Hat tip to Ali Eteraz for this story…I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read this. The first Israeli-Arab woman joined the Israeli Air Force. That’s good, right? Right. Except that she got in through an error.
It seems that Israeli Arabs are not allowed to serve in the air force because of the service’s elite status and because of the fear of their dual loyalty. So I’m guessing the woman didn’t reveal she was Muslim and no one asked. By the time the IAF found out it had a potential nightmare on its hands. Eject her from her unit and you have tons of bad PR, not only in the Israeli Arab community but throughout Israel and abroad. Retain her in the unit and you’ve created a potentially dangerous precedent in case another Israeli Arab seeks to serve. So they retained her.
To tell the truth, the story claims that her commander actually stood by her and enthusiastically endorsed her remaining in his IAF unit. So give credit to an individual officer and tons of demerits to an IAF which so mistrusts certain Israeli citizens that it refuses to allow them to serve in units in which any qualifying Jew can serve.
Contrast this Arab woman’s zeal to perform her duty as a citizen with an ever-expanding number of Israeli Jews seeking to avoid their compulsory army service; not to mention those Orthodox Jews studying in yeshivas who also avoid service.
Now for the crying I alluded to above:
Another Israeli-Arab’s dream of being a fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force, however, remains a pipe dream. “Soldier C” as he is officially known, and also from a village in the north of Israel, finished high school with top honors and received a certified pilot license before enlisting with the Israeli Defense Forces.
“My dream and ultimate ambition is to become a fighter pilot. I know I have the potential and ability to fulfill my dream and serve as a combat pilot with the IAF,” he wrote. “If deemed physically and mentally fit, I ask that I be able to serve in all of the elite units of the IDF, which are open to all other enlisted personnel.”
The aspiring pilot’s plea was unheeded by the Israeli Defense Forces, however, in spite of a letter of recommendation given to him by his flight instructor, a former major and combat pilot in the IAF, so he was forced to serve with another unit of the IDF where he currently remains.
It appears unlikely that the Israeli military’s ruling against Muslim and Arab Israelis will change anytime soon, especially in light of the deteriorating political situation.
The next time AIPAC (“Israel–the only democracy in the Middle East”) or any other Israel-booster tries to tell you how things are in Glockamora for Israel’s Arabs remember this story and ask them to explain it. Here you have a nation claiming it is a democracy; but which cannot manage to treat 20% of its citizens with anything remotely close to equality or full democratic rights. It won’t even allow them to fully discharge their obligations as citizens: to serve in the army unit of their choice (depending on satisfying qualifications). Such treatment is not just and it makes a travesty of the Israeli Declaration of Independence which boasts that it will accord fully citizenship rights to all ethnic groups within Israel.
This is what is known as an ethnocracy, not a democracy. Ethnocracies are nations which provide vestiges of rights to minority groups within their midst; but full citizenship is only available to the ethnic majority.