Feb 12 2012
Although unknown to most of the world, there are many Bedouin Muslims who are loyal to the State of Israel and proudly serve in the Israeli Defense Forces.
BBC In fact, there are thousands of Muslim Bedouin who serve in the IDF, and even bear arms against their fellow Muslims in the West Bank and Gaza. They do so although it is not compulsory for them to serve in the Israeli military, as it is for most Israeli Jews.
Israel’s Bedouin are a Muslim, Arabic-speaking group. Although these formerly nomadic people were once considered part of the Palestinian nation, most of them are now proud to call themselves Israelis. Co-operation between Jews and Bedouin began before the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948. In 1946, tribal leader Abu Yusuf al-Heib sent more than 60 of his men to fight alongside Zionist forces against their Arab neighbours in Galilee.
More than 60 years on, Maj Fallah’s devotion to the Jewish state was unequivocal. He even refused to be interviewed by me in Arabic, insisting: “I have better command of Hebrew.” Military service is a family tradition in many Bedouin villages, especially those located in the north of Israel.