Kibbutz admits Arab as member

By Simon Griver, June 12, 2008
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A kibbutz has accepted an Arab citizen’s request to become a member for what is claimed to be the first time.

Amal Karmia, a divorcee from the Arab town of Kalanswa, north-east of Tel Aviv, officially became a member of Kibbutz Nir Eliahu, near Kfar Saba, where she lives with her teenage daughter Aya and son Adam.

Israeli magazine The Kibbutz reported that this was the first time in the history of the kibbutz movement that an Arab had been accepted as a member. Ms Karmia, a nurse, has a long association with Kibbutz Nir Eliahu. Both her children attended the kibbutz kindergarten and she became the nurse in the kibbutz clinic in 1997. In recent years, she has lived on the kibbutz.

“This is the place and these are the people and this is the lifestyle which suits me,” said Ms Karmia. “Even so, we are Muslims. We fast on Ramadan and keep all the festivals. My children enjoy the best of both worlds and have a universal outlook.”

As for the future, she said, “people on the kibbutz ask me if the children will go back to Kalanswa to find a spouse when they are older. I tell them it will be up to Aya and Adam to decide what kind of life they want to lead.”

Neta Beeri, who is in charge of new members for the kibbutz, said: “This was not a symbolic act. We have known Amal for years and love her. She is a person that we wanted as a member. Even so perhaps others will realise that Arabs do not have horns and there will be more Arab members of kibbutzim.”

    Last updated: 12:02pm, June 12 2008