More Arabs doing national service, but hostility remains

Sunday, March 10, 2013 |  Israel Today Staff

A growing number of Israeli Arabs are opting to do national service (an alternative to military service), and some even have a genuine desire to serve the State of Israel beyond their initial commitment. But, sadly, they continue to face harsh criticism and even hostility from within the Arab community.

According to a report by Media Line, there are currently some 3,000 young Arabs doing national service. The jobs typically involve helping out at local schools or offices providing government services.

Many young Arabs are realizing the importance Israel places on military or national service, and the doors one can open by doing his or her part.

In an interview with Israel's Ynet news portal last year, Bedouin Arab activist Ibrahim al-Huzeil strongly urged more young Arabs to follow this path. "You want rights? Make your contribution. If not in the army, then help the community, your sector, your town," said Huzeil. "I see no problem with everyone enlisting, including Arabs."

Some even develop such a desire to serve the State of Israel that they make a career out of national service. Such was the case with Boshra Khalaila, an Arab woman from the Galilee who today serves proudly in Israel's foreign service.

Or a female Muslim police officer who serves in the Jerusalem area. Unfortunately, her name had to be withheld because someone recently posted on the Internet her picture and home address along with a message accusing the officer of being a "traitor" who aids the "occupation army."

Together, these news items reveal that there is a desire among many Israeli Arabs to serve the state. But so many are frightened to act on their desires due to lingering societal pressures and even open threats. Preferring to portray Israel as an oppressor of Arabs, the international media all but ignores this story.

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