I’ve written recently about how Israel treats its Arab minority here and here. And about what Israel is doing to the Palestinian Arabs here and here. But what about Arab and Muslim countries - surely Israel can’t have any dealings with them. Or can it?
It is true that despite the positive aspects in my previous articles, the Jewish State is vilified throughout the Arab and Muslim world. You’d think that tiny Israel (the size of New Jersey, or Wales) would be of no consequence whatsoever to the 21 Arab states and 50 odd Muslim states. Compare Israel’s 8 million inhabitants (crammed into 20,700 sq km) to the 350 million Arabs spread out over 13 million sq km. And the huge statistics for Muslim countries are even more striking. They should really ignore the Jewish State and leave us to get on with our mission of making the rest of the world into a better place.
If only we kept quiet. If only Dr Adi Weissbuch of Israel’s Kaplan Medical Centre hadn’t responded to the email from the Iranian doctor who desperately needed someone to save the life of his pregnant Muslim patient. Instead, he was able to prevent complications that would have killed her. If only ex-lifeguards, Shimshon and Nimrod Machani, who now run a surfboat business in Thailand, hadn’t rescued two Iranians whose kayak had overturned in a storm. It’s ironic that initially, Mundar and Ali hugged and kissed their rescuers. But, as Shimshon related, "When we told them we''re Israelis they just got up and fled."
Maybe we should have originally turned away the five medical experts from Indonesia (the most populous Muslim country) who recently graduated from a course at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Centre on coping with natural and man-made catastrophes. And why was Israel the first country to send aid to Turkey in response to their plea for help following the aftermath of the earthquake in Eastern Turkey?
We must be able to do something other than allow in thousands of Sudanese refugees who enter Israel illegally each month. After all, many aren’t actually fleeing war and oppression in their homeland but rather their miserable life in Egypt. Perhaps we should shoot them as they cross the border, like their Egyptian “brothers” do? As Aron Adler relates “On one side of the border (Egyptian) soldiers shoot to kill. On the other side, they know they will be treated with more respect than in any of the countries they crossed to get to this point. The Israeli soldiers who are confronted with these refugees do it not with rifles aimed at them, but with a helping hand and an open heart.” And it’s been going on for years.
Meanwhile, now that the Muslim state of Sudan has split, what is Israel doing? Providing humanitarian aid to South Sudan through IsraAID. OK, they do have 90% illiteracy, little water and no infrastructure, but does Israel really need to help them? Apparently, it has been revealed that we have been working with the South Sudanese for at least the last two years.
We’re even doing business with Muslim and Arab states. Israel’s NICE Systems sold its anti-fraud software to Malaysia’s CIMB Bank. In the first 30 days following deployment, the software prevented major fraud losses. And I thought Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan hated Israel? So how come trade between the two countries increased by 26% to $2 billion, in the first six months of last year compared to the same period in 2010.
Egypt is another example. They keep blowing up that gas pipeline, but Israel pays $300 million per annum for Egyptian gas. Israeli firms employ thousands at their Egyptian factories. And Israel opens up the USA for $1 billion of tax-free Egyptian exports. Why bother?
Maybe events like these may shed some light on the reason. Such as Israeli President Shimon Peres who hosted Egypt’s deputy ambassador to a Ramadan dinner. Or Canadian Pakistani Muslim Raheel Raza, who enjoyed a riveting President’s Conference in Jerusalem. Perhaps the Arabs who praised Israeli hi-tech on a Qatar website. Or those that tweeted “Israel cares about its citizens”, following the exchange of 1027 Arab terrorists for Gilad Schalit. And the Iranians and Israelis who sang together over the Internet. (The Israelis sang in Persian and the Iranians in Hebrew.)
So maybe the lion can lie down with the lamb. If British Muslim Kasim Hafeez can be transformed from hating Israel, to founding the website theisraelcampaign.org just by reading “The Case for Israel” by Prof Alan Deshowitz. We can even talk the same language to the Arabs, now that Israel’s Prime Minister has hired his first Arabic-speaking spokesman and unveiled a new Arabic-language website.
So let’s finish these news events in sweetness and light. When Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer fans headed to their match with Turkish club Besiktas they took along 100 kilos of toffee as a present for their opponents’ fans. What did the Besiktas fans promise them for the return leg? What else, but Turkish Delight.
Hmm - it’s certainly something to get your teeth into.
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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