Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Proud Israeli, Arab, Muslim

This interesting article has been cross posted from "A Jewish Israel", www.

An Interview with Anett Haskia: Proud Israeli, Arab, Muslim

I met Anett Haskia, a woman I hadn’t previously heard of, on a pro-Israel Facebook page run by Cliff Pinto, a guy I’ve come to respect for his deep understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict and love for the Jewish people.
Anett and I became instant friends. Since the day Cliff introduced us, we’ve been talking on the phone almost on a daily basis. Last week, I had the tremendous pleasure of meeting Anett at Tel-Aviv University where she made a short presentation on her life story and struggle on behalf of Israeli Arabs. Out of all the political groups on campus, Im Tirtzu was the only one that was interested in hearing Anett’s story.
Anett told us of her early years, of growing up in Akko, of how family had disowned her when she began supporting Israel, and much more.
Anett’s goal is to replace the current Arab MKs in the Knesset. Her platform includes measures such as a law that would make it compulsory for Israeli Arabs to either serve in the IDF or do national service in return for equal rights. She doesn't believe in the creation of a “Palestinian” state or in giving up Israeli territory in return for empty promises. Anett is trying to find a fund or individual who’d be willing to sponsor her campaign.
I recently had an opportunity to interview Anett:
Me: Please tell me about yourself: Where did you grow up? Where do you live today? How many children do you have?
Anett: I was born in the Old City of Akko. I’m 44 years old. I’ve been divorced for more than 20 years now, and have three wonderful kids. I work as a hair stylist.
I’m a social activist in the Arab sector. I’m fighting for equal rights for Arabs but together with that, I insist that Israeli Arabs do their part for our country by volunteering for either the army or national service and giving back to the State in other ways. I’m a proud Israeli Arab who has nothing to do with the “Palestinian people.”
Me:  Why do you support Israel? What are you doing to show your support?
The fact that I support Israel goes without saying. I was born here and will always be at the side of my one and only homeland.  I’ve helped—and continue helping many young Arab guys and girls volunteer for national service.
I do everything to explain to them that Jews aren’t our enemies and that the Arab MKs have created a good life for themselves with our money and support. As a result of this, we’re the ones paying the price which comes in the form of the Jewish community distancing itself from our affairs. A lot of us, however, would like to be able to pursue a better life right here, in Israel as respected partners with the Jewish people.
Me: How does your family feel about your political activity? Has anyone tried to hurt you or your children?
Anett: I’d say that my family doesn't support me at all, but we try not to discuss this because it leads to only more trouble between us. They’re also afraid that someone might kill me. I've been targeted a lot of times. They have made a lot of attempts to show me they’re following me.
Me: I realize that all your kids have served—or are serving in the IDF. How do you feel about this? Was it difficult for them to get accepted to the army? What was the reaction at the recruitment office?
Anett: I’m proud of my kids for serving the State and paying their dues like everyone else. At the recruitment office, no one believed them that they were Muslim Arabs and not Bedouins.
Me: What do you think about “Palestinian” “peace activists?” Jewish “peace activists?” The far right who’d be willing to kick even someone like you out of Israel?
Anett: Unfortunately, I don’t really have an opinion on Palestinian “peace activists.” I don’t think such a thing exists. I hope I’m wrong.
Jewish “peace activists” are causing a lot of damage to Israeli Arabs. I blame them along with the Arab MK’s for the hatred between the citizens of this country. They think they’re doing me a favor by supporting my right to be here. I don’t accept their “kindness” because I don’t consider myself a third-class citizen to begin with. As far as the far right, I consider them a terrorist organization.
Me: What’s your message to the Palestinian people? To the Israeli government? To the international community?
I’d tell the Palestinians to try to remember the good lives they had here before Arafat and Hamas took over. I doubt they can have an effect on the government because they’re all afraid for their lives—and rightly so. Even Abu Mazen, whom the world calls a “peace partner” is afraid and won’t do anything without the support of Hamas.
I’d be happy if the Israeli government continued punishing those who hurt innocent Palestinians and soldiers who abuse random people. Theoretically, I’d like for the government to allow them to work in pre-’67 Israel and to ease the security restrictions, but unfortunately, there have been cases where these workers have murdered Jews, so I’m not asking for this. I don’t want to pay the price for their hatred and insanity and for my children to feel horrible every time they show anti-Arab protests and signs saying “Death to the Arabs!” and “Transfer!”
I find it ridiculous that the left-wingers don’t go out to defend us with signs of “These aren’t Israeli Arabs—these are West Bank Arabs!” They’ve never done this. I hope Palestinian Arabs (the ones living in the West Bank) end up leaving Israel and go work in Jordan or other Arab countries.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Palestinian Islamists are cleansing the Holy Land of Christians

Having spent the last 4 weeks in the UK and USA and had the opportunity to meet and talk to so many people, it is quite clear that there is a vast lack of knowledge of the real Israel and the region in which we live. 
When we told everyone who asked, that we were from Israel, the discussion, particularly with those of the Christian faith indicated a total lack of awareness of what is happening to their co-religionists in the region.
Thus I think it appropriate to publish the article below and pose the question "It is not time for the churches in the West to stop fooling themselves and their congregations into believing that the horrifying reduction in numbers of Christians in the Middle East is somehow the fault of the Jewish State."

Anglican Friends of Israel reflects on the significance of Hamas’s legislation which would mean the closure of Christian schools in Gaza, and urges Christian leaders in the West to start holding Palestinian leaders responsible for what happens to Christians under their jurisdiction.

Last week the Catholic Herald reported that five Church Schools ("two Catholic and three Christian") are under threat in Gaza because of the ruling party Hamas’s intention to extend their Muslim Brotherhood-inspired version of Islam throughout their fiefdom. Their edict, which forbids the education of boys and girls together, will mean that the schools must close down because of lack of space and staff. That most of the students are Muslim matters not at all. What’s important is the segregation of male and female as far as possible.

For some, this will be the first chill wind signalling what a Palestinian state dominated by Islamists will mean for Palestinian Christians. But such folk have missed warning signs going back many years.

In 2005, the annual report on human rights abuses around the world produced by the US State Department recorded abuse of Palestinian Christians by individuals and by Palestinian institutions, such as government and the police. The report stated: 
The PA judiciary failed to adjudicate numerous cases of seizures of Christian-owned land in the Bethlehem area by criminal gangs. There were credible reports that PA security forces and judicial officials colluded with gang members to extort property illegally from Christians. Several attacks against Christians in Bethlehem went unaddressed by the PA, but authorities investigated attacks against Muslims in the same area.
About this time a Roman Catholic priest in Ramallah bewailed the fact that in his experience Muslim Palestinians did not want Christians living among them.

Then there are the attacks on Christians and their property by fellow Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza, few of which were reported by Western media outlets. Bible Society official Rami Ayyad was kidnapped and murdered by Jihadists in Gaza. The YMCA in the West Bank town of Qalqilya was torched, as were church schools in Gaza. 

The steady trickle of information about the harassment and persecution of Palestinian Christians by other Palestinians has increasingly come from Palestinians themselves, notably from the East Jerusalem-based Israeli-Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh. Abu Toameh risks his life to report various aspects of the underbelly of life under the Palestinian Authority. He reports on corruption within the PA leadership, the effects of chaotic and wasteful governance, and the way in which Palestinian leaders talk peace for eager Western ears whilst inciting their citizens (in Arabic) to believe that their Jewish neighbour can be eliminated.

Khaled Abu Toameh has covered the treatment experienced by Palestinian Christians in both the West Bank and Gaza extensively. He insists that the haemorrhage of Christians from the Holy Land is not due, as many would have us believe, to the Israeli ‘occupation’, but to their increasing marginalisation at the hands of neighbours who use their power to disadvantage Christians.

Then there is the increasing fear that Mahmoud Abbas’s weak Fatah regime in the West Bank could give way at any moment to a Hamas coup. If this happens – given Hamas’s previous record – it could well be the death-knell for Christianity in the Palestinian Territories. Only last week, Abbas permitted Muslim fundamentalists to strut down the streets of Ramallah. Why?

And now another source of information about the realities of life for Palestinian Christians is opening up. Palestinians from within the Territories are speaking out about the injustices that Palestinians are inflicting on other Palestinians. They do so at risk of their lives to whomever will listen. 

One young Christian Palestinian woman – who had to flee her West Bank home because shedared to challenge the narrative that holds Israel responsible for all Palestinian woes – has spoken to audiences of all faiths and none in the UK and Europe about the unnecessary poverty and misery which years of mismanagement and corruption have brought to all Palestinians. She has also given accounts of the discrimination Palestinian Christians suffer at the hands of fellow Palestinians from both her own and her friends’ experience.

At a recent meeting in the Midlands, she told how, earlier this year, a student was beaten up by his classmates in a classroom in front of a teacher, with no action taken against the perpetrators. His crime? Refusing to give up his Christian faith and adopt Islam. She tells tales of the way in which she and other Christian students were sexually harassed by Muslim boys on their way to university because, unlike Muslim girls, they had to share public transport with the boys. 

Even more chillingly, she reports how Palestinian Christian businessmen were murdered because they refused to pay the protection money demanded by what she described as the ‘Palestinian mafia’.

Though disturbing, the testimony of people like this young woman and journalist Khaled Abu Toameh is refreshing because it breaks a conspiracy of silence which has gone on for years. Many Palestinian Christians have claimed that their relations with their Muslim neighbours are nothing but cordial; that they are Palestinians first and foremost, united against their common (Jewish) foe. Yet the steady exodus of Palestinians from territories that are under the day-to-day control of other Palestinians suggests that something else is going on. 

Why Christian Palestinian leaders are unwilling to admit in public what they certainly acknowledge in private is unclear: fear of reprisals from their government, neighbours and even family must have some bearing on the situation. Nevertheless, this is a disaster for Christianity in the Palestinian Territories. As Abu Toameh comments: "By not talking openly about the problem, the Christian leaders are encouraging the perpetrators to continue their harassment and assaults against Christian families."

Nevertheless, Hamas’s action cannot be misunderstood by anyone. Respect for the views and culture of minorities such as Gaza’s Christians has no place in their thinking. Perhaps this is why it was reported by West Bank Christians and by Abu Toameh that 'Out of the 600 Christians from the Gaza Strip who arrived in the West Bank in the past two weeks to celebrate Christmas, dozens have asked to move to Israel because they no longer feel comfortable living under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.’

It is time for the churches in the West to stop fooling themselves and their congregations into believing that the horrifying reduction in numbers of Christians in the Middle East is somehow the fault of the Jewish State. The future for Christianity in the land of its birth is grim indeed as long as Western Christians avoid holding Palestinian leaders responsible for what happens to Palestinian Christians on their watch.