Why would an Arab Muslim serve in the Israeli military? Because he, like many Israeli Arabs, proudly defend the nation that has given them freedom and opportunity. Mohammad Kabiya, Israeli Air Force reservist, shares his remarkable story.
This may shatter your idea about the nation of Israel. Very compelling.
I am an Arab. I am a Muslim. And I love my country. In fact, I’m prepared to die for it. Which is why I serve in its army.
I don’t have to do this. I want to do this. Because my country is a special place, unlike any other.
Free. Diverse. Vibrant.
Yet, other countries—countries not so free, not so diverse—call for my country’s complete destruction. The moment my country lets its guard down, it will be destroyed.
My country is Israel.
I grew up and still live in a small village named after my family’s Bedouin Arab tribe. Our roots in this land run deep.
In 1948, when Arab armies invaded the new state of Israel, my family thought of leaving our village. Some of them did. But when the Jews’ leaders heard that, they implored us to remain. “This is our country, for both Arabs and Jews,” they said. “Stay, and we will work together to build it.”
My family stayed. My parents were born here, made their lives here, started their own family here—in Israel.
In 2002, I was a teenager. It was a violent time. Palestinian suicide bombers were blowing up Israeli civilians—a danger to Arabs and Jews alike. Israeli troops entered to the West Bank to stop them at their source. As a result, many Palestinians were killed.
I was torn. Whose side was I on, I thought: Israel’s or the Palestinians’? Is it possible to be an Arab and an Israeli? The question became even more difficult when I saw men from my own village wearing the uniform of the Israeli army. Only Jews are required to serve in the military. No one forced these Arab men to join; they chose to. “Why?” I asked them.
“Our home is here, in Israel,” they said. “Our home is under attack. Our neighbors in this home are Jews. They are being attacked. We fight together.”
Still, I struggled.
I went to high school in Nazareth. There, unlike the village where I grew up, most of the Arab students identified as Palestinians even though they are citizens of Israel.
Some of the students—my friends—hated Israel. They couldn’t understand me. “You’re a Palestinian”, they said, “so you must hate Israel.” When I said that I didn’t, that we had far more freedom and opportunity than Arabs anywhere in the Middle East, they called me a traitor.
After high school, I went on to study electrical engineering at Technion, a leading Israeli university. During my first semester, heavy rocket fire from Gaza forced Israel to launch a counterattack.
Not long after the war began, I witnessed a group of Arab-Israeli students expressing their solidarity with Hamas, the Palestinian terror organization that controls Gaza and is committed to Israel’s violent destruction.
Did these students not understand that those rockets could just as easily be aimed at them? Hamas didn’t care who they killed as long as they landed inside the borders of Israel. Had my fellow Arab students forgotten that Israel had left Gaza a few years before? That there wasn’t a single Israeli living there?
That day, I dropped out of school to join the Israeli army, the IDF. A few months later, I was a soldier in the Israeli Air Force. After months of training, I was assigned to the Search & Rescue Helicopter Unit.
Our job was to save lives. We never concerned ourselves with the identity of the people who needed our help. We rescued Syrian civilians wounded in their country’s civil war, Palestinian children from Gaza requiring urgent medical care, and countless Israelis of every religious and ethnic background. A life—whether it is Muslim or Jewish, Palestinian or Israeli—is a life.
On a base of 6,000 soldiers, I was the only Bedouin. But it didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was keeping Israel—our home—safe. We came from all parts of the country and from many parts of the world. We were every shade of skin color. Our shared goal created a deep bond.
Today, I am a student at Haifa University. Half of the students are Arab. More than once, I have seen the Palestinian flag being waved at a rally or protest on campus. In Israel, you can do this because, whether you are a Jew or an Arab, you are free.
What more do you need to know?
I am Mohammad Kabiya for Prager University.
Palestinian terrorists’ attacks on Israel’s diverse democracy harm not just Jews but Arabs, who make up 20% of Israel’s population.
- Arabs make up 20% of the Israeli population. Attacks on Israel hurt both Jews and Arabs.View Source
- Not all Arabs living in Israel are pro-Palestinian. For example, Mohammad Kabiya comes from a long line of Arabs who have fought with Israel against outside invaders.View Source
- Kabiya points out to detractors that the Israeli state defends all within its borders from attack, saying, “We must protect her just as she protects us.”View Source
- The Israeli government reports that 1,332 people have been killed in Palestinian terror attacks since 2000.View Source
- Palestinian terror is a danger to Arabs and Jews alike. In 2002, Israeli troops entered the West Bank to stop them at their source.View Source
- Related video: “Israel: The World’s Most Moral Army” – Col. Richard Kemp, PragerUView Source
- Related reading: “Terror Tunnels: The Case for Israel’s Just War Against Hamas” – Alan DershowitzView Source
Israel is a nation that values freedom and cultural diversity. One in five Israelis are Arab, and not all of them are pro-Palestinian.
- Anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian rhetoric has invaded college campuses and public discourse.View Source
- Former Arab Israeli soldier, Mohammad Kabiya set out to set the record straight. “Israel is my country, and she belongs to all her citizens – Muslim, Jew, Christian, and Atheist,” says Kabiya.View Source
- Although Arabs are not required to serve in the military, many do. Monaliza Abdo, an Arab Christian woman, volunteered to fight terrorism and drug smuggling.View Source
- Many think that Israel is only made up of Jews, forgetting its 20% Arab population.View Source
- WATCH: Mohammed Kabiya confronts a left-wing Jew at Columbia UniversityView Source
- Related video: “Does Israel Discriminate Against Arabs?” – Olga Meshoe, PragerUView Source
- Related reading: “The Case for Peace: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can be Resolved” – Alan DershowitzView Source
Israel is a free and diverse nation, yet other countries in the Middle East – far less free and diverse – call for Israel’s destruction.
- The call for Israel’s destruction by its neighbors in the Middle East began in 1948 when Arab armies invaded the newly founded state of Israel.View Source
- Palestinian leadership and Hamas continue to call for Israel’s destruction.View Source
- Some Arab countries, like Iran, claim to be friendly to Jews, but still seek the destruction of Israel.View Source
- In American, anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian rhetoric is common on college campuses, even from some Jews.View Source
- According to Mohammed Kabiya, an Arab soldier in the Israeli army, Israel is a sanctuary for people of all faiths.View Source
- Related video: “The Middle East Problem” – Dennis Prager, PragerUView Source
- Related reading: “The Case For Moral Clarity: Israel, Hamas and Gaza” – Alan DershowitzView Source
Myth: Israel oppresses Arabs. Reality: Arabs have far more freedom and opportunity in Israel than in anywhere else in the Middle East.
- According to a 2017 report by Freedom House, Israel is the freest country in the Middle East by a large margin.View Source
- Some assume all Palestinians must hate Israel due to supposed oppression by the state. Mohammad Kabiya, a veteran of the Israeli army, came from a long line of Arab soldiers who fought for Israel and rejects this claim.View Source
- Kabiya maintains that Arabs should “be proud of both their Arab heritage and their citizenship in the Middle East’s only secular democracy.”View Source
- At a conference, Kabiya noted that Israeli universities are similar to American universities, but have even more freedom of speech.View Source
- Related video: “Why Isn’t There a Palestinian State?” – David Brog, PragerUView Source
- Related reading: “The Case for Israel” – Alan DershowitzView Source
The Israeli army, the IDF, fights for the freedom of all Israelis, Arab and Jewish alike.
- Israel is a diverse nation, with a large minority of Israeli Arabs, making up about 20% of the population. The IDF defends all of Israel’s citizens.View Source
- The IDF allows Israelis of any race or creed to join. Mohammed Kabiya, an Arab Muslim, trained for and was assigned to the Israeli Air Force’s Search & Rescue Helicopter Unit.View Source
- Kabiya hopes that more Israeli Arabs would “be grateful for these freedoms and should even defend and sustain them alongside our Jewish cousins.”View Source
- Kabiya, when working for the IDF, helped evacuate Palestinian children from Gaza requiring urgent medical care, and countless Israelis of every religious and ethnic background.View Source
- Related video: “Is the UN Fair to Israel?” – Anne BayefskyView Source
- Related reading: “The Case Against Israel’s Enemies” – Alan DershowitzView Source
Israel allows alternate views among its population because it is free—in fact, it is the most free country in the Middle East.
- Israel is the only nation in the Middle East considered “free” by the 2017 Freedom House Freedom of the World Report.View Source
- Mohammed Kabiya, an Arab soldier for the IDF, is proud of his Muslim and Arabic heritage and believes it is compatible with patriotism for Israel, saying, “Israel is a Jewish State, but she is not a country for Jews alone. Israel is my country, and she belongs to all her citizens.”View Source
- Dema Taya, an Arab Israeli, described Israel as a place where “nobody is above the law” and “you can express your opinion without anybody bothering you.”View Source
- Related video: “A Black South African on Israel and Apartheid” – Kenneth Meshoe, PragerUView Source
- Related reading: “The Case For Moral Clarity: Israel, Hamas and Gaza” – Alan DershowitzView Source