Yoseph Haddad, a Christian Arab from Nazareth volunteered to join the IDF and served in the elite Golani Brigade. During his service, he was wounded in the Second Lebanon War and upon his discharge found another way to serve his country: combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign and improving ties between Israeli-Arabs and the state of Israel.
Haddad spoke to Ynet about his decision to enlist, and said, “I felt that I was part of the state and I had to contribute so I decided to enlist in the army, specifically to Golani. At first, they could not guarantee that I would join Golani, but I insisted that I am volunteering for only Golani.”
After his enlistment, Haddad completed a squad commanders’ course with honors and was assigned to the 51st Battalion of the Golani Brigade. He spoke of the hardships he experienced as a soldier from the Arab sector: “When I went home to Nazareth, I would get teased, cursed at and spit at, and sometimes I was called a ‘traitor.’ Because I am strong and believe in myself, I did not pay any heed and remained proud of myself.”
During the Second Lebanon war in 2006 he was wounded in the leg by a Russian-made Kornet rocket launched at his squad. “During the fighting I lost three commanders, seven friends and a soldier under my command. During the battle of Bint Jbail, four days before the cease-fire, a Kornet missile was fired at my force. It hit the wall next to me and as a result of my injuries, my leg was amputated and I was wounded in several other places on my body and face.”During the entire rescue operation, I was fully conscious, and I remember how a reservist doctor said on the radio that if they do not rescue me soon, there will be nothing left to rescue by the evening. Eventually a helicopter came and during my evacuation our force was hit by additional rockets. During the process and with all the accompanying pain, I hummed to myself the song ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy,’ and I was taken to a Nahariya hospital.”
“The mental healing was not yet over though. I still have nightmares at night, and I tense up to every sound of an explosion and even a door slamming. I am dealing with this every day anew.”
Yoseph Haddad is currently advising a market research firm and has recently joined the Reservists on Duty organization, with whom he works against the BDS campaign and against resurgent anti-Semitism on campuses across the US. Simultaneously, he is establishing an association to strengthen ties between the Arab sector and the state.”The Defense Ministry supported me immensely all the way and did not abandon me. Today I believe that just as I contributed to the state militarily, I can contribute in the PR arena and expose the lies disseminated regarding the State of Israel,” he said.
As for the matter of national or military service in the Arab sector, Haddad said: “I encourage Arabs to enlist and serve as combat soldiers, and I also support national service, because we have to be part of the state and contribute to it.
“That is what will allow us to get ahead in life. The Arab MKs also need to focus on local issues like fighting crime, the advancement of women and poverty—and not just Palestinian affairs.”
Via Ynet News April 2018
Video via Yoseph Haddad