maandag 3 november 2008

Ruim 1.000 Arabische Israeli's in vrijwillige nationale dienst

'National service' is in de jaren '70 opgezet als alternatief voor militaire dienstplicht voor de ultra-orthodoxe Joden in Israel en is een paar jaar geleden uitgebreid naar andere groepen, waaronder Arabieren. Men krijgt dezelfde vergoeding en 'social bebefits' als in het leger, en het bevordert de integratie. Juist daarom is het Israelisch-Arabische leiderschap fel tegen, een reden waarom het door Israel niet actief wordt gepromoot onder Arabieren. De meeste Arabieren weten er dan ook niet niet van, zo blijkt uit onderzoek.

The Jerusalem Post
Oct 30, 2008 22:46 | Updated Oct 31, 2008 7:40
More than 1,000 Arabs in nat'l service
The number of Arab-Israelis performing national service has quadrupled in the last two years and now exceeds a thousand, according to government statistics.

The figure had increased from 230 two years ago to 630 last year before already surpassing more than 1,000 volunteers for the 2008/2009 fiscal year. More than 80 percent of the Arab participants are women, officials said.

"The young Arabs - male and female - who have joined the national civic service in the last year or two have reached very high levels of satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment and a strong sense of helping their own community. And that has spread by word of mouth from one to another," said Dr. Reuven Gal, head of the Administration for Civilian National Service.

National service affords women the opportunity to "join open society" and connect with potential future jobs, Gal said. Arab men are much more interested in securing immediate full-time salaried positions, and thus furnished far fewer volunteers, he added.

But others attribute the increase in Arab participation to their desire to receive the financial and social benefits that civic service offers - equivalent to the benefits received by those who serve in the army. Volunteers living at home, as most Arab-Israelis do, earn roughly NIS 500 a month and are eligible for several thousand shekels in grants after completing one year of service.

"Arabs want to receive the same status as those who are released from the army... They receive all kinds of benefits [via national service]," said Sami Smooha, a University of Haifa sociology professor. "And also, they have the possibility - through this status - to connect to 'Israeliness' ... And that's also the reason that the [Arab] leadership is opposed."

Since it was established in the early 1970s, voluntary service has been limited mostly to modern Orthodox women. But last year, the government adopted the Ivry Commission's recommendations to open up service to the haredi sector, Arabs and other youth exempted from compulsory military service. The government also established the Administration for Civilian National Service to this end.

But Gal said the administration had not initiated any sort of recruiting campaign in the Arab sector "because we did not want to further elicit antagonistic" feelings from the Arab political leadership.

National service has become an increasingly controversial issue and many Arab-Israeli leaders and politicians are opposed to the idea.

"We think that civic service is an introduction to military service," said MK Ibrahim Sarsur, head of the United Arab List-Ta'al Party. "We think civic service today introduces the Arab citizen to a sort of privileged status. But the discrimination against the Arab citizen, whether or not he serves in the civic service, is the same discrimination."

University of Haifa human rights lecturer Yousef Jabareen has similar concerns.

"What they are offering are full obligations to the community, but they are not offering full rights, so obviously, it's not a fair deal and the Arab community understandably rejects it," Jabareen said.

But a survey conducted by Smooha in 2007 found that 77% of the Arab-Israeli public was not even familiar with national service. The poll also found "considerable" support - ranging from 65% to 78% - for the idea. The study, however, acknowledged that the support voiced was influenced by the information provided to respondents.

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