Sunday, January 21, 2018

  • Sunday, January 21, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
Day after day, week after week,  people reading Haaretz are told about an Israel that is bigoted, anti-Arab, dominated by the religious, with the dwindling number of liberals under siege from the extreme right wing and Orthodox.

But today, Haaretz has a political reason to show the liberal side of Israel - to make fun of Mike Pence:

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s itinerary for his two-day visit in Israel may check all the diplomatic and political boxes, but frankly, it’s a bit boring.

But what might a more daring itinerary look like - one that challenged the arch-conservative American politician's long-held beliefs instead of reinforcing them, and one that introduced him to the Israel outside the Jerusalem bubble? Here are a few suggestions.


Visit the Caracal mixed gender IDF combat unit

Israel, of course, has never had the luxury of keeping women out of the army and has drafted both sexes since the state's establishment. As for combat, it has been integrating women into an increasing number of roles including units like the Caracal light infantry battalion that patrols the country’s border with Egypt.

Caracal was the first mixed-gender combat battalion in the Israeli army, begun as a pilot project 15 years ago, proven a success, and continuing to grow.


If, after his visit, Pence still doesn't believe women belong in combat, that’s OK.

Check out an Israeli health clinic

It would be educational for Pence to take a look at what a well-run universal health-care system looks like - the kind that he and his fellow conservative GOP members have been battling so hard to prevent. And if it isn’t too much for him to handle, it can be explained to the hardline pro-lifer that in Israel, abortions are not only legal, but largely paid for by the state as well.

True, married women of childbearing age are required to appear in front of an “abortion panel,” though permission for the procedure is granted for a vast majority of women - over 97 percent.

If Pence thinks that safe, affordable, easy access to abortion surely makes them are all too common - he should think again. Abortion rates in Israel have both dropped dramatically over the past quarter century and are significantly lower than in the United States...

Lay a wreath at Tel Aviv’s Pink Triangle

Yad Vashem is all well and good, but how about a ceremony at the Tel Aviv memorial to LGBT victims of Hitler, inaugurated in 2013? The memorial is in Gan Meir, a park in the heart of Tel Aviv, where the vice president could also notice the large, rainbow flag flying proudly from the roof of the local center for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, established and funded by the city's municipality.

Sit in on a session in sharia court

Pence might be interested in seeing that in Israel, of all places, sharia law is something practiced in a real court that does not condone any such practices. The Muslim religious courts date back to the Ottoman Empire, when they functioned as the official court of the state. Since the establishment of Israel, they have jurisdiction over marital matters for Muslims.

Last spring, for the first time in Israeli history, a woman, Hana Mansour-Khatib, was appointed as a sharia court judge (no woman has yet been named to an equivalent position in a Jewish religious court). President Rivlin has said Israel’s sharia courts represent “the recognition of the unparalleled importance of the vitality of communities, cultures and traditions to the fabric of the life in the modern state.”

The full article still has digs at Orthodox Jews, but it is interesting that Haaretz suddenly discovers a side of Israel that it strenuously denies exists in other contexts.




We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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