The state should recognize existing community- service programs in the Arab sector instead of trying to enlist Arab youth to national service programs run by the security establishment, Jaffar Farrah, the head of the the Mossawa Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, said on Thursday.
“We do not need the government to define civil service for us; we need the government to recognize the civil service frameworks we already have in our communities,” Farrah said, adding that “there are already enough ways to perform civil service within the Palestinian society in Israel but the state will not recognize them because they want national service, which is an extension of military service.”
Farrah’s comments came a day after Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said he will propose an alternative to the Tal Law that will decree that all Israelis perform some sort of national or military service to the state. Liberman’s proposal came a day after the High Court of Justice ruled against renewing the Tal Law, which since 2002 has afforded yeshiva students an exemption from military service.
Farrah said he sees Liberman’s bill as an “empty populist measure” meant to drum up votes, and accused the Israeli government of seeking ways of integrating Arab citizens into the national security framework under the auspices of community service.
“Instead of cooperating with us, they always want to come and force all types of service on us through the defense ministry and make us part of the cycle of violence in the area. We do not see civil service as a security issue.”
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