Israeli Christian Arabs pushing to join the IDF
Hat tip to Weasel Zippers
Now how cool is this? After checking out the Arab Spring in our neighbouring countries and the the full-on persecution of Christians there that has followed, Arab Christians in Israel have been pushing for the past two years to have their youth drafted into the IDF. Moreover, the major organization they formed is called Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum (ICRF) –they chose it specifically because the Christian community here, for the first time, is identifying as ISRAELI and not as Arab. They are getting their wish, partially. The IDF is sending out recruitment materials to all the youth to let them easily volunteer for service. The ICRF wants them drafted just as the Jews and Druze are (e.g., it isn’t voluntary but required). Baby steps. Check it out:
For the first time in its history, Israel’s army is getting ready to send voluntary military enlistment notices to Christian Arab citizens when they turn eighteen.
The unlikely impetus behind the move is none other than the Arab Spring, the popular rebellion revolutionizing the Arab world and in the process recalibrating the relationship between Christian citizens and the State of Israel. Shocked by a new climate featuring violence against Christians in Egypt and Libya, among other countries, and displacement in Syria, some of Israel’s Christian Arabs are pushing for greater participation in their home state.
Father Gabriel Naddaf, a compelling figure in a full black beard, royal blue robes and a kalimavkion — the traditional tubular hat worn by Greek Orthodox priests that renders his already imposing height Shaquillesque — is chairman of a group called the Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum (ICRF) that has been lobbying the government for the draft of Christian youth for the past two years.
The name alone — “Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum,” rather than “Arab Christians Recruitment Forum” — is a strong statement in this region. Naddaf has lost patience, he says, “with the Arab world telling us what we can do and what we should feel.”
“In light of the persecution of Christians in Arab countries just because they are Christians,” Naddaf said in a meeting with journalists this week following the army’s announcement, “our youth feels they must make a sacrifice for the country that is protecting them.” He believes that these notices, which still aren’t equivalent to the obligatory draft others face, will “open the door … to full participation in society for Christians.” But apart from an explicit welcome, the notices will include details on a possible preliminary meeting at the individual’s nearest IDF enlistment office, and reduce the amount of energy Christian youths need to expend volunteering for a service other citizens are brought into automatically.
Since the establishment of Israel in 1948, the country made certain exceptions to its universal, compulsory military service policy.
Although the Druze and the Circassians are subject to the same draft as the Jews, Druze and Circassian women are exempt, unlike Jewish women.