After data from last summer found an increase in young Israeli Arabs joining the police, the organization decided to launch a new campaign about including Arab officers geared toward the Arab population, in an effort to get their police enlistment numbers even higher.
Until recently, joining the police was considered a highly unconventional choice in the Arab community, and one that brought on a great deal of criticism from Arab leaders, all the while garnering a great deal of support from local Arab leaders and Arab municipality heads.
The campaign features a video in which Master Sgt. Ahed Shibli, a precinct officer in the Jerusalem District, explains to young Arabs the importance of serving in the police. “You can arrive at the scene of an incident speaking in Hebrew and understand something completely different. But if you come speaking his language and understanding what he’s saying, you’ll know how to solve the problem.”
Also in the video is 1st Sgt. Fadi Bisan, a community police officer who says that “Israeli society is comprised of a variety of sectors and ethnicities—Jews, Druze and Christians. My job as a police officer is to balance and guard each and every person’s life.”
First Sgt. Zohar Shubash, another community police officer, adds, “Being an Arabic speaker is a real asset. Having someone understand me, having us understand each other, will make him feel more secure speaking to someone in his own language. He’ll feel more secure speaking to me in my own language.”
The campaign is part of a larger plan headed by Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Minister of Information Gilad Erdan (Likud) and Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh to improve policing within the Arab sector. So far, the initiative has seen 1,200 new Arab recruits and the establishments of ten new police stations.
There has, however, been some pushback. Even after Erdan and Alsheikh appointed Jamal Hakroush to be the first Muslim major general in the Israel Police and appointed him to head the above-mentioned initiative, there were those among the Arab leadership who questioned Muslims’ motivation in joining the police, which many supposedly see as a hostile and biased body.