Meet Israel's first female Arab combat commander

Thursday, October 18, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

On Wednesday evening the Israeli army for the first time ever proudly promoted a female Arab to command a combat unit.

Mona Abdo, 20, was born to a Christian family living in the Haifa area. Like many young Israeli Arabs who have not been indoctrinated with a hatred for Israel, Mona chose to join the IDF when she turned 18.

Initially assigned to an ordnance unit, Mona decided she wanted more and was transfered to a combat unit where men and women, Jews and Arabs fight alongside one another.

Mona surprised many when she applied for and was accepted to the elite officer's training course.

"There were people who were very proud of me, but there were those [Arabs] on the street who saw me with the IDF uniform and the fighter pin and told me I was a traitor," Mona told Israel's Channel 2 News.

The pioneering young soldier said that her Jewish comrades-in-arms had been very supportive, and that more than a few Arab young women told her that thanks to her example, they, too, had a desire to join the IDF, but were still afraid of the social backlash.

No doubt Mona will become symbol of inspiration for those young Arabs who do not hate Israel, and a thorn in the side of those who do. But for now, she is simply focusing on being a good commander to her soldiers.

"I'm very excited and I'm thinking about the fact that soon I'm going to get new troops who will be under my command. I hope to lead by personal example," she said.

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