Friday, October 31, 2008

The Positives and The Negatives

As always, one can find good news and bad news stories on a given subject here in Israel. Speaking to a friend who has just returned from the States where he gave a talk on the achievements of the State of Israel since its birth, he commented that the conflict with the Palestinians is always there beneath the surface.

This week on two consecutive days we have seen the positive side of Jewish Arab cooperation, followed by the negative side.

On the positive side, the number of Arab-Israelis performing national service has quadrupled in the last two years and now exceeds a thousand, according to government statistics. The figure had increased from 230 two years ago to 630 last year before already surpassing more than 1,000 volunteers for the 2008/2009 fiscal year.

More than 80 percent of the Arab participants are women, officials said.
"The young Arabs - male and female - who have joined the national civic service in the last year or two have reached very high levels of satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment and a strong sense of helping their own community.

And that has spread by word of mouth from one to another," said Dr. Reuven Gal, head of the Administration for Civilian National Service.

More details on this story can found at

Contrary to this, the Acre riots story is still bubbling under the surface, almost like a volcano waiting to erupt. A group of extreme Acre Arab residents (?)have promised that the clashes have not yet finished. The group calling itself the “Shabab of Old Acre” released a video on the internet to its members promising “to free Acre and the occupied territories”. The video shows masked Arab youngsters in the Jewish neighbourhoods with sub titles reading “I sacrifice myself for an Arab controlled Acre”.

The municipality responded by saying it “hoped that the police would deal with the inciters before they try to implement their plans.

To counter this incitement, a group of Arab and Jewish residents went on a solidarity march through the streets of Jaffa last week. The demonstration aimed to show that Jews and Arabs can live side by side and that Jaffa, like Acre an ethnically mixed city, provides a model of cooperation and coexistence.

"What happened in Acre should not have happened," a local Arab spokesman said. "It is the duty of everyone to respect the religion and customs of the other. Divisions are not solved by violence, but by discussions." What happened in Acre shows the face of extremism, there are still strong bonds of friendship and religious tolerance and many in the city have expressed the view that it is vandals from outside the city who are trying to tear the social fabric apart.

Life is not dull!!

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