AMSA's Local Chapter Project Directory

PROJECT DESCRIPTION/CONTACT INFORMATION
Project title Human Rights in the Bedouin Communities of the Negev
Project type(s) Speaker
Date completed 08/20/2006
Chapter Ben Gurion University Medical School for International Health
Project Coordinator Matthew Cantor
Summary of project The Bedouin community of the Negev has been subject to discrimination and marginalization by the Israeli government since the state’s establishment in 1948. Such structural “violence” has created significant external and internal pressures on the Bedouin society, particularly pertaining to their state of health and access to health resources. As medical students, and new members of the Negev community, we have a moral obligation to understand the issues faced by the Bedouin community, and with this knowledge, become an active participant in struggle for their basic health and human rights. Students registered to attend a 24-hour (overnight) seminar held in an unrecognized Bedouin village called Bir Hadaj in the middle the Negev dessert. The atmosphere for this seminar was important, as discussing issues of poverty and human rights inside a comfortable classroom does not give the issues proper context or justice. Over 24 hours the students heard from seven different speakers (Physicians for Human Rights - Israel, Israeli NGOs, Bedouin community activists, Israeli physician etc), that each brought a unique perspective to describe the pressures on Bedouin society – the students were also given time to ask questions and stimulate debate among the group. The seminar was concluded with semi-small group discussions on broader topics of human rights into medicine (as an extension of Bedouin issues); such questions included: Is the physician professionally obligated to care for and advocate for poor and marginalized communities? Is there such thing an apolitical physician? Is the medical community responsible for marginalizing communities by creating boundaries to medical knowledge and healthcare? Is institutional racism an appropriate term to describe the heavily biased conduction and publication of medical research in major journals? Other discussions focused on case-studies provided by PHR-Israel.

Content area Human Rights
Number of participants 33
Participant hours involved 792 hour(s)
PROJECT PLANNING
Coordinator roles
Coordinator hours hour(s)
FUNDING & ADVERTISING
Total project cost $774.31 US
Project funding AMSA grant,Admission/participant charge
Funding breakdown of sources and/or donations:
Project advertising Because of the relatively small size and intimate nature of our medical school advertising was limited to e-mails and 1 short presentation to students just prior to a lecture. The positive responses were overwhelming.
PROJECT EVALUATION
Success rating
(1 = unsuccesful, 5 = very successful)
5
Lessons/suggestions 1. Although the diversity of speakers was good, students felt like they wanted to also have the perspective from someone that represented the Israeli side of the situation. 2. Students wanted to have more time to physically explore the community. This was an original goal during the initial stages of planning, but it was realized that it's not feasible to get an intimate look at a village with 30 students. 3. Somehow integrating the seminar with the school's international health and medicine (IHM) curriculum so there could be a better continuity of issues discussed.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS
Comments The nature of advocating (and doing programming) for the human rights of marginalized groups can sometimes come with disapproval from school administrators with different points of view about the community at hand. This is most evident in a country like Israel where land (and who "owns" it) is more than just an open space. Don't let their objections prevent you from at least educating students about the issues.