Country Listing

Israel Table of Contents


Minorities in the IDF

Christian and Muslim Arabs were exempted from obligatory service and, although they could volunteer, were often screened out by security checks. Beginning in 1987, however, the IDF made efforts to boost recruitment of Christian Arabs and beduins. It was believed that this policy portended the ultimate introduction of compulsory service in these two communities, although there was certain to be resistance by both the IDF and the minority communities. As of 1988, Israel's Druze and Muslim Circassian minorities were subject to conscription (see Minority Groups , ch. 2).

In 1956 Druze leaders, feeling that being exempted from military service denied them full rights of citizenship, requested that their constituency be drafted. During the 1980s, however, resentment grew within the Druze community because they were drafted while other Arabs were exempt. In 1987 the IDF appointed its first Druze general.

Minorities tended to serve in one of several special units: the Minorities Unit, also known as Unit 300; the Druze Reconnaissance Unit; and the Trackers Unit, which comprised mostly beduins. In 1982 the IDF general staff decided to integrate the armed forces by opening up other units to minorities, while placing some Jewish conscripts in the Minorities Unit. In 1988 the intelligence corps and the air force remained closed to minorities.

Data as of December 1988