Read the whole thing.
The ceremony begins. As the brigade commander finishes his speech, the soldiers quickly run to their commanders, their families and their friends who have come to show their support and encouragement.
When Pvt. Muhammad Atrash's turn comes, he doesn’t look for anyone in the audience. “My parents wanted to come, but I convinced them not to,” he explains. “Jerusalem is very far from our home, we don’t have a car and it’s an hour-long drive.”
The commander tells Muhammad to stand in front of him. Instead of the Hebrew Bible, the young soldier picks up a Quran, decorated with gold ornaments. He swears his allegiance to the State of Israel, holding the book tightly and smiling.
“I’m mostly trying to feel the experience, because It’s my first time ever in Jerusalem,” he says.
For Muhammad, 18, this is an important step in his unique relationship with the Israel Defense Forces – which began a year and a half ago, when his older brother, Milad, 19, chose to enlist.
“While still in high school I asked my family, ‘Why don’t we, the Muslims, enlist?’” Milad recalls. “‘Why do the Jews, the Druze and the Bedouins enlist, while we don’t?’ They explained to me that Jews serve because it’s their country, that the Druze [community] had signed agreements with the IDF and that we have a lot of Islamic movements that oppose military service in the IDF.”
Milad’s response? “I told them I don’t care about that. I want to join the army to protect my village, my country,” he says.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
IDF soldiers swear allegiance to Israel - on a Koran
From the IDF Blog:
Elder of Ziyon at Thursday, June 20, 2013