Dimona Black Hebrews Join IDF to Set Up a Nahal Kibbutz

A group of Black Hebrews are due to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces tomorrow, with the intention of establishing a farming community in the southern Negev.

This is the first time that a group made up of Black Hebrews has undertaken a Nahal project to build a new collective community close to the border. The Nahal Brigade combines military service with agricultural or community work.

The group's 10 men will join the Nahal brigade tomorrow, while the eight women will be called up in mid-September. After the men complete 18 months of combat training, the group will start setting up the new community. The members plan to make a living from organic farming.

Yoel Marshak, head of the United Kibbutz Movement's assignments' division, which is assisting the group, told Haaretz that three sites are being considered for the community, which the group calls a "kibbutz." The sites are in the area of the Halutza and Nitzana dunes. Marshak said he believed the community will be set up some five kilometers east of Nitzana, on the site of the former Nahal-Shelah outpost.

The state has agreed to allocate land for the new community and help it get started, and the UKM has given the group members a seminar to prepare them for their IDF service. Marshak said UKM members will help any community that adopts the kibbutz ideology.

The Black Hebrews, whose full name is the African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem, first arrived from the United States in 1969 and settled mostly in Dimona. After a long battle, the state finally issued the community's 2,000 members Israeli identity cards as permanent residents in 2003.