Major Alaa Waheeb, the highest ranked Muslim officer in the Israel Defense Forces, wrote an op-ed column in the Jewish News titled, “There’s only one country in the Middle East that could produce a soldier like me.”
Major Waheeb writes:
In the last few weeks, students across the UK have been involved in Israeli Apartheid Week. Some have supported it. Others have opposed it. Invited by the Zionist Federation UK, last week I was able to attend campuses up and down the country specifically to address and counter some of the claims involved.
These fall into roughly three categories. First, that Israel is an inherently racist, and therefore unacceptable country, comparable to Apartheid South Africa. Second, that its army defends this racist status with acts of illegal and immoral violence. And third, that the only solution to this problem is through the isolation tactics of boycotts.
Like many I met during my visit, I oppose these views. But perhaps more than most people on either side of the debate, I am better placed to argue against them. Because I am an Israeli, an Arab, and the highest ranked Muslim in the IDF.
Is Israel inherently racist, an apartheid state? Well, do you think that such a country would tolerate a person like myself getting to the position I am today? Forget for a second (BDS supporters would like you to forget permanently!) that 20 percent of Israelis are non-Jewish, have full rights, and are represented throughout society. It’s one thing, after all, to have Arab politicians, Christian voters, and Muslim doctors – although we do have them, and quite a few at that.
But a non-Jewish army Major? Someone who has not only fought alongside Jewish soldiers, but now trains them too? Would a truly racist state allow me to play such an integral role in our nation’s defences?
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