Monday, July 15, 2013

Share the defense burden? Let’s do it!

 If the current Arab MKs had any imagination at all, they would submit their own bill obligating every citizen - regardless of ethnicity, religion, race, color and gender - to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. Then we’d see how the 'knights of the equal burden' would vote.

Salman Masalha ||
Share the defense burden? Let’s do it!

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he’s committed to an equitable division of the defense burden. This sharing of the burden must “include all Israeli citizens, including the Haredi public and the Arab public,” Netanyahu declared at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee earlier this month.

Slogans thrown around by the right, Netanyahu chief among them, calling for equal sharing of the burden with regard to Arab citizens are merely another tool in the populist toolbox. Those who rashly toss about these slogans aren’t really interested in drafting Arabs. For them, the slogans provide an excuse for the existing inequality and are intended to cover up the discriminatory legislation they are promoting in the Knesset – in a supposedly egalitarian guise.

You can easily burst this bubble of lies, but to do so you need imagination – and unfortunately that’s a rare commodity in these parts. More than once I’ve said that attributing the eastern imagination to the Arabs, and particularly to the Arab MKs, borders on libel. If they had even a smidgen of imagination they could expose the bluff of the knights of equal burden and shatter their illusions.

Such things have already happened, because efforts to draft Arabs are not new. Here is a quote from a report submitted to Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon in 1954, on the pre-draft registration of minorities: “Most young people make a good impression and express their satisfaction at being able to serve in the army. They want to know in which corps they will serve. Many asked to be registered for the navy, tank units, etc.”

That’s a description of Arab youths who reported to the country’s draft boards in response to an order issued by the defense minister that aimed to apply the Defense Service Law to all the state’s residents. In other words, these Arab youths wanted to enlist – but this process, as we know, has not been completed to this day.

According to the report, the goal was to “relieve the Arab population of its feeling of being discriminated against, and to equalize their rights and obligations with those of all the country’s [other] residents.” This aim was totally in line with the positions of the Israeli Communist Party, which demanded that Arabs be drafted. The late MK Tawfik Toubi went even further when he said that not drafting Arabs was a form of discrimination, and he argued from the Knesset podium that this policy “contravenes any effort to earn the friendship of the Arab masses.”

Keep in mind that these were the days of Jewish independence and the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe). And yet, according to the report, “In the days following its publication there was a certain enthusiasm among the young people covered by the registration order. The idea of carrying weapons and wearing a soldier's uniform appealed to them, as did the immediate opportunity to leave the boring, routine life of their Arab village or town. What was interesting was that older youths, over 20, were clearly jealous and hoped that their time to be called would also come.”

The report also praised the level of education of those young Arabs who reported. “The overwhelming majority can speak and write Hebrew,” the report said. “Many have finished high school.”

And there are also a few amusing anecdotes. For example, there were young people who came to register accompanied by their fathers, as well as a group of young people from the Christian village of Jish who came accompanied by a priest who introduced them and spoke their praises. In Taibeh, meanwhile, the mukhtar (village leader) accompanied a group of young people to the recruiting office and, according to the report, “claimed credit for this and wanted to take the opportunity to get his son released from the draft.”

So, as we’ve said, if the current Arab MKs had any imagination at all, they would follow in Toubi’s shoes and submit their own bill obligating every citizen – regardless of ethnicity, religion, race, color and gender – to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. Then we’d see how the knights of the equal burden would vote.
Published: Opinions-Haaretz, 15 July 2013
For Hebrew, press here


Facebook comments:
Post a Comment

Middle East
  • The Arab world's quagmire

    Only a society that can engage in introspection and self-examination can emerge from its dark past and march confidently to a different future. Otherwise, it will continue to sink into the same marshy swamp.

    Read more

    A Feeble Middle East

    The West learned on its own flesh that this region conducts itself by other codes. Iran has continued to entrench its standing by means of its religious ideology. The toppling of Saddam Hussein shattered the illusion of the existence of a unifying “Iraqi identity” and gave an encouraging shot in the arm to Iran, which is forging ahead.

    Read more

  • The decay in the Arab world

    With great sadness, it can be said that in the absence of a sane civil alternative, the Arab world will continue along this path.

    Read more

    Neither Arab nor Spring

    The vicissitudes that have, for some reason, been collectively dubbed the "Arab Spring" are neither Arab nor Spring. One can say that they are actually living proof of the identity crisis and reverberating bankruptcy of Arab nationalism.

    Read more

  • another title

Israel - Palestine
  • Our troubles come from us

    And so we have reached a situation in which every Arab is concerned with his own problems and everyone talks about what preoccupies him personally – that is, his own troubles.

    Read more

  • Never-ending tragedy

    The Israeli right, in all its forms, wants exclusively Jewish control over all of the Land of Israel. To the Palestinians who live in this space, it promises residency – temporary, of course, on condition that they keep their heads down, accept their designated status and behave accordingly.

    Read more
  • Solomon’s Mosque

    Religion, every religion, is the No. 1 enemy of nationalism. But under conditions of tension, such as tribal warfare, these polar opposites combine into a toxic soup that consumes all common sense.

    Read more

  • They see not, nor know

    The term "neutralize" is very popular with people who have served in the security and expulsion forces. The question to be asked is, What did the poet who spoke of "neutralization" mean in this plan?

    Read more

    For Jews only

    From the moment the pundits followed in the footsteps of the politicians, both large and small, they carried this noxious melody everywhere. They were part of legitimizing the illegitimate in Israeli politics.

    Read more

  • With yearning soul

    The Zionism that aspired to establish a "Jewish home" in the Jews' "ancient homeland" did not take into consideration the fact that the land was not empty. It thus adopted the principle of population transfer, based on the same ancient biblical tradition.

    Read more

    Rabbis of the Dry Bones

    Racism surfaces when a society loses its self-confidence and turns to seeking ways to defend itself against what is different and perceived as increasingly threatening.

    Read more

  • الحلم

    أنّي في سجن جدران بيضاء
    حيث لا يعرفني أحدٌ، وأصواتٌ
    تختفي في الرّدهات، وأضواء تستنشقُ
    جمجمتي اللّاهثة.
    تتمة الكلام

Press photo to Email



Site Archive

Selected Topics

  • The pit and the pendulum

    In those days, we did not drink four goblets of wine, because everything that gladdens the human heart is not a part of our custom.

    Read more

  • Welcome Back to History

    Islam, like other imperialist ideologies, still needs enemies to flourish. Enemies have served Islam in the past as fuel for its wagons. Without enemies Islam declines and stagnates...

    Read more

  • another title

  • Balkrishna Sama

    Man Is God

    He who loves flowers, has a tender heart.
    he who cannot pluck their blooms,
    has a heart that's noble.

    Read more

  • Martin Niemöller

    First They Came

    First they came for the Communists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Communist.
    Then they came for the Socialist
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Read More

  • Salman Masalha

    The Song About the Child

    Boston Gospel Choir

    Text: Salman Masalha
    Composer: Stephen Feigenbaum