As US president-elect Barack Obama prepares for his move into the White House, his self-proclaimed relatives from a Bedouin tribe in northern Israel prepare to travel to the United States to congratulate him personally.
"We are planning to send a large delegation to the United States, where we will shake his hand and tell him 'congratulations'," said Sheikh Abdul Rahman Abdullah of the village of Bir al-Maksour.
Abdullah and his tribe believe they are blood relatives of the new president. "With us Bedouins, you know for sure who you're related to, even after many generations," said Abdullah in an interview with Ynet on Thursday.
The sheikh claims Obama's Kenyan grandfather was married to one of the tribe's women. "At the start of his campaign, one day on of the elder woman of the tribe told me that Hussein Obama's father's father was related to us," Abdullah said.
"At first I didn't believe her at all," he continued, "but then she told me that Africans, just like us, would wonder from place to place in search of food and work. They knew that with us, just as with out father Abraham, the tent was always open to anyone who would ask, and so was the food."
Abdullah said he could prove the relation to the new president. "When you see something in his body that flows like your own blood, you recognize it. There is a connection; you can see it in Obama's behavior – his upright way of sitting, his hand gestures. He is one of us and we feel it in our hearts."
Despite holding this knowledge for some time, the tribe decided not to say anything until after the elections so as not to influence voters.
"Everyone was talking about how he is Muslim, so we didn't want to say that he was related to Bedouins. We were afraid people wouldn't vote for him, but we stayed up all night and when we heard the results we immediately gave out baklava and sweets to everyone."
Sheikh Abdullah, who served in the past as a council head of Bir al-Maksour, said he hoped Obama would help the Bedouins. "The Bedouins are the most underprivileged sector in Israel, I home he understands this pain and intervenes on our behalf".
In the meantime, before the delegation of Bedouins is sent to Washington, Abdullah is planning to hold a grand celebration in honor of Obama's victory over the next few days, and several sheep will be slaughtered in his honor.