Posts Tagged With: Ma’ale adumim

Is Israel an Apartheid State?



What?  You were expecting a bit more, were you?  Why don’t we start with the definition of apartheid.

From Mirriam-Webster:

Apartheid:  racial segregation; specifically :  a former policy of segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in the Republic of South Africa

Lets assume for the moment, that the reference to South Africa is due to the fact that the term was coined in response to the affairs there, and that apartheid is not something specific to that region.  Apartheid describes, “racial segregation,” including, but I’m sure not limited to, “political and economic discrimination.”

This would suggest, that in an apartheid state, one racial entity would have total control, with the other or all others having no presence in politics, medical care, or economics.

Pushers of the “Israel is an apartheid state” credo often state as well, that Israel is participating in “ethnic cleansing,” and further that “Israel is the same as,” or similar to, “Nazi Germany,” in its relationship with the Arabs there.  Unfortunately for those who levy this argument, nothing could be further from the truth.

What are the facts?  Without a pro-Israel bias, a few of the unadulterated facts of the situation are this:

-Israel is a multi-racial state, in which equal rights is not only the law but is also the norm, in every facet of society.  Sure, individual racism occurs–as it does in all societies–but there is no stance condoning such acts in the government.

-There are Israeli-Arabs.  In fact, 20% of the Israeli population is Arab.

-Israeli-Arabs are present in the Supreme Court, Knesset (Parliament), University (as both students and professors), medical, commerce, and even in the IDF where–although their service is not mandatory–many serve with distinction.

Considering these facts, plus the numerous others, no logical comparison can continue to be found between an apartheid state and Israel.  And in order to conclude that Israel is like Nazi Germany, we would also have to see the round-up and wholesale slaughter of innocent arabs–which is impossible to see unless you have your eyes closed.

But what of the “occupied” territories of “The West Bank and Gaza?”

In 1947, after the arabs rejected the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine proposal of an independent arab state, and an independent jewish state, the region was gripped in civil war.  The Jews were able to turn the tide in their favor, and 250,000 arabs either fled, or were expelled from these territories.  250,000 would be a very significant number, if it weren’t for the fact that between 1922 and 1948 and estimated 300,000 arabs immigrated to these lands.  Why does this make it less significant?  The argument that is levied is that the jews must return the ancestral homeland to the refugees who fled the region during this time.  Considering that the fleeing of arabs was immediately preceded by the immigrating in higher numbers, it is not difficult to believe that they are not able to provide documentation for their ancestral ownership of these lands.

To complicate matters further, in 1948–immediately after Israeli statehood was declared–TransJordan, Syria, Egypt, and Iraq invaded Israel in a war of aggression.  When peace was reached between israel and her aggressors, TransJordan occupied and annexed the territories now known commonly as The West Bank.  Egypt occupied the Gaza strip.  To put it bluntly, the palestinian arabs have never had self-determination in these lands, and the implication that they were ever a sovereign state is simply misinformation.

In 1967, Israel was once again attacked by her neighbors, and once again was able to turn the tide in her favor.  By the time peace was reached between the parties, Israel had fought her way through the Gaza strip and the West Bank, and captured both Jerusalem and the Sinai Peninsula.  All of the territories that Israel’s opponents call “occupied territories,” are these lands that the state captured in defensive combat against multiple foes.  In an attempt to retain peace with the occupants of these areas, Israel has maintained a military presence there for the last 40 years, in exactly the same way that the U.S. military has retained a presence in every area it has fought.  And yes, those settlers that everybody hears about so much, they are Jews who are building neighborhoods in these territories, but they are building them on lands that are either purchased from arabs, or have no owner.

The next item of business that is often cited as “proof” of “Israeli apartheid,” is the building of the wall separating Israel from “The West Bank.”  The wall was begun in 2003, and the three year period following its beginning was marked by an 84% reduction in suicide attacks from the three years before, resulting in a 79% reduction in fatalities from such attacks.  The wall is inconvenient to many arabs who live on the Israeli side (in places, the wall places parts of the west bank on the Israeli side), but there is no denying that it has been a significant factor in the reduction of such heinous crimes.

I would like to talk about the Boycott Divestiture and Sanction (BDS) movement that is being urged on by so many celebrities, but it is already too late, so I will save that for another post.  I would also have liked to talk about the practice of apartheid in South Africa–where the term was coined–so that there could be an honest comparison, but that will likewise have to wait.

Most opponents of Israel simply repeat that which they’ve heard from people whose opinions they consider valid, even if these people know nothing about what it is they are talking about and are just riding the groundswell.  The next time that somebody tells you that Israel is an apartheid state, think of the jewish patients who receive care from the arab doctors, and the arab patients from jewish doctors; think about the tolerance within the Knesset even for radical arab members who openly call for the destruction of Israel; think about the arabs and jews who work together or adjacent to one another in business, or those who fight side by side in the IDF; or think about the restaurants, bathrooms, theaters, and swimming pools where arabs are welcome alongside jews.  Then think for yourself.  Don’t even be quick to formulate an opinion based upon this short treatise, but don’t condemn a nation you are unfamiliar with on the testimony of those who argue without facts.

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T-minus Two Months and Counting!

This morning I was sitting with my fourteen year-old son, and I had a revelation.  “Today is the 11th of December.  I’m leaving for Israel in exactly two months!  Holy crap!”  For years I have dreamed of going on a trip to Israel (or just about anywhere, as I’ve never been out of the country) but it just never seemed to be a possibility.  I live in East Tennessee, currently, and tickets from here are often in the $1100-$1400 range.  In addition to that, we have four kids!  All of us going just isn’t an option, as it would cost almost half of a year’s pay for the whole trip (once you consider food, lodging, et al), and I didn’t envision a scenario in which I would be able to go by myself.

Last year (2011), however, I made the decision to go back to school.  My wife had gone back already, and was in her second year of her associates of sciences program.  With the fact that we are low income, and have so many dependents, there is a lot of government money to help us out with tuition, so I figured now was the time!  I was sitting in orientation, and they began to talk about the study abroad program.  I wasn’t eligible, since I hadn’t completed enough hours of schooling yet (they pay for half the tuition, so they want your investment first, I guess), but my wife was eligible.  I called her, and said that it was something that she should do, to which she responded that she had thought about it but never thought it was a possibility because of the kids.  I reminded her that they are my kids as well, and she may never get another opportunity like this again.  To make a short story long, she went on the program, spent three weeks in Paris.  I stayed home with the kids–that is, until my mom flew out here from California and we all loaded up in the car to embark on a cross-country road trip.  With my wife having the opportunity to take this trip, we decided that it was fair that I could take a trip too.  Well, I decided, and she didn’t argue at least.  My wife doesn’t exactly get excited over a lot of things, so….

This last summer, I was keeping my eyes peeled for info on the best times to fly, best carriers, and best cities to fly out of, in terms of rates.  To my amazement, I found that DC was the cheapest airport to fly out of, and during November and February were the cheapest times of year.  It was now in the realm of possibility, being $400-$700 cheaper than flying out of our airport.  How to pay for the trip though?  I could use school money left over after classes were paid for, but I’d rather not deplete those funds so much.  I decided to start a GoFundMe fundraiser, and see if anyone would be interested in helping an “older” guy (34) pay for the trip that he is too old to get for free through the organization Taglit Birthright.  If you don’t know about Birthright, it is a not for profit organization that sends young jews (18-28) on two week trips to Israel to help build their jewish identities.  It is a really great program, but it is limited to those age groups, so I was ineligible.  If I engineered my own birthright trip though, I could get it done for a lot less, and be able to see things that I want to see–which may or may not be what Birthright would have me see.  In addition, I would be close to Italy, so a round trip ticket to Rome would be affordable.  By going to Italy, I could not only see historic sights and eat some great pizza, but, I could also journey to Gaeta, Italy, and search for my ancestors records while enjoying the very same streets they called home!

The GoFundMe project was a partial success, raising about 20% of the $2500 I figured the trip would cost.  More would be great–and if any of you would like to donate even $10, I would be most appreciative–but B’H/thank G-d it has been a success so far!  This brings me to the point I am at now.  I have purchased my tickets to Israel, I will be staying with a friend in Netzrat Illit for part of my time in Israel, possibly visiting a man and his family in Har Hevron, and am still working on people to stay with or places to rent in Tel Aviv, and Yerushalayim/Jerusalem.  I still need to procure my tickets from Tel Aviv to Rome, and arrangements there as well.  I’m not worried about any of it too much, I know that everything will work out fine and that G-d will provide the answers, but I do need to get off my keister and get some of this legwork done.  Two months will have gone by before I even know it!

Some of the things that I would like to do or places to see in Israel:

-Surf!  February is supposed to be a good time for surfing in Israel, and I can’t wait!

-My friend Ofer wants to take me to the Golan.  He says it is his favorite part of the country!

-Visit the Kinneret/Sea of Galilee.

-Visit the Dead Sea.

-Zichron Ya’akov, a cute seaside community.

-Tel Aviv.  I’ve heard that Tel Aviv is a lot like New York, just with more jews!  For many, this might not be a good thing, but I’m excited!

-Jerusalem.  Old city, new city, arab quarter, the Kotel (western/wailing wall), temple mount (if at all possible), the shuk (outdoor market), and anything/everthing else I can possibly take in!

-Hevron, the biblical territory of Caleb son of Y’funah (כלב בן יפנה)

-Masada, the hilltop outpost where  our ancestors fought off the Romans before ultimately killing themselves/each other so as not to be seized by Rome once the siege was complete.

-Visit Ma’ale Adumim, or one of the other settlements.

-Take thousands of photographs!

These are just the things that I can think of, off the top of my head that I would like to accomplish in Israel.  With G-d’s help, may I merit to achieve all of this and more within the tight span of two weeks!

Once again, if you would like to help out with some of the costs, I would be most appreciative.  I have set up a tier of rewards for those who are generous enough to assist me in this endeavor.

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