I am a writer, a journalist, so it is only natural that I write. Readers are people who have an interest, pro or con, in something that they have read. To my happiness, many readers from across the world take time to respond to my articles with their comments.
In the past ten days I have received comments and e-mails from readers of The Times of Israel, in England, USA, France, Brazil, Poland, Italy and Australia in addition to seven responses from my readers here in Israel.
One reader in Italy wrote a very long letter in Italian (which I do not read nor speak) followed by a Hebrew translation. He supported my thoughts and opinions of our recent political chaos.
Yaron Schwalb, on the other hand, has written me on more than one occasion , this time accusing me of supporting fascists, communists and haters of the Jewish National State who seek to destroy us.
If it is the same Mr. Schwalb who lives in Australia and was educated at the University of Melbourne and works with his brother Yoav at Pinpoint, he is remotely distant from our kangaroo-less society. Albeit, Pinpoint has an office in Israel on rehov Maskit in beautiful Herzliya. Maybe an occasional camel passes by but nary a kangaroo.
Mr. Schwalb is an educated man and he writes with a passion to express his opinions. I respect him very much even though I must disagree with his opinions.
It is what makes life so interesting. I don’t know his age but I am certain that he is many years younger than I am. And probably wiser than me.
My views on the Arab Joint List which also includes a Jewish communist are quite clear. Yes, they do not love us. Yes, they are anti-Zionist, but given an opportunity to leave Israel and to re-settle in the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan, the historic Palestine, 100 percent of them would refuse to choose to live elsewhere. Israel… Jewish majority Israel… is their home.
No country, with the exception of the magnificent wealthy Gulf States, could offer them a standard of living comparable to how they live in Israel.
Yaron Schwalb needs first of all to understand Jewish life in Poland for centuries prior to the Second World War. Polish Jews, like Israeli Arabs, were minorities of 20 percent of the indigenous population. They lived mainly in restricted areas and were denied most civil rights until the end of the First World War when the governing regulations of Marshal Josef Pilsudski were enacted.
Pilsudski was a friend of the Jews and enabled laws guaranteeing them of rights and privileges equal to Poles. Menachem Begin who studied law at the University of Warsaw was an admirer of Pilsudski’s legendary acts of humaneness.
Comparing Polish Jews in former times with Israeli Arabs in our time is the equivalent of comparing apples to oranges.
We have not treated our minorities equally. Their towns and villages do not receive the same budgets for infrastructure, schools, hospitals and civic centers that are allotted to Israeli Jewish centers of life.
Between the two world wars, anti-Semitism in Poland was rife. Fascists controlled the government. Jewish students at universities were required to sit on back benches away from Polish students.
And while there were some Jews elected to the Sejm, Polish parliament, many Polish legislators refused to be seated next to a Jew. In fact, popular opinion was that Jews should leave Poland and go to Palestine.
“Zydzie do Palestina” was a national sentiment.
We in Israel do not tell our Arabs in Israel “lechu l’Yarden”… go to Jordan.
As full citizens of Israel, whether they like Zionists or hate us, they are represented in our Knesset and have been duly elected by their constituents in Arab communities throughout Israel.
My comments on the Joint List are misunderstood by Mr. Schwalb. As elected members of the Israeli parliament I see them as Arab citizens of Israel and I vehemently oppose the vile racists like Binyamin Netanyahu who openly refers to them as “terrorists”.
He dares not apply that word to the wild hilltop settler youth who destroy Arab homes, cars, property, agricultural fields and even Arab lives. For Netanyahu, the settler gangs are not terrorists. They are, in Bibi’s words, good Zionists and defenders of the State.
If we are a democracy (which is recently questionable) we must allow all of our citizens, Jews and non-Jews, the same freedoms of expression in both words and deeds.
I know only too well our tragic history with the Arabs of Palestine in pre-State days. The pogroms, the massacres, the brutalities, remain clear in my mind.
While some Israeli Arabs may look back upon those “good old days when we could beat the Jews” I doubt that any consider returning to those “good old days”.
There can never be again dastardly attacks on us such as the infamous Hebron pogrom.
Nine out of ten letters which I receive by personal e-mail as well as those written on comments under my articles have been supportive of my opinions. I am grateful to them for their kind words.
I make my personal life as Benny Gantz put it in his own words: “I put Israel first above everything else”.
I get letters and I am grateful that many readers take time to reply and to share their own personal views.
I wish all readers of the TIMES OF ISRAEL and all the dedicated staff members a chag haPesach kasher v’samayach. May you all be blessed with good health, safety, and long years of life. May our Eternal God watch over all of us and protect us from harm and disease. Ken yehi ratzon. So may it be. Amen.