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The Murder of Yasser Arafat: "Powerful" - The Times of London

Monday, 15 October 2007

Israeli Arab farmer has 8 wives and 67 children

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Shehadeh Abu Arar with some of his 67 kids in village of Burgata

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, October 15th 2007

BY MATTHEW KALMAN
SPECIAL TO THE NEWS

JERUSALEM - He has eight wives, 67 children and two more on the way.

And Shehadeh Abu Arar says he couldn't be happier.

The Israeli Arab farmer and camel breeder boasts of knowing all his
little ones by name and brushes off questions about his unusual
lifestyle.

"I am happy I have kids, this is what God gave us," said Abu Arar, 58.
"This is what He wants, and I do what He tells me."

Abu Arar has more children than any man in Israel, where Arab
population growth causes some to fear that Jews will someday be a
minority.

He first married in 1967 and had 31 children from his first two wives.
His eldest son is 37 and his youngest child is less than 1. So far, he
has 20 grandchildren.

All of them live with him in an extended family compound in the
village of Burgata, where he shuttles from one lovely to another.

"Every night I decide which wife to go to," Abu Arar recently told the
Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

His youngest wife is only 23, a Palestinian from the Jenin refugee
camp in the West Bank.

Abu Arar is not stopping there - eight wives, apparently, is not enough.

"Now I am thinking about a new wife, No. 9, and I am already preparing
for the marriage," he said. "There are many women who wish to marry
me."

The family grows flowers and vegetables near its home. It also raise
cows, sheep and goats that provide food for the extended clan.

Every morning, a bus comes and takes 30 of the children to the local school.

It's not all milk and honey for the wives.

"Each one has to take care of her own children, and I have my own
chores," Abu Arar told Yedioth Ahronoth. "It's very difficult. But,
thank God, my children help out, and we make a good living."

Under Israeli law, Bedouins like Abu Arar may take as many wives as
they like without being considered a polygamist.

In a quirk of law, only 53 of the children are Israeli citizens - the
other 14 are considered Palestinians because their mothers came from
the West Bank.

Some Israeli nationalists fret that higher birthrates may one day make
Arabs, who represent about 20% of the Israeli population, a majority
in the Jewish state.

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