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Israeli Bedouin and the limits of tolerating intolerance

The debate over relocating Bedouin settlements in Israel raises the issue of how far a liberal, multicultural society should go in tolerating the values of different communities when those values are destructive to the communities.
The sandals of a Palestinian bedouin lie in a tent south of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Mishor Adumim in the Judean Desert August 19, 2009. Many bedouins living in Israel and the occupied West Bank retain a traditional and nomadic way of life, raising livestock and farming arid land.  REUTERS/Ammar Awad (WEST BANK POLITICS SOCIETY) - RTR26VZK
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The long-standing legal disputes between the state of Israel and the Muslim Arab Bedouin minority regarding landownership in the southern Negev Desert seems to be the usual story of David and Goliath in majority and minority relations in the Middle East. The relationship between Israel and its Bedouin community, however, is more universal and also more particular than most cases. It is universal because it touches on the difficult interactions between a modern welfare state and a patriarchal traditional society that insists on retaining its traditions, and particular because it has to do with very specific Bedouin nomadic tribal traditions of landownership.

The universal idea of liberal multiculturalism speaks to the equal value of traditions and the need to respect them, even when they are vastly different from those of the majority. What should a country do, however, when its laws clash with the traditions of some of its inhabitants? Where should lines be drawn?

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