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Gil Nahushtan
Arab volunteer
Gil Nahushtan
Inas Abu Said
Photo: Miriam Abu Farha
Raham Khuwald
Arab volunteers firmly against service for all
Young Arabs who volunteer as part of national service say they may leave program if it becomes compulsory. 'This is an attempt to humiliate us,' they say

Many young Arabs joined their MKs in condemning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's call to make national service compulsory and threatened to leave the program if national service is forced upon them.

 

There are currently 2,400 Arabs in national service, 15% of which are into their second year. Fifteen percent of the volunteers serve within the Arab community and the rest in corresponding positions across Israel. Ninety percent of the volunteers are women.

 

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Raham Khuwald, who volunteers in north Israel, said: "It is unacceptable that national service become compulsory. I joined the service in order to volunteer, I did it on my own accord. Lieberman and Netanyahu should respect the spirit of volunteering. All these steps make us reconsider our service."

 

Inas Abu Said volunteers at an elementary school in Kaabiya and is also against the initiative. "This is an attempt to humiliate us and another way to introduce racist laws against the Arab sector. If service is made compulsory I will be the first to stop the service of girls. It's against the Arab principles and mentality. I don't think the community will accept such a proposal."

 

Jalal Uda from Tamra says that every year the number of volunteers increases. "Netanyahu and Lieberman's proposal only causes problems and sends a message not to join national service," he said. "Personally, I will continue to volunteer even if it will be made mandatory. I volunteer as a firefighter and I like helping people in times of emergency."

 

'We need public institutions first'

Head of Baka el-Garbiya's popular committee Samih Abu Mooch is also against the step. "We want to encourage volunteering in the Arab sector but unfortunately there are no public institutions that can employ our children," he said.

 

"Before the government makes service compulsory, it should first take care of us and then we will be willing to employ our children in our institutions. The government cannot neglect the Arab sector for so long and then ask us to join national service while we re being denied our basic rights."

 

Tel Aviv councilman Ahmad Mashrawi said, "One must distinguish between civil service and national service. The data confirm there is a rise in the number of Arabs serving their communities. More than 10% of young Arabs above the age of 18 serve. This cannot be made into a law."

 

 

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