Opinion |

Law on Soldiers’ Tuition Suits Israel's Propaganda Machine

Abed L. Azab
Abed L. Azab
Israeli soldiers run during a raid in Jenin in March.
Israeli soldiers run during a raid in Jenin in March.Credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman
Abed L. Azab
Abed L. Azab

One of the areas in which Israel excels is propaganda. Sometimes it seems that its propaganda machine and the brainwashing that it does, especially to its Jewish citizens, works almost perfectly. Zionism in general and Israel in particular are sophisticated and violent propaganda tools.

The bill that passed its initial phase of legislation on Monday night, by which demobilized soldiers are to receive a scholarship amounting to 75 percent of their tuition at academic institutions is a proper bill which, I hope, will lead to a proper law.

This benefit, granted to those who serve in the army, alongside myriad other benefits, underscores two basic facts: The first is that Israel is a Jewish-racist state, may the Druze – who make a mockery of themselves in their pathetic efforts to amend the nation-state law so it will appear less racist – forgive me. It’s a worthless effort. With or without the nation-state law, with or without army service, you will always be fourth-class citizens in the eyes of most Jews. Am I not right?

Try to bring Druze army officers – and I stress, officers – into the atomic facility in Dimona. Zionism established the State of Israel for Jews only, and on the way, brought down a Nakba on the Arabs west of the Jordan River. The damage continues methodically, through racist discrimination against anyone who is not Jewish, including Arab citizens of Israel. The occupation of the territories is of course the most horrific manifestation of Zionism.

The Zionist propaganda brainwashes Israeli citizens into believing that army service is the key to civil equality, that “equal bearing of the burden” will necessarily lead to equal rights. This is a disgusting lie. On the one hand, the Druze and the other minorities serving in the army can only dream of equal rights, and on the other hand, the ultra-Orthodox, who don’t serve in the army and don’t pay taxes, enjoy full funding by the state courtesy of the working population, including Arab citizens. With regard to the ultra-Orthodox, Zionism invented the myth of “Torah is their craft,” and thus military service was removed from the equation service = equality.

The second fact that the law on scholarships for demobilized soldiers makes clear, and it’s good that it does so, is that military service is another way to earn lots of money. Army veterans, especially “combat soldiers” enjoy financial benefits, including scholarships and help in buying an apartment, and are much more easily accepted to studies. Soldiers in the career army enjoy respectable salaries during their service and when they retire – an inflated pension and the opportunity to parachute into senior positions with fat salaries in civilian life, even without an iota of training for these positions.

There is nothing more mendacious than the claim that those who complete their army service are worthy of these benefits because they “gave the state and society their best years while risking their lives to protect all the state’s citizens.” Those who serve for ideological reasons shouldn’t expect a financial award.

The way things are, there is no difference between career soldiers and mercenaries who enlist in the army for clear and overt economic reasons.

And so I support obligatory national service (“Sherut Leumi”) for the Arab population. The reason is not ideological. It’s an attempt to come closer to economic equality and equality of opportunity in studies and employment. However, it’s clear that even with such national service, there will never be true equality here – see how non-Jews who serve in the army are treated. So don’t wrap your army service in glittering Zionist ideology. When it comes to compulsory military service, it’s actually work that is paid in the future. When it’s comes to the career army, the remuneration is huge during service, and certainly thereafter.

I was and still am opposed to service by Israel’s Arab citizens in the “security forces,” even if this leads to racist inequality against us, because we must not bear arms against our brethren. Despite, and perhaps because of the racism and discrimination against us, we Arab citizens of Israel must wage our struggle for equality by civil-legal means on the one hand, and try to excel in every possible area, on the other.

After all, the situation today is that a young Arab woman will not be accepted to study or be hired for a job as easily as the average young Jewish woman with a much lower matriculation grade and less work experience. People joke that almost all the pharmacists in Israel today are Arabs. That is almost statistically correct, and if objective criteria were used in admission to academic studies and in hiring practices, the percentage of Arab academics would go up in every realm in the economy and academia. Meanwhile, military service is the obstacle that prevents young Arab men and women from being accepted, and it’s another material perk to those who serve in the army.

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