Tag Archives: Arabs

Is Israel A Jewish State Or A Multicultural One?

This is not the most significant story of the day. It is about an incident in New York when two Israel citizens were headed home after a business trip. They went through the security check without any problem, but once in the boarding area they were approached by an El Al security guard and told to remain in her view. They told her to quit pestering them and one went to the rest room. This provoked anger on the part of other security agents who demanded apologies for speaking curtly to the female agent. Oh, the names of the two Israel citizens were Abd al-Wahab and Abd al-Aziz. A Haifa court ruled in favor of the two Israelis. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu constantly insists that Arab nations must recognize his nation as a “Jewish state.” I guess being Muslim in a “Jewish state” makes one –patriotic?

As Mr. al-Wahab noted: “I was crying over the humiliation I was put through despite being a law-abiding citizen all my life.” When will Jewish Israelis grasp that humiliating Palestinians and fellow Israelis is not the road to peace?

Who “Won” War In Gaza?–The Dead?

Israeli newspapers say, “we’ve achieved what we wanted” while Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, boasts about a great victory. One is reminded of the old cartoon in which the last two people left on Earth are brandishing weapons and boasting about defeating their enemies and “winning.” Israel, for the moment, has been able to reduce rocket attacks, and Hamas, for the moment, is able to boast they are still alive and kicking. The people of Gaza are back at restoring their facilities, and destroyed tunnels are being rebuilt along with the return of smugglers who will make use of them. Hamas believes it is engaged in a long struggle which, ironically is the same attitude held by the Israelis.

The major problem confronting peace in the Middle East is the view now being held by more and more Israelis and Palestinians that compromise is not part of the story of “victory.” Logic suggests if two nations will not budge, there is no compromise. If two nations refuse to accept a positive view of the future, the present will become the future.

The other day in The New York Times a letter writer exclaimed that George Bush was the “greatest friend Israel ever had.” Is Israel today in a safer and more secure position than it was in 2001? The only American president who ever brought together Arabs and Jews in a treaty of peace that has endured was Jimmy Carter, the one president most Israelis hate. No wonder there is no peace in the Middle East.

Israeli- Arab People Break Bread

In an unusual eating event, Israel and Arab leaders broke bread together at a dinner arranged by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Ban hosted a two day conference which focused on promoting global dialogue about religion, cultures and common values. The UN leader refused to discuss seating arrangements and made clear he was not arranging discussions, but hopefully spending time together in conversation might eventually result in future discussions between opposing groups. Ban hoped “their participation in the meetings and through this social-diplomatic gathering they will be able to promote better understanding.”

The idea for the conference came from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, which is somewhat strange given his nation does not afford religious freedom to all people living in the realm. Human Rights Watch urged participants to push King Abdullah to deal with his own nation as well as helping other countries of the world attain religious tolerance.

Mixed Reviews For Obama Among Arab Leaders

There was a mixed reaction among Arab leaders and the media to the recent Middle Eastern visit of Senator Barack Obama. He did meet with President Abbas and pledged to assume an active role in working for peace in the region, and he did please many Arab leaders by telling the Jerusalem Post that “aggressive settlement” construction most probably violated agreements made by Israel. Obama emphasized that Israel has to be more flexible and ready to compromise on certain issues like West Bank settlements. His view was in sharp contrast with that of Senator McCain who did not meet with Arab officials and played to the Jewish vote in American by ignoring Arab concerns.

Ambassador Hesham Youssef, of the Arab League, told the Cairo Daily News, “it gave us a opportunity to get to know him first hand, and leads us to hope that, unlike the current administration, Obama as president would dedicate more time to resolving the arab-Israel conflict and not just focus on Iraq.” However, Youssef Barghouti, of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was concerned Obama did not visit any Arab villages and spent more time with Israelis than with Arab officials.

There was genuine concern among many Arabs that Obama said Jerusalem would remain “the undivided capital of Israel” although he later modified that statement by saying Israel and Palestinians would have to resolve that issue. Most Arabs accepted Obama would be more favorable to Israel since he is engaged in a presidential race. Al Jazeera analyst, Marwan Bishara bluntly said: “His middle name might e Hussein, his father might be Muslim, but he is a staunch supporter of Israel that is his message.”

Israel Jews Seek Good Relations With Israel Arabs

Critics of Israel continually condemn its policies as evidence of a desire to oppress Arabs, but a recent poll reveals a deep seated undercurrent within Israel society for positive relations between Arab and Jewish citizens. A poll conducted by the Harvard School of Government shows that 77% os Israel Arabs would prefer living in Israel than any other country in the world. The poll indicates 73% of Jews and 94% of Arabs in Israel want a society “in which Arab and Jewish citizens have mutual respect and equal opportunities.” Those conducting the survey were surprised at the high level of cooperation even though it was done at the 60th anniversary of the birth of Israel which witnessed widespread Arab boycott of ceremonies. Several Arab Knesset members attributed the boycott attitude as stemming from discrimination against Arabs in Israel.

Professor Todd Pittinsky, who helped conduct the survey said there was strong feeling among most Israel Jews for the teaching of speaking Arabic in all schools in order to help create bonds of friendship. He also noted: ‘People on the ground are running community centrs that enable cultural exchanges, in bilingual schools like the Hand in Hand” where young Jewish and Arabic people are coming together and trying to create new relationships.

It is unfortunate that these positive signs are never discussed in the media.