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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Arab Israeli officer profiled

From the IDF website:

Lt. Hesham Aborea is a Muslim Arab officer in the IDF. His journey began in 2006 when he joined the army and it has not stopped since. He is currently serving in the IDF as the Community Relations Officer to the Arab Sector, speaking to the Arab community in times of emergency....

At a young age, Hesham Aborea began thinking about what he wanted to do in life, and how to get out of his village in Northern Israel. He graduated from Ben Gurion University with an Bachelor’s degree in Hebrew and began working, but observing the lifestyle of young men in his community made him want to join the army to better the Arab world. "It's very hard to grow up for a young man where I am from. You finish high school, some continue studying, and others work manual labor jobs. For example, if I had a degree in social work, at an interview they'll ask me if I served in the army. If not, my chances would plummet, and then I would have to go back to my village and do manual labor. It's a cycle that a lot of young Arab men are stuck in so they turn to alcohol, drugs and violence. I saw this cycle and I decided to join the army."

Lt. Hesham Aborea is very happy to be serving his community and is happy to belong to an organization like the IDF. He concludes, “I want to emphasize that the IDF helps any soldier, and it will gladly accept Arab soldiers as long as they are skilled in their task. The IDF is a strong, challenging, non-discriminatory army, and is a great supporter of human rights. This is the first step to bringing both the Jewish and Muslim nations together. I hope that we may live in peace and equality for both nations."
YNet adds:

"The army is the entry pass into the Israeli society," Hisham explains. "The Arab sector thinks it's second rate here, but to get privileges one has to give and not just receive. The state protects its citizens even if they don’t serve – my parents live off income support. You must contribute to the country you live off. What other country would have an Arab Knesset member, who is being paid by the state, promoting the interests of the Islamic movement and screwing the promotion of the sector it is supposed to represent?

"The Arab sector is like a herd. It doesn't think by itself and is affected by various radical movements. Most youngsters don't have anything to do with themselves. They run around the streets, wasting their time and that's only if they finished school. Service in the army is educating, it gives you structure, order – that's what young people are missing here."

Recently Hisham returned from a visit to Poland, where he toured the Auschwitz and Majdanek concentration camps. He became the first Arab-Israeli to visit Poland as part of an IDF program.

"I knew the word Holocaust, I knew that the Nazis murdered Jews but nothing more than that," he admits. "In Majdanek there was a moment I thought that all those involved in the Jewish-Arab conflict should come here to see what was done to the Jewish people and leave them alone."

In Birkenau, he says, he asked to pray in Arabic. "I had chills all over my body. I asked God to have mercy on all the victims. I didn’t expect what I saw there. An oven which was loaded with two men and a woman, because the woman had more fat, making it burn better.

"I kept asking myself where was everyone? Where was the United States, the Arab countries? If the Germans had won the Arabs would have been murdered as well. I saw the photos of the victims and felt part of them. There was a Holocaust survivor with us who showed us where she was raped, where all her family had been murdered before her very eyes. She cried and we cried with her. It was a life altering visit."
(h/t Joel and EBoZ)