HER STORY #6 - ensaf
I am not just an Arab. I am firstly Palestinian, then Bedouin. I am from a Bedouin village. It's very important for me that people know, and understand, that there are differences between Arabs.
In the Negev, in southern Israel, there are unrecognized Bedouin communities, which refer to towns that aren't recognized by the State of Israel.
A Minority In My Own Land
I am angry at the situation—it’s tough for me here. I am scared for my future children who will be born here. But I wouldn't actually want that. I am thinking of immigrating to a place where I can raise my children better – to a place where I can use all of my potential, to a place where my race isn't an issue.
The Israeli Army In My Family
Most of the men in my village go to the army. They are not Druze, and they are also not forced to join. It's just something that is accepted.
The men who go to the army are mostly those who do not want to study and who prefer to work right after high school. Some even join to be combat soldiers.
I have four sisters and two brothers, and one of my two brothers, the oldest, is in the army and has been for almost ten years. He is like a permanent soldier. He even went to Gaza last summer to extract soldiers from there.
It is extremely difficult for me that he is in the army because of the brainwashing that he has experienced. After last summer's war in Gaza, I saw him and I heard how he referred to the stone throwers as "mechab'lim" [terrorists]. He says that he has never killed anyone, but everything else that he does for the army bothers me.
I tried talking to him about what he does, but nothing really comes out of it.
Last summer, after the end of the war, the army offered to extend his contract with them, and he accepted it. It's an embarrassment for me. However, for my family it is fine. They just ask him to be as merciful as possible.
Memorial Day Ceremonies
My uncle was in the army and died in 1982, while serving in the First Lebanon War. This meant that from a young age I participated in the Yom Ha'zikaron [Memorial Day] ceremonies with my family. I didn't really know what it was about. All that I recall was that my uncle's name was mentioned during the ceremonies, but I didn't sing the Hatik'vah [Israeli national anthem], when they sang.
When I became a teenager, I suddenly began to understand what Yom Ha'zikaron was about, and I decided not to attend the ceremonies.
During last summer's war in Gaza, it wasn't so difficult to walk around the university, but it was difficult to walk around outside in general. I remember once I went for a walk with my friend and my dog, and we spoke Arabic to each other. There was a man walking next to us with his dog, and when he heard us speaking Arabic, he jokingly said "attack" to his dog (a dog much bigger than mine), and the dog ran towards us while the man giggled. I was scared, but mostly for my dog.
Sometimes when I speak Arabic I hear comments from others. It makes me want to speak Arabic even more just to annoy them, but I am still scared.
My parents always told me to keep a low profile. "Just study, work, and don't talk about politics." My parents have always been very scared, because if you say one thing, the system could prevent you from succeeding as a punishment. So by saying this to me, my parents are trying to protect me.
Most Arab parents are like mine. And most teenagers from these communities begin to gain political awareness as young adults, especially after turning 18, because that is when they first begin to analyze and process the situation. They know that something is wrong, but their parents remain scared.
Interview conducted on May 22, 2015 by Sarah Arnd Linder