Today I experienced something that I – unfortunately – experience often. I talked with a soldier, who was waiting for his friend at the toilets.
He told that he was on the way back to the base after a good weekend with the family, and we just chitchatted about various things. When his friend came, I heard they spoke Arabic to one another. I wondered and asked if they were Bedouins, which they confirmed, though mostly seeming to wanting to avoid the question. This reaction is not unusual for me, when it comes to the various minorities here in Israel, which saddens me.
When I lived in Denmark, I experienced incidents where I or a friend, had to hide our Jewish identity of various reasons. I understand the feeling of being uncomfortable when asked about your identity, even if it is with an innocent motive, which my reason was today. I don’t see any reason that anybody, Jew, Arab, Christian, Buddhist, Atheist or whatever, should be ashamed of being who he/she is, on the contrary, we should be proud of who we are.
Unfortunately we are not always allowed to be just that, though the reasons may vary.
What hurt me the most, seeing the way the two soldiers reacted, was that I knew that these guys basically didn’t have any reason to feel ashamed, besides what has been caused by other people’s ignorance. The Bedouins are, with the Druzes, two of the most loyal and courageous minorities in Israel, when it comes to taking part of the defense, so why do they have to feel ashamed? Not because of their skills and loyalty as soldiers, but probably because of the prejudice there – unfortunately – exists about Bedouins here. That they all live in tents, are uneducated, and so on. Even if this is the truth, this shouldn’t be counted as a disadvantage for the individual Bedouin, but instead be seen as a motive for improving their lives, as far as they want that, especially considering that they take part in the Israeli society.
Anyway, this is not so much a post about Israel and her society, or about Bedouins in particular, but more about how we view each other and ourselves in relation to others. Letting other people take our pride is basically allowing them to step on us, and – I believe – that is one of the worst thing people can be allowed to do (as well as allowing themselves to do). I’m not talking about rebellion or being overly proud, only based on one’s identity, but about the value there is in each one of us, as being created in the image of G-D. Even Arabs, Bedouins, Africans, whatever, are created in the image of G-D.