Maj. I at grave of a Christian IDF soldier (Photo courtesy of Amit Barak)
In February, the IDF will promote a Christian soldier to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, making him the first soldier of his faith to achieve that rank. This comes as the result of a six-year process intended to help the indigenous Christian community integrate into mainstream Israeli society.
The identity of Maj. I must remain secret since he is slated to enter a high-level/high-risk security position. Maj. I, a Greek-Orthodox Christian and a resident of Nazareth Illit, the Jewish town next to Nazareth, is married and the father of a nine-year-old boy and a five-year-old girl. He describes himself as an Armenian-Israeli Christian. The obligation to serve in the Israeli army applies only to Jews, Druze, and Circassians. Christians are not required to serve in the IDF and when Maj. I joined the IDF in 1999, only a few Christians volunteered, mostly serving in the Border Police. He graduated high-school with honors from the Salvatorian Sisters German Catholic School in Nazareth.
Maj. I stated that in his community, there was no animosity or fear of enlisting in the IDF. The vast majority of Christians chose to forgo military service in favor of continuing their studies and acquiring an education. Maj. I noted that among the Arabic-speaking Christians there are also those who opposed serving in the IDF for political reasons, mostly atheists, communists, or Pan-Arabists. Maj. I emphasized that this is an extreme and shrinking minority whom he perceives as being “detached from reality.” He also noted that these are generally people who are in denial of their Christian roots and history.
“The environment in which most Christians in Arab towns live is fertile ground pressuring and threatening men against enlisting,” Maj I said.
Upon completion of high school, he was accepted to study mechanical engineering at the Technion in Haifa but said that he was not at peace with himself. At the time, he had a Jewish girlfriend who was about to be drafted into the IDF. Maj. I already felt that he was an Israeli but also felt that something was missing. He decided to volunteer and join the IDF but as someone who did not attend a Jewish school, Maj. I had no prior knowledge of the IDF. He lacked information about the recruitment process, about the service, the various IDF units, and the myriad possibilities available to those who served. He described his prior knowledge of the IDF as being “a soldier has a weapon and he is doing negative things.”
His father spoke with several Jewish friends who connected him with the IDF recruitment office. The recruiter informed him that he would be drafted into the Bedouin battalion.
“I had no idea what it was about,” Maj I said. “My personal information was not checked. I had completed a full matriculation certificate with high marks on the psychometric (pre-university) exam. Because of my lack of knowledge about army procedures, I was easy prey to be thrown into any unit they wanted. Like a few other Christians who volunteered and did not know anything, I was sent to the Bedouin battalion.”
“When I realized that this was a Bedouin unit I refused. The Christians do not have the professional ability or personal characteristics of the Bedouins. Even though we speak the same language, they are culturally cohesive and I would not fit in.”
Maj. I noted that later experience confirmed this belief.
“The Bedouins form a professional battalion with unique characteristics that is capable of performing functions that no Christian or Jew can carry out.”
Maj. I was also intent on serving in a multicultural unit that more closely mirrored Israeli society at large.
“I believe the Christians must serve in units in which everyone is familiar with all the different aspects and of Israeli society,” Maj. I said. “It is therefore very good that there are no homogeneous Christian units.”
(Photo courtesy Amit Barak)
Maj. I was transferred to the Golani infantry brigade and it proved to be a trial by fire.
“I did not get along very well,” Maj. I said. “I told everyone that I’m an Arab Christian. That’s what we learned at school; that we are Arabs. We have the same music, the same food, the same language as the Arabs. I have no problem with Arabs, not with the music, not with the good food and not with the rich language, but today I know that this is not my true identity.”
Self-identifying as an Arab, albeit a Christian-Arab, led to interpersonal conflicts with the Jewish soldiers in Golani. But Arabic is his mother-tongue and that proved to be enormously useful to the IDF. Maj. I was placed in a communications course and then in the Signal Corps. From there, he rapidly advanced.He received a Certificate of Appreciation for an operation in which he took part and that led to him being accepted into officers’ training. He served as an officer in an artillery battalion, and from there, advanced to other positions in different units, locations, positions, and ranks.
“Over the years, I went to four years of studies on behalf of the army,” Maj. I said. “I completed studies in electrical engineer and during the course of my studies, I was involved in recruiting young Arabic-speaking Christians to the IDF. Currently, I’m in the Military Academy, Command and Staff College and in February I’ll get a position in the Navy where I will be promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel.”
Maj. I was wounded by shrapnel during a Hezbollah bombardment of a facility he was commanding in Southern Lebanon 19 years ago. In 2012, he was serving as an officer in the Armored Corps in Operation Pillar of Defense on the Gaza border. At nights, he slept in his car near the tanks. A group of reservists serving in the area invited Maj. I to join them for an overnight barbecue, promising to return him to his tanks in the morning. He returned the next day to find that his car had taken a direct hit from a mortar. Reserve soldiers of the unit called me and told me that they are on their way to pick me up for a barbecue and return me in the morning.
“My first reaction was to be upset at a brand new electric razor that had been in the car,” he said. “After I calmed down, I realized it was a miracle that I had been saved.”
By ALAN ROSENBAUM
“We are a government agency with a start-up soul,” says Hagai Dror, managing director of HealthCare Israel, one of the three winners of the 2019 InnoDip Award for innovative diplomacy. The award, established by the Abba Eban Institute for International Diplomacy at the IDC Herzliya, will be presented at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference on Thursday, November 21 in Jerusalem.
Healthcare Israel was created by Israel’s Ministry of Health in 2016 to deliver life-saving and cost-saving healthcare innovation, technology and expertise to the world, and promotes cooperation and Israeli health system exports through collaborations between government, the health system and the healthcare industry. It has leveraged Israel’s existing diplomatic ecosystem to reach out and create new kinds of international cooperation projects and business deals specifically in the healthcare space.
By YAAKOV KATZ
U.S. Ambassador Friedman to ‘Post’: New policy advances the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace • PM: Policy rights a historical wrong
In a historic reversal of US policy, the Trump administration announced on Monday that it does not view Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal. The policy change was announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington.
“After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with president Reagan,” Pompeo said in reference to Ronald Reagan’s position that settlements were not inherently illegal. “The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.”
Leftist students verbally abused and ransacked tables belong to conservative students
Binghamton University’s downtown campus in New York.
A New York State assemblyman has slammed Binghamton University for the way it has handled a group of leftist students who verbally abused and ransacked tables belonging to the campus College Republicans group.
The conservative students were handing out flyers for an upcoming talk by well-known economist Dr. Arthur Laffer when the incident occurred on Thursday.
A view of the Yehudit Bridge and the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv, Feb. 17, 2019. Photo
CTech – Tel Aviv will officially launch its free weekend transportation service this Friday, the city announced Tuesday. In collaboration with neighboring towns Givatayim, Ramat Hasharon, and Kiryat Ono, Tel Aviv will operate six routes covering over 300 kilometers. Minivans will pick up and drop off passengers at over 500 stops across the metropolitan area at a frequency of once every 30 minutes between 6 pm on Friday and 2 am on Saturday, and between 9 am and 5 pm on Saturday.
Tel Aviv has long awaited a solution for transportation during Shabbat and other Jewish holidays. The principle of the “status quo”—a guideline which dictates maintaining the common practice when it comes to the fundamentals of Jewish Orthodoxy, especially Shabbat observance—effectively prevents the state from offering public transportation services on Shabbat, but since Tel Aviv’s service is free, it does not currently fall under the legal definition of public transportation.
A police car in the German capital of
An elderly man has been viciously beaten up in broad daylight on a Berlin street by a youth who showered him with antisemitic abuse.
According to the BZ online news outlet, the 76-year-old pensioner was walking along the Berliner Strasse in the Pankow district of the German capital at 9 a.m. on Monday when his passage was blocked by a 16-year-old youth and four of his friends.
Oct 25, 2019 0People arrive at a polling station to vote in the federal election in Beauce, Quebec, Canada, Oct. 21, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Mathieu Belanger. A top Jewish advocacy group said on Friday it...
Sep 30, 2019 0
Sep 25, 2019 0
What good is the flourishing of a nation if it is constantly at political, partisan war?
‘WITHOUT PEACE, life becomes unlivable. We’re all unnaturally nervous because there is hardly any downtime.’
When I first arrived to serve as rabbi at Oxford in late 1988, I had no office help. Therefore, in addition to my rabbinical and organizational responsibilities, I had to do all the office work myself. I wrote the checks, copied the fliers, typed the letters and licked the envelopes. In terms of communications, in those days I had to deal only with the telephone and snail mail.
Israel’s control over Judea and Samaria is not “occupation,” at least not according to international law.
The American tourist was staring at me with “deer in the headlights” eyes. She did not comprehend what I had just said to her. I had said that Palestinians are not Israelis.
A minute earlier she had revealed to us – a group of about 15 of her peers, plus me, all gathered in my Efrat living room – the root cause of Palestinian terrorism. It was due, she announced, to Israel “treating Palestinians like second-class citizens and denying them the right to come to Jerusalem.” By this she was inferring that Palestinians are citizens of the State of Israel who are discriminated against and denied numerous right
Mass emigration of Israel’s most tech-savvy individuals starves start-ups of talented hires and puts a ceiling on their growth.
A ROBOT tries to make a heart. Who is behind those online profiles?
The Start-Up Nation is suffering from a brain drain that threatens its growth.
For every Israeli citizen with a university degree who returned from abroad in 2017, a corresponding 4.5 Israelis with degrees left the country that same year, a newly released report by the Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research found. The trend has been under way for years and shows no signs of slowing down.
Supporters of Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah ride in a vehicle decorated with Hezbollah and Lebanese flags and a picture of him, as part of a convoy in the southern village of Kfar Kila, Lebanon October 25, 2019
Could uprisings in Iraq and Lebanon, coupled with US sanctions, permanently impair Iran’s influence in the region?
In the past few weeks, frustrated and fed-up demonstrators have taken to the streets of Lebanon and Iraq to voice grievances against their governments. The perception of Iranian infiltration and influence certainly continues to impact this political shake-up in both regions.
Hamas is aware of the deep crisis but still sticks to its guns, literally, by insisting on holding and upgrading its arsenal instead of helping its own people
The recent clash in the Gaza Strip was not like earlier ones there because it was only between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and Hamas was not really involved. This could be a model for the future in which Israel might strike the PIJ while Hamas again stays out of the fight.