Corporal Eleanor Joseph had a dream – to be the first female Arab combat soldier.
Eleanor was born in the village of Gush Halav (in Arabic Jesh) in 1991, to an Arab Christian family, later the Joseph family moved to the city of Haifa and settled in an Arab neighborhood. Eleanor’s father was also a combat warrior in the Israeli paratroopers’ brigade. During her high-school years, Joseph used to volunteer at the Rambam hospital in Haifa.
Unlike the Druze and the Circassians, who serve in the IDF as compulsory enlistment soldiers, the Arab society, both Muslim and Christians, can enlist to the military as volunteers only. While the phenomenon of male Arab soldiers is widely acceptable, especially for Bedouin Muslims and Christians, the enlistment of female Arab soldiers is rare and for a very long time was a taboo in this society.
Eleanor had a dream – to be the first female Arab combat soldier. She wasn’t supposed to be in the front lines, but she insisted and ended up finishing her basic training with excellence and being recognized as one of the top in her unit.
After finishing the medic course, Eleanor moved to serve in the military police base as a medic. The base was around the Arab town of Kalkiliya in Western Samaria. The Arab people of Samaria do not speak Hebrew very well and the Arabic speaking soldiers usually serve as translators for the Israeli forces and the Arab population – Eleanor was one of those soldiers.
Later she moved to serve in the combat battalion of Caracal, after finishing six months of massive combat training. The Caracal battalion has both male and female warriors, and the battalion’s mission is to assign patrols over the Israeli-Egyptian border.
Eleanor Joseph is a true Israeli Patriot, she sings the Israeli national anthem Hatikvah, and feels proud and excited to see the Israeli flag fluttering in the wind – “it’s always windy during military ceremonies,” she says with a smile.
“I don’t have any other country” is a line from the well known Israeli song written by one of the most esteemed poets, Ehud Manor and is also Eleanor’s motto. This line was written for her by her commander and she keeps it in her pocketbook – it’s always with her. Eleanor doesn’t have any other country; she is a true and a proud Arab Christian Israeli.