Products: Handmade jewelry, natural wool products
Beneficiaries: 20 women from Bedouoin comunities in the Area C of the West Bank
Bedouin Silver Tent Association was established by Bedouins in 2014 as a spinoff of the Jerusalem Bedouin Cooperative Committee. It specializes in empowering youth and women through social, economic and cultural programs, with a total of approximately 160 direct beneficiaries. Registered as a Palestinian NGO, it represents the Bedouins in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, with a main focus on the area between Jerusalem and Jericho.
The Palestinian Bedouins living in the area between Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley are of the Jahalin tribe -- UNRWA-registered refugees that were uprooted from their ancestral homeland of Tel Arad in the Negev in the 1948 war. They resettled in the semi-arid area on the eastern slope of Jerusalem, seeking to maintain their livelihood as herders and their traditional way of life in small, separated communities grouped by families. Until 1967, their lives were safeguarded by the access to Jerusalem market, proximity to water sources for their livestock at the nearby springs, and agreements with Palestinian landowners to live and graze on their land.
Five decades of Israeli military occupation, with the ever-expanding settlement activities, the construction of bypass roads and Separation Wall, and increasing movement restrictions, have resulted in substantial loss of grazing land for the Jahalin, forcing many to give up herding for low-wage jobs in the cities. Located in the Area C under full Israeli civil and military control, Jahalin communities are not serviced by the Palestinian Authority and lack basic life infrastructure. They are prevented from developing as building permits are almost never issued by the occupation authorities in the Area C. Furthermore, their area is slated for evacuation under the Israeli land annexation plan 'E1’, placing the communities under constant and imminent threat of house demolition, displacement, and forcible transfer.
Today, 24 Jahalin communities and their approximately 5000 members are among the most vulnerable in the oPt, confined to the narrow areas between encroaching settlements. Israel deems this area strategic for the expansion of Greater Jerusalem, rendering the once-independent, self-reliant Jahalin to low-wage subsistence jobs with few economic opportunities in and little prospect for development of their own community. While they have held on fast to their cultural and social identity, the community faces an uncertain future as the environment that defines their way of life being rapidly destroyed.
In fall 2016, Silver Tent became Sunbula’s partner after participating in a product development training that aimed to revitalize the previously stagnant jewelry-making production. Since the launch of new jewelry collection created in the training, the women began earning a monthly income through Sunbula’s marketing.