Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Letter: Israel a hub for diversity

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One of the most misunderstood facts about Israel is that it fosters diversity and works diligently to develop respectful relationships with all minorities within the country. That promise begins in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, which was approved on May 14, 1948 by the Jewish People’s Council, several months after the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a Jewish state:

“THE STATE OF ISRAEL […] will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

Roughly 24 percent of Israel’s population – 1.8 million people – is made up of non-Jewish citizens, including Muslim Arabs, Bedouin Arabs, Christian Arabs, the Druze, the Circassians and many other identities. According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel exists as a “mosaic made up of different population groups coexisting in the framework of a democratic state.”

Similar statements and declarations cannot be found elsewhere in the Middle East, such as in the Gaza Strip, a land governed by Hamas, which claims, “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”

Israel has struggled since its independence in 1948 for overall justice and peace with its neighbors and shows its solidarity by accepting minorities as Israeli citizens with the full rights granted to all citizens. Israel has also established Arabic as an official language; it can be seen on all street signs, official forms and as subtitles on many television shows. Arabs also represent 40 percent of all pharmacists in Israel and are quite represented in the medical field.

The actual history of these populations prove interesting considering Israel’s stigma by some as a supposed “apartheid state.” Israel is nestled into the Middle East and serves as a safe haven for many minorities that continue to be oppressed other countries. Israel is not the perfect country, but what country is?

One example of the integration available in the country is the Druze community, of which 100,000 members call Israel their home. Since Israel’s acceptance of this minority in 1957, they have attained high-level positions in the Israeli political, public and military departments and serve in the Israel Defense Forces: Fares Hamud Falah served as the first Druze judge in Israel, Kamal Mansour was the Arab Affairs advisor to the President of Israel and Salah Tarif, who became Israel’s first non-Jewish government minister when appointed by Ariel Sharon in 2001.

I had the pleasure of visiting a Druze community in 2008 and I was moved by their appreciation for Israel and their love for protecting the Jewish State. Although Israel is seen as just a home for the Jewish people, it is also a place of comfort for the Druze. These facts should be recognized and learned in order to get a more appropriate understanding of the cultures, religions, ideologies and future of Israel.

If you would like to learn more about minorities within the State of Israel, please join the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, UMass Hillel and the Student Alliance for Israel on April 28 at 7 p.m. as we welcome to campus Ishmael Khaldi, Israel’s first Bedouin Diplomat.

Brett Hausler is a Fellow for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America at UMass Amherst and can be reached at [email protected]

3 Comments

3 Responses to “Letter: Israel a hub for diversity”

  1. Arafat on April 22nd, 2014 9:47 am

    Thank you for this article.

    In sharp contrast to this almost every single Muslim country is destroying diversity.

    The heart of Islam, Saudi Arabia, will not allow even one non-Muslim citizen. All non-Muslim workers are segregated and forced to practice their religion behind closed doors.

    Christians are being ethnically cleansed in Nigeria and Turkey. Turkey, of course, once Christianities second most important seat.

    Muslims are wiping out the ancient Coptic people, the Chaldeans, Assyrians and the black Christians of Sudan, Somalia and now SOuthern Sudan.

    Muslims are ethnically cleansing the once robust Hindu people of Bangladesh and Pakistan while the Muslim population in India is growing rapidly.

    Muslims are fighting a war of attrition against the peaceful Buddhists in southern Thailand, Russians in the Caucus region and the Chinese in NW China.

    Etc….

    Meanwhile the Muslim population in Israel is growing and many of them are successful doctors, lawyers, politicians, businessmen, etc…

    Meanwhile the Palestinians state loudly and clearly that any Palestinian state will be Judenfrei, ie., no Jews allowed.

    Thank you for writing this article. It is rare to read something like this in a college newspaper. Something honest.

  2. David Lloyd on April 22nd, 2014 9:48 am

    A most informative article. As someone who has visited Israel several times, and in different capacities, I am well aware that Israel is the only place in the Mideast that truly celebrates diversity and multi-culturalism. Indeed, Israel has a vibrant democracy that includes parties and opinions from left to right, and which includes members of parliament from ethnic and religious minorities. Anyone who has been to Israel knows that there is a robust discussion of issues amongst Israeli citizens, and there is a wealth of publications in Israel’s free and independent press (in Hebrew, Arabic, English, Russian, Yiddish). As a relatively young country, born as a modern state in 1948, it is still a work in progress. Given that Israel lives in a very tough neighborhood, with missiles poised at it from multiple Gaza, Lebanon, and Iran, it faces challenges that we do not encounter in the Pioneer Valley. Notwithstanding these constant external threats to its security, as well as the fear of terrorism from Islamists, Israel has had remarkable success in absorbing over a million immigrants, and building strong economic, educational, medical, and social welfare institutions. Indeed, has created a dynamic economy which is a world leader in cyber-security, software, medical technology, computer networking, telecommunications and pharmaceuticals. Hopefully, its neighbors will one day recognize that Israel is here to stay forever, and that they should similarly focus their energies on building an economy and institutions.

  3. Paul Racco on April 22nd, 2014 10:31 pm

    This comment is for the readers of this article, not the author:

    The State of Israel does not “foster diversity and works diligently to develop respectful relationships with all minorities within the country,” as it is stated above.

    A powerful example is Israeli housing demolitions. This policy entails the Israeli military bulldozing your house without notice and without legal reason. I have friends whose houses have been demolished overnight via this policy. See icahd.org for great studies on Israeli housing demolitions. 28,000 homes have been demolished since 1967.

    Policies such as housing demolitions have only one target, and they are the Palestinian people, who are still living in Israel, what is now left of their country of Palestine or internationally as refugees from the erasure of their country in 1948. If Israel were truly the hub for diversity that the author dreams it to be, then let Palestinian refugees return to their homes in what is now Israel. If Israel loves diversity so much, end its military occupation of Palestine and grant the Palestinian people their basic human rights to not live under military rule. If Israel loves diversity, stop bulldozing Palestinian homes.

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