Esor Ben-Sorek

Civil Wars: America – North vs. South. Israel – Jews vs. Arabs

America, at least, had a dynamic leader (Abraham Lincoln) to end the long tragic civil war. Israel, sadly, has no leader at all. For years, Binyamin Netanyahu has deprived Israeli Arabs of many rights and privileges. Arab villages, towns and cities receive much less financial help for schools and municipal institutions than Jewish communities. It is no wonder that Israeli Arabs feel that they are second-class citizens in the country in which they were born.

Putting the terrorism in Gaza aside for the time being, it is extremely important that we put an end to the discrimination against Arabs citizens who vote in our national elections. They don’t have to love us, nor do we have to love them. But the one thing which we must share in common is mutual respect.

The city of Jerusalem is one prime example. East and West do not meet. The West is treated fairly. The East is barely treated.

Mixed cities like Haifa, Lod, Ramle and Jaffa where Jews and Arabs live, work and mingle, have for years been places of quiet and successful relationships. Until now.

The riots in the city of Lod have gotten out of hand. Shootings, stabbings, beatings take first place in scenes which we are witnessing today. The police have tried, by curfew and consultations, to establish quiet in the historic city, home to our national Ben-Gurion airport. But our police cannot be in every city and cannot end the riots and disturbances which are occurring on a daily basis in the north and south of our country. Unlike the American north and south, we have no strong moral leadership to end violence.

Today in Bat Yam, Jews broke in to Arab-owned stores and shops smashing windows and doors and everything in sight.

Watching channel 12 for hours every day, I am physically sick at what I see and hear. There is no physician who can cure my pain. Israel’s hospitals are over-loaded with Arab and Jewish patients who have been beaten, shot or stabbed in the melee of the riots. There is a shortage of doctors to treat the wounded. Arab blood and Jewish blood mingle in puddles as they flow in streams on our streets.

I have swallowed a few anti-anxiety pills to keep my heart beating and to keep my sanity as I listen to the mayor of my city, Rishon Lezion, describing the damage in our city. Thank God, no one has been killed. Most of us have never seen such bombings and destruction to our property since the 1948 war.

Our civil war is the result of the Jerusalem riots on the Temple mount and attempts at evicting Arabs from homes in Sheikh Jarrah and other neighborhoods in the eastern part of the Old City.

To that has been added the grim and hopeless attempt at ending the Hamas war. Egypt has been an active mediator in resolving problems and encouraging a ceasefire from both sides. Hamas will not respect a ceasefire and Israel sees no reason for one until its activities against Hamas have been accomplished. (Who know in which century it will be !!!)

Meanwhile, homes and national buildings have been set on fire by bombs and by missiles and people of all ages, including small children, have been killed as a result. Parents, both Jewish and Arab, have had beautiful dreams for the futures of their children. Those dreams have become nightmares. The dreams are no more and neither are the lives of the dead children.

I do not know how many personnel serve in our national police force. But it cannot be enough to sufficiently control the riots and the murders throughout all of our country.

Someone has suggested that our military forces be brought in to help the police. Bad suggestion. To do so would limit our military forces whose duties are to guard our borders and to prevent wars between nations.

One action that the police might consider is to take away from Arab rioters, prior to their arrest, their teudot zehut, the national ID cards, which then would deprive them of Israeli citizenship and all medical and hospital treatment. Without a teudat zehut they would be without the benefits of being alive, in a practical sense.

Depriving rioters and wanton murderers of the benefits of Israeli citizenship is kin to making them like zombies who wander aimlessly with no one to help them.

But it is absolutely necessary to emphasize that most of our Arab citizens are law-abiding decent people. The tragedy which occurred recently in the Meron incident which caused the deaths of many religious Jews and dozens more wounded is an example of the goodwill of many Arabs who opened their homes to help the survivors and who who fed them and cared for them. Likewise, we must remember the 1929 pogrom in Hebron where many Arabs saved the lives of their Jewish neighbors. Let us not forget the Arab kindness and hospitality as we measure the good against the bad.

Our never-ending war with Hamas in Gaza will continue for a long time to come. But our agression with Israeli Arabs needs to end almost immediately.

As one Arab man in the city of Lod announced wisely during an interview with the press and television: “We must stop the fighting in Lod. We have to live peacefully with the Jews. We have worked side by side with them. We must re-establish good relations that must not be destroyed.”

Hopefully his good words will not fall deaf on the ears of both Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel.

America had its Abraham Lincoln to soothe the wounds of a divided population. We, in Israel, lack a moral leadership. We have political infighting among ourselves with no leader to bring us peace.

Our dreadful civil war will thus continue with more bloodshed and deaths before it comes to an end.

Jews and Muslims pray to the same One Almighty God. Whose prayers will God hear? To whom will He answer? Shalom for one and Salaam for another.

It does not matter. Our first and primary task and effort is to rid Gaza of Hamas terrorists and to leave Gaza scorched earth sufficient only for camels to chew on dried grass. The end of Hamas must be our very first priority. Insh’Allah. Ken yehi ratzon. So must it be. The God of Israel so wills it. And so do we.

Shalom bimromav… peace from Above…must be joined together with the Shalom from Below.

V’im lo achshav, aimatai. And if not now, when?

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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