Bedouin Israelis receive Im Tirzu "Award for Zionism"
Bedouin Israelis receive Im Tirzu "Award for Zionism"Itai Schremer, Itai Schremer Photography

The grassroots Im Tirzu Zionist organization awarded 30 Bedouin Israeli activists a special "Award for Zionism," for the efforts to encourage IDF enlistment among Israel's Bedouin Arab population.

The award was presented at Im Tirzu's annual convention in Jerusalem last week; the theme of this year's conference was "Go, Build a State."

Thousands of activists and supporters from across the country filled the convention hall in the capital's Ammunition Hill, and applauded as Mohammad Ka'abiya and other members of the Bedouin district of the “Acharai!” (After Me!) organization were awarded for their contribution to Israeli society.

Upon receiving the award, Ka’abiya called on Jewish Israelis to support Bedouin integration into society by showing tolerance and encouraging Zionist organizations such as his.

"The Bedouin youth still need one small thing, especially in these days, when hatred is trying to drive a wedge between everyone, regardless of their race and identity," he said. "They need a hug, an embrace much like the one minutes ago on this stage, they need the embrace of the Israeli society, because we can fight together, shoulder to shoulder, against our common enemy, not only on the battlefield, we can also continue the fight when we remove our uniforms and return to our everyday lives."

MK Merav Ben-Ari from the centrist "Kulanu" party also addressed the convention, calling for unity and noting the recent positive trends in army enlistment among non-Jewish Israeli citizens. 

"I am among those Israelis who are filled with pride when Hatkivah is sung," she said, referring to Israel's national anthem, which itself means "hope."

"We are driven by important ideals, and in days like these, with severe calls and incitement, the message of unity and not one of division, rather one of understanding and accepting the other, these are the messages that need to be sent out from here," Ben-Ari added.

"Keep up your important Zionist activity, along with the wonderful people who are here. In Israel in 2015, you are allowed to be a Zionist even if you are a Druze, religious, secular, haredi, Muslim or Christian. We are not all left-wingers in Tel Aviv."

Im Tirzu's Chairman, Matan Peleg, denounced far-left NGOs for attempting to drive a wedge between Israel's Jewish majority and minority communities.

He also lamented that "delegitimization organizations such as B’tselem, Amnesty International, and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)" are still allowed to receive civilian National Service participants, despite their overtly hostile activities towards the State of Israel, and called on the Attorney General "to stop this travesty."

Peleg also took aim at elements on the Right - specifically Bentzi Gopshtain of the anti-assimilation Lehava organization, who in recent comments appeared to advocate for the burning of churches.

Branding such calls "anti-Zionist," Peleg called on Israel to rally round "Im Tirtzu's greatest mission: To protect and preserve the values of classical Zionism. Zionism that acts out of love and out of the will to renew our days as of old."