Esor Ben-Sorek
Esor Ben-Sorek

Our Aiding Arabs. Why the Surprise?

A recent KAN announcement mentioned that many Arabs were helping victims of the Meron catastrophe and their families. Our Arabs from all corners of our country. Yet the broadcast came as a surprise to too many of our Jewish citizens.

We should be grateful and express our thanks to the many Arab families and organizations who demonstrated their willingness to help our Jews suffering from the Meron tragedy.

Why the surprise?

Why should we be surprised?

It is high time that we change our negativism and understand that the Arabs of Israel are full citizens of our country. When we endured the large forest fires which destroyed so much of the natural beauty in our country, our Arabs gave generously to the aid and helped out wherever they could.

Why? Not simply because they were Arabs. More so because they were our fellow citizens. Our forests were their forests and our loss was their loss.

We must stop looking at them as the “others” but recognizing them as citizens of a different religion.

Hundreds of Arab citizens donated blood — Arab blood— for the surviving victims. Our hospitals were crowded with Arab donors.

They are a deeply religious people and a people who treasure the ties of family. When they heard of the deaths of so many religious Jewish pilgrims on Lag B’Omer they did not hesitate to come to the rescue.

Praise them ! Do not defile them! It takes such tragedies as the one in Meron to bring out the humaneness of people. We too often do not recognize the good and the positive within many Arab hearts. We are accustomed to our own long and tragic history with them…a history of slaughter and deaths. But not by all.

In the 1927 Hebron massacre, dozens of Jews were saved by their Arab neighbors. One whom I knew personally was Rabbi Aryeh Ravitz, chief rabbi of the Tel-Aviv rabbinic supreme court. He and his family were native born residents of Hebron. When the slaughter began, they were taken by neighborly Arabs to the safety of Arab homes and their lives were spared. There were several similar instances when Arabs in Hebron saved Jews from death. Let us remember the truth and not forget it.

The Arab citizens of Israel have suffered much from the bitter hatred of the majority of our Jews. One of the reasons is because we do not know them well enough to extend hands in friendship.

The miserable settlers and hilltop youth who illegally live in temporary huts on territory which is part of the area legally allotted to our Arabs and who bring theft, burnings, destruction to the homes and property and cattle of the legal Arab owners, are detriments to any peace accords between us and them.

Our police and military do very little to punish the Jewish settler criminals hailed as heroes by the Smotriches and Ben-Gvirs, racist and fascist elements who bring shame and disgrace upon Jewish Israel.

Followers of Meir Kahane, a vitriolic American rabbi who despised Arabs and hailed their deaths and who was eventually assassinated in the USA, love him and worship his memory. His murder may be part of their inheritance. If they want to follow in his footsteps they must be prepared to accept the worst.

In order to build stronger relationships between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs we must use an occasion such as their magnanimous attempts to help Jewish victims and survivors as an opportunity to reach out with our thanks. A simple “shukran” (many thanks) can help.

The KAN news report mentioned the surprise of so many Israeli Jews. Let us turn our surprise into a brotherhood of peace and goodwill for a better and happier nation and a happier people.

Ken yehi ratzon. Insh’Allah. So may it be in our lifetime. Amen.

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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