Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Despite hardships, some Bedouins still feel obligation to serve Israel

An IDF soldier training during an exercise of
the Desert Reconnaissance Battalion of the Gaza Division,
which is primarily composed of Bedouins, Nov. 2010.
(IDF Spokesperson))
On an August weekday afternoon, 19-year-old Mohammed Kernowi stands in front of a small store in Israel’s largest Bedouin city, a hot plate in front of him with small pancakes sizzling in preparation for the end of that day’s Ramadan fast.

At his age, many Israeli men have been through basic training and are weathering their first of three years of compulsory military service either on the country’s borders, in the West Bank, in an office or on one of the country’s many bases.

Kernowi, however, prefers baking to bullets.

“No one goes from our family,” he said. “It’s a waste of three years of your life.”

While some Bedouins continue to voluntarily serve in Israel's military, their community -- just as with some in Israel's Jewish community -- debate whether it is worthwhile. Bedouins, separated physically and to some extent culturally from other Israeli Arabs, are exempt from serving in the Israel Defense Forces. -- Ben Sales, JTA

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