About Ari Bussel
In the series "Postcards from Israel,” Ari
Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers throughout the world to
join them as they present reports from Israel as seen by two
sets of eyes: Bussel’s on the ground, Zager’s counter-point from
home. Israel and the United States are inter-related - the two
countries we hold dearest to our hearts - and so is this "point
- counter-point” presentation that has, since 2008, become part
of our lives.
Coexistence: Building Unsustainable Bridges
in a Snap: Will Israel Be Saved?
Audacity of Being
Ands & Buts
Middle East Mirage
Absurdity of Existence
War: Outside the Walls of the Temple Mount
Holy War: The Al Aqsa Mosque on Temple Mount
Delegitimization from Within
Slaughter of Israel
Would Stand By Israel
Well Coordinated Attack
& Speak Out
Bunch These Jewish People
They Burned Books
Indicators of Our Time
Candles of Darkness
December 1, 2009
Palestine, Stand Proud Israel
for Israel, But Why?
Blaming the Messenger
for Our Country, Fighting for our Lives
Coexistence: Building Unsustainable Bridges
November 29, 2010
A friend of mine is a development director for a Jewish university in Israel, in
other words, she raises funds for that university.
For some odd reason, the marketing materials constantly mention the number of
Arab students at that university. It is apparently important to make that point,
whether because of the location or the fact that each classroom has the flag of
Trying to sell "Jewish-Muslim co-existence” to prospective donors seems to miss
the point. Why not highlight the absorption of Ethiopians whose parents did not
even have running water or sewage, paved roads or electricity? Or how about
Russian immigrants from the former Soviet Union, leading scientists and
musicians, experts in their respective fields, with advanced degrees and areas
of specialty with no applicability in Israel who became street sweepers at the
beginning of the assimilation process?
There are causes worth being highlighted and promoted. A person who has arrived
into the 21st Century from the deserts of Africa, walks into an elevator and two
hours later is still inside, awed by the doors opening and closing. Or focus on
a person whose achievements are numerous, and yet in order to put food on the
table, does the most menial jobs without complaint.
Why promote the Arab constituency? Is it not playing right into their narrative
and game plan?
There are Arab students in every Israeli university. Why should that surprise
anyone? There are more than a million Arabs out of a population of seven million
in Israel. Israel, contrary to prevailing belief, is not Apartheid South Africa.
Thus, my friend’s effort to highlight that fact should be obvious is, to me,
sending the wrong message. It looks "politically correct,” goes out of the way
to make an unnecessary point and falls prey into the hands of those maligning
Israel with misleading Jewish propaganda.
There is one Arab student in particular who heads the international BDS movement
(Boycott, Divest, Sanction), directly from the comforts of Tel Aviv University
where he is working on his doctorate.
There is another Jewish professor in particular who heads the Political Science
Department at Ben Gurion University ("BGU”) of the Negev. He, too, calls to
boycott, divest and sanction Israel.
During a recent lecture here in Los Angeles, I asked the doctoral candidate why
he studies at the Apartheid institution he acts to abolish. There are after all
other universities, Arab ones, both in Israel and elsewhere (Jordan, Syria,
Turkey, Iran, …) where he might feel more comfortable and receive full
scholarship plus room and board.
Barguti, the student, is smart. It is much more effective to fight from within,
access which adds credibility, while getting the very best education at the same
Prof. Neve Gordon of BGU uses Academia as his shield and protector. After
publishing an OpEd piece in the Los Angeles Times, hundreds of his colleagues
from throughout Israel came out to defend him in the spirit of Academic Freedom.
Even the President of his university, a Jewish doctor in her own right, came to
Los Angeles and explained that her "hands are tied.”
All the while, Israel feels compelled to highlight the fact that Arabs are an
integral part of every institution—from politics (Arabs members of the Knesset)
to the judiciary (Arab Supreme Court Justice and judges and lawyers at every
level of the system), from academia to the medical profession.
Educated, well-spoken, full of hatred—Israeli citizens who view themselves as a
minority that is entitled to disengage. No longer are they Israeli-Arabs, i.e.
citizens with equal rights despite having a different religion; they are now
Palestinians with national aspirations (that call for the abolishment of the
Jewish State and de facto do not recognize her right to exist).
They call themselves the "1948 Arabs,” reminding us that Israel was Palestine,
the land is theirs, the houses Israel demolished were theirs, Jerusalem is their
capital and any construction anywhere in Judea and Samaria (including Jerusalem)
is nothing short of settlement on their rightful land occupied by the Jews. The
notion of 1948 Arabs now gives rise to a right of return to the one
state—Palestine. There is no place for Israel.
I am awed at the efforts made to highlight equality, opportunity and the status
quo of the Israeli Arabs. They call to abolish the state, actively participate
in terror acts they view as "civil disobedience” (imagine the level of terror
they will inflict when they decide to engage in the next armed struggle, the
Third Intifada) and do not recognize the very trunk from which they stem.
Are they really blind to reality? I contend that they are not. Quite the
contrary: If asked if they would want to live as a minority in Israel or under
Palestinian, Jordanian, Syrian or Egyptian control, the answer is always the
same: Remain in Israel.
When they need medical attention, they invariably go to Jewish hospitals. This
year thus far, 180,000 Palestinians went to Israel for medical treatment,
including tens of thousands from Gaza.
Where is it better to study: At Haifa, Tel Aviv, Beer Sheva, Ariel or Jerusalem
or elsewhere? Look at the number of Arab students at each of these universities
and the answer becomes obvious.
Arabs feel at home in Israel, because the Jewish state is their home. They are
no different from any other citizen, yet they are actively engaged in fighting
I knew two Israeli doctors from the Soroka hospital in the Negev. The hospital
is associated with BGU. The two doctors spent two years in Los Angeles, so we
ended up spending many hours together.
They have three children, two girls and a boy, and when I asked if they would
treat when on duty as Emergency Room Attending a terrorist who blew himself up
when one of their kids was lying on the next operating room bed, the answer was
without any hesitation "yes.”
I took it as a sign of true dedication to their profession and the oath they
took. What is so unusual is that they are not the exception but the rule.
Throughout the bloody Intifadas and the armed battles that ensued over the
years, Israeli doctors were treating the enemy alongside the soldiers and
civilians they injured. Every person receives the same level of treatment.
For Jewish people this is reasonable and expected. For people of the Middle East
this is stupidity at its best. Come in, you will be treated as royalty. You
tried to murder me a minute ago? Never mind that. You will return after I heal
you strapped with explosives? We will survive that too. You would want your
children to become martyrs (shaids), we would still treat them as we did before.
The Hebrew University’s Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, the Soroka Hospital in
the Negev, the Carmel Hospital in Haifa, and on through each and every medical
center in Israel, are proud of their Arab doctors, nurses and support staff.
They are an integral part of a profession that saves lives, an industry that has
excelled more than anywhere else in the world.
Only in Israel can such contradictions exist.
To Israelis, there is never a moral dilemma: "A terrorist fires at IDF soldiers,
is shot and wounded. Is an IDF medic to be called to treat him? A building is
about to collapse in the heart of Ramallah. Does the IDF enter? Does it
jeopardize its soldiers’ lives, or does it call the International Red Cross and
risk losing precious time?
"To Israel, the answer to these questions is clear. According to Division
Medical Officer, Lt. Col. Michael Kassirer, ‘The treatment of the Palestinian
population is first and foremost a moral and professional obligation for every
one of us. Do we treat them? There is no question about it.’”
As long as Israel continues to treat a terrorist and his victims equally, terror
will reign. I do not doubt the sincerity of the two doctors—they would
undoubtedly treat a terrorist and their critically wounded son or daughter side
by side; they have done similarly in the past.
As long as my fund-raising friend continues to highlight the Arab population as
a selling point, there will be an ever growing sense of entitlement: "We deserve
more!” More importantly, it shows a weakness of political correctness, an
experiment long shown to bring our downfall.
Equal treatment and equal access are privileges that must not be taken for
granted. The Palestinians know that whatever they do, all doors will remain
open, welcoming them with a royal treatment.
One day this must all come to an end, then, the Palestinians will have to make
up their minds: What is it they prefer? Do they want peace and co-existence the
Jewish-Israeli way, or do they want life under Muslim rule.
I know the answer. They do too. But in the meantime, they play both ends and
dance at both weddings.