“Cry, the Beloved Country”

No other country in the world is as persecuted, vilified and defamed, for no fault of its own, as the State of Israel. This country is accused of racism, discrimination, occupation, denial of rights – there is not one social issue that international committees all over the world do not discuss in the context of Israel. International conferences convene to display the faults of this slandered country, and the media is eager to exaggerate with personal interest stories that deal with Israel’s bad qualities.

However, when taking a closer look, we are confronted with many surprising facts about this country.

Israel is called an ‘apartheid’ state, but tens of thousands of infiltrators cross borders and pass through other countries to reach this ‘racist’ state. What is more, they do not want to leave. On the contrary, they go on strike to support their request for permanent residency status. This is the only country that set out to Africa and brought back hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Ethiopia, who were seeking a home and had discovered their Jewish affinity (albeit forgotten for generations). They were received with open arms, and there are still many more who want to immigrate to this country, which many still call a racist country.

Foreign workers that arrived in Israel are begging for the right to remain, to be accepted by the authorities, to be part of its society. Not one of them looks to one of Israel’s neighboring countries for asylum. Refugees’ experiences in neighboring countries testify that even after four generations, they have received neither citizenship, nor residency, nor recognition of their status. Their refugee status has remained intact for eternity.

Israeli Arabs that entirely support the establishment of a Palestinian state, are horrified by the idea that some of them might be transferred to the Palestinian entity that they are struggling to establish. They do not want to be part of it, even if their lands, homes and the economic rights that they have in the racist, hated, State of Israel are ensured.

The State of Israel is one of the only countries in the world that absorbed its immigrants from 130 countries. Some arrived because of persecution, others because of love of the homeland or family ties, but they were all integrated in this wronged and despised country, which has become the global punching bag for all social wrongs that occur in various countries with no link to Israel.

Why do all these people want to come here? Because tens of thousands of African migrants, who refused to stay in any other Middle Eastern country except Israel, who are demonstrating and marching today in broad daylight, know that there is no other democracy like Israel in the region or in the signficant region between their countries of origin and Israel. Here they can demonstrate, they can receive support and help, medical care and education, and here they are free to slander the host country, which they still refuse to leave for any other country including their homeland. They desperately want to make Israel their home – to find housing, to start families, to heal their children, and to educate future generations in the excellent, democratic education system of a country, which is so viciously despised.

This beloved country, which is indeed the most successful country in the region, which has transformed an arid desert into a flowering garden, which has established a just, good, benevolent democracy with values and principles that have become a symbol to many – does not deserve to be vilified publicly on a constant basis.

When one examines the hate-filled articles against Israel and compares them to articles about other countries, the disproportion between the defamation of Israel and atrocities that happen in other countries in the region is evident. One and a half million refugees live in Jordan; many arrived since the start of the civil war in Syria, and others fled Iraq. They exist in subhuman conditions, and the world is silent, carrying on as usual.

Turkey, which sees itself as a regional super-power, has not absorbed Syrian refugees in its cities – neither in Ankara, Izmir, or Istanbul – and they still live in refugee camps, some of which were created following Turkey’s ideological involvement and actions in Syria. Syrian refugees did not receive legal status in the Republic of Turkey, despite the religious, national, and personal ties between these refugees and the country that wants to lead the Muslim world.

Qatar, which is considered one of the richest countries in the world, does not disclose the number of its population, for fear it may reveal that its citizens are few vis-à-vis the multitude of refugees and work migrants, who it does not accept as citizens or permanent residents. No one in the world raises his or her voice in protest. Syrian and Lebanese refugee camps have been housing refugees for four and five generations, as these countries refuse to recognize them and accept them as citizens. And in contrast, the criticism against Israel, which has accepted its refugees with open arms, and despite their arrival in great poverty, has helped them establish a state that is a shining example and role model for other countries.

All those that now slander Israel and its behavior towards its foreign residents – some do so out of a desire to harm the State of Israel, others do so out of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiments, and some can be called “useful idiots”, as Lenin called the left-wing parties in Europe at the time.

Israel is entitled to hold its head up for its moral values, for its behavior that is different from that of other countries, for its principles, for its love of humankind, and for its willingness to add, repair, improve, and reinforce the weaker aspects of society, and to draw conclusions that address recognition and acceptance of the other and different. The coalition of Israel-haters is built on deceit, deception, and hatred, in the hope that lies have a leg to stand on, but we hope that these deceptions shatter in the face of reality and the truth becomes known.

I bid the State of Israel to establish a national and international body, which will be able to shed light on the true image of Israel, answer the allegations made against it from within and out, and denounce those that are trying to disparage and weaken it.

About the Author
Dr David Altman is senior vice-president at the Netanya Academic College and vice-chair of the college's Strategic Dialogue Center