“Apartheid’ Fail: Israel’s First Female Muslim Arab National Service Volunteer

Meet Hanan Dabbah. Heck, I sure would like to.

Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO

Hanan Dabbah, 19, resident of Deir al-Asad—an Arab town in the Galilee—is the first Arab woman to serve in the President’s Residence, and the first female Muslim Arab who left home to become a National Service volunteer.

“I opened the door myself. I want more people to take that step. I want them to understand that those who give—shall receive. The state is the home of all its citizens, and as a citizen of the State of Israel I have to contribute in order to obtain all my rights,” Dabbah explained.

Dabbah left home and moved to Jerusalem, where she shares an apartment with other National Service volunteers. She is the only Arab woman in the house.

“When I came into the apartment, one of the roommates asked me, ‘are you an Arab?’ When I replied ‘yes’, she asked ‘how will I sleep tonight knowing there is an Arab here?’ These were the first words I heard,” Dabbah said.

“Since then, the girls have created a pleasant and respectful home. On Fridays I bring the Quran to the apartment because it is a sacred day for Muslims, and the girls accept that. We keep Shabbat together. During Ramadan, I break the fast with them,” she elaborated.

“She made a very brave choice, but a difficult one. She is dealing with an inner conflict—the society in which she grew up in, versus the society in which she resides. Sometimes the two worlds collide. I hope more Arab girls will volunteer in the National Service so that Israeli society will open up,” Eden, one of Dabbah’s roommates, explained.

Dabbah currently serves at the Content and Strategy Department of the President’s Residence. According to Roni Alon, the department’s director, and a Senior Advisor to President Reuven Rivlin, Dabbah “is an eloquent woman with a very clear viewpoint. She is a pioneer; her presence here has illuminated all sort of dark spots.”

“For example, we wanted to adapt the training course to fit Arab youth, and when we reached a certain point and I was about to present more complex material, Dabbah told me to stop and wait, because Arab students do not necessarily know who the president is and what are his duties, ” Alon clarified.

Read the entire thing.

Israel is a complex society which endeavors to be a state for all of her citizens, Jew and non-Jew alike. While gulfs still exist between the communities – in no small part due to the historical baggage brought on by the fact so many Arabs here have dedicated themselves to our destruction – inroads are being made. People like Hanan Dabbah represent our future, and I couldn’t be happier about it.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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