Nowhere Left to Go

“Nowhere Left to Go” is a film documenting the story of the Jahalin Bedouin, a group of Bedouin people who were displaced from their traditional lands in the Negev desert in 1951.  At that time, two elements of the Israeli Army (the Haganah and the Stern Gang) attacked the Bedouin people living in the Arad area of the Negev, killing 5 men and burning 15 tents.  The people fled the Negev with their sheep and goats, settling in the hills to the east of Jerusalem.  For 60 years, the Bedouin have lived a traditional life, living off the fruits of this land and garnering income from their sheep.  Seasonally, they would move their tents to new ground, moving to a cooler place close to water in the summer and to a warmer place in winter.  Since the 1967 Israeli military occupation began, they have faced increasing hardship as their land has been taken from them for settlement construction and grazing access for their livestock has been increasingly denied.  In most cases, they have been denied access to basic services such as water, electricity and sewage, even though the water, electrical and sewage infrastructure for nearby settlements passes through their land.  The building of the Separation Barrier and the Checkpoint and permit system has denied them access to the city of Jerusalem, their primary market to sell their produce.  They are unable to obtain work permits to work in Jerusalem, and since the building of a village school in 2009, they have been denied work permits to work on nearby settlements.

Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar, with 4 lane highway passing by and settlement electrical infrastructure in background

Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar, with 4 lane highway passing by and settlement electrical infrastructure in background

Khan al Ahmar Bedouin village in foreground, with Kfar Adumim settlement on hill in background

Khan al Ahmar Bedouin village in foreground, with Kfar Adumim settlement on hill in background

Today, the land they live on is wanted for expansion of the Israeli settlement Ma’ale Adumim, to create homes and the amenities of a modern city for Israeli people on what is clearly Palestinian land (as per the 1949 Green Line).  Given that it is illegal for Palestinians to enter settlements without a permit, the homes and amenities of this spreading city will remain inaccessible for these soon to be displaced Bedouin and their fellow Palestinians.

In November, 2011, an Israeli Civil Administration delegation visited the Bedouin community of Khan al Ahmar.  They informed the Bedouin that plans were underway to transfer them from the Ma’ale Adumim area to Al-Jabal near Al Eizariya, the location of the Jerusalem municipal garbage dump.  This is the location other members of the Jahalin Bedouin tribe were moved to in the 1990’s to enable a previous Ma’ale Adumim expansion.  However, following a High Court petition against the 2011 decision and broad international protests, the Civil Administration withdrew the plan.  It is now understood that the Bedouin will be forcibly displaced to the Jericho area in the near future.  Forcible displacement is in direct contravention of International Humanitarian Law, which clearly states “Individual or mass forcible transfers (…)of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not are prohibited, regardless of their motive.” (Article 49 Geneva Convention IV).  According to Netta Amar-Shiff, a lawyer and International Humanitarian Law specialist with Diakonia, Article 49 has no exceptions.  It applies inside the occupied Palestinian territory and contravention of this law is considered a war crime.

A film documenting the story of the Jahalin Bedouin, “Nowhere Left to Go; the Jahalin Bedouin”, will be shown March 10 at the New York Peace Film Festival.  The mission of the film festival is to “present films from around the world that advance global peace…  We emphasize the advantages of peaceful solutions to international conflicts, and show the horrors and costs of war.”  (New York Peace Film Festival website  March 10 will mark the first North American public screening of the film, which is narrated by Alice Walker and includes music from Roger Waters and The Dubliners.  Following the screening of the film at the festival, Eid Abu Khamis, community spokesperson for the Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar and Angela Godfrey Goldstein, Advocacy Officer for the Bedouin Jahalin, will participate in a Question and Answer session.  While in New York, they are also scheduled to engage in briefings with UN officials.

Eid Abu Khamis, spokesperson for the Jahalin Bedouin

Eid Abu Khamis, spokesperson for the Jahalin Bedouin

To watch this excellent and informative 29 minute film, go to, or click here:

It provides an excellent documentary of the plight of the Bedouin people, while providing superb footage of both Bedouin life and life inside the Israeli only settlement of Ma’ale Adumim.  But beyond facts, you will find your heart moved by the deep, deep desire of these oppressed people to one day live in peace with their neighbours.  One day, the truth will set them free, and they will overcome the very real prison walls that currently surround them.

Peace, Salaam, Shalom,


4 responses

  1. Thanks Jan,for going there on our behalf.You tell the story so well but I am left frustrated on behalf of the of the Bedouin people.May the truth be heard and acted upon and may they be free to live in their land in peace.

  2. Hi Jan and a big hello to your colleagues in Jerusalem. I will share the info on the movie. The Gaza rocket issue hit the national news. And the story of the beating of the woman in Jeruslalem by Israeli settlers. You all have so much to do. Do what you can and know you are in my prayers, my thoughts, and I am grateful for your presence there. Bless you all.

  3. Carissa and I watched the documentary. As often happens when I’m exposed to the oil-and-water relationship between Israeli administration and Palestinian (or in this case Bedouin) existence, I’m baffled by the seeming absence of rationality, to say nothing of the bureaucratizing of a people toward some non-existent plane of reality.

    Of course, every nation seems to have its version of this. Oh, but I’m sorry, “Canada supports Israel.” (Harper) United nations, indeed.

  4. I watched this video in this holy week. The plight of the Jahalin feels so much like the injustice to Jesus. Thank you for walking with the Bedouin people. From my place of physical comfort in Manitoba, I am most discomforted by the uncaring and impossible position taken by the Harper government against the Palestinians. I pray for an epiphany for all “power people” – for the time when they each gain a genuine heart to care and do right. Love to you and the Jahalin.

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