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Posts Tagged ‘palestinians’

What’s Right with Israel – 1

Posted by rabbiart on May 3, 2008

In spite of the unremitting hostility of surrounding Arab nations and the never-ending public declarations by Palestinian leaders of hatred for Israel and the calls for the destruction of Israel by Hamas, Iran and other Arab organizations and leaders, there are an impressive number of Israeli organizations devoted to safeguarding the rights of Palestinian Arabs and advocating on their behalf. All of the organizations listed here are headquartered or have offices located within Israel. They have varying degrees of effectiveness and public support, but no one seriously questions their right to exist, function and advocate for their beliefs. (And yes, I’d like to know a single Arab country about which a similar statement could be made! and I would be ecstatic to learn that there is one, or more)

Machsom Watch founded in 2001, “is an organisation of peace activist Israeli women against the Israeli Occupation of the territories and the systematic repression of the Palestinian nation. We call for Palestinian freedom of movement within their own territory and for an end to the Occupation that destroys Palestinian society and inflicts grievous harm on Israeli society.” (from their website) Machsom members regularly go to checkpoints and watch over what is happening. They publish reports on their website (look for Spotlight) and believe that their presence helps deter Israeli soldiers from succumbing to the inevitable temptations of being an enforcing power on behalf of a country against whom much of the rest of the world is in a constant and unfounded rage.

B’Tselem: The Israeli Infromation Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, founded in 1989, endeavors to document and educate the Israeli public and policymakers about human rights violations in the Occupied Territories, combat the phenomenon of denial prevalent among the Israeli public, and help create a human rights culture in Israel. (from their website). The word בְּצֶלֶם (B’Tselem) means “in the image of” and refers to G-d creating humankind in G-d’s image. In recognition of its work, B’Tselem won the 1989 Carter-Menil Aware for Human Rights.

Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel Established in November 1996, it serves Arab citizens of Israel, numbering over one million people or close to 20% of the population. Adalah (“Justice” in Arabic) works to protect human rights in general, and the rights of the Arab minority in particular. (from their website) The co-founder of Adalah – Rayef Zreik – is also a member of the Board of B’Tselem

Rabbis for Human Rights, founded in 1988, includes over 100 ordained rabbis and rabbinical students who are Israeli citizens. It “has championed the cause of the poor, supported the rights of Israel’s minorities and the Palestinians, worked to stop the abuse of foreign workers, endeavored to guarantee the upkeep of Israel’s public health care system, promoted the equal status of women, helped Ethiopian Jews, and battled trafficking in women.” (from their website)

Bat Shalom: women with a vision for a just peace, “is an Israeli national feminist grassroots organization of Jewish and Palestinian Israeli women working together for a genuine peace grounded in a just resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, respect for human rights, and an equal voice for Jewish and Arab women within Israeli society.” Their mission statement is ” We, the Jewish and Palestinian Israeli women of Bat Shalom, call upon all women to join our active struggle for peace and equality. We refuse to silently bear witness to the destruction of the hope and future of a peaceful reconciliation.” Bat Shalom is a member of the Coalition of Women for Peace.

The Israeli court system, which regularly hears cases and renders decisions which protect and expand the rights of non-Jews within Israel. For example, a ruling that Messianic Jews have the same rights regarding automatic citizenship as Jews who do not believe in Jesus as the Messiah. The court has rendered a number of decisions protecting the rights of Palestinians in Israel. (Page down to find the section “Supreme Court Decisions”)

Givat Haviva Institute implements activities to develop the experience of equality between Jews and Arabs living in Israel, and provides tools to this end. This is the moral foundation for achieving peace with the Palestinians and the Arab states.” Givat Haviva is named in memory of Haviva Reik who immigrated to Israel in 1939, joined the British army and parachuted behind enemy lines into Slovakia in 1944. She was captured and executed by the Nazis on November 20, 1944.

There are many more organizations and projects working for peace among Arabs and Israelis. More than I can write about in this post, and probably more than you want to read right now. You can see a large list of them, and get acquainted with them, in this Wikipedia article. As an open source effort Wikipedia can contain errors and isn’t suitable for serious academic research, but this article is a good place to acquaint yourself with this one small piece of what is right and laudable about Israel, a country that all Jews, really anyone who cars, should be incredibly proud. When we read our Biblical passages about Hashem offering to the Jewish people a chance to be a light unto the nations, we can think Israel and we can feel confident, that despite its imperfections, the light is shining pretty brightly.


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