Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Truth about Israel and South African Apartheid

 Israel is being labeled by its most radical detractors as
an apartheid state. Israel Collective finds out how
South Africans feel about this accusation.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

We are all Human Beings no Matter where We Come From


 Full article at

In 2019, A. saved the lives of three Israelis when they were shot at by Palestinian terrorists on a highway in Judea and Samaria. Now, he is asking Israel for help: to be able to live in the Jewish state to ensure his and his family's safety. 

The Mark family was driving along a highway in the West Bank on July 1, 2016, when Palestinian terrorists opened fire on their vehicle, causing the car to crash and flip over. The father of the family, Rabbi Michael Mark, lost his life that day, and perhaps wife Chava, son Pedaya and daughter Tehila would have met the same fate were it not for the help provided by A., a Palestinian resident of a nearby Arab village, who was driving down the same road. 

 In an interview, he recalled the events of that fateful day. 

"My wife and I were driving on Highway 60, and near the Beit Hagai settlement, I heard shots all of a sudden at the vehicle right in front of us. The car flipped over and was dragged along the road.

 "I looked at my wife, I told her that I have a first aid kit in the car and that we should go help. I always have a first aid kit in my car, and this wasn't the first time I had to use it. I always try to save people's lives, but never before did I find myself in such a challenging situation.

 Soon after, A. was a wanted man in the Palestinian Authority because he dared save the lives of Jews. He received multiple death threats and was forced to flee. The Civil Administration allowed him to come to Israel to save his life, but he had to leave his pregnant wife and parents behind, as well as his job in the security field. 

 A.'s permit did not allow him to work in Israel or to get a place here. For three years, he moved around the country, trying to make ends meet by working illegally. 

 A.'s son was born in the PA after his escape. For the first two years of his life, the boy only saw his father via video calls or during hasty meetings at a Hebron checkpoint. 

Fortunately, a year and a half ago, A.'s wife and son also received temporary permits to move to Israel. 

"Every time I'm with my son, I thank God that at least this part of my life has returned to me. That is the part that gives me happiness. My family gives me a lot of strength."

A. met his wife, a nurse by profession, through matchmaking, as is customary in Muslim communities. The two only met once before their wedding and planned their future in their village. 

 A. never got to see his father again. He passed away recently without the chance to say goodbye to his son. "There was a special bond between us. I was told he wanted to see me, but I could not visit. It was too dangerous." 

 In November 2019, due to public pressure, the Interior Ministry provided A. and his wife with a temporary residence visa, which granted them all the rights of a regular Israeli citizen, except for voting. A. pays social security, he has Israeli health insurance, he even has a green passport to prove that he has been vaccinated against the coronavirus. His eyes, however, reflect the fear that when their current visa expires in November 2021, Israeli authorities might decide not to renew it. 

 "I would like for us to become permanent residents here, to know that we can sleep peacefully. "I did a human act that was obvious for me to do, but I would like the state to help us now, to take care of my family like any other citizen. That is the least they could do for us."

 Two days after the attacks, Michael Mark was put to rest. A. and his wife wanted to visit the family to pay their respects. "Every night my wife and I sat and thought about what they were going through, how they were feeling. It was important for us to see them."

After receiving a permit from the IDF, the two arrived at the Mark house in Othniel. A. spoke very little Hebrew, and the Mark family did not speak Arabic. But the bond between the two families was forged immediately.

"That was my first time visiting a Jewish home. At school, we were taught that Jews had occupied [our land] and that Jews murder everything they see. But the Mark family welcomed us so nicely. They treated us with respect, as we did them.

How Palestinian Leaders Treat Their Refugees

By Khaled Abu Toameh

The Palestinian leadership, which is about to receive tens of millions of dollars from the Biden administration, has once again proven that it does not tolerate any form of criticism, even if it comes from impoverished Palestinian who fled their homes in Syria.

This leadership has also shown how it cares nothing about the problems facing its people, especially those who were forced to flee their homes in Syria after the beginning of the civil war there in 2011.

The number of Palestinian refugees from Syria in Lebanon is estimated at 27,000, according to statistics from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). About 87% of the Palestinian refugees displaced from Syria to Lebanon suffer from absolute poverty, according to UNRWA.

protest organized by Palestinian refugees who fled from Syria to Lebanon  sought to relay to Abbas and the Palestinian leadership: If you do not want to give us financial aid, at least help us move to other countries where we might live in dignity and earn a decent living.

Embarrassed by the protest, the PA embassy summoned its security guards and scores of Fatah activists from different parts of Lebanon to disperse the refugees.

The Palestinian officials would rather see their people continue living in devastating poverty as refugees rather than improve their living conditions and search for new opportunities in Western countries. They want millions of Palestinians to remain stuck in refugee camps so that the Palestinian leadership can continue milking the world for money.

More on this here

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Fixing the schisms within Israeli society


While Eran Schwartz was serving as a pilot in Israel Air Force, he became worried about the inner fabric of Israeli society. “I was protecting the outside fabric, but I saw we need to protect the inside too,” he tells ISRAEL21c. “I decided to focus on social change and education, which I think is the key.”

Schwartz moved to the Galilee with his wife, a French immigrant. For the last six and a half years, he has been CEO of Yigal Allon Center at Kibbutz Ginosar near the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret).The site also houses a popular tourist attraction, the 2,000-year-old Galilee fishing boat (“Jesus boat”) found in 1986.

 “When I arrived, my vision for this place was to focus on the future of the state and not the past. I had to persuade the board to completely change the orientation to one of education, mostly in the periphery, to advance leadership,” says Schwartz. “I had zero knowledge, but I had a vision. And I was lucky enough that the board followed me into this vision,” says the 38-year-old father of three.

The center runs educational programs, post-high school preparatory courses for Jews and Arabs, a program for integrating ultra-Orthodox Jews into society, and more, all with the goal of promoting equality and coexistence throughout Israel.

“We work with a huge variety of people, a microcosm of what I wish Israel looked like: soldiers, commanders, officers, police officers, Arabs and other populations that in my view are crucial to work with in order to have a strong state,” says Schwartz.

To walk in someone else’s shoes

One innovative program was created four years ago with the Jewish Agency — a seven-month residential leadership academy for boys and girls after high school, in which half the members are Muslims, Christians or Druze and half are Jews of varied backgrounds, “to set an example of mixed leadership,” says Schwartz.

Living together 24/7, along with their counselors and educators, gives members of the Allonim academy an impactful foundation before the next stage of life, which for many of them will be military or civil service.

 “At the beginning and end of the seven months you saw different people. They were both amazing girls before, but they gained the ability to understand the other –not to change her own identity but to walk in someone else’s shoes,” says Schwartz.

Each invited the other to spend a weekend in her family home, truly cementing the friendship. The Jewish friend is now in the military and the Arab one is doing civil service. They sometimes come back to Allonim together to interact with the current cohort.

“You can imagine that politically they are on opposite sides, but it doesn’t matter,” says Schwartz. “When they are leaders, and I hope they will be, they will act differently because of this experience.”

Secular and religious rapprochement

Schwartz, who has a master’s degree in Jewish studies and culture, and another in political communication, is now studying toward a master’s degree in political science focusing on democracy.

“I am secular, but I am starting a new program with a haredi [ultra-Orthodox] friend from Jerusalem to help elite haredi kids who want to join special forces units in the IDF,” says Schwartz.

“Until today they have not had that opportunity. We want to create new leadership in the haredi sector and help them participate more in Israeli society.”

The disconnect between secular and haredi Jewish Israelis is no less an issue than it is between Jewish and Arab Israelis. The corona crisis only exacerbated a mutual lack of trust due to highly publicized violations of mass gathering and social distancing rules.

“I see a breaking point in this,” says Schwartz. “We can’t build walls between ourselves. We are forced to find a way to live together despite the many obstacles.”

Yigal Allon Center, with a permanent staff of about 20, gets a third of its budget from the government, a third from program fees and a third from tourism. Of course, the latter third has suffered during the pandemic.

Schwartz is not fazed by the difficulty of his mission. “If it’s simple, it’s not interesting,” he says with a smile.

For more information, click here

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Vaccines for 2022

 Israel signed an agreement with Pfizer for the acquisition of millions of vaccine doses for 2022. Israel and Pfizer also agreed on an option to acquire additional millions of vaccine doses.

The supplement that was signed will ensure the continuation of Israel's ability to deal with the coronavirus in an optimal manner at least until the end of 2022.

The Prime Minister stated " we have recently with the CEOs of Pfizer and Moderna. There were several obstacles in Israel that we needed to overcome, and we found a way to do so. If there are no surprises such as coronavirus variants that the vaccines cannot overcome, then we have signed for the acquisition of millions of additional Pfizer vaccines. I very much hope that we will also sign soon with Moderna. 

This means that soon we will have more than enough vaccines for both adults and children. Israel will again lead the world in the fight against the coronavirus. There will be no more lockdowns; we have exited this."

Hopefully we are seeing the end of lockdowns and at least here in Israel we can get back an almost normal pre pandemic lifestyle.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Some Fun Facts about Israel

(With thanks to Israsel 21C)

1.     Israel has the highest number of altruistic kidney donations per capita in the world: 1,005 in the past 11 years, and counting.

2.     The oldest tree in Israel is a jujube tree in Ein Hatzeva on the road to Eilat, which is thought to be between 1,500 to 2,000 years old.

3.     Scientists in Israel managed to grow fresh dates from sixth-century seeds found at Masada and Qumran.

4.     At the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, an old wooden ladder has been propped up against a window since the 18th century. No one can move it because the building is managed by six different churches and none can agree on who owns the ladder.

5.     The Mount of Olives is the oldest continuously used cemetery in the world. It’s been in use for over 3,000 years.

6.     85 percent of Israeli households get hot water from rooftop solar heaters, compared to less than 1 percent in the United States.

Monday, April 12, 2021

So the ICC Wants to Investigate Israel

 ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced she was launching an investigation against Israel for alleged crimes committed in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague is supposed to be a court working according to international law. So how does it have the authority to launch a war crimes investigation against the Jewish state.

The government decided to adopt the recommendations of the inter-ministerial team led by the NSC which recommended not cooperating with the international court but also not leaving the prosecutor’s letter unanswered and responding and making it clear that the court is acting without authority.

In the response letter sent to the ICC, it will also be pointed out that Israel “absolutely rejects the claim that it has carried out war crimes.”

“Israel reiterates its unequivocal position according to which the court in The Hague lacks the authority according to its own laws to open an investigation against it,” the letter will note.

This position was also made clear to the court by other countries and noted experts in international law.

“The unacceptable interference of the court lacks any legal basis and contravenes the goals for which it was established. The State of Israel is committed to the rule of law and will continue to investigate any accusation against it regardless of the source and expects that the court will refrain from violating its sovereign authority,” the statement said. "there is no other word to describe this other than hypocrisy.”

“A body that was founded to defend human rights has become a hostile body that defends those who trample human rights,” he added.

The Attorney General restated his position that the ICC lacks any jurisdiction on this matter since no sovereign Palestinian state exists nor does any territory belonging to such an entity.

Israel has not joined the ICC.

Anne Herzberg, Legal Advisor at NGO Monitor, who authored the organizations; amicus brief to the ICC, and has been involved in the ICC’s Israel-related dealings as far back as the initial efforts in 2008, stated that Bensouda’s decision was “expected,” and her claim that she and her office have consistently engaged in a “principled, non-partisan approach” is “utterly laughable.”

“From the very beginning of her tenure she encouraged the Palestinians to join the Court, has repeatedly relied upon claims from and engaged with Palestinian terror-linked NGOs, and invented out of whole cloth an attenuated legal theory to go after Israelis. And there are many other indications of bias,” she charged.

“It is unclear if the new Prosecutor will be able to undo the considerable damage she has done to the institution’s credibility,” she noted.