President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday morning 6 Adar met with a delegation of community and academic leaders from the Israeli Bedouin community, to discuss ways to strengthen the relationship between the Bedouin and Jewish communities, and best address the needs of the population with regard to social and education issues. Participating in the meeting was among others, Community Activity Coordinator Mansur Abu-Tahah; Prof. Araf Abu-Raviya from the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at Ben-Gurion University; Sheikh Ibrahim Alamor; and Sheikh Iyad Abu Rashed, and former MK and minister, Haim Oron.
The President began by speaking about his visit to the Bedouin communities in Rahat and Hura last week. He said, “I went to pay condolences and to show my solidarity with Rahat as a city, and as part of Israel. I also visited and paid my condolences in Hura, to the bereaved families of that terrible road accident. I also visited an agricultural farm in Hura, which I have no doubt will be transformed into one of the global leaders in its field, and truly is in my opinion revolutionary.”
The President spoke about possible solutions to the problems facing the community. He said, “We are committed to arriving at an understanding, as we have in the past, in a way which will enable us to live side by side, together. In every civilized society, understanding is not born out of coercion, but from mutual goodwill. We will take every step in order to reduce the gaps. Government officers are designed to help the citizen, not to make things difficult, and we are at your service to deal with every obstacle that stands in your way. My house is open to you, but we must understand that as a family we may not always agree on everything.”
During the discussion, Head of Middle Eastern Studies at Ben-Gurion University Prof. Araf Abu-Raviya addressed the President, and spoke about the problems of employment and integration into government offices, of members of the Bedouin community. He asked of the President, “Spread the cloak of your presidency, over all of us, because we are all your children.”
Sheikh Ibrahim Alamor, deputy head of the Kuseife local council, added, “The Bedouin community has contributed and will continue to contribute to the state in every way possible, and we ask, as citizens of the state, for our rights from all the institutions that govern it.”
Dr. Ibrahim Sayeed, a resident of Hura and neurologist, said “In the last years, we have seen a great improvement in field of healthcare in the Bedouin community, with a significant increase in the percentage of Bedouin doctors. Healthcare is the basis for coexistence, it does not discriminate between race or blood.”
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)