Dear John…we forgive you

Dear John. You used the “A” word and you’ve made us really sad. You can’t do that John because it associates us here in Israel with racism and discrimination. We are the victims of racism. Imagine if you used  the”N” word in the presence of a black man. Get it? Or the “B” word for a woman. They can use it. You can’t. Now imagine we called you a “g*y” or an “anti****te”. You would be hurt, right?

As an Israeli and a South African I am going to take the time to explain why Israel can never be associated with “A”. No doubt when you blurted out “A” you were thinking of so many of the false rumors and myths that abound, so let’s talk about them one by one.

Demographics: You probably base your theory on the research and data provided by the Israel Bureau of Statistics, the Israel Tax Authority, the CIA and the JDP, all of which definitively conclude that there is already a minority of Jewish people between the sea and the Jordan River thus making us a minority ruling a majority.  The thing is John, unlike in high-tech and the natural sciences where the Jewish mind excels above all others we tend to look at history and political evolution with a more holistic metaphysical approach. Studies have been done which prove the contrary to the above: Arab birth rates are dropping fast and Jewish birth rates especially in the settlements are booming. Here’s the news John – my sources tell me that by 2150 there will be only 17 Arab Palestinians in the West Bank! Taking into account that 6 of those will be in administrative detention, another 7 will have Jordanian citizenship, that leaves only 4 Palestinians to whom we will grant full citizenship and voting rights. Time is on our side.

Settlements: Like many, you don’t understand why Israel continues settlement during negotiations. And yes we have heard the accusations of colonialism, the expropriation of natural resources and cheap land but you have to realize John, that the 13,851 new housing  units in occupied territory processed for construction during the negotiation period were merely a bargaining chip in the bigger game. It means nothing. Since the government initiated the dismantling 5 houses from their foundations and relocation from Ulpana, we now have experience in easily moving buildings from place to place. The 13,851 new units can easily be transported from the West Bank to Fureidis for example, where the Judaization of the only Arab city between Tel Aviv and Haifa will be welcomed by locals.

Price Tag: When you bring up the “A” word, I’m sure – in the back of your mind – you think about what many call the growing specter of racism and bigotry by Israelis, the burning of mosques and acts of vandalism known as “price tag”. The reality, John, is that there is a very small number of people who give us all a bad name. My neighbor who works in the Shin Bet says that they now know that in fact there are just two people who are the perpetrators of “price tag”. That’s it. And they know their names. No doubt you will ask why they have not been apprehended and how it’s possible that they can commit multiple acts of damage and vandalism in the same night. The answer is that they drive really really fast. Now while the security forces know how to work in unison, there is a problem coordinating with the traffic police. It’s a bureaucratic thing. Once the two agencies figure out how to interchange data these young troublemakers will be arrested and given a stern warning. End of story.

GDP: Admittedly there is a slight difference between the West Bank and Israel in GDP per capita (WB: $1,924 as opposed to Israel: $35,833) but one must take into account cultural, educational and social issues which are mitigating forces. Our Arab Palestinians are far better off than many others in the Arab world: look at Egypt, look at Syria, look at Jordan, look at Yemen. Factor in all the civil wars and strife. Here they have peace and quiet, and small but growing economy. What’s important isn’t to see the difference. What’s important is they are progressing and progress towards civilization takes time. A long time. But there is an upside. Palestinian Arabs can make do on a bowl of hummus with olive oil and a pita for a whole day. They know how to survive with very few needs. Indeed one is reminded of the miracle of Hanukah and the oil that lasted eight days. I have been told there are Palestinians who have survived a whole week on one plate of hummus. Praise the Lord. He works wonders.

Discrimination on roads, water, infrastructure: John, don’t listen to everything they say. Let’s talk about different roads for different people. I have one word on this, John: Security. And I don’t mean suicide bombers. Have you ever seen how these guys drive? They are a menace to themselves and others. Now John, if you think this has racial overtones, it does not. The problem in the territories is that the driving teachers are not great. This is a process that takes time. So despite the high court ruling on road 443, would you let your daughter drive there with Palestinians weaving in and out? I don’t think so.

Definition of crimes against humanity: I grudgingly have to use the full word “apartheid” here. We know that the International Criminal Court defines apartheid as an “institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over other racial group or groups”. So clearly we are not practicing apartheid for two reasons. One is that we are not racial groups. We all come from the house of Abraham. However let’s say that the main thing is “systematic oppression and domination…” Let me tell you this: It’s not systematic. It’s random and off the wall. House demolitions, arbitrary arrests, administrative detention, persecution of minors…it’s all just here and there. Systematic? I wish we were systematic. Remember what David Cameron said when he came to Israel? “Balagan”. You need to learn that word. It’s all a balagan. The ICC can come and see for themselves. Good luck to them.

John, just one more thing before I sign off. Please don’t say “poof” again. We South African expatriates tend to think of “poef” in Afrikaans. Or its diminutive, “poefie”.  As they say back in S.A.:  “Daar trap jy in poef”. You may need to go to the urban dictionary to figure that one out and sadly, to understand how accurate a description of your efforts that is.

With Love and Forgiveness

About the Author
Originally from South Africa, Jonathan made aliya in the seventies, and lived and worked on a kibbutz for several years. He has a graduate degree in business from Boston University and is a managing partner of an Israeli based business. He was a co-founder of the Forum Tzora peace action group and participates in the Geneva Initiative workshops. He is the author of the book “Valley of Heaven and Earth”.