Nearly 8,000 Arab Bedouins in northern Israel are claiming kinship with US president-elect Barack Obama. (Reuters)
Islam Online News:
CAIRO — Already having relatives extending from Hawaii to Kenya, nearly 8,000 Arab Bedouins in northern Israel are also claiming kinship with America's new president-elect, Barack Obama.
"We knew about it years ago but we were afraid to talk about it because we didn't want to influence the election," Arab Bedouin elder Abdul Rahman Sheikh Abdullah told The Times on Thursday, November 13.
"We wrote a letter to him explaining the family connection."
Abdullah, from the village of Bir al-Maksour in Galilee region, says his 95-year-old mother first noticed that Obama looked like one of the African migrant workers in the British-mandated Palestine in 1930s.
One of those migrants, who sometimes used to marry local Bedouin girls, was a relative of Obama's Kenyan grandmother, says Abdullah. Abdullah says he has papers and pictures supporting his claim, but would not divulge them until Obama is in the White House. "We want to send a delegation to congratulate him, and we know we'll get an answer soon."
Obama was elected America's first black president last week after crushing his Republican rival John McCain.
Born in Hawaii, the Illinois senator is the son of a Muslim-turned-atheist Kenyan father and a white American mother.
He lived from ages 6 to 10 in Indonesia with his mother and Muslim stepfather. Bedouins are traditionally pastoral semi-nomadic Arab tribes indigenous to the Negev region.
Bedouins have been distributing sweets and dishes of baklava and pastries in celebration of Obama's election win.
"We knew he'd win," Abdullah said, constantly interrupted by a barrage of phone calls from well-wishers. "We have always been a lucky family.
Two baby boys born into Abdullah's large clan have been named Obama. Congratulators have been also flocking to Abdullah's region to pay their respects to the "Bedouin Obama".
"Everyone is talking about [Sheikh Abdullah's ties to Mr Obama] . . . They believe it," said Sheikh Issam al-Khalil from the occupied southern Lebanese town of Ghajar.
"The sheikhs from all the villages are talking about it. There's a whole delegation of Druze leaders coming from the Golan Heights to congratulate him."
Many Bedouins hope that their "relative" Obama will solve their problems. "We hope to God that Obama will solve the problem of Ghajar," said Khalil. Abdullah, the Bedouin elder, is also hopeful.
"We hope he'll end all wars and intervene here to solve our problems in Israel. The Bedouin are the people who suffer the most here."