Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Government Press Office (Israel) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
“I could never live in Israel,” is something people often drop in conversation. In some respects, they mean this as a compliment. They’re calling me brave. At the same time, they’re calling me foolhardy and worse, because what they really want to know is how anyone could choose to raise children in a dangerous neighborhood: could put their children’s lives at risk.
I could do what some do and answer with statistics that prove it’s more dangerous to live in New York than in Jerusalem. Statistics are infinitely malleable that way. But that would be dishonest. The fact is, in New York, there aren’t a lot of people getting killed in horrible ways because they’re Jewish.
In Jerusalem, on the other hand, if someone is the victim of violence, God forbid, it’s almost always because that person is Jewish.
Which is kind of crazy, if you think about it, and in some ways, defeats the purpose of living in the Jewish State. Isn’t the idea to escape antisemitism? To live and breathe free in our own land?
If peace isn’t arriving any time soon, what’s the point of sticking out one’s neck to live in a place where you might be blown up, stabbed, stoned to death, or rammed by a truck because of your religion?

Where’s the advantage in that??
After all, I might have stayed in Pittsburgh. My mom has, in the past, wondered at my Aliyah, “Israel is for people who have no other place to live, persecuted people, poor people. People from places like Morocco, France, and Russia.”
A lot of Israelis agree with her. These Israelis have no love for Western immigrants. We look like show-offs, brandishing our bravado. Trying to be oh-so-tough and Israeli. We’re not fooling THEM, the real Israelis. The ones who don’t speak Hebrew with cringe-worthy American accents.
But I’m here in Israel a long time now. I’m what’s called a “vatik.” A veteran.
I know it’s dangerous. I know it’s a dangerous place to raise children.
And still: I choose to live in Israel. I choose to raise my 12 children here.
In spite of the danger.
Because some things are more important than even life itself.
The land, for instance.
If someone dies, God forbid, in order to strengthen the Land of Israel, this is a huge mitzvah. It’s a mitzvah no one aspires to and everyone dreads. But a mitzvah all the same.
Which is the difference between Jews who come to live in and raise families in Israel, and the 700,000 so-called Arab “refugees” who fled Israel in 1948.

The Economist, October 2, 1948: "Of the 62,000 Arabs who formerly lived in Haifa not more than 5,000 or 6,000 remained. Various factors influenced their decision to seek safety in flight. There is but little doubt that the most potent of the factors were the announcements made over the air by the Higher Arab Executive, urging the Arabs to quit ... It was clearly intimated that those Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades."
Near East Arabic Radio, April 3, 1948: "It must not be forgotten that the Arab Higher Committee encouraged the refugees to flee from their homes in Jaffa, Haifa and Jerusalem, and that certain leaders . . . make political capital out of their miserable situation . . ."
Nimr el Hawari, Commander of the Palestine Arab Youth Organization, in his book Sir Am Nakbah (The Secret Behind the Disaster, Nazareth, 1955), quoted Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Said as saying "We will smash the country with our guns and obliterate every place the Jews seek shelter in. The Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down."
Golda Meir famously traveled to Haifa to try to convince the fleeing Arabs to remain during the Arab offensive on Haifa. But they didn’t listen. They were afraid they’d be accused of being traitors. By the time the fighting in Haifa was over, more than 50,000 had turned tail and fled to neighboring countries.
A British police report from that time notes that "every effort is being made by the Jews to persuade the Arab populace to stay and carry on with their normal lives.”
You see? They weren’t expelled. They fled. They fled at the behest of the invading Arab armies, even though Israeli leaders begged them to stay, and pledged their safety. They were afraid.
And it wasn’t just Haifa. It happened everywhere in Israel. The few Arabs who did stay were granted full citizenship after the war ended. Because they stayed the course.
The rest fled because they put their lives and their safety ahead of the land, ahead of their beautiful homes . . .

(photo credit: Dov Epstein)
(photo credit: Dov Epstein)
(photo credit: Dov Epstein)

. . . many of which now, as a result, belong to Jews: Jews who stayed the course, stayed in Israel, risking their lives.

Now it’s understandable that Arabs put their lives ahead of the land. They don’t have that tie to Eretz HaKodesh, the Holy Land. Jerusalem isn’t mentioned in the Quran. Many Arab inhabitants of the Israel of 1947, had only a brief history there. They arrived because the Jews were beginning to arrive. The Arabs were poor. They hoped that following the Jews might mean riding Jewish coattails to prosperity.
Arab hopes were indeed born out. They made money, prospered. Built solid homes. They still prosper in a sense, pretending to be refugees, getting gazillions in aid, getting money to kill Jews.
The Jews prospered, too. They prospered because they stayed. They won the wars, won the land, got the beautiful homes the Arabs built and left. Left because the Arabs had their priorities straight: life, not land.
Yes, for them, life is more important than land. But religion is king above all. Jews and Arabs have a symbiotic relationship in that respect: Jews are willing to die for the land. Arabs are willing to die killing Jews.
Yet the Arabs fled the land at the first sign of trouble. It’s not their abandoned homes they mourn, as their crocodile tears are shed for the TV camera, as they hold out a key, the symbol of return. Because if they really cared so damned much about the land and their homes, they would not have left in the first place.

Left of their own volition.
Which is why they must now pretend they are refugees, that they were expelled. Because the truth doesn’t look so great: Jews stayed the course, stayed in Israel, no matter what. But the Arabs turned tail and fled. Except for the small number who stayed. They received Arab citizenship, a prize from a democracy that wants to live with the Arabs in peace. They got citizenship because they placed Israel above their most genuine fears and concerns.
As did I.

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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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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