A Palestinian Jew

My late beloved wife was born in British Mandate Palestine, 13 years before the independence of Israel. Whenever she heard people in other countries defending Palestinians against Israeli Jews, she would always say, “I am a Palestinian (a Jewish one). I was born there. So don’t talk to me about the poor Arabs. I can tell you about them from my personal experiences”.

As a young child growing up in the Montefiore section of Tel Aviv, she would have to cross the fields in Sarona, a former German Templar community, in order to walk to her school.

She remembered every day how the Arabs, working in those fields, would yell at her, a 9-year-old girl, and curse her. She particularly recalled how every morning as she entered the field they would yell at her “itbach al yahud,” which she later learned meant “slaughter the Jews”.

Her grandfather and her mother owned a textile factory in the center of Tel A,viv and each day after school, she would go there to listen to the humming of the machines, to chat with the workers, and to enjoy a cool drink of freshly squeezed Jaffa orange juice.

The factory employed an Arab watchman in the evenings to protect intruders from the property. She remembered his name, Amin. He was friendly to Jews at the time of intense Arab hostility and riots and was not a supporter of the Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini who urged the Arabs to slaughter Jews.

One morning, her mother went to open the factory door and she found Amin’s body lying on the ground. His throat had been slit and on a note pinned to his body was a brief message in Arabic. “This is what is done to Arabs who are friends of the Jews.” My wife was 10 or 11 years old at the time and she never forgot what happened to Amin the watchman.

Before our wedding, I wanted to invite an Arab Christian friend of mine, Raffoul Ghawi, who was for several years the Chief Superintendent of Jerusalem’s world-famous YMCA, to be a guest at our wedding. Her mother would not allow it. And thus, only Jews and a few non-Arab Christians were guests at our January wedding in Tel-Aviv.

Those were memories of the past when Palestine was under British rule. Now our country, Israel, is under Jewish rule as it should be, while respecting and treating with dignity all our non-Jewish citizens.

The 2018 population registry lists the number of all Jews born in Israel…our sabras. We are 74% native born. Ken yirbu! May our tribe increase!

Only fools, ignoramuses and anti-Semites would accuse us of being an apartheid state. That is because either they know the truth and prefer to close their eyes to the truth.

Arab students apply to and are admitted into our eight universities, 43 colleges and 20 teacher-training colleges without discrimination.

Arabs serve as judges in our courts are employed in government ministries, and several serve in our Foreign Service as diplomats representing a Jewish state. We have no separate drinking fountains for Jews and Arabs as America had for more than a century for whites and for blacks. Arabs do not sit at the back of the bus in Israel, as did the black population of the American south.

Arabs vote in municipal and national elections and there are Arab political parties. Several of our daily newspapers are printed in Arabic and we have Arabic channels on our television. No thinking individual could ever call us an apartheid state. We are neither South Africa nor the American south.

We live by principles of democracy and freedom and justice for all our citizens.

It is sadly true that our recently passed new Nation-State law is alarming to our minorities who fear that they will now be second-class citizens. God forbid. That was never the intention of the law whose primary purpose was to fulfill the 18th and 19th centuries of Zionist aspirations, fulfilled in 1948, but lacking a clearer statement, assuring all our minority citizens of equality under the law.

My personal opposition to the Nation-State law has not diminished and I will continue to write, to speak and to work for the fulfillment of equality for all our Arab, Druze, and Christian populations.

A Jewish State must always respect the non-Jews who live among us. Equality and justice for all.

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.