Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Plight of refugees now spans 5 generations

The following is a response to the Associated Press article by Karin Laub which completely misses the point regarding the generations of descendants of Arab refugees.

One cannot help but empathize with the plight of the Arabs still living like refugees nearly seven decades after their families left their homes during the war six Arab armies initiated the day after Israel was re-established in 1948. Unfortunately, the long article "Plight of refugees now spans 5 generations" fails to deal with the question of why these people, who have since started calling themselves "Palestinians," are still living as if they are refugees and the solution given is best described by the Hebrew word "hifuch." The closest English translation is "upside down."

All other groups who became refugees in the aftermath of World War II, tens of millions of people, including 800,000 Jews forced out of their homes in Arab countries, integrated into their new countries. Uniquely, the Arab refugees were not permitted to integrate, even though almost all went to Arab countries sharing their culture and language.

The primary reason: the Arab countries wanted to use them as pawns in their continuing war of extermination against the world's only Jewish state. Shamefully, the United Nations has been complicit in this. It created a separate agency for the Palestinian Arab refugees, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which even created a unique definition of refugees applying only to Palestinian Arabs. In its definition, a descendant of a refugee is still called a refugee. Whereas the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) successfully resettled all other refugees, the UNRWA deliberately didn't resettle the Palestinian Arab refugees.

The United Nations even censured Israel when it tried to provide modern homes for people in areas it recaptured in 1967, forcing Israel to move those people back into refugee camps! And after governing 95 percent of the Arabs in the disputed territories for nearly a quarter century, the Palestinian Authority itself hasn't closed a single refugee camp.

It is thus obvious why the statement in the article that "a solution would likely require setting up a state of Palestine" is hifuch, upside down.

The solution is to start treating the Palestinian Arabs the way other displaced people have been treated and integrating them into the countries in which they have been residing for generations, in many cases far longer than their families lived in Palestine.

Stop oppressing them. Stop using them as pawns in the war against Israel. Treat them with dignity rather than as children. Let them start to live normal lives.

A side benefit: this might also pave the way for peace.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Demolishing the Libelous Accusation that Israel is an Apartheid State

The following brilliant letter was sent by Todd Sone to the Toronto Star in response to what euphemistically might be called a misguided column by Azeekha Kanji.

From: Todd Sone
Sent: Tuesday, March 28, 2017
To: lettertoed@thestar.ca
Subject: Letter to the Editor

Dear Ms. Kanji & Toronto Star Editors:

I am writing in response to your article "Canadians Know Palestinians Deserve Justice' published in the Toronto Star last week.  In the article you label (and libel) Israel with practicing apartheid  "The idea that Israel is, or is rapidly becoming, an apartheid state is not new;".  To accuse a country of practicing apartheid is a very serious charge...so let's see if this is what, in fact, occurs in Israel.  I will ask you a series of relevant questions dealing with issues of systemic racial/religious discrimination that will hopefully shed some light on the charge:

1. If Israel practiced apartheid would it tolerate an Arab on its Supreme Court, the country's highest judicial authority? https://en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Salim_ Joubran

2. If Israel practiced apartheid would it tolerate the #2 police official in the country being an Arab? http://www.haaretz.com/ israel-news/1.714313

3. If Israel practiced apartheid would it tolerate that the head of Golani, one its most esteemed military units, be a Druze? http://www. timesofisrael.com/in-first- druze-officer-to-lead-golani- brigade/

4  If Israel practiced apartheid would the society nominate an Arab to be Miss Israel? https://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Rana_Raslan

5. If Israel practiced apartheid would it make sense that 13 Arabs are sitting elected parliamentarians in Knesset (the 3rd largest party) including Arabs in cabinet? https://www. knesset.gov.il/mk/eng/mkindex_ current_eng.asp?view=1

6. if Israel practiced apartheid would it make sense that the gov't has appointed Arab ambassadors to other countries? https://en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Ali_Yahya

7. If Israel practiced apartheid would it maintain Arabic as one of its two official languages? https://en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_ of_Israel

8. If Israel practiced apartheid would it be acceptable to award the Israeli Oscars to Arab-made movies? http://variety.com/ 2016/film/awards/israel-oscar- best-foreign-film-sand-storm- 1201868901/

9. If Israel practiced apartheid would it be the only country in the Mideast where the Christian population (mostly Christian Arabs) is actually growing and prospering? http://www.jpost. com/National-News/CBS-report- Christian-population-in- Israel-growing

10. If Israel practiced apartheid would 20% of the student's at the Technion, Israel's equivalent to MIT be Arab and would the system encourage even more to attend?  http://www.timesofisrael.com/ israels-mit-uses-education- not-affirmative-action-to- triple-arab-enrollment/.

11. If Israel practiced apartheid would it have made incitement to racism illegal?

12. If Israel practiced apartheid would we see integrated amenities/ public services for all religious or racial segment in Israel? (e.g. buses, beaches, parks, restaurants, places of worship and business, universities)

13. If Israel practiced apartheid would Arabs, just like any other segment of society, be able to seek redress through the independent judiciary?

14. If Israel followed policies of apartheid would it make sense that Israel's Declaration of Independence state: "The State of Israel... will be based on the precepts of liberty, justice, and peace taught by the Hebrew Prophets; will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex...."

15. And then there is this which has something interesting to say about how the vast majority of Israeli Arabs feel https://www.hks.harvard. edu/news-events/news/press- releases/coexistence-in- israel-study

Hmmmm....So ask yourself....would a country that does these sorts of things....exhibits these sorts of traits and takes these sorts of actions....does a country like this act in a manner consistent with one that promotes or practices systemic racial or religious discrimination or apartheid? Or perhaps, just perhaps there is something else going on here that could explain the long-standing terrible conflict with the Palestinians. Could it be that Israel was forced to fight (and continues to fight) a defensive war which it won, gained territory, and then, being the only victor in the history of warfare, sued for peace and was rejected countless times by the vanquished? Could it be that there exists a Palestinian population some of whom want peace, but whose leaders refuse to recognize the right of the one and only Jewish State to live in peace and security surrounded by a sea of hostile countries that is the primary source of the conflict? Is it reasonable to assert that Israel, a country that represents 0.2% of the landmass and <1 a="" and="" be="" big="" labelled="" mideast="" much="" of="" p="" population="" problems="" region="" s="" so="" source="" the="" with="">
I urge you to come to visit Israel and spend a day in the life.... Come spend an hour visiting an Israeli hospital and see Arab doctors and nurses treating Jews and see Jewish doctors and nurses treating Arabs every minute of every day.  Come shop in my local supermarket where Arab cashiers work alongside Jewish stockboys.  Come ride the bus with me where Jews and Arabs sit side by side with both Jewish and Arab drivers.  We will take that bus to go and visit a university dorm that I attended or the campus of any major university in Israel that I have visited on many occasions and see Arabs and Jews living in the same buildings and studying in the same classes together. Arab professors teaching Jews and vica versa. We can then go visit a pharmacy to see that more than 50% of pharmacists and a large % of skilled healthcare workers are Arabs.  Come visit Israel, where last week I met the person entrusted with operating the newest most expensive piece of equipment at my local hospital who is an Arab who trained in both Israel and Jordan and then opted to return to Israel to join the workforce.

Is Israel a perfect society? Absolutely Not. No society is...especially one that is <70 ...we="" against="" and="" apartheid="" arab="" areas="" be="" been="" bring="" but...="" but="" canada="" certainly="" challenges="" close.="" countries.="" countries="" democracies="" development="" different="" done="" equality="" even="" face="" fight="" first="" for="" forced="" france="" grown="" hand="" has="" have="" having="" hostile="" human="" in="" including="" integrate="" is="" israel="" it="" limited="" lived="" makes="" many="" minorities="" minority="" mistakes="" more="" much="" multiple="" my="" needs="" no="" not="" numerous="" of="" old="" other="" p="" populations....sometimes="" provide="" records="" rights="" sector.="" seen="" society="" some="" studied="" survival="" than="" that="" the="" there="" these="" to="" up="" usa="" wars="" way.="" wife="" work="" world.="" worst="" years="">
Let's look at the real places with systemic racial and religious discrimination.  Do women have equal rights in Saudi Arabia? Do Christians have freedom of religion in Afghanistan or Yemen? Do homosexuals have equal rights in Iran?  What about Lebanon? Is there freedom of expression or an independent free press in Syria or Libya? Does a Christian or a Jew enjoy full religious freedom in Saudi Arabia? Could a Jew walk into Gaza without being murdered within 10 mins? Are Jews allowed to live in Gaza or is the place completely Judenrein?  If you are prepared to be truly honest about the sources of racism and discrimination in the Middle East, you will see that Israel represents pretty much everything that is right and forward thinking about the Middle East as represented by the following economic/political/social phenomena:

- The highest rate of R&D spending in the world  http://www.oecd.org/sti/inno/ DataBrief_MSTI_2017.pdf

- The only country in the Mideast that is ranked as 'Free' by Freedom House https://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Freedom_in_the_World

- Liberal Democracy with multiple political parties representing every major segment of society where Arab citizens have equal vote https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Democracy_Index

- Vibrant Free Press https://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Media_of_Israel

- Independent Judiciary https://books. google.co.il/books?id= 7lfFAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA86&lpg=PA86& dq=independent+judiciary+ index+israel+index&source=bl& ots=naIgheuwPu&sig=OqpC2dlgb3- eWNMM-myk1uT3Yt8&hl=en&sa=X& ved=0ahUKEwigjO7rs_ fSAhWK7BQKHbG_CK0Q6AEIQzAH#v= onepage&q=independent% 20judiciary%20index%20israel% 20index&f=false

- A cadre of Basic Legal Rights that protect freedoms of religion, freedom to protest, equality for citizens

- One of the most LGBT friendly countries in the World https://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Israel

- Entrepreneurial economy that has made Israel the startup capital of the world and such that Israeli companies are  in the top 3 in the world terms of foreign listed countires on Nasdaq https://www.bloomberg. com/graphics/2015-innovative- countries/      https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/List_of_Israeli_ companies_quoted_on_the_Nasdaq

- Multiple Nobel Prize winners https://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/List_of_Israeli_ Nobel_laureates

- Leading academics across every major discipline in the Arts and Sciences

- One of only a handful of countries that has elected a woman as head of state (for longer than Kim Campbell was PM)

And Alas, Alan Dershowitz, the renowned legal scholar from Harvard says it more eloquently than I ever could.  http://www.huffingtonpost. com/alan-dershowitz/lets-have- a-real-aparthei_b_485399.html

I would appreciate if you could forward this email to Ms. Kanji as her email does not seem to be available.


Todd Sone
Ra'anana, Israel