The Arab media is waging an unrestrained and vicious campaign against a small group of Christian Arab youth who wish to serve in the Israel Defense Forces.
Two weeks ago, a conference was held at an Upper Nazareth community center fro 121 Christian 11th and 12th grade high school students, all residents of Nazareth, Upper Nazareth, and Arab villages in the Lower Galilee region, who had expressed their desire to enlist in the IDF, even in combat units. Israel Hayom has learned that every year, some 50 youths from the Christian Israeli-Arab sector enlist for military duty.
However, after the recent conference, problems began for the youths. Photographs of some of them at the conference and at IDF preparatory meetings were published on various Facebook pages, and some Arabic print newspapers and online news sites began a smear campaign against them, including implied threats. Some of those in the media attacks were Arab members of Knesset.
The youngsters were depicted as traitors, and journalists wrote articles promising to "take care of them" and hunt them down. One writer said, "We will uproot you from the source. The mission that failed 50 years ago will fail now, too."
The Arab Knesset members who joined the chorus of incitement condemned the conference and enlistment to the IDF, and distorted and twisted what was said there by claiming that the conference’s goal had been to slander and attack Islam. In addition, the Arab Orthodox local council in Nazareth announced that priest Jobrail Nadaf, who took part in the event and supports IDF enlistment among Christian Arab-Israeli youth, had been suspended from his duties as priest and excommunicated from his church for what was called "cooperating with the enemy." Nadaf was also the target of extreme threats and quickly complained to the Nazareth police, who opened an investigation.
"This is obviously sheer foolishness," one of the conference organizers said. "This was an information conference. It has nothing to do with Islam. The uproar by the Arabic media is awful; they are making us out to be traitors and enemies. Soldiers in the IDF have asked their commanders for permission to return home in civilian clothes, not in uniform. This could spiral into bloodshed."
According to Nadaf, "I am not sorry for my participation in the conference. The call to remove me from my job is unlawful and I will continue to serve my community. I'm happy that the police and the Defense Ministry are determined to protect me."
Alex Gadalkin, the deputy mayor of Upper Nazareth and one of the conference organizers, said, "This is an act of grave incitement and racism by the Arab media and Knesset members from the Arab sector. Law enforcement agencies must respond with a strong hand against those who are inciting."
The Defense Ministry said in a statement: "Due to the threats received by those involved in promoting equality in sharing the burden of military service or national civic service, the head of the ministry's Social Defense Department reported the matter to the relevant authorities so it could be taken care of as quickly as possible. The Defense Ministry will not accept that people who work to promote this issue come under threat or attack, and it will act to grant the greatest possible aid and support to all those being threatened."