The Israeli Selective Myopia and the Missing Culturally Sensitive Support for Bedouin IDF War Widows

Ya’arit Bokek-Cohen, Smadar Ben-Asher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Israel is a democratic state that champions the aspiration for equality, justice, and acceptance of multiculturalism. We critically examine the officially declared policy vis-à-vis the actual fulfillment of minorities’ equal rights. In keeping with the rights-based approach to social work, minority groups are entitled to any rights granted to the dominant group in their countries, as they have equal rights to realize their humanity. The present research project showcases a severe violation of human rights in a hitherto unstudied minority sector in Israel, namely Bedouin Israeli Defense Forces war widows. These widows are positioned in an extremely paradoxical intersection as their fallen husband died during service in the Israeli Defense Forces, an army which is perceived by most Bedouins as the force which conquered and expropriated their land. Analysis of in-depth interviews with seven Bedouin war widows has led us to expose an abuse of their human rights, due to a failure to take into consideration their unique religious and cultural imperatives and restrictions. We explore their paradoxical lived experience of being formally entitled to equal human rights while reporting suffering discrimination, exclusion, and marginalization. In the name of these silenced Israeli citizens, we call for public awareness of this severe violation of human rights and propose some practical suggestions as to how to adapt the provision of social work support to the cultural features of these recipients, in order to truly adhere to the democratic vision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-28
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Human Rights and Social Work
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature.


  • Bedouin
  • Bereavement
  • Culturally sensitive
  • Human rights
  • Minorities
  • War widow


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