Transitions: Russians, Ethiopians, and Bedouins in Israel’s Negev Desert


The Negev Desert comprises over half of the land area of Israel. Its residents, who number over 400,000, represent one of the most unusual mixes in the world. Jewish immigrants from North Africa, Ethiopia, the Middle East, India, Europe, North and South America, and the Republics of the former Soviet Union reside in the Negev along with Bedouin Arabs and Jews born in Israel. This exhibition studied one year in the lives of three of these immigrant groups, focusing on the process of assimilation — revealing the attendant complications of nationalism, ethnic rivalries, and competition for scarce resources, amidst a crushing concern for national security — within the broader context of Israeli society. This process is vividly captured by documentary photographer Ron Kelley in 40 black-and-white and color images.