Haaretz continues its weird practice of leaving its most interesting stories offline, and I'm continuing to use footnotes.
Today (Oct. 29th 2008), section one, page 8: There is a rise of 66% in the number of Arab-Israeli high-school graduates who are volunteering to do a year or two of National Service. Their number this year (September-August, since these programs start after the end of the school-year) is at about 1,000, and the chief reason it isn't higher is that no-one allocated enough funds for additional positions. Probably because no-one foresaw the steep rise.
This service is the legal equivalent of military service; graduates enjoy the same financial advantages offered to veterans (support in university fees and mortgages, that sort of thing). Apparently a major motivation for these young men and women is therefore financial, but some of them are cited as wanting to contribute to their society, and reduce the hurdles on their way into mainstream Israel.
The Arab-Israeli politicians are vehemently against, obviously. What would happen to them if their potential voters felt more secure as Israelis, and voted according to issues, not ethnic identity? Gewald!! (However you say that in Arabic). Their position, however, should not be brushed away. The way this sort of thing works in Israeli parliamentary democracy is that funds are allocated to programs according to the pressure of sectoral politicians. The National Religious have oodles of programs with lots of money, because it's important to them that religious young women do national service rather than serve in the macho IDF. Left-wing politicians have only started directing funds to such programs in recent years, perhaps for pacifists. If the Arab MKs see such programs as a threat, it will take longer for their number to grow.
Such is the messiness of democracy.