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GUEST COMMENTARY: My Mother Would Be Horrified at Anti-Israel Mindset of U.S. Liberals

Posted by kinchendavid on October 24, 2006

By Billie Kozolchyk

My mother would be 108 years old if she were alive today and would be horrified at what has become the mindset of so many “liberals” — mind you, I consider myself a bona fide liberal — in this country vis-a-vis Israel.

Her first entry into political awareness was as a member of the Young People’s Socialist League. When that disintegrated, she became a member of the Liberal Party in New York because the Democrats weren’t liberal enough.

She would certainly be on board for the issues dear to liberal hearts today but then would ask herself what’s going on when the only true, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracy in the Middle East is lambasted in an egregious display of hypocrisy by fellow liberals.

Some of those issues:

1. Universal health care: Israel has universal health care.

2. Homosexuals in the military: Homosexuals, both male and female, openly serve in the Israel military. In fact, in one landmark decision, a widower of a gay military member was given same sex survivor benefits. Additionally, openly gay people serve Israel abroad. Present at a recent meeting of schlichim (representatives of Israel who spend several years in this country), were some who are gay.

3. Capital punishment: There is capital punishment in Israel for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people and treason in war time. The last execution in Israel was held in 1962. The person executed was Adolf Eichmann. And although he managed the logistics of the deportation of the murdered millions during the Holocaust, some Israelis were opposed to the execution.

4 Role of women in society: Our country is 230 years old and there is still controversy concerning the ability of a woman to be president. When Israel was 21 years old, Golda Meir became Prime Minister.

5. Minorities on the Supreme Court: Thurgood Marshall, our first African-American Supreme Court Justice, was appointed in 1967, 191 years after this nation’s birth. Abdel Rahman Zuabi, an Israeli Arab Muslim, was appointed for nine months to the Israeli Supreme Court in 1999 when Israel was 51 years old. Salim Joubran, a Christian Arab, was named to the Supreme Court in 2003 and received a permanent appointment in 2004.

6. Stem cell research: Israel is at the cutting edge of stem cell research. A physician at the medical center of the Technion was among the members of the team that first isolated stem cells from human embryos in 1998.

7. Racism: The late extremist rabbi, Meir Kahane, founded the Kach party in Israel. In 1988, it was banished from the Knesset because of its incitement to racism. When one of its members murdered Muslims at prayer services in 1994, it was completely outlawed. The Israeli government and the populace at large condemned the murders.

8. One official language: The two official languages of Israel are Hebrew and Arabic

9. Freedom of (or from) religion. Although Israel is a Jewish country, its proclamation of independence says it will “guarantee freedom of religion” and “will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions;” Synagogues, mosques and churches dot the religious landscape as well as the religious sanctuaries of the Druze. The Bahai religion was founded in Iran, but its members had to flee because of religious persecution; its world headquarters are in Haifa, Israel. And if one doesn’t choose to believe? David Grossman is a prize winning Israeli novelist, In a video, A Jew is Not One Thing, produced by the Jewish Museum of New York, Grossman talks about the day his wife gave birth to their eldest son in Jerusalem. On his way home, “Suddenly I saw Jerusalem with all the beauty of Jerusalem by night with all the lights and special atmosphere about Jerusalem.” He parked his car and said to himself, “Don’t be a schmuck. It’s been a good day. You have a son, a wonderful son and your wife is okay, she’s healthy and it’s good.

Say thank you, God. And I just couldn’t say it. I felt that if I thank Him at that moment, it really means that deep in my heart, I do believe that there is such a power, such an entity. And I didn’t. “

10. A woman’s right to choose: The abortion law in Israel is very detailed, but its essence is that a woman has the right to choose.

Israel is hardly a perfect society. It has its fair share of crooked politicians, criminals, right wing zealots, wife beaters, bigots, prostitution (my mother would never believe any of that!) and many others who do not make great contributions to society. But despite having been under siege almost non-stop since its birth, Israel, the size of New Jersey (or in my part of the country, the size of Pima County) has indeed contributed a great deal to the rest of the world. Solar energy, drip irrigation, cell phones, the first cancer-detecting video camera so small it can fit inside a pill and be ingested, the NR and XP operating systems, voice mail technology, the first fully computerized no-radiation diagnostic instrumentation technique for breast cancer and other innovations make our lives better. The above achievements are just the tip of the iceberg.

One cannot pretend that the Arabs and Jews of Israel, any more than all the ethnic groups in this country, live in perfect harmony. However, consider the following: Some Arab Knesset members made some very hostile comments about their country’s war with Hezbollah. And what did the Israeli government do? It provided them with bodyguards to protect them from any possible repercussions. Without question, Israel’s 1,000,000 Arabs have far more freedom than their fellow Arabs in neighboring countries. They vote in open free elections, they can protest, they can seek higher office and in fact, many have been elected. Israel’s first non-Jewish diplomat, an Israeli Arab Druze, was appointed to the Israeli Consulate in New York in 1972. He was only 32 years old and his country was considerably younger than he. He has led a very active diplomatic and political life, is on the Board of Governors of Haifa University and the board of the America-Israel Friendship League.

My mother would be quick to point out the irony that the very society today’s liberals demonize is the only society in that neighborhood where they could freely express their views.

The author is a resident of Tucson, Pima County, Arizona.

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