Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Life for Israel's 1.7 million Arabs

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                  
         Here Israeli Arabs enjoying their freedom of speech in Israeli elections          

     Perhaps the most open society in the world is in Israel.  20% of the population of Israel are non-Jews.  When the population hit 5 million, 842,000 or 18% consisted of 655,000 Muslims, 120,000 Christians and 80,000 Druze.  Today the population is 8,180,000.   Israel does not discriminate against its Arab citizens.  This is not including Arabs living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.  They are not citizens.  They are governed by their Arab leaders, the PA or Hamas.  Citizens were the Arabs that did not leave their homes when Arabs attacked in 1948 in the War of Independence but remained like the Jews did.
Arabs vote in Israel.  They have equal voting rights with Jews.  Women vote here.  What other countries allow women to vote in the Middle East?

Arabs held 6 seats in the 120-seat Knesset in 1992.  Israeli Arabs also held many government posts, like one serving as Israel's Consul-General in Atlanta.. March 2014s new law will mostly affect the three Palestinian parties, which usually win between 3-4 seats each. Hadash, the joint Arab-Jewish party, currently has four seats; the same goes for the United Arab List (a unification of three parties, including the Islamic Ta’al party). The secular Balad party, which currently has three seats, would not have made it into the Knesset under the new law. Prior to the last elections, Knesset members banned Balad MK Hanin Zoabi from participating in the elections, a decision that was later overruled by the Supreme Court.

Arabic and Hebrew are official languages in Israel.  From 1990 to 1991, about 235,000 Arab children went to Israeli schools.  In 1948, when Israel was admitted as a state, there was only one Arab high school in the country.  By 1992 there are hundreds.
                                       Druze IDF

The only difference in citizenship between an Arab and a Jew is that Arabs are not required to serve in the IDF.  This is to spare their feelings of fighting against their brethren.  However, Bedouins have served in paratroop units and other Arabs have volunteered for military duty.  Only the Druze and Circassian communities, by their own request, have compulsory service.

There is an economic advantage if one does serve because then veterans qualify for many benefits, just like the laws in the USA.  Also, by serving in the army, one's socialization into the state is much easier.  To make up for this, Arabs can get some jobs during the years Israelis are in the military.  Industries like construction and trucking have come to be dominated by Israeli Arabs.

There is the problem of Israeli Arabs having occasionally been involved in terrorist activities against the state.  Generally, they have behaved like loyal citizens.  Their records was excellent during the 1967, 1973 and 1982 wars.  None were involved in any acts of sabotage or disloyalty.  Sometimes Arabs even volunteered to take over civilian functions for reservists.

Arabs can buy land in Israel just like Jews.  Israel is made of 8,000 square miles.  The World Zionist Congress bought land in Palestine from Arab landowners for Jewish settlement.  They did it by establishing the Jewish National Fund.  Money came from children's "cara na'eem," or tzedakah,  pennies put in a pushka in their Sunday school for years.  I did it from the time I was 5 years sold to 15 years.  This purchased land and land taken over after Israel's War of Independence (1947-1949)  was taken over by the government.  92% of Israel's land belongs to the State and is managed by the Land Management Authority.  It is not for sale to anyone.  This Government land can be leased by anyone, regardless of their race, religion or sex.  The remainer of 8% of the land is privately owned.  The Arab Wakf owns land that is just for the use and benefit of Muslim Arabs.
As for employment and the problems of getting jobs, Arabs are not discriminated against.  There are unions in Israel and they exercise their right to form federations and affiliate internationally.  The State Department has in the 1992 Human Rights Report that non-resident workers in the organized sector, including Palestinians from Judea, Samaria or east Jerusalem or Gaza are represented by Histadrut and are covered under its collective bargaining agreements.  They may join, vote for, and be elected to shop-level workers' committees.  Labor laws applicable in Israel are applied to Palestinians in East Jerusalem and Syrian Arabs and Druze on the Golan Heights.

Equal treatment is found in Israel's prisons.  The most scrutinized prisons in the world are Israel's because of the Red cross and other groups inspecting them regularly to watch for torture, which is not happening.  They have furlough programs, drug-free wards, and female inmates may keep their babies with them for up to 2 years.  They have educational program starting from elementary school through open university courses.  Two prisons run therapy programs geared toward helping inmates communicate and interact better with their spouses and children.  Private industrial firms provide work opportunities in the 4 prison service institutions.

Israel's IDF have detention camps/prisons that are humane.  The prisoners are healthy and well-fed.  They sleep in beds and have a cover over their heads.  The prisoners are treated with dignity and respect.  They choose their own spokesmen and are permitted to create their own menus and prepare their own food.  They can practice their religion and maintain ties with their families and the outside world through letters, visits, newspapers and the radio.

There is no arbitrary arrests or imprisonment.  Writs of habeas corpus and other procedural and substantive safeguards are part of the process.  Torture is forbidden.  There are investigations if there are complaints of any violence.  Israel does not have the death penalty, but did use it only once in the case of Adolf Eichmann, the man responsible for the "Final Solution."  Though Arabs have committed the most heinous acts of terrorism that turn most people's stomachs, they have not been given the death penalty.

To be a lawyer in Israel, at least in the 1980's was a headache for Jewish lawyers who had made aliyah from the USA.  That's because Israel inherited and continued certain laws adopted by the British who held the mandate in Palestine for 30 years prior to May 14, 1948.  One of the laws is the use of administrative detention, which is permitted under certain circumstances in security cases.  Americans can understand the needs of security now since 9/11 which has changed many of their ideas about having a secure country.  Right now they are just finding out that terrorists are sneaking into their country via Central America and Mexico without a way to stop them.

In Israel the detainee is entitled to be represented by counsel and may appeal to the supreme Court of Israel.  The burden is on the prosecution to justify holding closed proceedings.  Officials sometimes believe that presenting evidence in open court will compromise its methods of gathering intelligence and endanger the lives of people who have given information about planned terrorist attacks.  In the USA is the problem of the do-gooder, Edward Snowden who has taken such files and exposed them to the world, putting such people in danger.

Israel's policy is that detention is only to be used against violent offenders.  Rulings may be reviewed by their Supreme Court.  The IDF reports that 30% of the detention orders issued in 1991 were reduced or reversed on appeal.
The disappointing feature here is that John Kerry, Sec of State of USA, put pressure on Netanyahu that he must release many for the peace process to continue.  Netanyahu had to release some of the worst killers in the world, and even so, the peace process then came to a stop; a dead end. Here is a picture of the protesters against the release, relatives of people they had killed, which they are holding up.

 Among the prisoners to go free is Damouni Saad Mohammed Ahmed, who was  convicted in the 1990 lynching of IDF reservist Amnon Pomerantz in the Gaza Strip;

his car was set on fire while he was inside.

Netanyahu  did it in 4 stages of about 26 released each time.  In the 3rd stage 18 terrorists were from Judea and Samaria belonging to Fatah; 3 from Gaza's Hamas, and 5 from East Jerusalem, probably also Fatah.  The talks ended before the 4th stage was set free.   "Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech in which he said that there would be no permanent agreement until all the prisoners in Israeli jails had been released." Peace was not what the Arabs really cared about or wanted, but they did get terrorist leaders back.  Been there-done that, so we say in the USA.  I don't think this will ever be repeated again.  The minute many were freed, they were heard to say how they would be actively attacking Israel again.

In the Arab world, detention is not necessary because the authorities often arrest people and throw them in jail without due process.  No lawyers, human rights organizations or independent media can protest.  In Turkey in 1988, an American distant relative of mine, Gene Hirshhorn LePere,  while on vacation was put in a woman's prison for years for buying a trinket from a peddler who wouldn't take no for an answer.  Her story, after she had to escape, was made into an NBC TV special.    She has written about her experience in her book, "Never Pass this Way Again."     Even in the USA, with its very liberal bail policy, people may be held for extended periods awaiting trial, especially is they are short of funds.   In Syria is the report of my personal friend who was put in jail and beaten for the hearsay of his being interested in the Free-Mason's men's group that is international.  His eye was damaged but he was not given medical help.  While being beaten he witnessed the rape and subsequent deaths of others.  IS is not detaining anyone who resists their take-over.  If they are soldiers for Iraq, they are beheaded.

 Right now the USA is hearing about a Marine Sgt. Tahmooressi, of the USA,  who has been imprisoned for more than 101 days before getting his day in court  who is in a Mexican jail and has been there for more than 3 months because he took the wrong turn and wound up in Mexico carrying a gun.  He finally found a suitable lawyer on his 3rd try.  All this while Central America  and Mexico are flooding the USA with drug dealers hidden among thousands of illegal children traveling without parents coming in by bus and plane loads as well as on foot.

Resource:  Myths and Facts-a concise record of the Arab-Israeli conflict by Dr. Mitchell G. Bard and Joel Himelfarb

No comments:

Post a Comment