Lieutenant Colonel Magdi Mazarib is a Bedouin, a Muslim Arab who grew up in northern Israel. He is also the Israeli army’s highest-ranking tracker and commands a unit of Bedouin soldiers. Currently, there are1,655 Bedouin in active service in the Israeli army.
Read this fascinating article on the role of Bedouins in the Israel army, from Al Arabiya.
As part of a minority within the Arab Israeli community, itself a minority among the Jews of Israel, Mazarib is at ease protecting his country’s borders from other Arabs, fellow Muslims.
“This is our country,” he states simply in perfect Hebrew with a light Arabic accent. And its Jewish symbols, such as the Star of David or the theme of the national anthem, do not perturb Mazarib.
“The flag of England also has a cross on it, and the Jews there are fine with it,” he says during a tour of the Bedouin Heritage Centre which houses a memorial to the 182 Bedouin killed fighting for Israel.
The amiable and composed officer, who with a shaved head, Hermes cologne and long, delicate fingers could pass for a business executive, believes that his fellow Bedouin across the Middle East are even envious of the way those in Israel live.
“The state of Bedouin in Israel is better, as far as the respect we get, our progress, education,” he says. “It’s a different league.”
Bedouin are not the only native Arabic speakers in the Israeli military, with members of Israel’s Druze and Circassian minorities enlisting, but they dominate the small, elite tracker units guarding the country’s northern and southern borders....
Although Mazarib is following in the footsteps of his father, his uncle and his brother who also served as military trackers, he doesn’t see the same future for his eldest son, who is currently in school.
Mazarib envisions that his son --the only Bedouin in his class -- will serve in one of the army’s top elite units before taking up a senior role in Israeli society.
To him, the Bedouin integration in Israel’s army and society could be evidence of the possibility of Jewish-Muslim coexistence, which “could serve as an example of how to solve the entire Jewish-Arab conflict,” he says.
Even more surprising are the comments, including this one from Mustafa Najjar
Wednesday, 24 April 2013
Israel is a great country that gives it's citizens equal rights, then why not serve such a country? Why not work there? Why not be proud of carrying it's passport, and even nationality? The situation in Arab countries surrounding us is completely pathetic. No health insurance, no job security, no chance at affording higher education for you or for your kids, if you're not rich. In Israel, we're well equal, and we love it. Love lives the state of Israel and the Jewish people!