Daily Israel Report

Israelis Debate Mandatory Arab Participation in National Service

Israeli lawmakers continue to debate the pros and cons of mandatory integration of Israeli Arabs into the national service program.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 6/9/2013, 12:36 PM

National service in a maternity ward
National service in a maternity ward
Flash 90

Israeli lawmakers are continuing to debate the pros and cons of mandatory participation and integration of Israeli Arabs into the National Service program. 

Israeli Arab Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka (Balad party) for years has attended foreign Arab functions and on occasion represented the Palestinian Authority rather than Israel, whose taxpayers support his salary and whose government he serves. Zahalka recently called on his constituency to oppose any plan to legislate Israeli Arab integration into national service.

Deputy Transportation Minister and MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), however, condemned Zahalka for his attitude, saying, “For years Israeli Arabs have been benefitting from state health support, education and social security without contributing to share the burden.

“The time has come for them to realize there will be no more taking advantage of the citizens of Israel without participating in national responsibilities.”

The issue is one that taps more than just the matter of “sharing the burden,” however. Israeli Arab legislators such as Zahalka have come under increasingly tight scrutiny in recent years as they escalate aggressive rhetoric against the nation in whose parliament they serve. A number have traveled outside the country to hostile enemy nations, in fact, and met with Arab leaders and terrorists committed to the destruction of the State of Israel.

Several years ago, the head of Zahalka’s Balad party, Azmi Bishara, fled Israel just prior to being charged with aiding the enemy in wartime during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.  As a Knesset member, Bishara had access to highly sensitive information about military and other strategic installations, and was suspected of selling secrets to the Lebanese Hizbullah terror organization.

Another member of the Balad party, MK Hanin Zoabi, is also deeply committed to the destruction of the Jewish State. 

There is video evidence, in fact, showing that Zoabi knew in advance that Turkish men aboard the flotilla ship Mavi Marmara, which attempted to illegally force its way through the IDF naval blockade on the Hamas-run region of Gaza, were planning to attack soldiers. Zoabi was widely criticized for actively participating in that attempt to open the sea to Hamas imports, but she remained in Knesset. She has also met with senior Hamas terrorists and has said that Israel has “no right to a normal life.”