By YOSSI ALONI, ISRAEL TODAY—
At a time when the Israeli government is struggling to get ultra-Orthodox Jews into the army, a record number of Israeli Arabs are volunteering for national service.
Despite calls from leaders in the Arab community to shun national service, 3,000 young Israeli Arabs answered the call this year, a 76 percent increase from the 1,700 who volunteered last year.
At a ceremony earlier this week in Haifa, the National Service Administration welcomed the 3,000th Arab volunteer this year, Suriah Suad, who will do her national service by volunteering in the maternity ward at Ziv Hospital in Safed. Four other young Arab volunteers were presented with commendations for outstanding service.
The director of the National Service Administration, Sar Shalom Jarvi, noted that “it’s not easy these days” for Arabs to choose to serve the Jewish state. “Just this morning the bus drivers who brought the young Arab volunteers to this ceremony were threatened.”
Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett added, “Each of you has chosen to go forth and contribute to our nation, and this nation belongs to all of us. …There might be those who do not like it, who do not want to see Arab and Jew living together in health and happiness, but we will not allow them to win.”