Should Arab Israelis Be Conscripted into the IDF?

Aug. 22 2018

During the past two weeks, Israel has seen two mass rallies against the nation-state law: one organized by Israeli Arab leaders, the other by the country’s Druze community. Moshe Arens, contrasting the anti-Israel mood at the former with the pro-Israel mood at the latter, explains the historical divergence between the two communities. (Free registration may be required.)

The Druze and the Circassians, [Middle Eastern Muslims whose ancestors hail from the northern Caucasus], cast their lot with Israel when it fought for its survival against a coalition of Arab armies that invaded the fledgling country in 1948. In 1956 David Ben-Gurion decided to enforce compulsory military service for Druze and Circassian youngsters, who have been serving in the Israel Defense Forces ever since, many having reached the highest command positions of the IDF. This has brought about a substantial degree of Israelization and Westernization in these communities and encouraged their integration into Israel’s society.

Would the same thing have happened to Israel’s Arab community had Ben-Gurion decided at the time to apply compulsory military service to them as well? The fact is that compulsory military service for Israel’s Arab Muslim and Christian youngsters has been left in abeyance over the years, even though it is an anomaly that so many of Israel’s citizens do not participate in the defense of their country.

Over the years there has been a substantial rate of volunteering for military service among Arab youngsters, especially from the Bedouin and Christian communities. . . . Increasing numbers of young Arab men and women are [also] volunteering for the civilian national service introduced some years ago. The strident opposition of Arab politicians to this trend seems to have had little effect. We may be moving in the right direction, but it will take a well-planned government and IDF program to normalize the participation of Israel’s Arab youth in the defense of their country.

The opposition of those Arab politicians to Arab participation in the defense of Israel is essentially based on a desire to see Israel destroyed, and therefore gives support to those forces intent on destroying Israel. Today, these are first and foremost, the ayatollahs in Tehran and terrorist groups. The Iranians are not Arabs and any damage they may inflict on Israel will affect its Jewish and Arab citizens. What logic can there be in Arab Israeli citizens lending them support, aside from a blind desire to see Israel perish? [In the long run], it is more likely that more and more Israeli Arabs will in time follow the Druze example.

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Read more at Haaretz

More about: Druze, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Israeli society

The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey