I hope you’ve been enjoying my latest follow-ups to “Look what Israel is doing to the Palestinian Arabs” published mid-2011, which can be read here and here. I now turn to the Arabs who have wisely decided to become citizens of the Jewish State. Much has happened since I wrote about them in September.
Let’s start with some Arabs who are only alive because of the treatment they received at Israeli hospitals. In July, Druze baby Jazen Jamal was born at 23 weeks and barely 600 grams. Four months later, a healthy 2.24 kg Jazen was taken home by his parents from the Western Galilee Government Hospital in Nahariya. Meanwhile, in a Haifa hospital, 15-year old Mohammad is being treated for severe face cancer. His father Arrif says he cannot believe what has and is being done for Mohammed and himself.
At the Sheba Medical Centre near Tel Aviv, Haneen Hajo and Leonid Feldman met the brother of German journalist Antonia Boegner who died in August in a car accident in Israel. Arab-Israeli Hajo received Antonia’s lungs and Jewish-Israeli Feldman received her liver. In September, Sheba surgeons also transplanted the lungs of Arab-Israeli Nabil Hourani, who died of a brain haemorrhage, into Said Subhi (an Arab) and Serge Kaminovitch (a Jew). Hourani''s brother said. "My brother now lives on, in both Arabs and Jews, and this is very important to me."
Amongst other medical stories, I would just highlight this one. In September, the Jerusalem municipality opened a new Infant Care Centre in the mainly Arab-populated Shiloach (Silwan) section of Israel’s capital city. Jerusalem Mayor Barkat said, “The city of Jerusalem will continue to invest in Arab neighbourhoods in cooperation and coordination with the Arab residents of Jerusalem in order to improve their quality of life.”
But I hope you will be moved by this article by John R. Cohn, Professor of Medicine and Assistant Professor of Paediatrics at Thomas Jefferson University. Prof Cohn visited Israeli hospitals in December and highlights how in Israel Jewish and Arab doctors treat the injured irrespective of whether they are Arab, Jew, civilian or terrorist.
I want now to focus on the education of Arab-Israelis. At the start of the school year in September, sparkling new or renewed classrooms, computers and sports facilities greeted 42,153 students and their teachers at schools in the Arab neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem. The municipality of Israel’s capital has invested millions in Arab schools. Additional programmes will advance gifted pupils, strengthen girls’ education and reduce school violence.
I could never understand how anyone could call Israel an Apartheid state. I saw hundreds of Arab students when I visited the Technion ten years ago. Since then, the Landa Equal Opportunities Project has improved the success rate for Israeli Arab students phenomenally.
And Israel doesn’t just provide formal education for its Arab citizens. In the nine years since the circus school was formed at Kfar Yehoshua, Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze have come together to juggle, jump and laugh. Similarly, in the past year, the educational department of the Botanical Gardens in Jerusalem has brought together 160 Jewish and Arab children for combined studies. And Jewish teenagers from Jerusalem joined with Arab Muslims and Christians from Nazareth in a successful dialogue project over 10 months. The students toured Nazareth and Jerusalem, learning more about each city and the diverse cultures and traditions that define the country.
Educating adults, however, can be more difficult. So it was appropriate that the 2011 Goldberg IIE Prize for Peace in the Middle East was awarded to Amal Elsana Alh''jooj and Vivian Silver, co-Executive Directors of the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development in recognition to their continuous joint work and efforts to advance peace, partnership and tolerance between Jewish and Arab communities in Israel.
Finally, removing superstitions is one of the hardest tasks that educators come up against. Israeli Arabs used to believe that owls were bad luck. But recent seminars have convinced them that barn owls are important assets for organic farmers to keep rodent pests under control. And that means a healthier environment for all of us.
Please keep a look out for the second part of this series next week.
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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