Surrounded: Palestinian Soldiers in the Israeli Military

By Rhoda Ann Kanaaneh | Go to book overview
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Broken Promises

We say to each other, today you are a
combatant, tomorrow you are an Arab
[Hebrew, ha-yom ata ḳravi, maḥar ata ʿaravi].

Hamadi, twenty, a soldier from
an unrecognized village in the south

KHALID SAWAʿID, a Bedouin who served for seven years in the Israeli military, lived on his ancestral land in the Galilee with his wife and children. His house and land became engulfed by the Jewish settlement of Makhmunim, which was trying to evict him and demolish his home (see Figure 5).1 Back in 1988, Sawaʿid applied to be admitted as a member of the settlement, promising to then sell them his land “so as not to harm the development of the lookout (settlement).”2 He was rejected. The head of the committee of Makhmunim asserted that “despite all our friendship with Khalid, it would not be a natural situation if he lives with us.”3 Sawaʿid even agreed to swap his property for land in the partly recognized Arab village of Kammani nearby, where his extended family lives, but “this too they rejected.”4 When asked about his military service he said: “I was stupid. I thought that if I serve I will receive my rights. I said, I will fight beside them and receive what I deserve, just like Jews receive. But this is not the reality. I am good for war, but not for living with.”5

Arab soldiers are entitled to official benefits and they sometimes receive patronage benefits as well. But the Arabness of Arab soldiers haunts them and severely limits their rewards. The hopes of these soldiers for fuller citizenship in return for their service founders, again and again, on the Jewish/Arab dichotomy at the core of the idea of the Jewish state.


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Surrounded: Palestinian Soldiers in the Israeli Military


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