This week I took a group I was guiding to the Lone Soldier Centre (LSC) in Memory of Michael Levin in Jerusalem to meet those brave women and men who are defending our homeland. In addition to meeting with soldiers from all around the world, we were honoured to meet with Sergeant Y, who defines himself as a, “Muslim, Arab, Israeli and a proud IDF soldier.” Sergeant Y is classified as an Israeli Lone Soldier and receives all the benefits and help from both the IDF and the LSC. He explained that, “when we volunteer for the army we pay a heavy price. Sometimes our families stop talking to us.”
Sergeant Y, a tall smiling soft-spoken young man, explained to my group in excellent English what transformed him to become a Zionist, and what motivated him to serve his country as a combat soldier in the IDF. This is what he said:
I come from an (Israeli Arab) town in the north where people are known for supporting terror organisations. I was told that Israeli Arabs are always victims of the Zionists. As a kid I believed those lies and was taught to hate Israel. Now, I identify myself as a Zionist Arab, a very proud one, and I’m standing and defending my country – Israel.
What made me become a Zionist? It happened (after the kidnapping and murder of the three teens in 2014) when I got out of my town and all of a sudden I was communicating with Jewish people. I was told that they are going to hate me, but I was able to communicate face to face and saw all the wondrous things that Zionism had accomplished. I believe that all the Arab countries can benefit from Zionism and if they were to normalise relations with Israel, then we can all achieve amazing things together.
Recently Sergeant Y showed his mettle when serving with his unit in Hebron. He challenged the media to talk to him and not to believe the lies of the anti-Israel NGO, “Breaking the Silence” (BTS) who hide their false testimonies behind anonymity, in return for funding, by haters of Israel. He said:
I am a Muslim soldier who is serving in Hebron. The situation in Hebron is very complicated, and can’t be squashed in a pamphlet. I invite anyone who wants to see the true picture to come to me. I am a person who is not embarrassed to hide my name and speak about what I do, feel free to ask me questions.
I am proud of our Jewish state and of its open democracy. I think that there is a way and space to speak and have an opinion on what happens in the state and in the IDF. The way is not through lies or financial support of foreign countries and organisations and dragging the name of the State of Israel, its army and its citizens through mud.
There is room to criticise the IDF, but the criticism should be made fairly and honestly. Namely, to provide all known information and sources to the IDF’s investigative bodies, who do their job honestly and faithfully to investigate every case that steps out of the borders of the commands and spirit of the IDF.
BTS, which receives financial support from international organisations, some of whom openly deny Israel’s right to exist, does not work that way. A large part of its claims are anonymous, with no identifying information, nor are they delivered to the IDF’s investigative bodies, rather transferred directly to international bodies hostile to Israel and the IDF. The organisation does not cooperate in investigating its claims, preferring to spread these malicious stories unchecked abroad. Sargent Y, and many pro-Israel advocacy organisations, such as StandWithUs (SWU), are bravely taking BTS on by fighting with the truth.
Sergeant Y is an inspirational example of someone who totally left his comfort zone in order to accomplish something he deeply believed in: the honour of serving in the IDF in order to protect his beloved homeland. He is a hero, a role model and an example who deserves our respect and honour. He is dedicated to the mission of educating the Arab community and individuals abroad about the true reality that he lives in Israel. His Twitter account states that; “Education is the road to peace.”