M.: We are Muslims, Jews, Christians, Druze and Circassian, all living together as brothers

'I don't worry about who is Arab and who is Jewish'

While his family is proud of his achievements, a new Muslim member of the Border Police from East Jerusalem returns home in civilian clothes, hoping to avoid confrontation with neighbors who are no fans of the security forces who have often been at the center of clashes

Meir Turgeman |
Published: 07.31.21, 08:50
Among the proud graduates of the latest Border Police training course is one especially excited young man.
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  • M., a Muslim resident of East Jerusalem, had witnessed the special unit in action growing up, often in clashes with his neighbors.
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    M Israeli Arab Muslim Border Police magav east jerusalem
    M Israeli Arab Muslim Border Police magav east jerusalem
    M.: We are Muslims, Jews, Christians, Druze and Circassian, all living together as brothers
    (Photo: Israel Police)
    "I never took part in riots and saw the Border Ptroops stand in the way of those people trying to cause chaos on our streets," he said. "When I was 17, I decided I wanted to join them."
    It took him another two years to realize his dream, but at the age of 19 M. volunteered and was accepted into the training course.
    "The first month of the three-month course was the hardest," M. says.
    "It was the holy month of Ramadan and I was away from home for the first time in my life. But I quickly adjusted. We were Muslims, Jews, Christians, Druze and Circassian, all living together as brothers," he says.
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    עימותים בירושלים
    עימותים בירושלים
    A Palestinian woman confronts Border Police troops in East Jerusalem in June
    (Photo: AFP)
    "I don't wear my uniform when I come home," he says. "I know Border Guard troops are not very popular in my neighborhood and don't want to provoke anyone, even though my father tells me I should be proud."
    M, the oldest of four siblings, says his father and brothers and sisters are proud of him.
    "The younger ones like the idea that they have a 'fighter' in the family. Mom worries a lot, always asking if I've had enough to eat and enough sleep," he says.
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    כוחות משטרה בהר הבית
    כוחות משטרה בהר הבית
    Border Guard troops outside the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem in June
    (Photo: AFP)
    When his comrades were deployed to Jerusalem in the riots leading up to the May conflict in Gaza, M. stayed behind at his base. His commanders were worried he would find himself in a confrontation with his friends and neighbors.
    "This will be a challenge in future because most of our work is in Jerusalem," says one of his commanding officers.
    But during the rioting in the mixed Arab and Jewish cities in May, M. carried out his mission alongside his comrades.
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    מעצרים של מתפרעים בלוד
    מעצרים של מתפרעים בלוד
    Border Police troops patrol in Lod during riots in the mixed Arab and Jewish city in May
    (Photo: Israel Police)
    "I don't worry about who is Arab and who is Jewish," he says. "I do my job which is for the most part trying to calm tensions."
    Even so, he says, the time is not right for him to wear his Border Police uniform when he returns home.
    "I want to make my way up the ladder and I look forward to a time when I can wear my uniform with pride and without any concerns," he says.
    "I hope that day will come soon."
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