Column lacks thorough analysis of Israel’s political status
Jose Sanchez’s recent op-ed, “On Israel’s shamed classification of refugees as infiltrators,” left me asking the following question: Why are the refugees from Arab League countries that Mr. Sanchez refers to heading to Israel? What is the motivation? For example, why would a refugee from Sudan find Israel a more desirable potential destination than Saudi Arabia or Egypt?
The answer to this question is the fact that Israel is an open, tolerant and modern society. Israel is also the lone democracy in the region, a country where Arabs and women serve on its Supreme Court. A country where an Arab party is the third largest political party (Joint List) in the Knesset, a country with gay bars and parades. A country with a safe and growing Christian population, a country where Arabic, along with Hebrew, is recognized as an official language. A country that has human rights organizations, labor unions and a sharp-elbowed and disputatious press that constantly hounds and hectors the government.
Is Israel perfect? Is Israel infallible? No. But which country in the world is? Is Yemen? Is Saudi Arabia? Is Libya? Is Mali? Is China, France or the United States? To suggest, like Mr. Sanchez does, that Zionism is “ethno-supremacist ideology” is nothing more than a grotesque lie. Zionism is the civil rights movement of the Jewish people. Zionism, in part, is a direct response to the expulsions, crusades, pogroms and ghettos in Europe and second-class dhimmitude in the Muslim world.
Besides a warped and twisted understanding of Israel and Zionism, Mr. Sanchez also directs unique and taxing demands on Israel that he reserves for no other country. While Mr. Sanchez writes expansively that Israel, a country the size of New Jersey, is not doing enough for displaced refugees, he’s very quiet about what Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran (the chief sponsor of Bashar Al-Assad’s murder machine that is causing the refugee crisis) and the Gulf states obligations are. Why is this?
Also conveniently excluded from Mr. Sanchez’s directives is any appreciation of the fact that both Syria and Sudan are currently at war with Israel (Syria, along with many other Arab countries, attacked Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973), do not recognize Israel’s existence and currently enforce a trade embargo against Israel. And now Mr. Sanchez, from the safety of his perch in the Targum offices, demands that Israel, a country forced to beat back terror tunnels, aerial bombardments and daily stabbings, provide refuge to citizens from countries that have declared war against Israel. The irony is very, very rich.
Though Mr. Sanchez would never write about it, Israel is in fact doing far more to help ailing Syrian civilians than most other countries in the region. Perhaps Mr. Sanchez would be interested in a New York Times article titled "Despite Decades of Enmity, Israel Quietly Aids Syrian Civilians" and dated Jan. 29, 2014. The aforementioned article provides a partial chronicling of the free medical care that Israel has provided to thousands of injured Syrians along Israel’s northern border. Whether being a first responder to natural disasters in Haiti or Nepal, exporting its famed “drip irrigation” water technology to many countries in Africa or providing life-saving medical treatments to injured Syrians, Israel, despite its very small size, has always taken a leadership role in humanitarian causes.
Finally, Israel was not, as Mr. Sanchez suggests, “Founded on the premeditated expulsion of 750,000 indigenous Muslim and Christian Palestinian Arabs in 1947.” The modern founding of Israel can be traced to the UN General Assembly-approved two-state partition plan 181, which provided for both an Arab state and a Jewish state. While the Arabs rejected this plan, the Jews accepted the UN plan.
Shortly after their rejection of the UN plan, five Arab countries attacked Israel. As a direct result of this genocidal war initiated and prosecuted by multiple Arab countries against Israel, refugee populations were created throughout the region. Many Palestinian Arabs, caught in the middle of this Arab-initiated war, either fled for safety or were told by the invading Arab armies that they could come back to their homes when the fledgling Jewish state was destroyed. However, many Palestinian Arabs did not leave their homes. This population forms today what is close to a quarter of Israel’s overall population. But what is the Jewish population today in the Arab world? What happened, for example, to the ancient Jewish populations of Iraq, Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt and Morocco? Since Mr. Sanchez is so interested in expulsions, refugees and civil rights, perhaps he can discuss this issue in his next column.
Brad Davis is
Brad Davis islawyer based in New Brunswick.