Bedouin teen treads Israeli catwalk
Salma Khal from the northern Israeli city of Nahariya is the first Bedouin model in the world. Khal, only 14.5 years old, was born in Nahariya to a Bedouin family comprised of nine children. Khal was discovered in her hometown by the local “Elite” modeling agency.
Most of the Israel’s Bedouins live in the Negev region (south), with thousands living in the central region and tens of thousands in the north, where Salma comes from.
Auditions for the ‘Diesel’ fashion house were the first auditions Salma took part in with great success. Her beautiful figure can be seen splashed across the company’s advertisements throughout the country. Salma’s father is a high-ranking officer in the Israeli army. Her mother originally comes from Lebanon.
The Bedouin in Galilee and the "Jezreel" valley, hail from the Syrian desert. At the beginning of the century their nomadic way of life and militancy put them in a position to harass villages and demand tribute.
Towards the end of the British Mandate and during the 1948 war, some Bedouin joined the Jewish forces, believing that the Jewish state would be generous to them. They were wrong, but after the establishment of Israel many of them continued to volunteer for the Israeli army and serving on the front lines; volunteering is considered by some Bedouin to be part of their "blood-pact" with the State of Israel.
Whereas the Negev Bedouin do not express any identification with Israel, the northern Bedouin identify with it in big numbers. This is manifested, primarily, in the extent of volunteering for the Israeli army. Despite this, the Bedouin in the North (like their brothers in the South) are not rewarded with a much friendly attitude, and continue to suffer from severe economic hardships. Even those who serve in the army suffer face the same discrimination as the other Arabs in Israel.
There are observers who predict a coming Bedouin Intifada, as Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper characterized it recently.
Asked if this is possible, Muhammad Zeidan, head of the Arab Human Rights Association said, "The Bedouin are peaceful, but they are human beings. I don't think they have a choice, they are being pushed to do this."
What adds to the complication is the Israeli government's plan for the Gaza Strip withdrawal, a plan that if carried out will likely mean new Jewish settlements in the Negev and the North, adding to development pressures in the Bedouin towns and villages.
Salma is surely enjoying much appreciation from her fellow friends and family on her amazingly quick rise to stardom.
As it appears, Salma has entered the bustling world of modeling – with all its ups and downs. Exposing such a young girl to this harsh world is one issue; her being of Bedouin descent is another. These two factors combined may either serve as a “gimmick” for those who wish to profit from her success; or may serve as the beginning of a very prosperous career for this young lady.