By Rodney Mazinter
In their obviously ill-judged comments about Israel, critics choose to waste their time at checkpoints on the borders gazing at the brave boys and girls making up the Israeli Defence Force, whose sole job is to protect Jews living in Samaria and Judea who just go about getting on with their jobs, and to provide a strong deterrent that ensures that murderous individuals do not infiltrate into Israel.
When I visit Israel, I look in another direction:
– I see schools and youth villages where at-risk children are given the care that will give them hope and a future in life
– I see Ethiopian children given the means to make that leap across centuries and cultures and find their own excellence.
– I see the Rambam Hospital in Haifa where, when Israel’s enemies decide to destroy lives, they continue saving them
– I see The Bar-Ilan Medical Centre in Safed set up to bring the finest possible medical treatment to Muslims, Christians, and Druze villages throughout the country.
– I see the Laniado Hospital in the Netanya whose founder, a holocaust survivor who lost his wife and 11 children in the Nazi camps of death and there made an oath that if he should ever survive, he would dedicate the rest of his life to saving life
– I see the Wolfson Medical Centre where free, quality, paediatric cardiac care is provided for children from developing countries who suffer from heart disease, and whose dedicated doctors and surgeons have created a programme to create centres of competence in those countries so that they can carry out life-saving surgeries on the spot
– I see caring for every life and notice that every life is sacred, where mind-blowing Israeli technology, and eye-opening developments in medical science are applied to the common good.
That and much more is what I see in Israel, the will to life with its hospitals, schools, freedoms, and rights.
– I see, Christians, Hindus, Sheiks, Muslims, and from my experience, Israel is a source of inspiration to everyone because it tells every single person on the face of the earth that a nation doesn’t have to be large to be great. A nation doesn’t have to be rich in natural resources to prosper.
Israel has been surrounded by enemies and yet it has shown that even so, you can still be a democracy, still have a free press, still have an independent judiciary. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where a Palestinian can stand up on national television and criticise the government and the next day still be a free human being.
Israel’s demonisers would have us believe that they have the best interests of the Palestinians at heart. Quite the contrary – their decisions and actions are far more likely to bring war, poverty and hunger to the West Bank and Gaza.
The only conclusion any reasonable person can come to is that only prosperity, with robust industrial, commercial and even cultural relationships between the Palestinians and Israelis can lead to mutual acceptance and a durable peace. This can be achieved if only the BDS activists would acknowledge the true interests of the Palestinians above their own narrow, political ambitions and shallow priorities, and the Palestinians would recognise Israel’s right to exist.
Some twenty years ago, Palestinian businessmen and workers from the West Bank and Gaza entered Israel without much interference. Security over the years increased commensurate with the increase in attacks against civilians. Approximately 146,000 Palestinians working in Israel at the time accounted for about 20% of Palestinian GDP.
A very successful industrial zone was created at Erez, employing about 5,000 workers in some 200 businesses half of which were Palestinian-owned. This was part of a larger Gaza Industrial Estate, scheduled to provide up to 50,000 jobs. In addition, a joint industrial zone was planned south of Tulkarm intended to provide jobs for more than 5,000 Palestinians. Additional areas were planned for Jenin and the Kerem Shalom area near Rafah in Gaza.
And then came the politicians and BDS for whom such developments meant nothing. They are the true destroyers of peace, jobs, families, development and prosperity.
Israel has much to offer the world. The chairman of the South African Zionist Federation in the Cape, Rowan Polovin recently returned from the 2019 “Our Crowd” Global Investment Summit in Israel where the technological advances were on display to 18,000 delegates from 182 counties who reveled in what 500 vendors had on show and business to the tune of one billion dollars was transacted.
“This makes the destructive tactics of BDS seem irrelevant” said Polovin.
Rather than follow the “destructive” path of boycotts and diplomatic downgrades, why not in the interests of South Africa benefit from Israel’s advances in medicine and the sciences and capitalize on lucrative business opportunities.
Surely this is the better way where all will benefit!
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About the author
Rodney Mazinter, a Cape Town-based businessman, writer, poet and author, has held many leadership positions within a wide range of Jewish/South African, sporting, educational, service and communal bodies, and currently serves as vice-chairman of the South African Zionist Federation in the Western Cape