Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Israel: New parliamentary group created to encourage minorities to join army

(JPost) A new parliamentary caucus was launched in the Knesset on Wednesday meant to promote the recruitment of minorities into the IDF and national service.

The caucus, headed by MKs Miki Zohar (Likud) and MK Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu) with the ideas initiated by Im Tirtzu, describes itself as a pro-Israel grassroots movement.

The lobby also intends to fight incitement against minorities that join the IDF.

Various MKs from a range of parties showed up including Zionist Union MK Omer Bar-Lev.

No MKs from the Joint List were present.

Aramean spiritual leader Father Gabriel Nadaf, who took part in the event, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview that Christian soldiers that live in Arab communities have ongoing problems and are harassed and attacked by some in the Arab sector for joining the IDF.

“In the last year there have been 12 acts of violence against Christian soldiers in their hometowns,” said Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest who supports IDF enlistment and the integration of Christians into Israeli society.

Nadaf said that “we all believe that if you want rights from the state you should serve in the army.”

The priest emphasized that “this is not a political process, but one about security and equality.”

Asked about the attitude of the Joint List towards minority recruitment, Nadaf replied that “they don’t want minorities in army.”

He added that Arab politicians try to minimize those that support enlistment, saying they only represent a small amount of people.

“This year, 200 Christians joined the IDF despite threats and violence against us.”

Reflecting on the current terror wave, he said that it is not rooted in political conflict, but an ideological one.

“If there is no security, then you cannot have democracy,” noted Nadaf.

Muhammad Kaabiya, a Beduin and former IDF soldier who is involved with recruitment of his compatriots in the army, attended the event and told the Post in an interview that every year more and more Beduin are joining the IDF.

Kaabiya works in a pre-military training program for Beduin from northern Israel. There are six groups of 25 Beduin involved in the program running in the North.

Asked about opposition to their joining the army by the Arab public and political parties, Kaabiya responded that this is not stopping the trend.

Regarding the infiltration of the Islamic Movement into Beduin society, he asserted that this is a problem only of a small group from the Negev.

Questioned about relations between Beduin and the state, Kaabiya said they were OK but have room for improvement.