Monday, March 23, 2020

The Bedouin Community Needs an Emergency Hotline for Covid-19

Dear valued reader,
     These past few months, our world has drastically changed with the introduction of COVID-19 into global society. There are few communities that haven’t been affected. During these times, resources are needed more than ever to protect the ones we love.
     In order to get involved in alleviating distress, A New Dawn in the Negev decided to lift the glove and opened an emergency telephone line aimed at the general public in Arab society. There are many people who are in confusion and distress, and there is a real need to give them an explanation and information about the global epidemic. Questions such as “Is there a vaccine already for the disease?” and “What happens with unemployment?” are taunting parents, elders, young adults, and many others alike.
      A New Dawn’s role is to engage with professional ngo organizations to get the information needed to inform our constituents here in the Negev. This is going to be a large undertaking, and we cannot do it alone without your help. Lives are being put at stake every day, and we don’t want the Negev Bedouins and the Arab communities at large to be forgetting in this fight for health. Please get involved in our cause by supporting our project financially and by spreading the word for others to hear. Time is of the essence and lives are depending on local initiatives like A New Dawn to give them answers.

Please help fund this endeavor by donating at

Monday, November 18, 2019

A New Dawn in Italy - Taking on the Environment

 Love is the answer, and love is the way! Shree Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram...
     Eight people were bundled up and singing at the top of their lungs deep in the Italian countryside about an hour’s drive away from Perugia. While the participants of this conference were from all over (Italy, Germany, Morocco, Israel, the Netherlands, Russia, and Slovenia), they shared common goals that contributed to an amazing camaraderie.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Going Green Together - The Interfaith Climate and Energy Conference

“What is my responsibility to the world around me?” 
This question is one asked by people of faith and environmentalists alike, and it was the central
question being debated at the 2019 Interfaith Climate and Energy Conference at the University of
Notre Dame’s Tantur Ecumenical Institute. 

Friday, August 9, 2019

A New Dawn in America - My Journey to the States

Jamal Alkarenawi - August 2019
It’s been a very eventful month where I traveled across several states and cities on the East Coast. Starting with Baltimore I proudly participated representing A New Dawn in the Negev at OLAM Focal Point 2019 Conference at the Pearlstone Retreat Center. Olam’s Focal Point is an amazing global service, focusing on international development, and humanitarian aid to network, exchanging ideas and best practices, as well as celebrate their shared commitment to serving the world’s most vulnerable individuals. An amazing group of people coming together to make the world a better place, to which I am thankful to the organizers for putting together and sponsoring A New Dawn in the Negev to come as a member, as well as because of all the wonderful people I met, and work they are doing.
While traveling in the United States I visited Washington D.C., New Jersey, New York City and Baltimore where I had the chance to speak with many people to explain A New Dawn in the Negev’s cause, and how our mission is to enable Bedouin and Arab youths to join and engage with as partners and friends in Israeli society.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The inspiring story behind the innovative founder of A New Dawn in the Negev

How a quiet student, bullied for his glasses, became an active and visionary leader in his community, the Bedouin city of Rahat.

By Oliver Vrankovic

Oliver Vrankovic's Profile Photo, Image may contain: 1 person

Original article in German here

Jamal Alkirnawi went to school in Rahat, the largest Bedouin city in the world. Rahat in the Israeli Negev Desert has more than 62,000 inhabitants and is divided among nearly three dozen family clans into quarters, each with its own infrastructure...

Jamal was a quiet and good student, who was often bullied because of his glasses. When he was 15 years old, an exchange with a school from Rehovot was planned. Jamal remembers how the school was cleaned and decorated for two weeks and how the whole neighborhood was very excited. Jamal and his classmates had to rehearse performances in preparation for the visit from Rehovot. The day the Bedouin and Jewish students finally met changed everything for Jamal.

While the children from Rehovot jumped off the bus casually, carefree and loudly, the pupils from Rahat were standing in a row. Jamal, who had never left Rahat before, experienced a freedom until then unknown to him. While the directors of the two schools exchanged formalities, he took all his courage, stepped out of the line of Bedouin students and walked towards a Jewish student who, like himself, was wearing glasses, and invited him to his home for dinner. The two boys asked each other what they do after school. While Jamal replied that he did nothing, Eran turned out to be the head of the Student Council for the school in Rehovot.

In the less than two hours that Jamal and Eran had, the Bedouin boy gained an insight into the world beyond Rahat. He and his classmates didn't know about the possibility to have a say in school matters. Before saying goodbye, Eran gave Jamal the number of the youth and society department of the Ministry of Education. Jamal called two weeks later, and claimed to be the head of the student representatives of his school in Rahat. Thrilled to finally have a school chair from an Arabic-speaking school, Jamal was invited to Beer Sheva to meet the Inspector of the Student Councils at the Ministry of Education. On that day, Jamal skipped school and left from Rahat to Beer Sheva. Jamal was not only the great attraction of the meeting but this event set in motion a journey which lead to Jamal being elected as a delegate to the national student council  after a very active 3 years as a local youth leader.

Parents and school were shocked by Jamal's initiative. Nevertheless, slowly he educated those around him about the good work he was doing. Finally the director felt compelled to actually have a student representation elected. Jamal changed from an unofficial student representative to an official one.

As a member of the national student representation he travelled to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, felt freedom and acquired practical knowledge. In this time, he recognized the value of non-formal education, tells Jamal.

He remembers that he had prevailed against all resistance. The greatest resistance, however, was tradition. In the Bedouin community, modernization is perceived as a threat to cultural heritage. Jamal explains that schoolchildren are under extreme control because of a fear of change.

More than every fourth inhabitant of the Israeli desert is Bedouin. At the beginning of the 20th century, 90 tribes of the nomadic people migrated to the Negev via Saudi Arabia and the Sinai. In 1900, the Ottoman Empire founded the first permanent settlement for the Bedouins in the biblical city of Beer Sheva. Of the 65,000 Bedouins who lived semi-settled in the Negev before the Israeli War of Independence, 19 tribes remained, with fewer than 11,000 Bedouins altogether.

In the early 1950s, the Israeli army moved eleven of the remaining tribes to a closed area north of the Negev, where the other eight tribes also lived, known as Sajag. In 1968 the first Bedouin community was founded in Tel Sheva (Arab: Tel as-Sabi). Today there are seven recognized Bedouin communities in which 72,500 people officially live: Ar'ara, Hura, Kseife, Lakiya, Tel Sheva, Segev Shalom (Arabic Shaqib al-Salman) and Rahat. In addition, between 55,000 and 77,000 Bedouins live in an estimated 50 unrecognized settlements in the Negev.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Jamal's Biography


My name is Jamal Alkirnawi and I am founder and CEO of A New Dawn in the Negev, an NGO working to build a shared society between Jews and Arabs in Israel's Negev region. I'll be visiting the East Coast of the United States from June 2019 to July 2019, and I wanted to let you know a bit about myself and see if there's any possibility that we could meet during my time in the US and discuss collaborative partnership opportunities.

Who am I and what is "A New Dawn in the Negev"?

I am a Son of Rahat, a Bedouin town right outside of Be’er Sheva. I am born and raised in the Bedouin community in Israel's Negev Desert; and subject to the myriad of challenges that our youth face. I persevered because I knew education was the only way to advance myself and my community. I created the first Bedouin Youth Parliament of its kind, and my work began. This article talks about my experience as an adolescent growing up in Rahat, and how meeting students from Rehovot showed me a world that existed outside of my community. This was the moment that I decided to take leadership and action in my community to get out of the seclusion in Israel, and become a nomadic student. 

After receiving a Masters in Social Work from McGill University in Canada and an MBA with a focus on social leadership from Ben Gurion University in the Negev, I was selected as one of 35 Young Leadership delegates to the first Echenberg Conference on Genocide Prevention. Following my studies I decided to devote my life to making a change in the Bedouin community of the Negev where I grew up. The Bedouin community has scarce socioeconomic resources and an alarmingly high educational drop-out rate, both in comparison to Israel’s mainstream population and its non-Bedouin, Arab counterparts. I felt like if I could move forward and succeed in education where others had not, I would be primed to help other Bedouin youth have these opportunities.

Ten years ago, I founded "A New Dawn" to make a change both within the Bedouin community and Israeli society. The objective of this program is to bring together the Jews and Bedouin of the Negev. We are a grassroots organization which believes that education, employment, and leadership are the key elements that can enable youth and young adults to rise out of poverty to become active, engaged citizens – which will in turn strengthen Israel as a shared society. With the goal of creating equal educational opportunities for Bedouin youth through a variety of projects – English learning, high-tech education, musical training, and more – we are working to end the isolation of Bedouin society by helping its youth break into the Israeli mainstream, while still maintaining a proud connection to their culture.

As a leader in my field, I have received the Tikvah Fund award from Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Ben Gurion University. My work has been recognized by funding from the United States Embassy, and I have received awards and fellowships from the Goldin Institute and the Anna Lindh Foundation, as well as the Recanati-Kop-Rashi Award for Entrepreneurship in Social Work. I have been interviewed by i24 News and my work has been covered by the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, YNet, and Times of Israel.

Why am I coming to the US, and how does it relate to you?

I am coming to the United States next month to build partnerships and connections with leaders and community members who want to learn more about the Bedouin community and hear from those leading the way to help strengthen Israel as a shared society. I’ve worked tirelessly for ten years, and now I’d like some more partners to take our successes to another level.

I'll be meeting with synagogues and campus groups, NGOs and fundraisers, leaders, community members and educators – pretty much anyone who wants to deepen their understanding of Israeli society's dilemmas in 2019, who wants to hear voices from marginalized communities, and who want to work towards making Israel and the world a better place.

I'd love to meet with you one-on-one, and I am also happy to do presentations for your community/organization about the challenges facing Israel and its Bedouin community in the 21st century. The road to peace starts with finding new avenues of collaboration and empowerment, and I’d like to empower our Bedouin youth to strive for success by empowering the American community to get involved.

Wishing you all the best, with a blessing of Shalom and Salaam,

Monday, April 29, 2019

A New Place, A New Time

My first experience working with the Bedouin with A New Dawn in the Negev of Israel was in the
 summer of 2017, almost two years after coming to Israel. I was invited to participate as an English teacher, allowing me to get to know many of the young Bedouin of Rahat as well as fellow English 

teachers in the community

From this experience I got to know Bedouin culture better than I had with Masa, or I ever could academic or sociological studies; as I was not just invited to see the community, but take part in it as well. I was given a traditional kafiya, I tried Bedouin style pizza (lots of corn!) and even made lifelong friends, one of whom was also the first person to actually encourage my system of belief in Israel gifting me a small, very old Buddha that she had found in the desert

She has probably been my best friend in Israel, truthfully. And it was through A New Dawn in the Negev I was able to forge that kinship. A New Dawn in the Negev works diligently to show the world who they and their culture are by not just holding cultural demonstrations, but actively inviting those of other communities, from anywhere in the world, to take part in their lives

Bedouin culture is famous for their hospitality, and the traveler with good will and honest intent to learn will find kinship in such faraway places from their own

It is in this way people get an authentic experience working with the Bedouin, and seeing far more than if they were a passing tourist or aide helper who will only be able to act on a surface level. By taking part you are not just made to feel welcome, but become a part of the tapestry of memory it creates

And if for no other reason, the best fish I have had was in the cultural home of desert nomads, going for the unexpected familiarity will demonstrate most tangibly that positive relationships are not only possible, but necessary, and in this A New Dawn in the Negev acts diligently