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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Number of 'Israeli Arabs' doing national service quadruples

Israel has a concept of national service, which essentially means that post-high school men and women volunteer for a year or two. In the Jewish community, it's mostly done by women who don't serve in the army for religious reasons and by men who don't serve in the army for medical reasons.

Most 'Israeli Arabs' don't serve in the army. Over the last few years, efforts have been made to encourage them to vounteer for national service instead. Those efforts have apparently been paying off.
It appears that the number of Arabs seeking to apply for national civic service has quadrupled over a period of only four years and demand exceeds the supply, according to Public Affairs Coordinator in the Administration for National Civic Service Lior Shohat.

"Whereas in 2004-2005 there were only 240 Arab volunteers for national service, years 2008-2009 have seen 1,050 volunteers. The numbers certainly speak for themselves," Shohat said.

Employees of the Administration for National Civic Service which was founded 18 months ago are currently busy with preparations for the new recruit year targeting the Israeli public as a whole and the Arab sector in particular.

"Currently the demand is exceeding the amount of vacancies we can offer. I can safely say that if we had more vacancies the number of volunteers would have been much higher.

"The will of Arab youths to volunteer is far greater than the message being conveyed by their public leaders," Shohat added. He also wished to emphasize that there will be nowhere to direct new volunteers if they start encouraging more volunteers.
The message being conveyed by their 'leaders' is a deeply negative one.
Leaders of the Arab community have made negative statements in the past regarding national service. Balad Chairman Jamal Zahalka stated two years ago that young Arabs who will join national service will be regarded as lepers and will be ostracized from the Arab community.
While that number is still small in absolute terms, the trend is certainly positive and seems to reflect a desire to live in peace with Israel, despite the fact that (later in the same article) they still make reference to their 'Palestinian brothers.'

Eighteen months ago, when the push to encourage 'Israeli Arabs to do national service started, there was a survey done that showed that 'Israeli Arabs' are nowhere near as negative about the State of Israel as their 'leaders.' Caroline Glick reported:
A poll carried out by University of Haifa last month revealed that 75 percent of Israeli Arabs between the ages of 16 and 22 support voluntary national service. The poll also found that the vast majority of the Arab public is unaware of the national service. 77.4 percent overall and 79.6 percent of youth said they know little or nothing about the program. Moreover, the poll found that once given basic information about conditions in the national service and its goals, not only were Israeli Arab youth supportive of the idea, but so were 71.9 percent of all Arab men and 83.8 percent of all Arab women. In contrast, some 80 percent of members of Arab political parties opposed national service.
This is certainly good news, but I have to leave you with the same question that I asked a year and a half ago when I first reported on this story: If this is true, why do 'Israeli Arabs' continue to return the likes of Ahmad Tibi, Taleb-a-Sana and - until recently - Azmi Bishara (pictured) to the Knesset?


At 11:51 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

The answer to that last question you posed would seem to be that Israeli Arabs don't know the truth about what is going on in their own country.

If the (VAST) majority of Arabs don't even know the basic conditions and concept behind national service, and all they here is their "leaders" ranting and raving about so and so oppression, they most likely don't have a clear picture of the overall situation.

Maybe it is time the Israeli government focused a PR campaign on the Israeli Arab segment of society instead of the "International Community"

At 12:00 PM, Blogger Abu Yussif said...

could it be that only the idiots that the idiot MK's speak for are the ones voting for them?

At 6:05 PM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

Balad Chairman Jamal Zahalka stated two years ago that young Arabs who will join national service will be regarded as lepers and will be ostracized from the Arab community.

But Lieberman is a "racist" for insisting that all Israeli citizens take a loyalty oath.

Where are the human rights organizations?

[rhetorical question]

At 8:45 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Arabs should be required to do army service or forfeit their citizenship. When Israel is at peace, the special treatment of Arabs must go. If they don't like it, they're free to move to a country where they don't have to serve the hated Jewish State.


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