Israel HaYom has an interesting look at the evolution of the highest-ranked Muslim in the IDF.
He was born in the village of Reineh in the Galillee, which currently houses some 17,000 residents, more than 80 percent of whom are Muslim. His father was born in Syria, and had two wives. Each wife had four children. Wahib is the second son of the second wife. Today he lives alone in the village, in a huge house that he built himself.
This is a minor point within the context of the article, but a major point within the entire debate, the Major’s father was born in Syria. And this isn’t even the so-called Occupied Territories, it’s the Little Triangle, which just feels that way sometimes. The official Muslim narrative is that Reineh is an ancient Caananite village whose residents were there for thousands of years. In real life, they clearly were not.
His family lives on the other side of the village, and has no contact with him. “It is not because I went to the army,” he rushes to explain. “It would make sense for my family not to accept my enlistment, but that is the one thing they could actually live with. My father even supported me. The problem was that after he died, I met a Christian girl. My mother forbade the relationship, and the entire family exerted heavy pressure on us to break up. There were a lot of confrontations. I didn’t want it to become violent, so we had no choice but to split up. The way things look now, I don’t see how we could ever be together. That is why I severed ties with my family. The only family member I am still in touch with is, of all people, my father’s other wife and her children. They are now my only family.”
He woke up, he says, when he was 14 years old and began studying at the technological high school in Nazareth – a Christian boarding school. There he was exposed to the modern world for the first time. The distance from the village and the family, during these teenage years when one develops an identity, took its course.
“The Christian Arabs’ culture is similar to the Europeans’. They are less fanatic and far more modern than the Muslims. The lessons at the school followed Education Ministry guidelines, and I suddenly discovered a world that I never knew existed. I discovered that the Jews weren’t as bad as I was told growing up. I discovered that they have a good side that I am drawn to. I identified with their principles and the way they protect one another. I felt that I wanted to become a part of this country.”
And there are the parts of the conflict that are hardly ever talked about in the West, but are commonly understood in the Arab world.
“One day, a young Arab woman arrived at the checkpoint with a knife and tried to stab a soldier. When I was called to the scene she burst into tears and showed me her body. It was covered with black and blue marks. I understood that she had been severely beaten at home for having soiled the family’s honor and that she didn’t really want to kill a soldier. It was just her way of getting away from her family. She preferred to be in an Israeli jail rather than going back home, possibly to her death.”
“When I understood that, though I really couldn’t justify what she had done, I tried to help her. Her family came to the checkpoint to retrieve her, and I literally protected her with my body. They beat me and spit on me. At one point I had to call for backup just to end the incident. The girl was ultimately arrested, but I have no doubt that my interference had saved her. That is just one example of a situation that could have easily ended differently.”