Hisham Abu Varia, 26, is one of 14 children. At the age of 10 he was already doing manual work, from fruit picking to construction work. After high school he worked for two years installing roofs. He gave his earnings to his parents who paid for his brother's medicine studies in Russia. He is now the highest ranking Muslim Arab in the IDF.
Since childhood, Hisham has wanted to be a soldier, inspired by one of his older brothers – one of the few Arab-Israelis to complete three years of service. "He was a role model to me and many others because of his integrity and conviction to do what he thought was right. A brave man not influenced by other people's opinions."
"The army is the entry pass into the Israeli society," Hisham explains. "The Arab sector thinks it's second rate here, but to get privileges one has to give and not just receive. The state protects its citizens even if they don’t serve – my parents live off income support. You must contribute to the country you live off. What other country would have an Arab Knesset member, who is being paid by the state, promoting the interests of the Islamic movement and screwing the promotion of the sector it is supposed to represent?"
Hisham continued "The Arab sector is like a herd. It doesn't think by itself and is affected by various radical movements. Most youngsters don't have anything to do with themselves. They run around the streets, wasting their time and that's only if they finished school. Service in the army is educating, it gives you structure, order – that's what young people are missing here."
Hisham's goal "To reach the highest rank I can," he answers without hesitation, "and the get my masters in anthropology. It’s because of the service. In the army everyone is equal, but there is no other place that gathers such different people with such different cultural backgrounds who still manage to live together. That's what interests me the most."
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