Mais Ali-Saleh- The ASA should know your name!

I live in Israel, and I am strong enough and smart enough to live here and yet admit that everything here is not utopia. I know that the Israeli government makes lots of mistakes and bad decisions, but truthfully,  so do most of the governments in every other country as well. Our country is not perfect, your country is not perfect, no country is perfect. That being said, if you look around the world and are honest about what is happening in the countries that Israel calls her neighbors and in the region we call the Middle East, you will be hard pressed to find any other place besides the state of Israel where women are given the equality and opportunity that they are given here, and where academics can openly voice their opinion without the fear of being thrown into prison to rot for the rest of their life. Israel is a Middle Eastern country where you can be openly gay and not be killed. Israel is a place that has created a model of excellent socialized medical care, and it is available to everyone. Israel has been crowned the high tech king, they have created everything from the Smartphone you are reading this article on, to machines that allow those who are paralyzed and never believed that they would move the chance to walk. They absorb the world’s problems as their borders are crossed daily by those who seek refuge in a place that will not persecute them. Israel puts a tremendous value on education so much so that the country has been ranked in the highest category of those who hold higher degrees per capita. And it is not only Israeli’s that hold these degrees and are given these rights, it is many of the Arabs who live in Israel as well.

Take a look at last year’s Technion roster and you will see that the valedictorian of the graduating class Mais Ali-Saleh is an Arab woman. She is an Israeli Arab from a small village outside of Nazareth, in Israel’s Galilee region and she will be the first one to tell you that “Arabs, and in particular Arab women, have more freedom, liberties and academic opportunities in Israel than in any Arab country.”

When it comes to Israel the world is critical, cruel and pulsing with anti Semitism. And the saddest part is that even the most brilliant of minds who know much about history and its truths are all too eager to jump on the boycott bandwagon if it’s pulling away from Israel.

Shame on you ASA for boycotting Israel’s academic sphere, because when you make bad and truly anti Semitic decisions such as the one you made last week you are saying that Arab women like Mais Ali-Saleh do not deserve a higher education. You are saying that like millions of other Arab women she should have been left in the dust to rot in some backwater village just like Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan who was shot by the Taliban in 2009. A fifteen year old girl from Swat Valley in Pakistan whose only crime was riding home on a school bus, with the gall to believe that she deserved an education, almost paying for that decision with her life.

ASA I know your type, as I was able to watch you first hand when I was a student at Harvard in 2003, and I had a front row seat at anti Israel rallies when the world was screaming to divest from Israel. I will never forget going to the rallies to combat what the Arab student leagues were shouting the world should do to Israel and believe me it’s just as ugly in person as it is from thousands of miles away.

I do not know what the future holds for Israel or for her people. However, regardless of the decision of the ASA and all those who are just like them, we the land and the people of Israel will be OK. We may be slow learners but deep down we know that the world will not have our backs in good times or in bad; but don’t worry because we will have yours. You see, when your lands are torn and destroyed by tsunami’s, earthquakes, and devastating storms we will come and set up field hospitals, send you our best and brightest medical professionals using our taxpayers monies and help to heal your country’s sick, wounded  and needy. When it comes to your need for the latest and greatest technology whether you know it or not- you are using ours. When it comes to irrigating your fields in your country’s desert climates to feed your massive populations-you’re using our stuff. When it comes to the most sophisticated modern warfare-you’re using our inventions. And when it comes to saving your own lives-you’ll be taking our pills. Because at the end of the day we may not be able to depend on you- but you sure as heck needs us.

About the Author
As a nursing student with a focus on midwifery, Yona works in women's health and is involved in helping to create opportunities for women to be empowered in their maternal health decisions.