Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom (Likud ) met on Tuesday with the director of a club for demobilized Bedouin soldiers to discuss rebuilding the facility, which was razed three weeks ago, at a new location.
The club, which was demolished by the Israel Lands Administration on the grounds that it had been built illegally, provided job placement services for demobilized soldiers and hosted lectures for young Bedouin men prior to their enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces. The razing of the facility, which was located near the Shoket junction east of Be'er Sheva, engendered an angry response from the Forum of Demobilized Bedouin Officers and Soldiers.
Following a report on the demolition in Haaretz last month, representatives of the group met with Shalom yesterday and received a commitment to find an alternative location for the club.
"I was shocked to hear about the club's demolition," the vice prime minister said. He told the Bedouin representatives, who included the club's former director, Faisal Abu Nadi, that he had "felt the pain of the problem of demobilized Bedouin soldiers for many years."
Abu Nadi told Shalom that the problem "goes beyond building a new club for a demobilized soldiers' organization." In many instances, he explained, demobilized Bedouins "don't get help from their families or friends. Discrimination gives rise to hate, and hate gives rise to crime. The population of demobilized [Bedouin] soldiers must be taken care of as soon as possible to encourage the enlistment of other young men from this community."
Shalom concurred. "The building that was destroyed is just a symptom of a deep problem that exists in Israeli society," he said. "The problem has to be dealt with, and the sooner the better. The policy of ignoring the needs of a population that contributes to the state is like shooting the future of the country and its citizens in the foot."
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