April 23, 2008 | 2:33 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Remember that story yesterday about concern over Jewish “dual loyalty?” Well, a similar fear bars Israeli Arabs and Muslims from the Israel Defense Force’s elite units. That is, except for one Muslim woman allowed in by accident.
But after the mistake was discovered the unit’s commander was so impressed with the woman’s ability and achievements that he allowed her to stay, breaking all the rules.
The IAF’s elite Airborne Combat Search and Rescue Unit 669 is normally involved in sensitive and highly classified Israeli Defense Forces operations and is considered one of the Israeli military’s premier units.
Its main function is to rescue and extricate wounded soldiers from combat zones, under heavy enemy fire in most cases. The unit also often helps rescue civilians injured during various catastrophic incidents.
Due to the sensitivity of the unit Muslims and Arabs are prevented from joining. Israel fears a conflict of loyalties should Israeli-Arabs serve in Palestinian areas or fight Muslim states.
Most Israeli-Arabs, apart from the Druze, a schism of Shiite Islam who defected during the 11th century, are not required to undergo the compulsory military service that Jewish youngsters are.
This story is from the Middle East Times. Oddly, I’ve seen no coverage of this in Israeli media. The unidentified Muslim woman, from an Arab village in northern Israel, was allowed into Unit 669 after acing her medical training, and before anyone realized she wasn’t an Israeli Jew.
“Contrast this Arab womanï¿½(tm)s zeal to perform her duty as a citizen with an ever-expanding number of Israeli Jews seeking to avoid their compulsory army service; not to mention those Orthodox Jews studying in yeshivas who also avoid service,” Richard Silverstein wrote.
Her service, however, does not signal a sea change.
Another Israeli-Arab’s dream of being a fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force, however, remains a pipe dream. “Soldier C” as he is officially known, and also from a village in the north of Israel, finished high school with top honors and received a certified pilot license before enlisting with the Israeli Defense Forces.
“My dream and ultimate ambition is to become a fighter pilot. I know I have the potential and ability to fulfill my dream and serve as a combat pilot with the IAF,” he wrote. “If deemed physically and mentally fit, I ask that I be able to serve in all of the elite units of the IDF, which are open to all other enlisted personnel.”
The aspiring pilot’s plea was unheeded by the Israeli Defense Forces, however, in spite of a letter of recommendation given to him by his flight instructor, a former major and combat pilot in the IAF, so he was forced to serve with another unit of the IDF where he currently remains.
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