A growing number of young Arabic-speaking Christians are volunteering to serve in the Israeli army. Some even want their service to be mandatory, as it is for Jews. But there are some elements in Arab Christian society that remain hostile to this phenomenon.
That was the experience of a young Arabic-speaking Christian who spoke to Israel’s Mako news portal. Identified only as “Y” for his own safety, the young man recounted how his family and friends urged him not to join the IDF, and how his insistence on doing so earned him death threats and a physical beating.
“I knew I was going to pay a heavy price. Most of my friends cut off contact with me,” said Y, who signed up to serve in the Bedouin Reconnaissance Battalion, and has since started a course to become a combat medic.
“The few times I got home, I received death threats from various people who live and work in my neighborhood,” he continued. “They were outraged that I was walking around in uniform and serve in a combat unit.”
During a recent visit to his hometown of Haifa, Y was physically assaulted by a passerby. “He punched me just because I was wearing a uniform. He told me, ‘You and your friends are traitors.’ It’s scary. Next time it could end in murder,” said the shaken young man.
Due to the situation, Y has petitioned the army to allow him to travel in civilian clothing. But until permission is granted, he is forced to spend most weekends at a soldiers’ boarding house to avoid physical violence, or worse.