by Mohammad Ka'abiyah
Those who really care about Bedouin welfare are not found in the Arab parties.
In the recent elections, the high voter turnout percentage for the Likud party came at times from an unexpected source. In the Bedouin village of Arab al-Na'im located in the north of Israel, the Likud party received 76% of the votes, while the United Arab Party received only 15% of the votes. To many Israelis, the Bedouin community’s voting for the nationalist camp parties may seem perplexing, but in fact, it is a long standing partnership of ideologies and shared fates.
The partnership and reciprocity between the Bedouin community and the Zionist enterprise began somewhere back in the ‘30s of the previous century, when the bonds between the head of the “Hashomer” organization, Alexander Zaïd, and the Ka’abiyah family were forged and strengthened. This continued in the form of the Bedouin and Jewish warriors who fought together in the British patrol battalions guarding the land of Israel’s borders in the Sinai theater of operations from Nazi invasion, and in the Palmach company founded by the Heib family from the village Tuba.
Additional examples for the security relationship and shared fate between the Bedouin community and Zionist are the strong relationship between Yigal Alon and the Galilee Bedouins, who assisted in forming the minorities and trackers unit, who open and close Israel’s borders every morning and evening, as well as the IDF’s Desert reconnaissance unit, currently active.
The relationship is not merely one of that is security-military in nature, but goes much beyond that. It was the Israeli parties who helped the Bedouin community with its special needs, such as the village Arab al-Na’im, which until 1999 was an unrecognized village, until the Likud ensured that the village would be recognized, bringing infrastructure and government services. The village members have never forgotten, and this will lead to them voting for the Likud even if there are 10 United Arab Parties and 20 Ayman Odehs.
Another example that can’t go unmentioned is the strong relationship between the former Prime Minister, the late Ariel Sharon, and the Bedouin community. Sharon, a son of the desert, strongly connected with the Bedouin community and its people, and always made sure not to miss a community holiday or day of celebration. Sharon was also greatly appreciated by the community, especially by the Bedouins in the south of Israel, who would receive him with a princely reception.
These are all examples of relations between the Bedouin community and the state of Israel, its institutions, and the Israeli society. This relationship is growing deeper and tighter, despite inciting elements in the Bedouin and Arab society who call on the Bedouins to step away from this relationship.
Today, only Zionist parties can fulfill the needs of the Bedouin community, and meet its special needs. Only Zionist parties can look out for the Bedouin youth, because the benefits and conditions granted to discharged soldiers, or young people who want to integrate themselves into Israeli society, will never be promoted by anti-Zionist Arab parties, who may call for coexistence and integration, but in reality strive towards creating a rift and separation.
This brings us to the situation at hand, where Arab youth have a very hard time integrating themselves into Israeli society, in the business as well as the social aspects. If Ayman Odeh and his friends were really concerned for the Bedouin and Arab youth, as they claim that they are, we would see real coexistence and stronger, tighter coexistence between the different populations sectors.
An example of this is that this past week, the Lobby for Encouraging and Promoting the Enlistment of Minorities into the IDF and the Civil Service was founded, by members of the "Im Tirtzu" movement, and headed by a Likud Member of Knesset (Miki Zohar) and a Member of Knesset from the “Kulanu” party (Merav Ben Ari).
Needless to say, of course, is that the Arab Members of Knesset strenuously object to the enlistment of minorities into the IDF, thereby distancing even further the relations between Jews and Arabs, distancing even further the coexistence in whose name they are supposedly acting. And thus, the Arab Members of Knesset continue to sow division and cause damage, while the Nationalist camp leads a historical course of bringing minorities and Israeli society closer to each other.
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