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Israeli army intensifies efforts to convert recruits

Israeli soldiers conduct a military drill in Akraba villiage of Nablus, West Bank on April 4, 2017. ( Nedal Eshtayah - Anadolu Agency )
Israeli soldiers can be seen conducting a military drill [Nedal Eshtayah/Anadolu Agency]

The Israeli army has stepped up its efforts to convert non-Jewish recruits, Quds Press reported on Tuesday.

According to Quds Press, citing a report by Israeli newspaper ‘Israel Hayom’, the army’s Jewish education programmes will be increased from nine to 14, and the initiatives streamlined in an attempt to reduce the drop-out rate.

The Israeli newspaper said that the Israeli army started these education programmes in 2001, but many of the Israeli soldiers did not attend them. Drop-out rates have been as high as 50-60 percent in recent years.

Quds Press said that the newspaper reported a military source saying that it is obligatory for the non-Jewish soldiers to attend these courses, but they don’t have to listen to the lectures.

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At any given time, there are about 5,000 non-Jewish soldiers serving in the Israeli army. Between 2014 and 2016, an average of 850 soldiers converted through military conversion courses out of 2,500 or 2,600 who began the course.

According to the Times of Israel, “Nativ is the only state-recognized conversion system in the country not controlled by the Haredi-dominated Chief Rabbinate”. “Hundreds of soldiers, most of them non-Jewish relatives of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union, enter the army’s conversion system each year. Thousands have successfully finished the program and converted to Judaism through the IDF ‘s rabbinic court”.

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