Telephony and the Mobile Revolution
Bidirectional media appeared in the village in the mid-1970s. While telephone service had existed in Israel since colonial times, it is important to note that it was still an economically developing country in the 1970s, so telephone penetration levels in Israel were low in comparison to today. In 1974 there were only twenty-three telephone lines for every one hundred citizens, pretty much the norm in European countries at the time.3 The revolution in telephony, most significantly impacted by the introduction of mobility, practically transformed the life of the Bedouins. The Bedouins testified that they were among the first to embrace and adopt mobile phones, which arrived in the village almost as early as they arrived in Israel in the mid-1980s. The locals felt the need for a mobile phone because, as one attested, “we saw it was worthwhile to have because if a person is sick or hurt or if something happens we can call the family. the friends.the doctor.the lawyer.anyone we want to call.” Another villager stressed the utility of the mobile phone because it enabled him to get calls when work was available in nearby Jewish villages. The new technology, while useful and all of a sudden accessible, still required the building of capabilities to use it. Thus, for example, since many of the elders were illiterate, they had problems uploading the names of their contacts to their phones. Their children then entered their own numbers on speed dial because the elders could not identify numbers. Indeed, once the village was demolished, the old-timers who chose to stay behind amid the ruins in the vicinity of the graveyard needed to be in touch with their immediate family members more than anything else. The mobility of the phone allowed them to do that.