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Shifting Sands

Bedouin Women at the Crossroads

Ruth Westheimer and Gil Sedan


Dramatic events in the Middle East are frequently in today’s headlines. Behind those headlines, however, a quiet revolution is taking place that may reshape that volatile part of the world in fundamental ways. The Bedouin people of Palestine and Israel represent one of the most traditional cultures in that area. Only a generation ago, they were nomads wandering the Negev Desert on camels, migrating with their herds of sheep and moving households with the seasons. Is a polygamous, male-dominated society, women have had little control over the course of their own lives and destiny. This is beginning to change.

For millennia, Bedouin culture remained essentially unchanged, until several decades ago when the Israeli government demanded that they leave behind their nomadic ways and settle down in state-sanctioned townships. Adapting to new conditions has brought numerous changes for a population accustomed to freedom in the desert. One such challenge is the result of the Bedouin’s increased contact with Western-oriented Israeli society, leading many young women to look beyond the constraints of traditional culture to seek greater independence and equality with men.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Gil Sedan set out to discover how those changes have affected Bedouin society and to meet the women who have courageously followed their own path. Through personal stories and encounters, Shifting Sands shows how Bedouin men and women have dealt with their changing society and how the clash between modernity and tradition leads to turmoil, as well as to social and individual transformation. The authors also offer glimpses of how this desert revolution may change attitudes and interactions among the Arab and Jewish peoples of Israel.



192 pp.  
5 ½ x 8 ½

Lantern Books

Paperback
$20.00

Published:  March 2009

978-1-59056-114-0




Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer is best known for her pioneering work in the field of media psychology, specifically sex. Her doctorate from Columbia University, however, is in Interdisciplinary Study of the Family, and she has created several books and documentary films investigating the subject. The documentaries on which The Olive and the Tree and Shifting Sands are based aired on PBS stations across the country. Dr. Ruth teaches seminars at Yale and Princeton and is working on several new books to add to her collection of works on sex. See all books by Ruth Westheimer
Gil Sedan has worked for the past thirty years as the Arab Affairs correspondent of Israel Television Channel One and the Jewish telegraphic Agency Jerusalem bureau. He has filmed numerous documentaries on the Arab minority in Israel, most recently on the Arab town of Umm al-Fahem, controlled by the Islamic Movement. Sedan was editor and host of the Arabesque Middle East television magazine, the only bilingual (Hebrew–Arabic) regional program. Sedan majored in Middle East History at Tel-Aviv University, and earned an MA in journalism from the University of Missouri. He guest lectured on Middle East history at the University of Florida (2000) and presently teaches television reporting at two colleges in northern Israel. See all books by Gil Sedan


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