Friday, January 13, 2017

How Muslims and Christians Have Fared in Israel, the Only Jewish State in the World

Nadene Goldfoot                                                      
Jewish arrivals to Israel that had to be snuck in illegally  from Holocaust death centers were handed a gun and found themselves
fighting for Israel's right to exist that their enemies wouldn't accept in the War of Independence 1947-1949. 
The Jewish state of Israel was declared on May 14, 1948.  Muslims had been fighting against Israel since at least 1929 in sporadic attacks, but were adamantly striking at Jews in 1947 after the League of Nations' decisions for the area.  This fight continued well after declaring statehood.

                                                  Arab Muslims
Proud to be an Israeli;  Ashraf Sherjan
and I'm proud of him for speaking out.
He stands with Israel.  (see reference below) 


"Israel, a tiny country, is the only democracy in the Middle East where people of all faiths have full, equal rights," he explains.  "Furthermore, he has never seen an Israeli commit stabbing attacks, car-terror or bombings against Arabs."  
Nevertheless, Jews had asked the Muslims to remain and become part of their new Israel.  By 1971, the Arab population of Muslims numbered 343,900.  They were making their own decisions concerning their religious matters.  Their Muslim leaders were qadis of the Shari'a courts.
Today there are about 1,658,000 Palestinians, mostly Muslims in this count.  209.000 live in East Jerusalem.
Jerusalem;  Muslim and Christian sites as well as our Jewish ones
 Their status was regulated and safeguarded by law.  There were Muslim trusteeship committees who attended to their community's religious and social affairs, and administered to religious endowments (waqf).
At this time in 1971, the Muslims had over 200 clergy who were paid by the state of Israel.  They held regular services in some 90 mosques.  The most important mosques are the el-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem which are historic.  They also have the great mosque of el-Jazzar in Akko (Acre), and the stately new mosques in Nazareth and in Haifa.

Since 1967's Six Day War, Friday prayers had been broadcast  by the national radio from the principal mosques.  They are also broadcast on loud speakers.

Israeli Muslims are still denied transit through neighboring Arab States to fulfill the 5th pillar of Islam, the pilgrimage to Mecca. Saudi Arabia refuses to take passports from Israel.  To help fellow Muslims, Jordan is stepping in today and issuing temporary Jordanian passports to those wanting to make the Hajj.  "A reported 5,000 Arab-Israelis perform the hajj each year. Saudi Arabia does not recognize Israel, so Jordan issues the visas to make the journey possible." " Israeli Muslims who wanted to travel to Mecca had to go through a third country such as Cyprus until the 1970s, when Saudi Arabia gave them permission to make the hajj via Jordan."
read more:

One special group of Muslims are the Circassians, a small group who were brought in by Sultan Abdel Hamid in the 19th century.  They live in the villages of Kafr Kama and Rehaniya in the Galilee.  I had Circassian students in my 9th grade English class (Kita Tet)  in Safed (in the Galilee) , also.  They were well behaved, well mannered and interested students.  Another Muslim group, members of the Ahmadi sect, are from Pakistan living in Kababir near Haifa.  In 1971 there were 700.  Today there are about 3,000.
Druze IDF soldier

Druze soldier of IDF
I'll include the Druze community with the Muslims since they are a break-away group from Islam.  This happened back in the 10th century and were granted the status of an autonomous religious group by Israel for the 1st time in their history.  That's because they have their own religious courts, which administer Druze religious law.  There were 18 villages for the 38,000 Druze in the Galilee in 1971.  They also lived on Mt. Carmel.  Every year they practice the pilgrimage of going to the tomb of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses on the 25th of April.  The tomb is near the Horns of Hittin in the Lower Galilee.  In 1971, 8,000 Druze lived on the Golan Heights.  They were able to have free social and ceremonial contact with their relatives and friends in Israel, and have their own spiritual leadership.  At this time, the Golan was not incorporated into Israel. "On December 14, 1981, the Knesset voted to annex the Golan Heights. The statute extended Israeli civilian law and administration to the residents of the Golan, replacing the military authority that had ruled the area since 1967.  .They were also able to make a pilgrimage every August 25th to the tomb of Nebi Ya'fouri, another of their important religious persons to remember.
Baha'i Center in Haifa showing terraces

The Baha'i  faith is yet another break-away from Islam who are centered in Israel.  Their principal shrines are in Akko (Acre) and in Haifa.  The Universal House of Justice, supreme direction of the Faith, constantly improves the center for the better guidance of their community's affairs.  The gardens on Mount Carmel had been developed and embellished by 1972.

The Arabs and the Druzes are Israel's largest minority groups.  At the beginning of 1972, minorities in Israel numbered 458,500, which doesn't include the population of the administered areas.

About half of the minorities live in about 100 villages.  Two-Fifths live in towns including 73,000 in Jerusalem by 1972.  The rest of about 44,000 were semi-nomadic Beduin.  Of these, 75% are Muslims, 17% Christians, and 8% Druzes and any others, at least by 1972.

Since 1949 at the end of the fighting, the Arab community had grown considerably.  At that time, 140,000 were left in Israeli territory.  The population grew by natural increase and by the re-admission of thousands who had fled when the Arab States had attacked Israel in the War of Independence.
Black Jew (possibly Ethiopian)), Druze, Christian and Muslim IDF soldiers 
Members of the Arab community are exempt from military service in order to avoid any conflict of conscience.  Compulsory military service is applied to the Druze and Circassian communities at their own demand.  I remember attending a meeting in which the speakers from Israel were a male Jew and a female Druze.  She was amazing and was adamant about defending Israel.  She  loved her state.  I was so impressed by her and her ability to read Arabic, since I wanted to ask her about the high school in my city who was teaching Arabic.  My concern was that none of the other teachers or parents could read it and had no idea of what was going up on posters, etc. all written in Arabic.  There they both were, both able to speak English, Arabic and Hebrew, and who knew what else?

Today there are 57 Muslim states in the world.  A Palestine would make it the 59th.  Out of these,  48 states are Muslim Majority states.  Palestine would be the 49th similar to Saudi Arabia with no Jews or Christians allowed in.
                                                            Arab Christians
Female Arab Christian IDF soldier

Christians living in Israel have been mainly from the Arab community and in 1971 numbered 77,300.  This small number belongs to 30 different Christian denominations.  The main ones by 1971 were the:
1. Greek Catholic--25,000
2. Greek Orthodox--22,000
3. Latin (Roman Catholic) --16,000
4. Maronite (known in Lebanon) --3,500 in 1972.  Today's count is about 7,000.
5. Protestants (Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans)--2,500
6. Eastern Monophysite Churches (Armenian Orthodox, Coptic, Ethiopian,Syrian Orthodox)-- 3,500

In 1972 there were about 300 churches and chapels for the Christians.  They had 2,200 clergy including 400 monks and some 850 nuns that belonged to 30 Roman Catholic orders and congregations.  They had 16 religious courts that dealt with matters of personal status.
Catholic Mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation in NazarethChristian Arabs are one of the most educated ethno-religious groups in Israel
Over 11,000 Christians were living in Jerusalem in 1972.  There they had many Holy Places of paramount importance to Christendom.  It is the seat of the Greek Orthodox, Roman and Armenian Orthodox Patriarchs.  Their congregations make up most of the Christian population, as well as of several archbishops and bishops.  There are also Catholics of the various Uniate Churches;  Anglicans, Lutherans, Syrian Orthodox, Copts and Ethiopians.

What Israel makes possible for the Israeli Christians and Christian pilgrims from abroad (tourists) is that they can walk in the footsteps of Jesus from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem to Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee, and back to Jerusalem.   While in Jerusalem, they can visit the Hall of the Last Supper on Mount Zion, traverse the Via Dolorosa and worship in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Today at the end of 2016, there are 1.7 million Arab citizens in Israel.  There are 6 million Jews.  Israel was created to be a haven for Jews since they have been so maligned throughout the past 2,000 years.  It is the only Jewish state in the world.  It is imperative that the majority of the population remain  Jewish for this reason, but those that were already living in Palestine at the time of its inception have been welcome additions as citizens.  The Jews know what it was like to be strangers in strange lands.
Jews have realized since its inception that so long as there is no peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors, Israeli Arabs are sometimes torn between their loyalty to Israel and their Arab kinship.  Nevertheless, there is a growing pattern of co-existence between the Jews and Arabs of Israel.  Israel has ensured equality before the law for all citizens without distinction of race, religion or language, and affords its Arab citizens every opportunity to maintain their own culture and traditions.
1917 British soldier in Palestine during 30 year mandate of ruling over population
Avraham Stern,(1907-1942) Nationalist leader of the Stern Group, fighting against British in Palestine
who were just as big a problem as Arab terrorism for Jews living there who were to create their state
with blessings from League of Nations .He left the Irgun Tzevai Leumi when  a leader and formed an underground organization known to British as the Stern Gang.  They had to carry out acts of sabatage.  He was killed at age 35 by British police while being arrested.  My 3rd cousin, Stanley Goldfoot, was the group's Chief of Intelligence. 
During the 30 years when Palestine was under the British mandate that was finished on May 14, 1948, Jews had to develop their own institutions of local government.  The Arab community lagged in doing this.  Only Nazareth, Shfar'am and one Arab village had local councils.  The government of Israel has done much to help and encourage them towards municipalization.  By 1972, 2 municipalities and 46 local councils were predominantly Arab or Druze.  27 Arab villages were also represented in mixed Arab-Jewish local or regional councils.  Except the Beduin, 82.5% of the Arabs lived in areas with local government by 1972.

Arabs and Druzes play and active part in political life of Israel, and their interests are effectively represented in the Legislature.  In the 7th Knesset of 1972, there were 6 Arabs of which one was a Deputy Speaker and one was a Deputy Minister and one Druze who was a Deputy Minister.

 "There are three mainstream Arab parties in Israel: Hadash (a joint Arab-Jewish party with a large Arab presence), Balad, and the United Arab List, which is a coalition of several different political organizations including the Islamic Movement in Israel. In addition to these, there is Ta'al. All of these parties primarily represent Arab-Israeli and Palestinian interests, and the Islamic Movement is an Islamist organization with two factions: one that opposes Israel's existence, and another that opposes its existence as a Jewish state. Two Arab parties ran in Israel's first election in 1949, with one, the Democratic List of Nazareth, winning two seats. Until the 1960s all Arab parties in the Knesset were aligned with Mapai, the ruling party."

I wonder what Barak Hussein Obama, a community organizer before becoming Senator and President, would think about Israel's fast abilities to organize the living conditions of such a diverse community that makes up Israel.  I'm not even mentioning the single Israeli problem of a population making aliyah to grow from 650,000 to 6 million in 69 years and all the planning that went into that to reach solutions amid fighting and wars.  No other state with this few people have ever faced such challenges before and yet maintain their ideology and fairness that their religion demands of them. The USA voted against Israel this time; a first, in abstaining on a resolution about "settlements" in Judea and Samaria by Jews. since the 1967 Six Day War.  By doing this they were siding with the Palestinians.  In the Paris conference coming up in a few days, they will most likely do the same thing and just go over Israel's heads as if they are not there.  To this American-Israeli Jew, it is purely disgusting.  Also on the 20th, Donald Trump will be the new American President who is not of the same party as Obama.  He will be vastly different, but will be handed a lot of problems brought on at the last minute concerning Israel and their rights as a Democratic country.

I'm sad to report that much of the BDS movement has been coming from these same Christian Arab leadership of today.  Even my reference lists "Palestine" as if already a declared state which it is not.  It lists 173,000 Christians today of which are 6.0%.  6% of what, may I ask?  Are they really going to let in Christian Arabs into their Palestine?  They've already declared that their state is to be Judeanrein (NO JEWS ALLOWED.)

Why are so many of my pictures those of soldiers?  Because every adult, male and female, are needed to defend this tiny country made of only 8,000 sq. miles that is surrounded by so many Muslim enemy states, sworn to not accept peace.  Improvements are happening, though, with the 2 closest neighbors of Egypt and Jordan, signing peace agreements.  May they continue.

Added more:  1/13/17 at 1:25pm about Obama and Israel, again later on Golan Heights.  
Resource:  Facts About Israel by Division of Information, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem 1973 Jordanian passports to Muslim Israelis Arabs starting BDS


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  2. Thank you Nadene for your insightful report. I learned a lot. I attended Sunset H.S. in Beaverton and took a religion class that helped me to feel like I was more of a global citizen. I was raised in an isolationist state that had a dominate religion. Sue S.

  3. Thanks, Sue S. for your nice comment. I appreciate hearing from readers. I'm glad you learned something about Israel. Beaverton is very close to me. I remember driving through it on the way to visit grandparents in Hillsboro. I had to wait until I got to Lewis & Clark College in Portland to take a class on religion. It filled the requirements for a history class.