We are living in a new reality as the second wave of the coronavirus bears down upon us.Corona crisis an opportunity for National Service
Some good things have emerged in Israeli society during this period, including countless cases of people giving assistance, volunteering and sharing mutual responsibilities. The people who find themselves at the social front during this complicated period are the volunteers of the National Civil Service, young people ages 18-20 who were exempted from the army but chose to devote one or two years of their lives to contribute to the country.
Recommended by Young people from all sectors of Israeli society have taken part: Jews, Arabs, Druze, religious and secular. Volunteers have made a decisive contribution to Israel’s civilian resilience in the face of the virus, and risked their health to volunteer in numerous capacities, including with hospitals and with Magen David Adom. These volunteers have maintained contact with our elderly citizens, gone shopping for them, and served as an additional and essential force in the fields of health and welfare. Many young people who were sent home due to the closure of educational institutions, for example, chose to enlist in the national mission and volunteered in essential areas where their help was needed.The National Civil Service is perceived in a way that does not reflect reality: as a second wheel for the army, as the default option for those who receive exemptions. During the pandemic, IDF soldiers were sent to cities and towns in Israel to help the residents cope, so that for long periods we saw pictures of soldiers on civilian missions in Bnei Brak.The IDF rightly received the public’s admiration for that. But this is an example of the gap between the public image of IDF soldiers and National Civil Service volunteers. Without detracting at all from the importance of the IDF contribution during this period, it is worth noting that ultimately, the National Civil Service volunteers performed those same tasks of their own free choice, with no particular honor or admiration from the public.The corona crisis has created a new reality, and an opportunity for us to see the importance of the National Civil Service and its important contribution to the State of Israel. Volunteers are the fighters on the social front. They are an integral part of our people’s army, because our resilience is strengthened, not only by security, but also by social-civil welfare.All of us, from ordinary citizens to decision-makers, should update our attitudes to properly understand the value and contribution of the National Civil Service. It has proven its value particularly in this period as an organization that can respond in times of crisis as well as in normal times; an organization that is leading in areas that affect our daily lives; an organization that can provide solutions also for the large social challenges in our country.
The corona crisis has highlighted, above all, the need for partnership between all parts of Israeli society, as the virus does not distinguish between religions, origins or worldviews. The people facing this crisis have come from all sections of the Israeli mosaic, with a shared purpose; volunteers from places as varied as Tel Aviv, Bnei Brak, Rahat and Yafa an-Naseriyye.It is important to understand that there is no conflict between military service and National Civil Service. Each is important and significant in its field. Every volunteer makes an important contribution to the country and receives many valuable tools for the rest of their lives. Every one of them is essential to our future in the State of Israel.While we are all aware of this in relation to the army, there is a mistaken perception of the broader role of National Service that must be corrected.The corona pandemic has inflicted enormous damage on the entire world, including Israel. It has led and will lead to changes in many areas of our lives. However, among the turmoil, there is one small but positive change it has highlighted: National Civil Service is not just option B, not just the default, not just a spare wheel. It is a foundation of Israeli society.
Originally posted at:jpost