The civil service program is a Mifalot initiative created in 2009 and designed to help the Arab-Israeli population in Israel enjoy greater social equality and more basic rights, such as equal opportunities in society. In Israel, military service is mandatory and highly valued in the Jewish sector. This cornerstone of Israeli society excludes most of the Israeli-Arab population and segregates them from society, job and education opportunities, financial benefits and more. There is an alternative framework designed to help those excluded from military service - civil service – but it caters mainly to the religious Jewish population. However, at the grass roots level (local government and civil society) there is a growing movement to support civil service for Arabs that would empower local leadership, serve the local community, and attain equal rights.
Our program is extremely unique due to the fact that we have a group of 100 participants from all over the country, 50 of whom are male and 50 being female. As a result of the tenuous political situation, it has proven more difficult to find male Arab Israelis who would like to take part in a civil service program (the national percentage is 90% of Israeli Arab civil service volunteers are women), as such, we are proud of our balanced gender participation. Our
volunteers come from 25 towns all over Israel, most of them located in the North. About half of our participants are Bedouin and the rest are mostly non-Bedouin Muslims and a few Christians, Druze, and Circassians.
The majority of our participants approach Mifalot having heard positive stories about our activities from friends who have completed the program.
Mifalot maintains communication with each of our participants through a vibrant and dynamic follow up initiative. We implement it throughout the year to assist participants who have completed their service (they have a choice of either one or two years’ service which starts in September and ends the following September). Monthly meetings and workshops with professionals in the field of social work are designed to help former participants find employment (as assistant coaches and trainers in schools and community centers), inquire about their progress after the program, and offer general life coaching in all areas, whether financial, social, or educational.