A day tour through Rahat

JNS, October 28, 2015

Liat Cohen is a seasoned member of an organization called Ma’agalim-Halkat (“Cycles” in Hebrew), which arranges visits between Jews and Arabs. Yet she admitted to being a bit scared to take part in an Oct. 24 visit to Rahat, the largest Bedouin city in Israel—and the world.

About a week earlier, a Bedouin Arab was found responsible for the murder of an IDF soldier in a shooting attack at Be’er Sheva’s central bus station. (At the scene of the same attack, an Eritrean asylum seeker who was mistaken for a terrorist was also killed.)

My own visit to Rahat coincided with Ma’agalim’s tour. My personal host, Sharihan Al Kamlat, 22, whom I met on assignment this summer, was not part of any official hosting delegation. She was simply excited to show a reporter around her hometown, of which she is proud. Her dark skin and pretty face—and jeans and t-shirt—often cause people to mistake her for an Ethiopian Jew. This overachiever recently completely her national service at a health clinic and is a longtime volunteer at “House of Wheels,” an organization that provides enrichment programs for people with physical disabilities. Sharihan works at the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and the Ministry of Health, but aspires to be a midwife.

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