First Female Arab Combat Soldier Serves in IDF



By: ROTEM CARO WEIZMAN  
Published: July 31st 2010
in News » Israel

Cpl. Elinor Joseph
Pic: IDF Spokesperson

“Look at the beret,” says Elinor, smiling from ear to ear, showing off the bright green beret that she earned after completing the trek which is part of her combat training in the Karakal Battalion.  Her excitement is accompanied by a new historical precedent, since Elinor is the first Arab female combat soldier in IDF history.

 

Cpl. Elinor Joseph was born and raised in an integrated neighborhood of Jews and Arabs in Haifa, but attended a school in which all her classmates were Arab. She later moved to Wadi Nisnas, an Arab neighborhood where she currently lives. Despite the fact that she would always wear her father’s IDF dog-tag around her neck from when he served in the Paratrooper’s Unit, she never thought she would enlist. “I wanted to go abroad to study medicine and never come back,” she said. To her father it was clear that she would enlist in the IDF, as most citizens in Israel do. This was something that worried her very much. “I was scared to lose my friends because they objected to it. They told me they wouldn’t speak to me. I was left alone.”

 

Despite their opposition, she decided to move forward and enlist. She explained her motive: “I decided to go head-to-head, to check who my true friends are, to do something in life that I have never done before. I understood that it was most important to defend my friends, family, and country. I was born here.” At the end of the day, she says she realized it was the right thing to do, “With time, when you do things from the heart, you begin to understand their importance.”

 

“I might as well go the whole way”

 

Unlike most teenagers in Israel, Elinor did not undergo any kind of special preparations for her recruitment. Other than listening to some of her father’s combat stories and speaking to an IDF officer who helps minorities with enlistment, she didn’t know what she was getting herself into. She came to the Reception and Placement Base, known in IDF slang as the Bakum, and requested to be a combat medic because she decided, “If I enlist, I might as well go the whole way. I thought my father would absolve me from it, but it didn’t happen.” Despite her will to be in combat service, the response to Elinor was otherwise. “The placement officer laughed in my face and said I was too delicate. I started to cry,” she remembers.   

 

Related articles: (IDF, spokesperson)
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