Photo Credit: Yossi Aloni/Flash90
Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel (New Hope).

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel (New Hope) is planning to propose to the Cabinet on Sunday following the terrorist massacre in Be’er Sheva last week to adopt a policy of affirmative action for Bedouin who support the state, Israel Hayom reported.

In a letter he sent last Thursday to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and senior ministers, Hendel claimed that the five-year plan for the development of the Negev that had been approved by the government two weeks ago, of which an extensive portion is related to the Bedouin population, is insufficient, and the government should put emphasis on helping the Bedouin who choose to serve in the IDF and support the state.


“Investments and budgets do not make a difference on their own,” Hendel wrote his coalition colleagues. “The murderous attack marked yet another breaking point in the loss of governance in the Negev. The State of Israel has chosen not to favor those who serve and not to punish the extremists – neither stick nor carrot. Indecision is the worst decision. Now it’s our shift.”

Handel yearns for a return to the way things stood until a few decades ago between the state of Israel and its Bedouin population when most of the Bedouin public was loyal to the state.

“It’s possible to do this differently,” he stated. “In the past, most of the young people in Bedouin society would have enlisted and served in the army with pride. Today, under the cover of alienation and rising nationalism, Bedouin recruitment stands at a few percentage points.”

2021 saw was a decrease in the number of young Bedouin who enlisted in the IDF and an increase in the number of Bedouin soldiers who drop out, according to IDF Human Resources. According to Walla, 1,514 soldiers from the Bedouin community served in the IDF by 2021, including 84 officers: one colonel and ten lieutenant colonels. In addition, 287 Bedouin non-commissioned officers serve in the IDF.

In 2016, Bedouin enlistment was low and hovered around 339 soldiers, but 2017 saw a rise to 448 enlisting Bedouin. Since then, there have been moderate increases and decreases, until in 2020 there was another boost in enlistment, to 606 soldiers. However, according to IDF Human Resources, in 2021 there was another decline in enlistments.

At the same time, last May, Bedouin youths began blocking roads and throwing stones at vehicles under incitement from the social networks. Sources in the IDF are pointing out a “very worrying distance from Israeli society” on the part of Bedouin youths.

It doesn’t help that Israeli Bedouin generally choose to study in universities and colleges in the Palestinian Authority and not in Israel, mainly because their Hebrew is not good enough to attend an Israeli university. Israel’s Education Ministry does not require the Bedouin high school students to show proficiency in Hebrew to graduate. Also, in some cases, Bedouin students have families in the PA and the Gaza Strip.

Incidentally, Hendel’s Communications Ministry is also offering new enrichment programs for Jewish youths, especially in the periphery. The new model will provide a budget worth up to NIS 150,000 ($45,000) for each youth enrichment program, especially in creating local broadcasting.


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