Israel: Amal Alh'jooj

I am a Palestinian Arab, a citizen of the State of Israel and a Bedouin in culture. The sky is the limit for the Arab and Bedouin society in Israel and for the Bedouin Women in particular.

— Amal Alh'jooj

Amal Elsana Alh'jooj has dedicated her life to improving the living conditions of her people, the Bedouin Arab community of the Negev. Over the past 15 years she has developed strategies of community work that operate on community and political levels, aiding thousands of Bedouin women and children in Israel. Since October 2000, Amal has served as the director of the Arab-Jewish Center for Equality, Empowerment and Cooperation (AJEEC), a division of the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development. Amal is an outspoken advocate of Arab-Jewish cooperation and coexistence.

Amal Elsana Alh’jooj has an invigorating vision of social work and society welfare that, she believes, drastically changes the community perception of women’s role. She recounts, "I remember once speaking with my father, who tried to explain to me that engaging in revolutions only creates anger and disorder in society, and ultimately gets you nowhere. However, I believe my generation thinks differently. We won't allow ourselves to be led to the gallows. We have to get rid of the defeated past of our parents’ generation. I took upon myself the task of changing for the better, within my time and age, as much as I can for the welfare of my people, and for women in particular. I owe it to my children and to the generations to come." Amal was born in the temporary Bedouin settlement of Tel Arad near the Dead Sea as the fifth daughter of a traditional family. When she was three years old, the Israeli government finally allowed her tribe to return to its lands in the village of Laqiya, from which it had been expelled, and it was there that she grew up. From the age of five onwards, she helped to subsist her family by tending sheep herds, getting up at 6 a.m. to herd the sheep before school and continuing after her return home in the afternoon. Amal is a staunch advocate of peaceful resolutions. She initiated the Arab Jewish Center for Equality, Empowerment and Cooperation (AJEEC), dedicated to achieving equality in all aspects of life, empowerment of the Palestinian-Israeli community in Israel and cooperation between the Jewish and Arab populations, out of a deep conviction that only by working together can both peoples survive. Amal has been actively involved in initiating and operating joint Palestinian-Israeli projects and training courses in Palestine and in Israel – which continue, despite extremely difficult circumstances.

Arab-Jewish Center for Equality, Empowerment and Cooperation (AJEEC) National Council of Arab Women in Israel (NCAWiI) Negev Forum of Bedouin Arab Women’s Organizations (NFBAWOs)