I was born in the Druze village of Maghar. In elementary school, I realized that if I wanted to succeed in Israeli society, I needed to go to a Jewish school.
So I went to study at the Jerusalem High School for the Arts. That’s where I first came into contact with Jewish society, and began to understand its mentality. I decided to enlist in the IDF elite. I joined the Sayeret Matkal unit, and then I joined one of the elite infantry units (Egoz), in which I held several command positions.
During my military service, I realized I was on the right track. I was successful.
On the weekends, when I was off duty, I decided to start training young people entering the military from Druze villages. This proved to be very successful - many of the young recruits that I trained entered combat units and rose to become commanders.
I understood from early on that because the Druze villages have very talented young people who have high leadership skills, all they need is some help to connect them to Israeli society in order for them to achieve success as contributing and productive citizens.
An organization called Aharai (“After Me”) – which was originally founded with help from The Jewish Agency - heard about what I was doing. The organization works to develop young leaders, and encourage social involvement among teens and young adults who are at the crossroads of their lives. Their focus is the time before teens complete high school and enlisted IDF.
They recruited me to lead a track for Druze teens to help them develop leadership skills, and implement educational and social programs in the Druze community. We expanded these activities a few years ago with the help of Ofakim Leatid
At one point, a few years ago, we expanded this activity, with the help of a non-profit organization called Ofakim l’Atid, ("Future Horizons") that works to make progress for the Druze community in Israel.
Three years ago, after I saw the progress I was making, I decided to found the pre-military academy for members of both the Jewish and Druze communities in Israel. The organization is named in memory of Lieutenant Colonel Hussein Amar, the first Druze battalion commander in the Golani Brigade. The academy connects young Druze with Israeli society, and is located in the village of Julis in the western Galilee region.
Working with in cooperation with The Jewish Agency for Israel and several other organizations, the Academy is led by a cadre of educators and commanders of Jewish and Druze backgrounds. Our first cohort has 15 Druze and 15 Jews who are working together towards their induction into the IDF.
Making this possible took a lot of late nights and weekends, with the help of so many people including senior officers who volunteered to promote this important project.
Preparatory is sponsored by two elite units in the IDF – the Sayeret Matkal commando unit and the Egoz unit, along with other organizations that help young people learn about Israeli society.
At the same time, we are working to open a Druze Heritage Centre to help Israeli society to recognize the Druze community in Israel, and will also help the young Druze high school graduates, to recognize the Israeli Druze heritage, and to strengthen their Israeli Druze identity.
I can’t understate the importance of this pre-military academy, and its partnership with The Jewish Agency. I know this will advance the connection between the Druze community and Israeli society as a whole.
Ibrahim Safi, a native of Maghar, a village in Northern Israel, founded a pre-military academy for both Jews and Druze, which began operating in the Druze village of Julis in the Western Galilee in August 2016. It will be the first pre-military academy to integrate both Jewish and Druze participants.