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

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy