The Israel Brief- 02-05 December 2019

 

The Israel Brief – 02 December 2019 – Labour Party faux pas. Netanyahu immunity. New neighbourhood in Hebron.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 03 December 2019 – IDF humanitarian aid to Albania. Irish FM visits Israel. US-Israel defense pact?

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 03 December 2019 – France votes anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism. 11EU countries stand with Israel at UN. Rivlin takes Gantz and Netanyahu to task.

 

The Arab Voice

Perspectives from two Arab journalists: the first on on the concern of the Lebanese economy imploding due to Hezbollah’s policy of “crazy adventurism” and confrontation, and the second on recognising that  time is now ripe to honour the late Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat’s for his pursuit of peace with Israel that was both risky and right.

 

HEZBOLLAH IS BRINGING DOWN LEBANON’S FINANCIAL SYSTEM

 By Tony Abi Najem

Nida Al-Watan, Lebanon, November 25

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was not joking when he threatened that if Iran was attacked, Hezbollah would be ready to set the entire region on fire in its defense. But now a new kind of war is being waged by Washington against Tehran: an economic and financial one revolving around sanctions and which has proven to be less effective than a traditional war. Since announcing its withdrawal from the [2015] nuclear deal, the Trump Administration has imposed successive economic sanctions on both Iran and Hezbollah.

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‘The People Are One’. Lebanese unite against the political elite with hundreds of thousands taking to the streets in October in large protests threatening the coalition government.

From the very first moment, Tehran realized that the battle would be unconventional, harsh and long, and that precautionary measures had to be taken, notably the reduction of Hezbollah’s reliance on Iranian money. This necessitated trying to secure alternative sources of funding for Nasrallah, and at this point, the game became clear to him as well. Just like he’s done so many times in the past, Nasrallah responded by doing what he does best: hide behind civilians. Hezbollah itself began hiding behind the people of Lebanon and their banks, financial institutions and economy. Hezbollah members of parliament took it upon themselves to obstruct any attempt to reform the economy.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah members upped their illegal smuggling of goods into the country while circumventing the formal banking system. It is for this reason that Hezbollah refuses to capitulate to the people’s demand to form a technocratic government that would protect the Lebanese national interest. Instead, it seeks to take the country and its economy hostage in the Iranian-American confrontation, even at the cost of a complete collapse of the Lebanese financial, banking and economic system!
Simply put, all Lebanese people pay the price for Hezbollah’s decision to engage in a confrontation with the United States from Lebanon in the service of Iran. This crazy adventurism is coming at the expense of the Lebanese people’s livelihoods, savings and financial stability.

Certainly, those who have declared their readiness to ignite the entire region, including Lebanon in defense of Iran will not hesitate to destroy Lebanon’s economy and financial system in the current financial war in an attempt to defend the mullah regime!

Tony Abi Najem

 

ANWAR SADAT’S HISTORIC VISIT TO ISRAEL

By Ibrahim Al-Bahrawi

Al-Arabiya, Saudi Arabia, November 23

Forty-two years ago, on the evening of November 20, 1977, Egyptian president Muhammad Anwar Al-Sadat stood at the Knesset podium to deliver a speech demonstrating his remarkable ability to eliminate Israeli resistance to peace and the restoration of Arab land occupied by Israel in the 1973 war. In my estimation, this unprecedented step could only have been reached by a self-confident fighter willing to make great sacrifices for his country and his nation.

Sadat’s bold personality was exactly that. It was the same vision and conviction that pushed him, during the 1940s, to resist the British occupation of Egypt – making him lose his career as an army officer. With his historic visit, Sadat was able to achieve a huge political gain by breaking many barriers that prevented the Israelis from responding to calls for peace and withdrawal from the occupied Arab land in the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights and West Bank. He also helped Israelis overcome their mistrust of outsiders, specifically their inherent fear of, and hostility to, Arab nations.
After all these years, I believe it’s our historical duty to recognize Sadat’s huge political accomplishments and to apologize for all those Arab leaders – in places like Iraq, Libya and Syria – who defamed him for his actions.

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Peace Of Mind. EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT Anwar Sadat (left) and prime minister Menachem Begin deep in conversation at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

These leaders waged a harsh campaign against Sadat and, in doing so, prevented other Arab nations from following in his footsteps and seizing the opportunity to liberate all the occupied territories through negotiations. Sadat’s speech ended the political stalemate imposed by the Israelis, with US support after the 1973 war, and shook the expansionist concepts that were implanted in the mind of Menachem Begin, founder of the extremist-minded Likud Party, who claimed in 1967 that “Sinai is an organic part of the Land of Israel.”

President Sadat was the veteran Arab fighter who successfully led the October military battle in 1973. But he was also unafraid to fight for peace by making risky political decisions that others criticized at the time. Now, through the perspective of history, we know he was right. It is time to give Sadat the respect this great leader deserves.

Ibrahim Al-Bahrawi

 

‘The Magnificent Nine’

Israel makes the cover of Time as 9  of its inventions feature on the Magazine’s  100 best inventions of 2019

By David E. Kaplan

Every year, TIME magazine highlights the Best Inventions that are making the world “better, smarter and even a bit more fun”. In choosing their 2019 list, TIME solicited nominations across a variety of categories from its editors and correspondents around the world, as well as through an online application process. Each contender on the list is evaluated based on key factors, including

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Cover Story. Nine Israeli inventions or innovations are among Time’s Top 100

– originality

– creativity

– influence

– ambition

– effectiveness

The result: 100 groundbreaking inventions that are changing the way we live, work, play and think about what’s possible. Amongst the Top 100 that appears in print in TIME’s December 2 – December 9 are nine Israeli-made creations.

Here are the nine Israeli innovations that appear in Time’s top 100:

Seeing Is Believing

I was first exposed to this invention over a year ago when I walked into my uncle’s sitting room in Rehovot, south of Tel Aviv and saw him reading. Reading! He is virtually blind but there he was, wearing his glasses reading the morning paper. Then I saw he had a device and soon leaned it was a  MyEye 2.0 by OrCam.

It was great, we could argue over politics!

The MyEye 2 is a lightweight smart camera that attaches to virtually any frame of a pair of glasses. Using AI technology, it instantly and discreetly reads printed and digital text aloud from any surface, recognizes faces, products, money notes and more, all in real time. The intuitive device is operated by using simple hand gestures and has more than 20 voice-activated commands. It is designed for all ages, can be used with any level of vision loss and does not require an internet connection.

The portable, finger-sized device can be discreetly clipped to eyeglasses or sunglasses to read out texts from books, newspapers, product labels, and restaurant menus and can even scan barcodes, identify faces and currency, and tell time even without a watch.

“This is the world’s most advanced artificial vision device for people who are blind, partially sighted and have reading difficulties,” OrCam Director of Media and Communications Rafi Fischer told NoCamels last year. The device is gesture-motivated, so the user only has to point to the piece of text to activate the device or hold their hand out to stop the audio of the reading.

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A Word In One’s Ear. No more for those with failing sight need to miss out on enjoining their favourite literature.

“Fitting all this power into such a small device is like “putting an elephant into a small closet,” OrCam co-founder Amnon Shashua told TIME. Shashua is also famously the co-founder of Israel’s Mobileye, which develops vision-based driver-assistance systems. Intel acquired Mobileye for $15.3 billion in 2017.

 

Offering CONCRETE Solutions

Man’s love of the ocean and building on its coast is all very well for man – not always for the ocean! The problem lies in the detrimental impact of eco-unfriendly concrete.

Step in an Israeli company ECONcrete – an environmental tech company founded in 2012 by marine ecologists Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel and Dr. Ido Sella. Listed in the “design” category of TIME’s list of 100 Best Inventions of 2019, ECONcrete develops sustainable concrete for constructing ecologically active infrastructures in coastal and marine environments as well as in urban landscapes.

The company uses “a technique known as bio­mimicry, relying on the shapes, textures and size of natural systems to dictate how the company builds its products,” so they blend in with their surroundings and are less intrusive to marine ecosystems.

Earlier in 2019, ECONcrete was listed by Fast Company on its “World’s Most Innovative Companies” of 2019. The company was also featured in an episode of the popular web series Nas Daily.

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Below The Surface. ECOncrete is proving that development and sustainability don’t have to be at odds.

With nearly half of the human population living along coastlines, coastal development, and increasing coastal urbanization  are inevitable. Concrete is the main construction material globally, accounting for over 70% of Coastal and Marine Infrastructure (CMI).  Nonetheless, it is a poor substrate for biological recruitment, and is considered toxic to many marine organisms, mainly due to its unique surface chemistry which impairs the settlement of various marine larvae.

Now, ECOncrete, with a suite of innovative, science-based solutions, is proving that development and sustainability don’t have to be at odds.

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“Pitch To Rich”. ECOncrete was honored to be the winner of the event hosted by Virgin Atlantic and Calcalist. ECOncrete’s CEO and Co-Founder, Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel (right) presented its innovation to Sir Richard Branson (3rd from right).

 

Bring To A Head

A world leading survey of health conditions across 195 countries found that, in every year from 1990 to 2016, migraine attacks remained the second-largest global contributor to years lived with disability. They come with a huge economic cost, too, causing an estimated 25 million sick days to be taken in the UK alone each year. But compared to their health and economic burden, migraines remain one of the world’s most under-funded diseases.

Step in an Israeli medical tech company Theranica that has developed a migraine-zapping wearable device Nerivio and featured in Time’s list in the “health care” category.

The device, worn on the upper arm, provides migraine treatment through neuromodulation therapy, altering nerve activity by way of targeted delivery of a stimulus. The treatment is like “a personalized pain-relief programme,” according to the Netanya-based company.

“We are honored to be recognized by TIME and thrilled to see Nerivio listed alongside inventions that are shaping the future,” said Alon Iron, CEO and co-founder of Theranica.

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Getting Ahead. Developed by med-tech firm Theranica, its device, “Nerivio” provides acute treatment of migraines. (Photo via Theranica’s website) Medical Devise Of The Year

“At Theranica, we believe that migraine solutions should be affordable and accessible. We are proud of the non-invasive, low side-effect and drug-free alternative that Nerivio offers and remain dedicated to bringing effective relief to individuals around the world living with migraine.”

 

Home Diagnosis

The “health care” category on the TIME list also featured the remote medical examination device TytoHome developed by Israeli tele-health company Tyto Care. A handheld examination device, TytoHome comes with attachments to examine the heart, lungs, skin, ears, throat and abdomen, as well as measure body temperature, to enable remote diagnosis of acute care situations like ear infections, sore throats, fever, cold and flu, allergies, and more.

The device allows users to perform these comprehensive medical exams and send the information to a primary care provider.

The device, at $299, was recently made available to purchase at over 300 Best Buy locations across the USA. It’s also available online.

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Easy Diagnosis At Home. An ear exam with a Tytocare TytoHome device.

“Tyto Care’s mission has always been to make high-quality healthcare accessible on-demand, from any location to as many people as possible,” Tyto Care CEO and co-founder Dedi Gilad, said in a statement. “We are honoured to be included on TIME’s Best Inventions list for 2019. This recognition signifies the ground-breaking impact TytoHome is having on people’s day-to-day lives and we are excited to continue to deliver the best virtual care experience to consumers across the globe.”

Gilad co-founded Tyto Care alongside Ofer Tzadik in 2012, after spending many days and nights in emergency care as a parent of young children.

As reported in NoCamels, “Dedi Gilad was a young father of two dealing with fevers, fussy eaters and his daughter’s chronic ear infections when he did what few exhausted parents of young children do – he launched a startup!”

Tytocare is a telehealth company bringing medical exams to the comfort of our homes. And like all good ideas, it was born out of necessity. Gilad was spending hours day and night at the emergency room with his daughter, getting exposed to germs in hospital waiting areas and losing countless hours of sleep, only to receive the same diagnosis every time.

 

Home Alone – no more!

Want a beer, ask Temi, an Israeli developed robot, billed as the world’s first intelligent, mobile, personal AI robot. Featured in Time’s list in the “home” category, the 3-foot-tall personal robot with a 10-inch touchscreen for a head is the creation of Israeli startup Robotemi.

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Mr. Robot. Temi Israel CEO Yossi Wolf with one of the company’s personal robots. (Photo: courtesy)

Retailing at for $1,999,Temi can answer questions, order groceries, play music and videos, make calls, control your smart home, follow you around your house (except up or down stairs), and call for medical assistance. Users can control Temi remotely from any location in the world via the app and command different actions.

Temi has won a number of prestigious awards over the past year, including 1st prize in the field of robots and drones at the Shanghai CES Asia 2019 Exhibition, a Gold Award in the Personal Robot category at the prestigious Edison 2019 Awards, and the best robot in CES Las Vegas according to Tom’s Guide and the International PC Magazine Award for Best of MWC 2018.

Founded in 2015, Robotemi is headquartered in New York City, has an R&D lab in Tel Aviv and a business and manufacturing location in Shenzen, China. Earlier this year, the company announced that world-renown Israeli mentalist Lior Suchard was joining as chief brand officer (CBO).

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Touchscreen Temi. A bedtime story with Temi. (Courtesy)

 

Out Of Thin Air

If Moses brought forth water for the People of Israel in the desert by striking a stone, today’s Israelites strike water from the air.

Instead of searching below for solutions, Watergen found it above – in our atmosphere – and devised a way to ‘tap’ into this unlimited resource.

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Tapping Into Air. Using the company’s GENius technology, the “Genny” is capable of producing between 25-30 liters (6.6-7.9 gallons) of water per day from thin air.

The Israeli company Watergen, which  hopes to improve the quality of life of billions who suffer from poor water sanitation or lack of accessibility to safe drinking water, developed a patented technology that makes drinking water “out of thin air”. It is its at-home appliance called the Genny that featured on the TIME magazine list in the “social good” category.

In the aftermath of the raging fires that wiped out much of Paradise, California, a truck pulled up to a group of residents and rescue workers, parched after a day of cleanup. The driver came out, pointed to a machine in the back and said that the device could pull water out of thin air. He flipped a spout and out came clean, drinkable H20.

“They literally walked around the truck and they kept on trying to figure out where this water is coming from, what magic are you guys doing?” recalled Yehuda Kaploun, the president of Watergen USA.

The device, which looks like a water cooler, is a generator capable of producing between 25-30 liters (6.6-7.9 gallons) of water per day using the company’s heat-exchange GENius technology. The generator first collects water vapour in the air and then cools the air at its dew point, after which the water goes through physical, chemical and biological treatment followed by a mineralization process to maintain its cleanliness, tastiness and healthy quality.

The Genny retails at an estimated $1,500, according to TIME. Watergen’s generators have been used in countries like India, South Africa, Vietnam, Sierra Leone, China, Uzbekistan, and the US.

 

Come Fly With Alice

While “These are the largest windows in a commercial aircraft,” noted one observer, that is not what won it its listing in the Time magazine list in the “sustainability” category.

In June 2019, Israeli aerospace company Eviation Aircraft debuted “Alice” – a prototype of the first all-electric commuter aircraft. Alice is a battery-powered nine-seater which Eviation hopes will help transform urban aerial travel through a “flying taxi” concept. CEO Omer Bar-Yohay has called it “Uber meets Tesla in the sky,” with commuters of the future travelling at a fraction of the costs of conventional jetliners ushering in a new era “of flying that is quieter, cleaner, and cost-effective.”

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Flight Of Fancy. Eviation’s exquisite looking Alice.

Regional trips will be “cheaper than a train ticket” and far more considerate for the environment. The idea of curbing carbon emissions by half by 2050 – an eco-friendly pledge by the aviation industry – is another reason many of the major airlines are exploring electric options.

Alice is “capable of flying with nine passengers at 240 knots and a range of up to 650 miles [1046.07 km],” says Bar-Yohay.

“It’s basically a huge battery with some plane painted on it,” Bar-Yohay told reporters.

“This plane looks like this not because we wanted to build a cool plane, but because it’s electric,” he said, “You build a craft around your propulsion system. Electric means we can have lightweight motors; it allows us to open up the design space.”

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News Was Electrifying. Eviation’s electric aircraft on display at the opening of the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France, June 16 2019. (REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol)

In 2018, the company was selected as the winner in the transportation category of Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards.

Alice is sure going places!

 

Hello, Meet ElliO

Making the “special mentions” category on the TIME’s list is ElliQ, is a robotic companion created by Israeli company Intuition Robotics.

Designed to help the elderly “stay engaged, independent and connected to family and friends,” the tabletop social robot mimics human movements and responds to voice, gaze, and touch. ElliQ offers tips and advice, responds to questions, engages throughout the day, makes appointments, reminds those in its care about medications and can suggest content to watch and set up chats with friends.

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Engaging Fellow. The small tabletop robot helps the elderly connect to the outside world and keep active and engaged. ElliQ can suggest content to watch, give reminders about appointments, and set up chats with friends, among other functions.

Useful for those who cannot easily operate a smartphone, ElliQ is meant to address the issues of isolation and loneliness among senior citizens by reading out messages, displaying photos, and answering video calls.

Founded in 2015 by Itai Mendelsohn, Dor Skuler, and Roy Amir, Intuition Robotics’ ElliQ was named the Best of Innovation Winner in the smart home category at CES 2018.

 

Giving Back

Also in TIME’s “special mentions” section was Israeli insurance tech company Lemonade with its “Giveback” charity component.

Lemonade’s concept was coming up with a fresh brand that through the use of technology rather than relying on brokers, it could break into the huge and rather staid insurance market.

Customers answer a set of simple questions through a chat with the company’s bot, “Maya,” and, in seconds, can get their home insured. It takes 90 seconds to get insured – says the company’s website  – and three minutes to get paid, if and when a claim is made.

Unlike traditional insurers, Lemonade takes a flat fee — one that would normally go to the insurance brokers — and sets aside the remaining funds for claims. In a good year, when there’s money left unclaimed, the company does not pocket the money but donates it to causes their customers choose.

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Dynamic Duo. The co-founders of Israeli insurance tech company Lemonade, Daniel Schreiber (left) and Shai Wininger. (Photo: Ben Kelmer)

Founded in 2015 by Israeli entrepreneurs Daniel Schreiber and Shai Wininger, the Lemonade Giveback’s mission is “to transform insurance from a necessary evil into a social good.” They have designed Lemonade to bring out the best in people, while giving society a push for the better.

When users sign up, they choose a charity or non-profit organization they care about, and once a year, Lemonade tallies up unclaimed money pooled from policyholders who chose that same cause and donates it to the organization.

Tens of thousands of members are supporting causes they care about, simply by getting a Lemonade insurance policy. As the Lemonade community grows, the social impact emerges stronger.

The philosophy of Lemonade’s  Schreiber may apply to all of Israel’s inventions for 2019. “Great digital brands,”  writes Schreiber, “transcend borders. Whether in Chicago, Paris, or Singapore, today’s consumers listen to music on Spotify, ride with Uber, and stay at Airbnb. Consumers are increasingly cosmopolitan, socially aware, and tech-native.”

Israeli inventors and entrepreneurs are in tune with this, hence their phenomenal global success.

We can look forward to a no less exciting 2020 for Israeli inventiveness!

The new Normal?

By Rolene Marks

There is barely a day that goes by without some iteration of antisemitism rearing its ugly head, somewhere around the world. In every guise you can image – the desecration of graves in Jewish cemeteries, shootings in synagogues, the alt-right, the ultra-left, campus activism, venomous slurs directed at children, rabbis beaten in the street, the new phenomenon of political antisemitism – you name it, this hatred has manifested.

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Antisemitism is at a record high and it seems that no corner of the globe is immune. The message seems to be clear – it is open season on attacking Jews – verbally and sometimes physically.

Antisemitism is often referred to as the “oldest hatred” and it metastasizes quickly and in various forms. This ancient hatred has the uncanny ability to adapt to changing times and political climates. It seems that in this age of global uncertainty; where identity politics is becoming more and more prevalent; if you have a divergent opinion you could be “cancelled”, Jews once again, are the proverbial canaries in the coalmine.

In parts of the world where it was taken for granted that the vile tentacles of antisemitism would not reach, this is no longer the reality. It used to be taken for granted that countries like the United States or Australia were immune to this hatred or that Germany and Poland had learnt from their history less than a century ago but sadly, this isn’t the case.

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Synagogue Again On The Hit List. Rescued congregants of the Jewish community and police forces near the scene of a shooting in Halle, Germany, in October 2019.(Jens Schlueter/Getty Images)

According to recent surveys conducted by organisations like the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) and the AJC (American Joint Committee) who conducted their research on growing antisemitism recently, they both reported an alarming rise in statistics.

The ADL findings reported that these countries had the highest percentages of antisemitism: Poland, South Africa (although the SA Jewish Board of Deputies disputes these findings), Ukraine, Hungary, Russia, Argentina, Spain, Brazil, Belgium and Austria.

Australia reported a 30% increase in anti-Semitic incidents over the last year that included verbal abuse, harassment, and intimidation. This is according to the country’s annual Report on Antisemitism in Australia.

The new Normal3.JPGThe United States has seen antisemitism spread like a plague across university campuses, Orthodox Jews harassed and beaten up in New York City, and violence has escalated to the point where the community has endured two deadly synagogue shootings and the site of members of the alt-right marching with their tiki torches chanting “Jews will not replace us”. Like Britain with controversy surrounding antisemitism in the Labour party and the reluctance or stubborn refusal of its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to tackle this scourge which leaves many of England’s Jews feeling politically stateless, the United States has seen the same phenomenon rears its ugly head in US politics. 2019 has been the year of the “Squad” – rookie congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and to a lesser account, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who has used their newly minted status and platforms like Twitter to excoriate the Jewish state. This has filtered out into the ultra-left and is evident on university campuses and in movements like Black Lives Matter and the Women’s March.

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Targeting Jews. Mourners visit the memorial outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 31, 2018. Eleven people were killed in a mass shooting just days earlier. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

The irony is that the two seemingly divergent left and right meet in the middle when it comes to opinions on Jews and the nation state of the Jewish people – Israel.

It is social media that is perhaps becoming the most alarming platform for hate. Mediums like Facebook and Twitter have created a space where like-minded haters can band together to create community. In this instance, these communities empower each other to prey upon their targets.

As an outspoken supporter of Israel, I have received my fair share of nasty messages and have summarily reported them to Twitter and Facebook. Apparently wishing me dead does not violate their “community standards”.  Pop superstar, Lady Gaga, once commented that social media was “the toilet of the internet” and she could not have been more right.

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“Enough”. Thousands of people have joined protests across France against a spate of anti-Semitic attacks.

Actor and comedian, Sasha Baron Cohen, famous for playing some of the most controversial and sometimes tasteless characters in his movies (albeit to prove a point) recently took Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg to task for among many things, not effectively regulating his platform. Cohen rightly stated that should platforms like Twitter and Facebook been around during Hitler’s time, the dictator and his murderous henchman would have used it to full effect to propagate hate. Cohen called these platforms “the greatest propaganda machines in history. “

He went on to take shots at Zuckerberg for allowing Holocaust deniers to go unregulated because of the “freedom of speech”.

“Freedom of speech is not freedom of reach,” Cohen asserted. “I think we could all agree that we should not be giving bigots and pedophiles a free platform to amplify their views and target their victims.”

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Sign Of The Times. A Holocaust denier holds a sign on the campus quad of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, September 10, 2019. (Courtesy AMCHA)

Social media is not the only battlefield for rising antisemitism. The battlefield has moved to the streets, the schools, the corridors of power, the graveyards, university campus, and the holy sanctuaries. It has become pervasive.

The only way to fight this scourge is to speak up. Stand Up – it is important to remember that we have a voice. Social media platforms used for propagating hate can also be used to educate against it. It is important that intolerance is not allowed an environment to flourish. Antisemitism gives a tailwind to those who wish to discriminate against any minority.  Martin Niemöller, a Lutheran pastor in his famous poem first they came said the following,

    First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—     because I was not a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—   because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—         because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

 Speak up. Do not let hatred go unchecked. Don’t let this become the new “normal”.

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Labour Of Hate. Demonstrators stage a protest against anti-Semitism in Britain’s Labour Party in April.

 

Bravo To Academic Freedom

South Africa’s Premier University – UCT-  Rejects Call To Boycott Israeli Academic Institutions

By David E. Kaplan

Common sense prevailed.

Deciding in its own best interest, the University of Cape Town (UCT) decisively rejected this November; the call to boycott Israeli academic institutions and how does the pro-Palestinian lobby in South Africa react?

They blame “wealthy donors” and “Zionists

With this predictable antisemitic response to a solid, sound and sensible campaign at preserving UCT’s academic stature as the premier university in Africa, is it not time for South Africans to ditch BDS and its cohorts who are undermining the future of South Africa and many of its esteemed institutions in pursuit of its narrow nefarious agenda?

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Advocating Boycott. South African BDS advocate Prof. Farid Esack is among those supporting the academic boycott call against Israel. (Photo: File)

This was born out by revelations on the dirty tricks employed by BDS against Jewish students in South Africa by Wendy Kahn, National Director of the SAJBOD. Warning in a 21 November article of the disastrous ramifications to UCT of a boycott of Israel, she reveals that “The BDS on campus have impersonated SAUJS students to fool people into thinking that they represent an official Jewish body.”

Thankfully, at the 11th hour – after three years of wrangling – disaster was averted  not so much for Israel academic intuitions that enjoy enriching collaborative partnerships with the world’s most prestigious universities; but more so for the reputation and sustainability of UCT. May the decision further herald a warning to the would-be-hijackers of South Africa’s future – “beat it”.

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Moment Of Decision. The anti-Israel lobby tried to isolate Israel, but UCT realised the danger of internationally isolating itself instead. Result  – the UCT senate members voted against the resolution. (Tracey Adams/African News Agency)

Most endearing and might prove enduring was how alumni from across the globe came out of the woodwork and energized for a common cause – to defeat the resolution that would have in the words again of Kahn, “trampled the bedrock values of academic freedom upon which every credible institution of higher learning is necessarily founded.”

Galvanized From Around The Globe

It is not too often, apart from the infrequent class reunions, alumni from around the world really connect with each other or their Alma Mater.

This was different.

The proposed resolution was a trigger that awakened generations of UCT students from homes across all the continents.

No sooner had the South African Zionist Federation and the SAJBOD appealed for alumni to petition against the proposed UCT academic boycott, former students, reminded of their activism against Apartheid, got into action signing petitions, encouraging others to do so, writing articles and sharing their open letters to the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Registrar, Senate and Governing Council.

One of the multitude of letters written is this one from a 1969 science student living in Israel.

As a proud graduate of UCT (1969 B.Sc. Geology), a diligent member of the UCT Students Representative Council (1963), a committed member of the UCT Academic Freedom Committee and a former leader in the UCT Students Jewish Association, it is with a deep sense of outrage, shame and disgust to know that my former alma mater is planning to implement an academic boycott of Israel.

I have lived, studied and worked in the State of Israel since 1970 and, while no country can objectively claim to be perfect, I know that this embattled nation to be a true light of democracy, tolerance and freedom to the hostile world around it. The conflict with the Palestinians is a sad reality and one can only hope that the leaders on both sides will find the boldness and resources to reach a political solution which will provide security, economic prosperity and hope for better times to both people.

However, I fail to understand what makes Israel the unique target of UCT’s animus and imprecations to the extent that an academic boycott is being seriously contemplated. Has the distorted incitement of the Palestine Solidarity Forum on the campus become so influential that UCT concedes in bending the knee and implementing this extreme and abhorrent act of boycotting the distinguished centers of Israeli academia?

Has the UCT leadership attained such a moral utopia that it can conclude that only Israel deserves to be punished with an academic boycott for its inability to resolve the two sided conflict with the Palestinians? That this isolated issue is the most ominous in a world of numerous wars, hostilities and enmities that have claimed untold casualties and refugees and caused devastation and ruin is  beyond belief?   

It appears to me that in recent times UCT has lost its moral mettle in determining what truly constitute academic issues; that it has become prone to acceding to the demands of political groups on the campus whose outlooks and policies are duplicitous and mendacious.

I have no doubt that should UCT decide to impose an academic boycott on Israel, it will be UCT that will be the loser!

This ineffectual and puerile act will diminish the reputation of one of Africa’s leading universities in the eyes of western academia – after all, caving in under pressure is not considered a valiant deed. Israeli universities and colleges will continue to produce potential Nobel Prize winners and leaders in science, technology, IT, agriculture, medicine, aero-space and you-name-it!

Unfortunately the government of South Africa has decided to reduce its diplomatic representation in Israel. To all practical purposes this does not affect Israel in the least.

It is with no pleasure that I can attribute this same remark to the dynamic academia of Israel, should UCT implement an academic boycott of Israel.

For what it is worth, my pride and esteem that I feel to my alma mater, will sadly dissolve.

In my student days, I was in the front ranks of those struggling for the independence and autonomy of UCT as an academic institution, whose portals were to be opened to all students based on academic ability, not on their colour. I never believed that this same university would now implement an academic boycott against a country that struggled against unbelievable odds in achieving its independence and creating edifices of learning which enjoy universal admiration.

I can only hope that rationality and spirit will infuse the declining vitality and strength of UCT’s leaders and that they will treat this attempt for imposing an academic boycott on a brave and successful country, with the contempt it deserves!

I respectfully request that this letter be circulated amongst UCT’s management, lecturers and students.

Your kind acknowledgement is thanked in advance.

Sincerely,

Lennie Lurie

Israel

 It was hard-hitting letters like these that won the day.

The word was out that UCT would find it impossible to defend itself from retaliatory moves that a boycott would likely produce.

As expressed by Prof. David Bernstein of the Scalia Law School at George Mason University:

Once you endorse an academic boycott yourself, you don’t have any standing when it comes to opposing people who then engage in a boycott of your institution.”

At the vote on Friday 25 November, 68% of the 363 members of the senate opposed the resolution that pro-boycott activists had been pushing since 2017.

“We thank the Senate for standing up to this campaign of hate and asserting the importance of academic freedom over narrow political agendas,” said Rowan Polovin, the National Chairman of the SAZF (South African Zionist Federation). “The academic boycott campaign against Israel was driven by the antisemitic BDS movement and loomed over the University for almost three years. Its goal was to single out and isolate the one and only Jewish state for unfair sanction and discrimination. The campaign consumed a disproportionate amount of airtime at the Academic Freedom Committee, Senate and Council at the expense of more relevant and important issues for UCT. Its repudiation sends a strong message that freedom of academic enquiry without limitation is essential for academic freedom to thrive. Academics, students and faculty at UCT are free to engage with Israeli academia, or that of any country they so choose, without restriction.”

Thankful that UCT can now move forward “with its reputation intact,” Polovin concluded by thanking “all the efforts of those who played a role in this pivotal fight for academic freedom at UCT.”

Director of Public Policy at the SAZF, Benji Shulman expressed that he believed that “this was an important win for the community and its allies. UCT’s repudiation of this resolution shows that South Africans are interested in peace in the Middle East and a positive future of South Africa. It is now time to push on forward and increase constructive engagement between South Africans and Israelis such as our new initiative to promote cooperation between UCT and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, whereby two UCT science students have been offered by the Weizmann Institute of Science, a 3-month research scholarship.  This will enrich the research capacity of the next generation of UCT scientists.”

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Sock It To Israel. The logo fist of the Palestine Solidarity Forum (PSF) at UCT. This ‘round’, they felt the counter punch from the alumni.

As expected, the Palestine Solidarity Forum (PSF) at UCT and BDS are furious. The former spewed “It is a clear indication of the persisting conservatism of UCT and the fact that UCT, and the vice-chancellor in particular, is beholden to its donors and the Zionist lobby,” while BDS spokesman, Bram Hanekom, said his campaign “would continue to call for South African academic institutions to cut ties with the apartheid Israeli state.”

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Bram The “Breeker”. BDS spokesman Bram Hanekom persists in breaking academic ties with Israel.

The majority of the UCT Senate view the future differently.

In rejecting the proposal to boycott Israeli academic institutions, the Senate also encouraged faculty “to establish positive academic links with Palestinian academic institutions and individuals, with financial and logistical assistance from the UCT.”

One bad resolution nixed, now its time to be resolute in pursuing constructive academic engagement for a better  South Africa, Israel and the Palestinian people.

That’s the way to go. Build bridges; not break them down.

 

*Feature Picture: A pro-Israel march in Cape Town in 2018. Photo: SAFI.

16 Days of Activism

Jewish Organisations assist in countering violence in South Africa against Women

By Bev Goldman

Gender Based Violence (GBV) is a profound human rights violation with major social and developmental impacts for survivors of violence, as well as their families, communities and society more broadly.

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It is disproportionately directed against women and girls and can be physical, sexual, emotional, financial or structural.  It can be perpetrated by intimate partners, parents, acquaintances and strangers irrespective of the victim’s race, social or economic status, age, culture, religion; it undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims; it leaves scars that the victims bear all the days of their lives; and it is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world.

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“Dark And Heavy Shadow Across The Land”. Crime statistics against women reads more like a horror film.

Victims suffer psychological trauma; they suffer behavioural and physical consequences; they lose confidence in themselves and trust in others; they often feel guilt at having ‘invited’ the abuse by their speech, their dress, their openness; they tend to blame themselves because in certain societies they are made to feel that way.

It is without doubt one of the scourges worldwide that is affecting society; and its prevalence in South Africa is horrifyingly common. According to a recently released report, GBV in South Africa “pervades the political, economic and social structures of society and is driven by strongly patriarchal social norms and complex and intersectional power inequalities, including those of gender, race, class and sexuality.”

And according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 12 in every 100 000 women are victims of femicide in South Africa each year – a figure which is nearly five times worse than the global average of 2.6.

One of the main reasons for this is the gendered power inequality rooted in patriarchy here. South Africa is a particularly patriarchal society which treats men as superior to women and denies women the right to protect their own bodies, meet their own basic needs or participate fully in society.  Men are therefore allowed to perpetrate violence against women with impunity; and as the culture of GBV takes root among younger men, more women and girl children are at risk of becoming victims.

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Influencing Change. Each year the ‘Sixteen Days of Activism’ campaign has provided a rallying point for the governments, NGOs, CBOs and other stakeholders in the region to mount events aimed at raising awareness, influencing behaviour change and securing high level political commitment to end gender violence.

The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign (16 Days Campaign) is a United Nations campaign which takes place annually from 25 November (International Day of No Violence against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day). Also happening during this time are World Aids Day (1st December) and the International Day for Persons with Disabilities (on 3 December annually).

The South African government places much importance on this scourge and is implementing the Emergency Response Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, which was announced by President Ramaphosa in September 2019.  The 16 Days Campaign forms the centre point of government’s comprehensive 365 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children; and at the end of the campaign on 10 December 2019, government will officially launch the 365 Days Behavioural Change Campaign.

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State Of Emergency. Protests during September 2019 in Durban. At an emergency sitting of parliament, President Ramaphosa said the figures for violence against women and children were similar to those of a country at war.

Shalom Bayit and the Co-ordinating Council of National Jewish Women’s Organisations (which comprises the Union of Jewish Women South Africa, WIZO South Africa and the United Sisterhood) are this year assisting the African Diaspora Forum’s Women’s League in its project dealing with the 16 Days of Activism.  The project will be reaching out to the most vulnerable women suffering under GBV, and children, primarily those in the townships in and around Johannesburg, as well as migrant and refugee women. The townships of Katlehong, Orange Farm, Diepsloot, Alexandra and Johannesburg CBD will be visited; clothing and food parcels will be distributed  to those affected, including the victims of the September 2019 horrendous xenophobic attacks; women will be given an opportunity to be assessed, counselled and empowered both socially and psychologically; and they will be taught how to deal with many of the causes of GBV, including marital issues, socialisation and self-identification. Empowering women is one of the strongest ways of countering GBV; and the need among South African women is overwhelming.

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Across the world, every woman as well as every girlchild has the right to live free of violence and abuse. If the 16 Days of Activism succeeds in empowering the hundreds of women who will be targeted in these townships, their lives will be changed for the better and they will be able to pass their knowledge onto their daughters and future generations, enabling them to break the cycle of this endemic evil.  

 

 

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The Israel Brief- 25-28 November 2019

 

The Israel Brief – 25 November 2019 – Netanyahu indicted. Israel goes red against gender based violence. Israel to Mars?

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 26 November 2019 – UK Muslim and Christian leaders support Chief Rabbi. Day of Rage. Secret negotiations?

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 27 November 2019 – Naphtali Bennett threatens terrorists. Rally for Netanyahu. Corbyn interview Trainwreck.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 28 November 2019 – Germany to ban Hizbollah. Bill at Knesset to outlaw UNRWA. Pompeo off to Morocco.

 

 

C’mon – Tell The Truth

A failure in professional journalism at Deutsche Welle or antisemitism?

By David E. Kaplan

There are only two Israeli ‘residents’ in the Gaza Strip  – and they are both mentally challenged and held hostage by Hamas which denies them Red Cross visitation; in violation of International law. So where did Germany’s state-owned public international news organisation, Deutsche Welle come up with reporting that over 600,000 Jewish settlers reside in Gaza?

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In the paper’s op-ed on November 16 2019, Dr. Rainer Hermann of the Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung newspaper  wrote:

  “The first is the situation in Gaza — an area where more than  600,000 Jewish settlers have built residences in what is internationally recognized as territory belonging to the Palestinian National Authority.”

How could a respected German Islamic scholar and journalist in an esteemed publication publish such outright lies? It took CAMARA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America)   to expose the untruth that:

 “There is not a single Israeli settler in the Gaza Strip. Israel withdrew all of its civilians and soldiers from that territory in 2005.”

Are we to believe that Dr. Herman – who since 2012 is employed in the political department of the Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung’s central editorial office in Frankfurt focusing on the Middle East and the Islamic world, and is the author of six books on the Arab world – did not know that there are no Israelis in the Gaza Strip besides the mentally challenged civilians held there as hostages by Hamas?

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Falsifier Of Facts. Dr. Rainer Hermann Head of the political section of the German Frankfurter Allgemeine

Are we further expected to believe that the journalist and Middle East scholar did not know that that there were only 8,500 settlers not over 600,000 in the Gaza Strip but they were all evacuated in 200514 YEARS AGO?

Back in 2004, an article in The Guardian reported that “Israel started demolishing evacuated homes in Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip today, as troops forcibly entered two synagogues at the centre of protests against Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan.

Cranes began pulling apart pre-fabricated buildings in the small settlement of Kerem Atzmona, the first homes to be taken down in Gaza’s main settlement bloc.

“It is not easy to do this. We hope to continue with the process of destroying structures. How long it will take depends on various factors, including the end of the evacuation,” Levi Golan, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, said.”

One of the most traumatic periods in Israel’s history when its settlers from the Gaza Strip were forcibly removed in an endeavor to achieve peace and which was extensively reported throughout the world, the editors of Deutsche Welle and its correspondent Dr. Rainer Hermann had conveniently forgotten?

Dr. Herman is either a totally inept journalist or has a clear agenda of besmirching the Jewish state with deliberate falsehoods.

Take your pick!

Deutsche Welle did because they corrected the “error” but not totally….

While the editors – following the complaint from CAMARA – amended the article by removing the false assertion that 600,000 settlers residing in the Gaza Strip, they failed, says CAMARA, to adhere to “journalistic correction standards”. CAMARA asserts that Deutsche Welle’s editors of failed to “append a note alerting readers to the change.” The anti-Israel position remained sans the lie about 600,000 Jewish settlers living in Gaza.

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Truth Be Told. Jewish children cry as a soldier forces them to evacuate their home in the Gaza Strip in 2005. Today, there are no Jewish residents living in Gaza – contrary to the article by Dr. Rainer Hermann in Deutsche Welle that there are “over 600,000 Jewish settlers”.(Flash90)

Deutsche Welle appears to have a bad track record on reportage on Israel.

In June, it blocked a prominent Indian journalist on Twitter because he criticized one of its articles that quoted an antisemitic Muslim politician in India without citing “the politicians crude anti-Jewish hatred.”

Vijeta Uniyal, who is widely considered one of the leading experts on Israeli-India relations, had told The Jerusalem Post at the time: “As an Indian journalist living in Germany, I regularly analyze German media coverage. I have repeatedly tweeted about the anti-Israel bias in Deutsche Welle’s coverage… I was appalled to see an Indian politician with a track record of making antisemitic remarks being quoted by the broadcaster as a representative of the Indian Muslims.”

Clearly, leopards do not change their spots and one has to be on the constant lookout for daily lies and distortions in the media about Israel.

As Matti Friedman writes in The Atlantic, “The Western press has become less an observer of this conflict  [Israel/Palestine] than an actor in it, a role with consequences for the millions of people trying to comprehend current events, including policymakers who depend on journalistic accounts to understand a region where they consistently seek, and fail, to productively intervene.”

The first casualty of conflict is “truth”.

Today it was Deutsche Welle, tomorrow  – take your pick!

Seven Things I’ve Learnt In Seven months

By Gabi Crouse

Arriving in the Holy land from South Africa in early April of 2019 was surreal – my long awaited dream come true. We were floating somewhere between holiday vibes, newbies and tourists for a while until the dust settled and slowly, we began the descend back down to earth.

To go into detail about the emotional rollercoaster from our arrival to this point is another article in itself – entitled “the all you could feel Aliya buffet”. There is great learning and hardship, to say the least and potential is forever being reached and stretched. The struggle, as they say, is real. But for some, myself included, humour is the metaphorical sugar to help the medicine go down. A policy to live by is when all else fails – laugh! On that note, I would like to share with you some key observations I have about my new life in the holy land.

  1. Every Israeli owns a cat. Not every Israeli is aware of such ownership, in fact, the likelihood of the  situation is that every cat owns an Israeli. These cats are so well fed by the begrudging Jewish mama (who complains all the way to put the bowl of leftovers out) that the odd mouse or rat strolls around on its back feet, chest out and inspects the would-be left over’s from the cats!

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    Looking to be PUR’ified. Time out at the Western Wall, one of Israel’s over two million cats, who enjoy public generosity and warm Israeli atmosphere.
  2. Not all Israelis working at kupot (check-out counters) are limited to only the Hebrew language.  Some of them do speak English but will only let you in on that bit of information after you’ve said something untoward whilst believing you’re safely hidden behind a language barrier.
  3. The Mazgan (Air conditioner) becomes a sacred part of your structure. The reason for this is that when the moment of its inevitable hum begins, all people (including children) thank the good Lord above, perhaps likened to an informal prayer of techiat hametim (resurrection of the dead).
  4. All roads, when traveling on foot are uphill. This is a phenomenon which, I recon, affects olim chadashim (new immigrants) in particular and can be taken metaphorically as well as literally. Meaning that if you walk uphill to a store, enter the store and then leave again, the very same store which was once at the top of the hill is now magically at the bottom of the hill and the walk home with all your purchased items is now uphill again. You have to live here to believe it.
  5. Your level of emuna (faith) is at its peak when traveling by bus. The very fact that we get on another bus, or a connecting bus after just having survived countless near death experiences is the testimonial of truth to my statement.

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    Ride To Revelations. Life in Israel is best revealed as a passenger on a bus.
  6. The Hebrew language is one big exception to the rule. Every time I think I finally have an idea of how all the tenses are used, out pops the exception to the rule. It is this very inhibiting reality which makes me think they keep changing it to keep me on my toes!

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    Language Of Love. Even if struggling with the Hebrew language, no difficulty in recognising the Ahava (Love) sculpture at the Jerusalem Israel Museum.

The last thing is something that is not easy to explain but I’ll try my best.

  1. Nothing is urgent but everything is urgent to Israelis. Meaning that there is casual approach to getting things done in Israel – everything takes time. Registering processes that could take one or two days drag on for two weeks. Everyone seems to be okay with this for the most part. But on the other hand, G-d help anyone who is slightly obstructed on the road which affects traffic flow – the line of cars instantly becomes a symphony of impatience as if every driver is racing against the clock to save the world.

I would like to add one more lesson which I think is the most valuable to any potential oleh. I have learnt to embrace whatever it is that comes your way and understanding the following:

We haven’t ‘made Aliyah’ – we make Aliyah. It is not something we did, it is something we do every day in all the challenges we face. But as long as we don’t mind walking up the hill all the time, we are good to go and G-d willing everything will be alright. 

 

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Gabi Crouse – Based in Israel, Gabi writes opinions in fields of politics, Judaism, life issues, current social observations aswell as creative fiction writing. Having contributed to educational set works and examinations, as well as interviews, Gabi will usually add in a splash of humour.

Israel And The Southern Coexistence

Exploring the complex relationship of Jews and Muslims in southern Israel

By Ziv Israeli

For many people around the world, Israel’s southern district is probably imagined as a combination of Arab villages mixed with Jewish settlements and towns in the middle of the desert where it constantly rains missiles.

Luckily, this harsh and unrealistic image that we often get from people that are depending on mainstream media mostly, has nothing to do with reality.

In this article I will try to explain some surprising facts about Israel’s southern area – a region that for over ten years has been exhausted by almost constant warfare; but is also surprisingly flourishing, developing and refusing to abandon its natural coexistence and hope for peace.

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Border Crossing. Crossing more than physical boundaries, Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip pray as they wait on the Israeli side of the Erez terminal to cross back into Gaza. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov, File)

So let’s start, shall we?

First, here are some basic facts:

  • Israel’s southern district is the largest of all six, spreading around 14,185 square kilometers (approx. 5,476 squared miles).
  • The district is populated with approximately 75% Jewish, 20% Muslims and 5% other religions.
  • The largest city is called Ashdod, but the district’s capital city is called Be’er Sheva (“the seventh well” by loose translation!)
  • Even though the town of Sderot is usually a news star because it is the closest city to the Gaza Strip and usually the first in the line of fire, it’s actually one of the smallest towns in Israel.
  • Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians work in Israel on a daily basis, and thousands of them come from the infamous area called the Gaza Strip.

Wait, what?

Gazans working in Israel?

Yes! You are reading it right.

Let’s try to explain this awkward fact – and understand what it means, from both sides.

Despite the fact that the Gaza Strip is being held hostage by Hamas and other terror groups committed to the destruction of Israel as part of their jihad against the Jewish state, there is another side to the story!

Hardly known and never appearing in the foreign media, Israel hands out permits allowing the entry of thousands of citizens from the Gaza Strip to provide them with work on a daily basis.

As reported in The Times Of Israel on November 1st, It appears “that Israel has expanded a program in which it had long provided hundreds of permits to business owners to travel to Israel and the West Bank for commerce. Palestinian officials say it is now providing some 5,000 so-called merchant permits and awarding them to Palestinians working as laborers in construction, agriculture and manufacturing.”

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New Israeli Tech, Old Bedouin Ways At Wadi Attir. A revolutionary sustainable agriculture, dairy-farming and tourism initiative is taking root in the Negev Bedouin community

This is positive news of improving relations for the benefit of all.

Sadly, before Hamas took over Gaza, there was a time when around 60% of Gaza’s work force was employed in Israel. Then came Hamas and with it –  executions, wars, unemployment and despondency. Today there are older brave voices from Gaza revealing the truth  – how people are missing the “good old days” of working in Israel. Peace, security, employment and trade with Israel has given way under Hamas to frustration and misery.

However, all this does not detract from  the coexistence of Jews with over 300,000 Muslims in Israel’s southern district.

Here are some lesser known facts:

  • Most of the Muslims in our southern district are Bedouin living a traditionally pastoral nomadic lifestyle.
  • Israel is investing huge sums of money any resources in opening doors and closing gaps for the Bedouin, including, but not limited to – funding education, health care, affirmative actions and ease of entry to higher education.
  • As a result, an ever-increasing number of Bedouin students are attending Israeli colleges and Be’er Sheva’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) – the only university in the south of the country.

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    Bedouin Education Conference. Bedouin students on January 3, 2018 at the Teach First Israel (TFI) conference at Ben-Gurion University’s Jusidman Science Center for Youth on TFI’s work with the Bedouin community in Israel. The conference brought together educators, civil society and government leaders to share knowledge about improving quality and access to education in Bedouin society at large.
  • In 2016, the Robert H. Arnow Center for Bedouin Studies and Development, dedicated a special student center serving Bedouin women students. It was the first of its kind, a social center and “warm home away from home” for Bedouin women students who study at the University.
  • Bedouin are employed in all type of professions and jobs from doctors, lawyers, pharmacists to working in education and the police force.
  • Another cool fact is a city named Rahat. With a population of approximately 70,000 – Rahat is the largest Bedouin city in the entire world!

With the city of Beersheva  in close proximity to Rahat, most Bedouin students from Rahat study at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, some also at Sapir Academic College in Sderot.

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Revelations In Rahat. Not only the largest in Israel, Rahat is the largest Bedouin city in the world.

And where in the entire western/eastern/Muslim world would you find such a city?

Only in Israel!

But what about the military?

Can you find Bedouin in the IDF and are they allowed to join?

Yes!

Although Bedouin are not obligated to join the IDF, many choose to join voluntarily!

And they’re a huge asset.

They’re some of the world’s best trackers, and an Israeli combat soldier will tell you that they trust them even if they were blindfolded.

Many soldiers have stories of military operations that would’ve gone completely wrong without their Bedouin commerades-in-arms.

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Education & Empowerment. A Bedouin student at Sapir College, Sderot, Israel, March 6, 2018. Although their number is still low in comparison to the general public, the number of Bedouin students enrolled in undergraduate programs in Israeli institutions has doubled over the last decade, according to data from the Council of Higher Education.

Wait, Muslims that are being integrated completely in Israel?

Isn’t Israel supposed to be an apartheid state…?

Well, now you know that the facts on the ground tell a different story.

But is it all sweets and roses besides for Hamas?

Unfortunately it is not.

Let’s look at a more complex example, shall we?

Take for example a small Palestinian town called Idna.

Just a few minutes’ drive from my hometown, called Qiryat Gat.

Many people from Idna have work permits, because they’re living on the other side of the Green Line border, which means that they are actually under the jurisdiction of the Palestinians.

As a result, many Palestinians are working with us every day – for years – in our area that contains mainly agricultural fields, farms and various types of factories.

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Turning Desert Into farming Land. Project Wadi Attir’s ecosystem restoration initiative is combatting desertification. (Photo: courtesy)

We know them well, and deep friendships have formed over the years.

There’s even a local hero in my town – a guy that works as a construction contractor from Idna inside Israel that became famous for pulling a woman out of a car after witnessing a car accident. There was an article about him in our local newspapers!

I know him and his sons personally.

Wait, what?

Palestinians working in Israel again?

Relationships?

I Bet you didn’t hear that on any mainstream news channel!

Although you should have.

You should probably be asking yourself:

“Why didn’t I?”

But that’s a different topic again.

So what happens to the coexistence when horrible incidents actually happen?

Beside barrages of missiles from Gaza that may indiscriminately kill everyone, that is.

Well, to be honest, it’s not easy.

It’s never easy, the feelings are heavy on both sides.

Let’s describe a real incident that actually happened – right outside my house.

One Friday night, my wife and I were watching Lord Of The Rings for the who knows how many times.

Suddenly I heard something that sounded like a woman crying.

I put on my shoes, told my wife that I’ll be right back and went outside.

I found two women – one in her 20’s and one in her 40’s, wearing jogging clothes, sitting and crying, holding their necks. They had been stabbed.

What would you do?

I ran back to my house, told my family to lock the doors, that there’s a terrorist around somewhere and went to assist the two victims, not knowing who’s the attacker and where he was. I just hoped that he wouldn’t return.

Since we’re still talking about Israel, in about five minutes the place was swarming with armed people.

Policemen, soldiers on vacation, other security forces – my quiet neighbourhood turned into a war zone in minutes.

And all because of one brainwashed young man from Idna.

Yes, Idna.

The same town we have trusted to send him in from, with a permit.

About 30 minutes later they captured him hiding in my neighbour’s yard.

Because that specific terrorist chose to surrender when the security forces found him and since Israel is a law abiding democracy, he was arrested.

Unfortunately, even in towns like Idna, extreme Jihad brainwashings by radical Muslims may affect people, usually the young ones.

But how did this incident influence the coexistence between the folks in Idna and in Israel?

Well, the first few days were hard, especially for the workers that came from Idna.

Israel did the right thing to allow them in despite of that incident.

But the feelings were difficult.

Most of them looked ashamed, the moment we started talking about it they’d start sounding apologetic, and that kept going for about 3-4 days.

That’s it.

Anyone surprised?

After all, most of the people on both sides don’t want or care about any wars.

Certainly not about a made up lie about Israel being an apartheid state or another lie – that all Muslims want a pointless Jihad.

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Star Material. Winners of the Desert Stars’ 10th grade social entrepreneurial challenge. Desert Stars is a not-for-profit organization developing a cross-tribal network of young Bedouin leaders in the Negev. (Photo: courtesy)

To sum up this tip of the iceberg article about the incredibly resilient coexistence in Israel’s southern area,

Let me ask you one thing:

Is anyone still surprised why our southern district, even after years of horrible terrorist attacks and barrages of missiles is refusing to lose hope in peace?

And why should we?

When the other side still has hope as well?

Missiles, Jihad, air raids, violent demonstrations and terror might be a part of our lives here – but it’s definitely not the only narrative in our area.

Every obstacle to our coexistence with our neighbors, as cruel as it may be, is only a milestone in our continuous striving for peace and normalization.

Israel will never lose the hope for peace,

And nothing will change that.

 

About the writer:

Ziv Israeli1.pngZiv Israeli is a family guy from Israel,

A proud Zionist with a passion for accurate journalism.