Tuesday, October 12, 2010

(NEWS) Druze Community Prepares To Fly Israel's UAV's

"IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Nechushtan visited the Druze community and praised it for its great contribution to the IDF.

'Is it possible that one day we will no longer need pilots because of UAVs?', 'Will somebody from the Druze population ever have the opportunity to be a pilot?'. These questions were not taken from a press conference or a newscast. These issues were raised by the curious students of the first Druze pre-army preparatory program.

IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Ido Nechushtan visited the Druze community and met with excited students in the military preparatory program. 'Regarding UAVs, it's true that we are developing them, but they will not replace manned aircrafts. A pilot fights on the battlefield and we cannot fight this battle from afar. We are developing UAVs but simultaneously buying planes. With room for pilots inside', answered the IAF Commander. 'In regards to the Druze pilots, the IAF is completely open and has already had a number of Druze navigators. Ultimately, the pilot’s wing pin is exactly the same as the navigator’s. There's no doubt that if many Druze soldiers join our Corps, there will also be a first Druze pilot.'

The IAF Commander began his visit with the Druze population at the Memorial for the Boys organization, which salutes the memory of fallen IDF soldiers from the Druze community, in Daliat-el-Carmel.

'We are an essential part of the national organization and our task is to preserve the memory of the 369 Druze soldiers killed in IDF activities,' said Amal Nasser al-Din, chairman of the Druze division of the Memorial for the Boys organization. 'We are integrated into the Jewish State and we do so because of ideology. This is our country and we are a part of it'.

Later, subjects like the importance of education in the Druze community, the integration of the community into the IAF’s Technological Branch and the community’s motivation to enlist in the IDF in general, and the IAF in particular, were discussed. 'It is a great honor for me to be here', said Maj. Gen. Nechushstan. 'This place is a symbol of the shared fate of the Jewish people and the Druze community in Israel. Our fates are bound together and the Druze community knows it well. 369 of your people even sacrificed their lives for the State of Israel. Hundreds of people from the Druze community serve in the IAF today and if anything symbolizes the great openness of our Corps, it is the fact that we accept Druze soldiers in every profession and already have Druze aircrew members and fighters'. The IAF Commander ended his visit at the Memorial for the Boys’ monument for fallen soldiers, where he laid a wreath in their memories.

Afterward, Maj. Gen. Nechushtan visited the memorial for Col. Nabih Mar’i, the former Deputy Commander of the Gaza Division who was killed in Rafah in 1996 during riots against the creation of an additional exit in the Western Wall tunnel. Nabih Mar’i paved the way for Druze soldiers serving throughout the IDF when he joined the Paratroopers Brigade at a time when Druze soldiers only enlisted in an Arab-speaking infantry unit formed at the inception of the army. After sending a letter to the Defense Minister at the time, Moshe Dayan, requesting to join the Paratroopers Brigade, he became one of the first four Druze to enlist in that brigade. Following his death, the memorial site was built at his home, and the IAF Commander visited and observed the legacy that Col. Nabih Mar’i left behind.

At the end of the day, the IAF Commander was shown typical local hospitality including dinner, black coffee and kanafeh (Middle Eastern confection) for desert. The hosted event took place at the home of an IAF officer, the second Druze navigator, Lt. G. At the entrance of the house, the navigator’s relatives were excitedly awaiting the visit, Lt. G. having received his pin about a year and a half ago and bringing great satisfaction and pride to his family and to the entire community.

'You can be proud of the education you passed on because it is the greatest investment in the future', said Maj. Gen. Nechushtan. 'You cannot fake education. What you invest is what you get in return. People who grow up here are educated, have values, and have a desire to give and they are the ones who will be IDF commanders. There is a deep alliance between us and more importantly, we understand that we share the same blood. From what I saw today, you see things the same way, the importance of investing in education and in our alliance'." (source)

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