The past year has seen a 30 percent increase in the number of non-Jews volunteering for national service in Israel. Today, more than 3,500 non-Jews are serving, over 70 percent of them Muslims.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week met with a number of these non-Jewish volunteers. He heard about how they are playing active roles in the police, fire stations, emergency medical services, schools, kindergartens and more. Netanyahu spoke with the volunteers about the challenges they face, and was told of the volunteers’ desire to fully integrate into Israeli society.
The director of the National Service Authority, Sar-Shalom Jerbi, informed the prime minister that the majority of the volunteers perform their service within Arab communities.
Jerbi laid out the figures:
“Today, 3,550 non-Jewish volunteers are doing national service. Compared to the 2,700 doing national service last year, this is an increase of 850 volunteers. Among them, 72 percent are Muslims, 18 percent are Druze and 10 percent are Christians. Part of the service for some is learning Hebrew, as we identified this as the main barrier to their integration into the work force and academic circles. Our surveys show that 85 percent of the non-Jewish volunteers who do national service go on to join the work force and integrate into society. This is tremendous, and we will continue to develop these programs and encourage service, for the sake of the volunteers, their communities and the entire State of Israel.”
“Each one of you volunteers in a different field and in so doing assists Israeli society and all citizens of Israel. This has always been important, but is especially so at this time. I strongly reject extremist statements and belligerent rhetoric coming from fringe elements of the public that do not represent the Israeli spirit. It is beautiful to see your recruitment into these various services. It is heartwarming. This is the Israel society that we all want to see. I want to thank you and to encourage you. Follow your dreams. Do not falter.”