Jewish Journal


April 23, 2008

Arab Israeli woman joins air force by mistake


Women of the IDF

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 woman�(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.

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