Russian Studies, Hamilton College
You Are What You Eat: The Evolution of Russian Gastronomy and National Identity
Front page Sunday morning report on Haaretz titled “Onward Christian soldiers? Number of Arabs joining IDF on the rise” lacks any grasp in reality and serves ‘divide and conquer’ policy.
It’s been approximately six months that the Prime Minister’s Office has been pushing for the recruitment of Christians in Israel to the IDF, and reports on the media are often failing to deliver the true negative reaction of the community.
Such reports add up to a series of attempts to detach the Christian community from its own society; with Coalition Chairman Levin pushing for a law to legally differentiate Christian and Muslim Arabs, and statement by MK Rotem that Christians can’t be Palestinians (same MK Rotem that stated that Reform Jews are ‘not Jewish’, and later apologized), and PM Netanyahu’s holiday blessings to Christians for serving in ‘Jewish’ army last Christmas. Overall, Government’s relation with Christians in the Holy Land is not flourishing (similar to relations with the Muslim Arab society) and the recent clash over the route of the separation wall in Beit Jala’s Cremisan Valley serves as the better illustration of the relation rather than the 800 recruits.
The report published by Haaretz today stating in its title: “Number of Arabs joining IDF on the rise”, while in the body of the report in contrast: “The IDF does not provide precise numbers of Christians serving in its ranks, but the forum says the rise is significant and that there are currently 300 Christians serving in the IDF, 157 of them in the conscript army.” could possibly mean that the IDF is providing numbers of Arab recruits with no breakdown into religions, which I doubt. Regardless, the choice of Haaretz to run this in the front page is provoking and misleading. Provoking because it is to a certain extent framing part of the picture into a title and data that are inaccurate; with all due respect, 800 Arab recruits out of 1,617,000 is approximately 0.04%, if that is true. I agree that the trend is newsworthy and significant enough to report but let’s be true to the reality and bring the voices of the community to those headlines as well, and not in the 10th paragraph following the title and subtitle.
Back in December, the WSJ ran a similar report titled “Israel’s Christian Awakening” covering this marginalized phenomena and giving it bombastic titles and simply misleading its readers. I can guarantee you that there are many other ‘Awakenings’ happening in the Christian community that are not addressed in those two reports. The WSJ described the ‘awakening’ as “an informal grass-roots movement”; funny enough that Deputy Minister in the PMO’s office Akonis is the head of the recruitment committee, as well as MK Shaked, MK Hason and MK Rotem, none of which are Arabs or from the left camp.
Needless to point out to the political agenda of those involved in the recent recruitment outreach which could possibly transform to being mandatory. All including PM Netanyahu are hoping to gain some political capital not only from the actual recruitment (which the IDF can well operate without) but to further divide the Arab society, especially now in light of the recent tension in Nazareth. Let’s all hope that the Arab society remains united and that the different officials cease to cooperate with this ‘divide and conquer’ policy.