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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Israel's first Arab female combat soldier

On Monday, Maariv did a report on Corporal Eleanor Joseph, Israel's first female Arab combat soldier (link in Hebrew). There's a Google translation of the story here, and I'm fixing up a few paragraphs of the raw translation below.
In Corporal Eleanor Joseph's wallet there is a green note with a drawing of a Star of David on which it says: "I have no other country, even if my land is burning." It's handwritten. Corporal Eleanor Joseph, the first female Arab Warrior in the IDF's Caracal battalion, which combines male and female infantry brigade fighters, received the note from her platoon commander. Now she takes it with her everywhere, like a talisman.

"It's a sentence that strengthens me", she said this week, when asked how she connects to things written by Ehud Manor. "Every time it's hard for me, I read it. Because I was born here. The people I love live here. My parents, my friends. It's a Jewish state? True. But it's also my country. I do not imagine myself living anywhere else. I think every person should enlist. You live here, reside here? Go defend your country. So what if I'm an Arab? "

A few weeks ago, an unusual step, the IDF allowed Corporal Eleanor Joseph to take off her uniform on the way home from her base and to wear civilian clothing. Joseph lives in the heart of Arab neighborhood, close to Wadi Nisnas in Haifa. In a request to her base officer, she wrote: "The looks my Arab neighbors point at me each time I appear in uniform are uncomfortable." She also noted: "I feel strange". She does not explicitly use the word "fear".

Corporal Eleanor chooses her words carefully. She does not express any political opinion, and any attempt to discover something about her attitudes is pushed away dismissively. The IDF, in any event, checked and granted her request [to enlist in the combat unit]. "I am the only one in this neighborhood that comes home in a uniform," she said this week. "And this is an Arab neighborhood. So I feel that everyone is staring at me. That kind of look. I have no way to describe it. Shock, shock. As if something is wrong with me.

"It's not that they throw stones at me. I do not tease them, so they have no reason to throw stones at me. But they stare at me. Stand and watch. I'm proud of my uniform. It took me a long time to get it. I'm not afraid. I was only afraid once. I returned from the army at night, wondering how I, a female soldier, wander around in uniform, in an Arab neighborhood, when there are so many instances of abducted soldiers. It's dangerous. "
No, she's not Muslim - she's Christian.

Read the whole thing (in Hebrew if you can).


At 4:17 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I suspected as much from her last name. And the way she talks about the country, no Muslim could express loyalty towards it. A very inspiring story and it should teach Jews not to take the State for granted.

At 5:21 PM, Blogger Kae Gregory said...

It would be good to know the sentiments she hides but my sense is that if her mentality would represent that of the majority of Arabs, then a prospect of a lasting peace might actually be possible. As it is, she has no place to hide from danger. I hope she survives.

At 10:31 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Very interesting story, thanks for sharing.

Nice to see her determination to serve & succeed. Great contrast, especially when compared to other, more famous Israelis who have done whatever they can to avoid their national obligation.


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