We all have our problems

To the Editor;

A letter in the November 15th edition of The Capital that the writer is confused by the number of political parties in Israel and decrying the “History and Present Condition of Palestine/Israel” and leaves us with the impression that Palestinians in Israel languish in prisons, are continually exposed to violence, that they can’t vote etc etc... . (Luke 6:41 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?) Yes, things are not perfect in Israel……..or Canada, the US, or any country of the world. We all have our problems.

Entertain the thought of Jews living in Moslem countries enjoying the same rights and facts as I outline in this letter: Simply ”google” to verify. Imagine yourself in one of those countries – not a pretty picture.

According to Ishmael Khaldi, an Arab citizen of Israel and the nation’s first high-ranking Muslim in the Israeli foreign service, while Israeli society is far from perfect, minorities in Israel fare far better than any other country in the Middle East. He wrote: “I am a proud Israeli – along with many other non-Jewish Israelis such as Druze, Bahai, Bedouin, Christians and Muslims, who live in one of the most culturally diversified societies and the only true democracy in the Middle East. Like America, Israeli society is far from perfect, but let us deal honestly. By any yardstick you choose – educational opportunity, economic development, women and gay’s rights, freedom of speech and assembly, legislative representation – Israel’s minorities fare far better than any other country in the Middle East.”

There are over eight million Israeli citizens (“citizen” is a distinction not made in your letter) of which slightly over 20% are Arab or Palestinian Israelis. They all have equal access to education, healthcare, social services and the legal system. There are many Arab Israeli district court judges who administer both western style and/or Sharia law; this is not the same Sharia law that you have heard about. All citizens can vote in all levels of government. Those few who chose, in the past, not to become citizens, which includes non-Arabs as well, have access to all rights and services, except they can not vote federally.

Not too confusing: Arab citizens of Israel have been elected to every Knesset, and as of 2017, 13 of the 120 members of the Knesset are Arab Israeli citizens in the Joint List Party (Arab) while 4 more Arab Israelis are in the Zionist parties. One Arab MK, Ayuub Kara, in Netanyahu’s Ruling Likud Party has held and is currently holding ministerial portfolios, and he’s not the only one. In January 2017 Netanyahu appointed Kara as” Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office” along with his other duties.

The country’s first permanent Arab Supreme Court Justice, Salim Joubran, retired this year at age 70, ending a career in which the Haifa native often represented the views of Israel’s Arab minority, often in a dissenting opinion. After his retirement the court, for now, has one Arab Israeli Justice on it.

Arab Generals in the IDF include Major General Hussain Fares, commander of Israel’s Border Police, and Major General Yosef Mishlav, head of the Home Front Command and current Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. Both are members of the Druze community. Other high-ranking officers in the IDF include Lieutenant Colonel Amos Yarkoni from the Bedouin community, a legendary officer in the Israel Defense Forces and one of six Israeli Arabs to have received the IDF’s third highest decoration, the Medal of Distinguished Service.

In 2011, Jamal Hakroush became the first Muslim Arab Deputy Inspector-General in the Israeli Police and had previously served as district commander of two districts.

In 2015 Arab Israelis accounted for 35% of all doctors in Israel, and according to a study by the Tel Aviv University, Arabs account for about 35% of all pharmacists in Israel.

In 2009, the Israeli Arab Journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, writing for the Gatestone Institute, declared to a Muslim audience during the Durban Review Conference, that, while there are serious problems facing the Arab sector in Israel: “Israel is a wonderful place to live and we are happy to be there. Israel is a free and open country. If I were given the choice, I would rather live in Israel as a second-class citizen than as a first-class citizen in Cairo, Gaza, Amman or Ramalla”.

Maybe not every Israeli Palestinian citizen is all that happy. In a 2006 patriotism survey, 56% of Israeli Arabs were not proud of their citizenship and 73% were not ready to fight to defend the state. I remember in the Canadian Separation vote approximately 49% of Quebecers weren’t all that happy either. Amazingly, 77% of Palestinian citizens said that Israel was better than most other countries and 53% were proud of the country’s welfare system. 82% said they would rather be a citizen of Israel than of any other country in the world.

Sorry about the lesson on statistics, but it wouldn’t hurt to check out the facts occasionally. A little knowledge is a …….


Lambert Westera

Three Hills, AB