There are a number of Christian Arabs who want to serve in the Israeli military, but up until now a potential roadblock was other Arabs intimidating them from serving. But last week Israel took a step towards better Jewish and Arab integration by passing a law that increases the punishment on those who incite against serving in the IDF.
“Alongside the increase in enlistment to the IDF and the security forces, a campaign of incitement is being waged, accompanied by threats and physical violence against property and [people] with the purpose of frightening and dissuading anyone who plans to enlist in the IDF, either directly or by inciting against his family or people who are close to him,” said a press release on the law on the Knesset [Israeli parliament] website. Haaretz reported that Likud Knesset Member Yoav Kish said the bill specifically has Christian Arabs and their struggles in mind. Israel Today reported in their report on the law that more Arab Christians are joining the IDF than ever before, while highlighting some of the opposition from Arabs against such pro-Israel sentiment.
Some of the Arab Christian soldiers were quoted on the IDF Blog last Christmas talking about their experience as a minority in the mostly Jewish military, with Sgt. Fadi Khurani noting that “in our battalion, there’s no difference between Bedouins, Christians, Jews, or Muslims. We all eat together, sleep together, and celebrate together.
Earlier this month, while speaking to the Ethiopian Parliament in a state visit, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contrasted the violence against Christians by Islamic extremists and their status in Israel.
“You know that Christians are being slaughtered by ISIS and brutally repressed by the Iranian regime. In Israel, as in Ethiopia, Christians thrive, and I am proud that our Christians, the Christian community in both our countries are safe, secure and free,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office at the time. “This is something we uphold for all religions—all religions—Muslims, Christians and Jews alike.”
Israel is home to those three historic communities, and now it will be even easier for the IDF to be home to them too.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, July 19, 2016)