´Arabs less inclined to volunteer for nat´l service´ (JERUSALEM POST) By RUTH EGLASH 05/08/12)
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Willingness by young Arabs in Israel to volunteer for civilian
national service has steadily fallen over the past six years, as the
community’s support for contributing to national service, a new study
to be published Tuesday by Haifa University’s Jewish-Arab Center has
Despite this, researchers Professor Sammy Smooha and Dr. Zohar
Lechtman, who interviewed some 968 Arab citizens of Israel, noted
that the actual number of young people from the community
volunteering for national service has actually increased.
Based on numbers provided by the National Service, which is an
alternative to serving in the IDF, 2399 young Arabs volunteered in
2011, compared to 1050 in 2008 and 240 in 2005.
Smooha and Lechtman, who carried out the study last year between the
summer and fall as part of ongoing research into the general
attitudes of Israel’s 1.5 million Arab citizens, highlighted that
even though the numbers of those willing to volunteer have fallen,
the 40% who are interested in joining is still exceptionally high.
Preparing to present the full study at a conference at Haifa
University on Tuesday, the two academics said that – despite a fall
in public opinion about volunteering for national service and
attempts by the Arab leadership to dissuade young people from
joining – there were still many young people who wanted to give back
to their community and to the country.
According to the data presented in the study, 40% of young Arabs in
Israel are willing to volunteer for national service, compared to 53%
in 2009. In addition, 62% of the Arab community believes that
civilian national service is important, a fall from 68% in 2009 and
78% in 2007.
The researchers also noted that many young Arabs interviewed for the
study (252 of those interviewed were aged between 18 and 22) said
they had been given little information about national service and
what exactly volunteering meant.
“There are many negative voices in Arab society about joining
national service and little outreach has been done to address this,”
said the researchers.
While the focus on the study was on willingness to volunteer, the
researchers also interviewed 154 young people currently volunteering
and 152 who had completed more than six months in national service.
More than 90% of those who had volunteered said they were satisfied
with their experiences and some 95.8% even they were proud they had
In addition, 89% said they felt that by volunteering they had given
something back to their own community and 82.4% said they felt good
about giving something back to the country.
The goal of the multi-year study is to examine the degree of exposure
of the Arab sector to civic service, gauge public opinion toward
civic service and monitor changes in public opinion over the years.
(© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/08/12)
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