TIME Paralympic Games

Ukraine Wins 5 Medals On First Day of Sochi Paralympics

Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games
Olena Iurkovska of Ukraine celebrates during the flower ceremony at the Biathlon Women's 6km Sitting competition during the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games, March 8, 2014. Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, 08 March 2014. Valdrin Xhemaj—EPA

Amid the growing tensions involving Russia, Ukraine scored five medals at the Sochi Paralympics, with Olena Iurkovska winning the bronze in the women's six-kilometer sitting competition and dedicating her victory to her country's independence

The first Ukrainian medalist of the Sochi Paralympic Games dedicated her achievement Saturday to her country’s independence, as the embattled country took five medals on the first day of competition.

Olena Iurkovska won bronze in the women’s six-kilometer sitting competition Saturday as tensions between Moscow and Kiev seemed to approach a breaking point. Russian troops invaded Crimea last week and on Friday, the government supported the region’s referendum to secede to full Russian control.

Iurkovska won a medal only hours after Ukraine decided to compete in Russia in defiance of the crisis, reports the Associated Press. “I devote my first medal in Sochi to an independent Ukraine,” she said. “Every time I race, it will be for Ukrainian independence and peace in my country.”

Appealing for peace at the post-event flower ceremony Saturday, Iurkovska embraced Valentina Matvienko, the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, which just the day before had pledged to support Crimea’s bid to join Russia.

Ukraine won two more bronze medals in the biathlon Saturday while Maksym Yarovyi claimed silver in the men’s 7.5-kilometer sitting event and Vitaliy Lukyanenko took gold in the visually impaired class. Russia won a total of 12 medals in the first day of competition.

[AP]

TIME movies

Noah Banned In Qatar, Bahrain and UAE

NOAH
Niko Tavernise—Paramout

Hollywood's retelling of the Bible story was banned in the three countries on religious grounds after receiving censure across the Arab world. The $125 million film is due to premiere in the United States on March 28

The Hollywood movie Noah has been banned on religious grounds in Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates ahead of its worldwide premiere.

Noah, which retells the story of the great flood from the Book of Genesis, was banned because it “contradicts the teachings of Islam,” a representative of Paramount Pictures told Reuters. The $125 million film stars Russell Crow and Anthony Hopkins and is due to premiere in the United States on March 28.

The highest religious authority in Sunni Islam, Cairo’s Al-Azhar, issued a religious injunction against the film on Thursday, saying it rejected the depiction of messengers and prophets of God.

Islamic religious stricture opposes representing holy figures in art, and pictorial depictions of the Prophet Mohammad in the West have sparked rage throughout the Muslim world, from the Danish cartoon in 2006 that led to riots in the region to a 2012 amateur Youtube video that fueled the deadly attacks in Benghazi on the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

Several other Arab countries including Jordan, Egypt and Kuwait are also expected to ban the film.

[Reuters]

TIME

Russia Turns The Screws On Ukraine With Gas Supply Threat

Sevastopol Ukraine  March  06 2014
A rally of Pro-Russian supporters in Sevastopool, Ukraine, March 06, 2014. Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME

The Ukrainian government remained defiant as Russian state-owned monolithic gas company Gazprom warned it may switch off gas supplies if the financially strapped country does not pay its bills

Moscow ratcheted up pressure on Crimea Saturday by threatening to cut off crucial gas supplies to Ukraine, but the interim government in Kiev remained defiant of Russia’s bare-knuckled tactics and announced Ukraine would not “not give up Crimea to anyone.”

On Friday Moscow brandished its sharpest weapons yet in the crisis. Russia’s state-owned, monolithic gas company Gazprom warned it would switch off gas supplies to Ukraine if the financially strapped country does not pay its bills, reports the Wall Street Journal, and the Kremlin sent clear signals it is ready annex Crimea, inviting the region’s separatist leader to Moscow after Russia’s upper house of parliament pledged to support Crimea’s bid to join the country.

Ukraine’s interim government stood firm under Russian pressure Saturday, saying Russia’s annexation of the region would be unconstitutional and violate international law—a claim that Western leaders have also made. “Crimea is and will be Ukrainian territory, and we will not give up Crimea to anyone,” Ukraine’s acting foreign minister, Andriy Deshchytsia said, the Washington Post reports.

The announced March 16 referendum in Crimea would propose that the predominantly ethnic Russian peninsula secede from Ukraine and join Russia. The Kremlin already effectively controls the territory after invading last week and barricading Ukrainian troops in their bases.

The referendum is “illegitimate and will not have any legal implications for Crimea, for Ukraine, as well as for the international community,” said Deshchytsia.

Tensions remained high in Crimea Saturday, a day after Russian troops attempted to storm a Ukrainian army base before retreating. A team of international military observers was again refused entry to Crimea on Saturday, reports the BBC, and two journalists were attacked and beaten during the standoff. Russian forces fired warning shots as a convoy from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe attempted to enter the peninsula. More Russian troops have been sighted unloading in eastern Crimea on Friday, reports the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, the Russian defense ministry said it was considering backing off of international arms control treaties by halting foreign weapons inspections of its arsenal as a result of US and NATO responses to the crisis.

TIME Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines: Missing Plane’s Whereabouts Still Unknown

Malaysia Plane
A woman wipes her tears after walking out from the reception center and holding area for family and friends of passengers aboard the missing plane, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March 8, 2014. Lai Seng Sin—AP

Malaysia Airlines said Sunday that search and rescue teams still cannot find Flight MH370, which vanished Saturday morning and carried 239 people

Update 10:18 p.m. EST

Search and rescue teams in the hunt for a missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 carrying 239 people have still been unable to find the craft, more than 24 hours after contact was lost, according to the airlines’ website Sunday.

Malaysia Airlines said that it has sent a team of 94 caregivers to lend emotional support to the family members of those affected by the incident, with another group of caregivers dispatched to Beijing.

“The airline is doing its utmost to provide support to the affected family members, this includes immediate financial aid,” it said in a statement.

Earlier, the United States dispatched a destroyer to join the massive international search for the craft that went missing Saturday morning, as it appeared increasingly likely the plane had crashed into the ocean.

Air traffic controllers lost track of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 shortly after it left Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing, carrying 239 passengers and crew, half of which were Chinese nationals. Vietnam’s military said a search team discovered a 12-mile long oil slick in the Gulf of Thailand that may be the downed Boeing 777, but there had been no official confirmation the plane had crashed as of Saturday night.

Search crews from China, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia were joined by the American Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer destroyer in a search for any evidence of the airliner in the South China Sea. The passengers included 154 citizens from China or Taiwan, 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, four French and three Americans, among others.

“At this time, we can confirm that three U.S. citizens were on board,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “Officials from the U.S. Embassies in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing are in contact with the individuals’ families. Out of respect for them, we are not providing additional information at this time.”

It emerged Saturday that two of the names on the flight manifest matched stolen European passports. Italian and Austrian officials confirmed the names of two passengers were from passports reported stolen in Thailand. U.S. officials told NBC News that they have not ruled out a terrorist attack as a possible cause for the plane’s disappearance.

The U.S. destroyer was conducting training and maritime security operations in international waters of the South China Sea, said the navy, and the ship has two MH-60R helicopters equipped for search and rescue. Vietnamese ships are expected to beat the destroyer to the scene.

The flight’s pilots were veterans who together had logged more than 20,000 flying hours, reports CNN. The plane was meant to touch down in Beijing at 6:30a.m. after a 2,300-mile trip. But the flight suddenly lost contact mid-flight, and search teams and experts have begun to lose hope passengers will be rescued.

“The aircraft had not been at altitude long and that strikes me as very, very odd,” aviation expert Captain J.F. Joseph, who has 44 years flying of experience, told TIME on Saturday. “It’s too early to say if there was a bomb or terrorist activity, but it lost contact just as it began to level off at 35,000 ft. It would give some indication that what occurred was catastrophic or somewhat instantaneous.”

With additional reporting by Zeke J. Miller

TIME

Hillary Clinton Kicks Off International Women’s Day At United Nations

On the eve of International Women's Day, Hillary Clinton told an audience at the U.N. that gender equality is "the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” and said that "no country in the world, including my own, has achieved full participation”

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Hillary Clinton said before the United Nations on Friday that women’s rights should be a central part of a global development agenda, as women and women’s groups around the world prepared to demonstrate for gender equality as part of International Women’s Day.

Equality for women “remains the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” Clinton said in her headline speech at the UN commemoration of International Women’s Day, which is Saturday. “No country in the world, including my own, has achieved full participation.”

The presumptive Democratic nominee for president in 2016 said that “women and girls and the cause of gender equality” must be the core of the UN’s agenda to promote development around the world, reports the New York Daily News. Last month, Clinton told the UN that “still too many women face far too much discrimination and violence.”

Clinton’s remarks echoed the call of thousands around the world who marched for female equality. In Sydney, Australia, over a thousand women marched Saturday to mark International Women’s day and oppose a proposed law that would greatly restrict abortion rights, making it a criminal offense to destroy or harm a fetus after it reaches 20 weeks, reports the Guardian.

Women streamed into London from across the United Kingdom to commemorate women’s struggles worldwide and protest the UK’s record on gender equality. There were also marches in countries as disparate as Thailand, Pakistan, Kosovo, and France.

Even the Google doodle came out in support of the day, featuring cameos of women around the world, most of them unknown, saying “Happy International Women’s Day” in dozens of languages. It was a powerful reminder of the unsung women around the world, a message that millions of people Saturday will be hard-pressed to ignore.

TIME

A Timeline of the Crisis in Crimea

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Russia and Ukraine share a long and interconnected history, shaped by a common Slavic culture and the ambitions of Moscow’s imperial rulers. The current crisis in Crimea is rooted in that history, but represent the latest escalation in a series of changes that began with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

As the situation continues to unfold over the coming days and weeks, Russians and Ukrainians will confront hard choices about how far to go in challenging one another and how much suffering each nation can endure.

TIME

Worst Feared for 239 People Aboard Missing Malaysian Airlines Flight

A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries at the Beijing Capital International Airport
A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 at the Beijing Capital International Airport, March 8, 2014. Kim Kyung Hoon—Reuters

Vietnamese authorities found a 12-mile long oil slick in the Gulf of Thailand Saturday morning, the first sign that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 may have crashed. The plane, which disappeared en route to Beijing, had 239 passengers on board

Updated: 8:20 a.m. EST on Saturday

All morning, a line of red text topped the international arrivals board at Beijing’s Capital International Airport. Flight MH370, from Kuala Lumpur, STA 6:30. Delayed. Curious bystanders, journalists, and police officers, gathered below the sign, waiting for word. None came. Then, just after 13:00, the red line disappeared without a trace.

Little hope remains for the 239 people aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. The Boeing 777-200 lost contact over the South China Sea early Saturday morning en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. A 12-mile long oil slick has been discovered in the Gulf of Thailand between Vietnam and Malaysian, which Vietnamese authorities suspect is a crashed Boeing aircraft. It is the first sign that the plane was unable to make a safe landing and went down in the ocean.

“I’m very, very worried now,” Zhai Le, who was meeting friends off the plane before setting off on holiday, told gathered reporters.

The red eye took off at 12:41 a.m., local time, scheduled to arrive at 6:30 a.m. It did not. Malaysia airlines later confirmed that contact with air traffic control was lost at 2:40 a.m. Aboard the flight, a total of 239 passengers and crew, of 14 nationalities. There were 153 Chinese nationals, 38 Malaysians, 7 Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, four French, four Americans, among other passengers. A dozen crew and two infants are among the missing. The flight was a codeshare with China Southern.

Fuad Sharuji, Malaysian Airlines’ vice president of operations control, told CNN that the aircraft was flying at an altitude of 35,000ft (10,700m) and no problems had been reported from the cockpit.

“The fact that there was no distress signal is very disturbing,” Ross Aimer, an aviation consultant, told Al-Jazeera. “It’s almost unprecedented.”

Ships and helicopters from nations closest to the flight path were dispatched to scour a large expanse of ocean for signs of any wreckage. But as darkness fell on Saturday evening, search and rescue teams still had not located any crash site.

“The aircraft had not been at altitude long and that strikes me as very, very odd,” aviation expert Captain J.F. Joseph, who has 44 years flying of experience, tells TIME. “It’s too early to say if there was a bomb or terrorist activity, but it lost contact just as it began to level off at 35,000 ft. It would give some indication that what occurred was catastrophic or somewhat instantaneous.”

The sudden communications blackout drew parallels with the Air France disaster of in June 2009, which fell out of the sky while flying from Rio de Janiero in Brazil to Paris, claiming the lives of all 228 people on board.

“Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew. Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support,” Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members.”

The plane’s pilot, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, had been with the airline since 1981. The weather along the route was reportedly good.

A statement posted on the official Vietnamese government website said the flight disappeared in “Ca Mau province airspace before it had entered contact with Ho Chi Minh City air traffic control.” News media reported Vietnamese authorities saying it had crashed in the Gulf of Thailand in the waters between Malaysia’s northeastern coast and Ca Mau, Vietnam’s southernmost province. Malaysian officials said they had received no confirmation of what had happened to the plane.

All countries in the vicinity of the flight path were performing a “communications and radio search,” said John Andrews, deputy chief of the Philippines civil aviation agency, reports AP.

Authorities at Beijing airport provided buses for relatives to go to a hotel about 10 miles away to await further briefings. But as the waiting continued tensions became heated, and a cameraman was reportedly punched by a distraught relative. Others complained about the lack of information. “There’s no one from the company here, we can’t find a single person. They’ve just shut us in this room and told us to wait,” said one middle-aged man who declined to be named, according to Reuters.

Hamid Ramlan, a 56-year-old policeman living in Kuala Lumpur, told AFP that his daughter and son in law were on the flight. “My wife is crying. Everyone is sad. My house has become a place of mourning,” he said. “This is Allah’s will. We have to accept it.”

Boeing told CNBC that it was monitoring the situation. More than 1,000 777 aircraft have been put into service since 1995, with the only previous fatalities reported during the Asiana Airlines crash at San Francisco International Airport in July. State-owned Malaysia Airlines has 15 Boeing 777-200 jets in its fleet of around 100 aircraft. —With reporting by Emily Rauhala/Beijing

TIME Malaysia

Flight With 239 People Goes Missing

Malaysia Airlines Unveils New Aircraft Livery
A Malaysia Airlines aircraft at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Jan. 2013. Goh Seng Chong—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur and was supposed to land in Beijing, but communications went dark, the airlines said

Updated 10:35 PM ET

A Malaysia Airlines flight bound for Beijing lost contact with air traffic controllers early Saturday morning, prompting search and and rescue efforts to locate the plane.

Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 a.m. local time and was supposed to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m., but communications went dark at 2:40 a.m., the airlines said.

The plane carried 227 passengers and 12 crew members — among them 153 Chinese and 38 Malaysians, according to the airlines’ web site. Four of the passengers were listed as being from the United States.

“Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew,” said Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, the CEO of Malaysia Airlines in a statement. “Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support.” He also added: “Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members.”

TIME India

Dark Moment for Indian Free Speech After Prominent Journalist Gets Threatened

Siddharth Varadarajan
Siddharth Varadarajan, speaking at a literature festival in Janipur, India, Jan. 20 2012. Ramesh Sharma—India Today/Getty Images

A recent attack on an employee of journalist Siddharth Varadarajan, a critic of opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, highlights the proscription of free speech in the country

Late on Feb. 23, the caretaker of the South Delhi apartment occupied by Siddharth Varadarajan, a journalist, and Varadarajan’s wife, Nandini Sundar, a sociologist, was on his way back from nearby shops when he was accosted by a group of four men. They wanted to know if he worked for Varadarajan. When he answered in the affirmative, they began assaulting him, pulling him by his belt, kicking him in the stomach and punching him in the face. The men left the caretaker with a message: Tell your boss to watch what he says on television. They also mouthed vague threats connected to Sundar’s attempts to challenge alleged human rights abuses in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh. They did not identify themselves, nor, Varadarajan told TIME, did they indicate who sent them.

It’s impossible, from what we know, to assign blame. India is weeks away from national polls and accounts of the evening assault outside Varadarajan’s apartment have highlighted his reputation as a critic of Narendra Modi, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prime Ministerial candidate and self-described Hindu nationalist. Since 2001, Modi has been the Chief Minister of the western Indian state of Gujarat, where rioting along religious lines in 2002 led to the death of least 1,000 people, most of them Muslims. Varadarajan has written about the riots at length. He has been critical of Modi. But he has also been critical of the BJP’s chief political foe, the Congress.

Whatever the affiliations of the caretaker’s assailants, the events of Feb. 23 feel different from the assault on Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus: An Alternative History—withdrawn by Penguin India in the face of a lawsuit by a small Hindu outfit—or the numerous other attacks on free expression in India in recent times. The physical violence—and the implied threat of more to come if Varadarajan doesn’t change his tune (though to what exactly was not made clear)—seems to mark out this particular attempt to pummel free speech. But here’s the truly depressing part: they share the same, illiberal context.

Consider, for instance, the choices facing the electorate as India gears up for what will be the largest democratic ballot in human history. If, as opinion polls suggest, Modi were to become Prime Minister, liberals in the country fear that voices that deviate from the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist hymn sheet might be silenced. And it true’s that, during his tenure in Gujarat, state authorities banned at least two books and one play. Among them was Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India, Joseph Lelyveld’s book on the father of the nation, banned, it’s widely thought, because of reports suggesting that it portrayed Gandhi as bisexual. (The author insisted otherwise.) “The abnormal analysis about Mahatma Gandhi made by Joseph Lelyveld has hurt the feelings of not only Gujaratis but of everyone in India who possess modesty and wisdom,” Modi wrote on his blog in 2011, insisting that “our anger and rebuke are natural.” The book hadn’t even been released in India the time.

But let’s say the pre-election surveys have it wrong; that the BJP isn’t in the ascendant; and that, come polling day, the incumbent Congress-led coalition isn’t booted out of office. Were this to happen, the Congress would likely name Rahul Gandhi—the son, grandson and great-grandson of former Prime Ministers—as the nation’s chief executive. In a recent speech, he said his party wasn’t in the business of “subverting democratic institutions.” No: it sought solutions to the nation’s problems via “peaceful, democratic and constitutional means.” A banner that popped up when you clicked through to the party’s website earlier this month pushed a related message: “Don’t let others threaten our freedom of speech and individual liberty. Vote Congress.” Which sounds encouraging, until you consider the historical evidence.

The proscription of free speech has a depressingly long history in independent India but perhaps the best-known instance was the decision in 1988 by India’s Finance Ministry to ban The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. Fearful of offending the country’s Muslims, the government of Rahul’s father, Rajiv Gandhi, moved against the book well before Iran’s theocratic leadership bared its fangs—and 25 years on, The Satanic Verses is still not legally available in India. More recently, in 2010, lawyers for Rahul’s mother and the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi, threatened legal action over a Spanish author’s fictionalized account of her life. And in January, a defamation case filed by a former Civil Aviation Minister in the Congress-led government resulted in a settlement that saw Bloomsbury India pull copies of a book about the country’s struggling state-owned airline.

There are other examples, involving other political parties, other states and private individuals. They don’t always agree; in fact, they’re often strident in their opposition to one another’s views. But, sadly, they seem united in their belief that the way to deal with differing, critical or otherwise uncomfortable views is by attempting to muzzle those who have the temerity to voice them.

TIME Israel

Israeli Army Sees Rise in Christian Arab Recruits

Israeli Defense Forces soldiers train urban warfare
Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers are seen during warfare training in Israel's northern El Yakim base, Feb. 27, 2014. Abir Sultan—EPA

The past year has seen a dramatic increase in Arab Christians enlisting in the Israeli army, doubling the number of each of the preceding three years — a sign, say some, of splintering loyalties among Israel's Palestinian population

Jewish Israelis are compelled to make themselves available to Israel’s military, but the obligation has never been applied to the 20 percent of Israeli citizens who identify as Palestinian, and are sometimes called Israeli Arabs. As descendants of the people that Jewish armies fought and defeated to create the state of Israel in 1948–but, who, unlike the 700,000 who fled or were forced out of their homes, were permitted to stay—young Palestinians living Israel were never expected to carry arms to defend it.

Yet a few do. Last year 100 Arab Israelis joined the Israel Defense Forces, double the number of each of the preceding three years. All were Christians, “a minority within a minority,” notes Gabriel Naddaf, the Greek Orthodox priest who is promoting enlistment, and with it a controversial separate identity for the 160,000 Orthodox and Catholics among the 1.7 million Israeli citizens who regard themselves as Palestinian.

Many Israelis, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, welcome the move, proudly displaying Arab Christian recruits as an indicator of the country’s commitment to a certain sort of pluralism, even as it presses negotiators for the Palestinians who live beyond Israel’s immediate borders to recognize Israel as “a Jewish state.”

Palestinian leaders regard IDF recruitment–as well as a Knesset vote last month designating a seat for Christians on an employment commission—as a cynical, divide-and-rule tactic intended to splinter the solidarity of a national liberation movement conceived, in the 1960s, around a newly emerged Palestinian identity. “It’s an expression of the way the Israeli system thinks and works,” says Hanan Ashrawi, a senior PLO official: “Dividing people, defining them by religion, trying to discriminate.”

Father Naddaf says that’s fine by him. In Israel, he says, military service is a key to success in life and Christians want to do better. “Enough of the lies regarding Christian identity and the nationality of the Christians in Israel,” Naddaf tells TIME. “We want to integrate into Israeli society. We want to contribute to the society we live in. And we want to represent ourselves. No one else will.”

The priest said Christians have learned from the examples of other non-Jews who advanced in Israeli society by serving in the military: the Druze and Bedouin, Arabic-speaking residents of Israel who have never identified as Palestinian. In 2012, along with two other Orthodox priests, Naddaf established the “Israeli-Christian Recruitment Forum” to encourage army enlistment. The forum has its own flag—a sword in the shape of a cross behind the Israel’s own Star of David standard—but the two other priests are gone. “Unfortunately they withdrew because of the threats,” says Naddaf, who has received so many threats to his own life that Israel’s internal security service rates him at level four on a scale of one to six, he says.

Which bring us to another driver of the nascent movement: The dire situation facing Christian populations from Iraq to Egypt to Syria. “We are caught between the hammer and anvil,” says Ezak Hallak, a Nazareth lawyer for the Forum, quoting a Hebrew expression. “In our hearts, we support Israel, the Jews. I think the Christians in the Middle East are getting slaughtered because we are not speaking what is in our hearts. Stand up for yourself. There is no other way to face the craziness of the radical Arabs. No other way in the world.”

How controversial is an Arab joining the IDF? After enlisting, Naddaf’s son, Jabron, was attacked on the street by a man shouting “traitor”—a word even his friends would have used just two years ago, Jabron Naddaf says, “but it’s not the case any more.” And indeed, the idea of serving in the IDF brought no strong reactions from a half dozen people—all Muslims—interviewed on the street in downtown Nazareth, the town where, according to lore, Christ came of age.

“Whoever wants to go in the army, he can go,” says Fareed Irshid, 49, a driver at Mary’s Well Taxi stand, adjacent to the site where tradition says the Angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin. “I can’t come out against the laws of the state if I want to live here.”

“Even I said to my son: ‘If you want to you can go to the army,” says Issam Munasra, 51. “For the person, it gives you a lot if you go into the army. It builds you. And also you don’t feel you owe the state. You’ve given to them.

“You have to do something for the country,” Munasra says.”I’m a taxi driver for 30 years. Let’s say my son serves in the army, he can do better.”

The lone dissent was heard from Amir Sharif, 18, in the passenger seat of a sleek black sedan driven by his cousin. “It’s not our state,” he says. “We don’t get the rights that Jews are getting. If we were, then we should consider it.”

And yet, a few months ago, he considered it himself. “I thought about it a little bit,” Sharif says, and adds: “But you know, if you’re an Arab in the army, they send you to the frontline first.” He smiles. A little joke. “I don’t hate Israel,” he says.

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