An IDF Beduin tracker on patrol. Unlike other minorities that serve in the army, for Beduin, service is on a volunteer basis..
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
Efforts are currently underway, with the cooperation of the Defense Ministry, to create the first pre-military academy for Muslim volunteers to the IDF.
Last month Deputy-Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan held a meeting in the IDF headquarters at the Kiryia in Tel Aviv with Anat Hasahiye, an activist for Muslim IDF enlistment who has advanced the new pre-military academy project, to discuss the issue.
The Security and Society Department of the Defense Ministry and its director Amikam Siberski has agreed in principal to the proposal, and the academy will be able to start its first year with 15 students.
Sources involved in the meeting emphasized however that the most difficult obstacle facing the new academy was enlisting recruits for it, and should the 15 spots not be filled the opening of the institution would be postponed.
Several youths have already applied, but they since Muslims are not included in compulsory conscription the are required to pass specific Defense Ministry procedures before being drafted. If the requisite number of volunteers are found and approved, the academy could begin operations as early as this autumn.
The new academy will start life as an extension of a pre-existing academy in the city of Acre. Acre Mayor Shimon Lancri has expressed support for the initiative and has promised to provide classrooms for the new academy and an exemption from municipal taxes and electricity bills.
Ben-Dahan said during the meeting that he welcomes and supports the new initiative, and said that there was no doubt that the state has not done enough to help Muslim youth in the country.
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“As members of the government, we have a responsibility to try and reach out to Muslim youth… it is not an easy mission and so we must create the appropriate infrastructure in order to succeed,” said the Deputy Defense Minister.
“I am sure that if God willing we succeed this will be great news for the long term benefit of the State of Israel.”
Hasahiye, a member of the Bayit Yehudi party who ran in its primaries ahead of the last elections, said during the meeting that she has been trying to advance this issue for several years to no effect and that she was concerned that Muslim youth were being enticed by extremist Islamist movements and that this phenomenon needs to be prevented.
Despite previous lack of progress, Hasahiye said that the response of the Defense Ministry to the pre-military academy project had been positive and encouraging.
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