine something else.
Failing to acknowledge children as political entities that are used and abused by the settler colonial regime, and failing to uphold their right to resist, could shift how we see the colonised aspiration for decolonisation. This blurred lens would privilege the terms of liberal recognition of the Bedouin asan ‘ethnic minority’ in the ‘democratic’ Jewish state. The move from decolonisation, as requested and envisioned by Palestinian children, to recognition instead, presumes we should accept the state’s genocidal logic as part of mundane, local, and global (racial) governance.
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