Esor Ben-Sorek

A Message to the Jewish Anti-Arabs in Israel

Do not take the road trampled on by our prime minister. Netanyahu has always been anti-Arab and his racist comments describing them as “terrorists” is unacceptable in a democracy and is disgusting in our holy Torah teachings.

To clarify. I have known only one Arab in my life in the late 1950-1960 years. His name was Rafoul Ghawi, a Christian (Lutheran) Arab who had been a student in the Schneller school in Jerusalem.

When I knew him he had been the chief superintendent of the world-famous Jerusalem YMCA opposite the King David hotel. Originally called Julian’s Way it is better known to us as rehov David haMelech, King David street.

I was a student at Havat Halimud in the city at that time and I became a member of the YMCA. It had a library, a restaurant, a gymnasium, a swimming pool and a tower from which the Old City, then under Jordanian occupation, could be seen.

On several occasions Rafoul and his wife Widad invited me to their apartment upstairs for tea and for delicious cookies which Widad baked. Sometimes there were small groups of Christian Arab women who drank tea, ate cookies, and spoke with Widad in a corner separate from where Rafoul and I were sitting.

Sometimes there was an Israeli officer present. He always gave me a strange look, probably wondering what a young Israeli was doing in an Arab’s home. Later I had thoughts that Raffoul may have been providing him with information about Arab activities in the city of Jerusalem.

What I did learn from the only Arab I knew was hospitality and courtesy.

In these times, I reject Netanyahu’s comment about Arab members of our Knesset and our 20% Arab population in general.

Last week I saw on a foreign tv channel a brief news video which touched my heart and will forever remain with me. If it was ever publicized by Israeli media I do not know. Hopefully, it was.

It showed a very old religious Jew sitting in a wheelchair in a nursing home somewhere in Israel. As he sat, he was crying. A male nurse, an Arab young man, walked over to him and asked why he was crying.

The very old man replied, “All my life I have been an Orthodox Jew. I prayed every morning putting on my tefillin. Now my hands don’t let me put on my tefillin.”

The young Arab nurse comforted him. He took the man’s tefillin out of its case and he wound them on the man’s left arm and on his forehead between his eyes. And the old Jew began to recite his prayers.

After the tefillin were removed the man asked his nurse, “You are an Arab and a Muslim. Why did you want to help me?”

And the nurse replied, “We are praying to the same God. You pray in Hebrew and I pray in Arabic. But the same One God hears our prayers. I respect you and I respect your prayers”.

The old Jewish man took the nurse’s hand and kissed it and said “Hashem yevarech otcha”. God bless you. And the Arab nurse answered with his thanks in Hebrew and in Arabic… Todah. Shukran.

I don’t know how much of this beautiful incident appeared on our television screen on the nightly news.

Netanyahu, if so, should have watched it. Perhaps it could help to curb his tongue from branding all Arabs as traitors and terrorists.

He should be aware that some of our best doctors, dentists and surgeons are Arabs who have been trained in medical schools in Israel or in Europe. They are highly praised by chiefs of Israeli hospitals and are desired by many Jewish Israeli patients.

Just as all Arabs are not terrorists (only some), equally not all Israeli prime-ministers are corrupt indicted criminals (only one).

We bless the sun by day but we curse the dark of night. Both were created by our One Eternal God , Borai ha Olam, Creator of the Universe..

Why then do we bless one and curse the other? It is a case for Netanyahu (the dark) and for Gantz (the sun).

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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