Mohammed Zoabi, the Arab-Israeli teen who made headlines over the summer for condemning Palestinian terror, has completed a week of preparation to join the IDF.
Arab-Israeli teenager Mohammed Zoabi participated in Gadna, a program that brings Israeli high school students to an army base for education in Zionist history as well as a basic introduction to the military.
“Today I feel proud. Proud to be Israeli, proud to be an Israeli Muslim joining the army in less than two years, and for sure, proud that i was able to survive a week of living in an army base in the middle of nowhere,” Zoabi said, according to The Israel Project.
Zoabi, a resident of the northern city of Nazareth, became famous after posting a video on social media in Arabic, Hebrew and English demanding the return of three Jewish teenagers who were kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists last June. It was later revealed that the boys had been murdered shortly after their abduction. After multiple threats to his safety, including from his own relatives, Zoabi was forced to temporarily flee the country.
Although there is a long history of non-Jewish ethnic and religious minorities in Israel serving in the IDF, only recently has there been a major increase in Arab participation in military service. Druze and Circassian men have been required by Israeli law to serve since the 1950s – at the request of those communities – and many Bedouin serve as well.
In 2002, approximately 400 Muslim and Christian Arabs enlisted in the IDF, and 2,400 volunteered for civil service, usually with police or prison service. Jubran Nadaf, the son of Father Gabriel Nadaf of the Greek Orthodox Church, a vocal supporter of Christian integration in the IDF, enlisted last December.
At present, the highest-ranking Muslim in the IDF is Maj. Ala Wahib. Wahib indicated in a 2012 interview with Israel Hayom that many others had been eager to enlist but were discouraged by pressure from their families and villages.
“I believe in the Muslim faith, and I will never abandon it, but I think that Zionism is more than a religion. It is something that fully represents my sense of belonging to the State of Israel and to Israeli society, and the immense commitment I have to protecting and guarding the country of which I am part,” Wahib stated.
By: Atara Beck, World Israel News Staff