“Occupation”- Definition: job, profession, line of work, career, calling, walk of life.
So what work has Israel been doing in connection with the Palestinian Arabs since my last article on the subject earlier in the year?
In May, doctors at Schneider’s children hospital transplanted a kidney into a 10-year-old Palestinian Arab boy. The kidney came from 3-year-old Israeli Noam Naor who died in a tragic fall and his parents decided to donate his organs to save the life of others. Following the operation, Noam''s mother said, "To see Yakub today is very exciting. I wish him only health, a full and speedy recovery.” In the same month, Hadassah doctors performed an extremely rare operation to deliver the conjoined (“Siamese”) twins of a Palestinian Arab mother. The babies weighed 4.9 pounds and shared a heart.
The Israeli charity Save A Child’s Heart (SACH) performs more life-saving surgery on Palestinian Arab infants than from any other part of the world. In August, of the 22 children at SACH’s base in the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, seven were from the Palestinian Authority. SACH works with Christian organization Shevet Achim which funds and transports PA and Gaza children requiring heart surgery to Israeli hospitals such as the Wolfson and to Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.
In July, IDF paramedics and Magen David Adom joined together with the PA police and the PA Red Crescent to save a Palestinian Arab who was hit by a car when riding his donkey near Nablus (Shechem). MDA transported him to an Israeli hospital for further treatment. And coming right up-to-date, in December an IDF emergency medical team rescued a 10-year-old Palestinian Arab boy whose head was cut open following a car accident and airlifted him to hospital. The team also treated the boy’s mother, who suffered from shock after the accident.
In 2013, truck drivers from Israel were fully occupied making 64,783 deliveries of food, medicines, finished goods and building materials (some 1.3 million tons) into Gaza. Unfortunately for Hamas, their leader Ismail Haniyeh was caught feeding orphans in Gaza with “boycotted” Israeli yogurts. Meanwhile in July sixty Gaza farmers attended an agricultural seminar in northern Israel. They completed workshops on cultivation methods, planting schedules, soil preparation, irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides. In the following video, dozens of Gaza farmers are shown at an Israeli exhibition earlier in the year learning about innovative Israeli agricultural methods and new fruits and vegetables developed in Israel.
When the December storm struck, Israel intervened in Hamas’ quarrel with the PA by rushing in 1.2 million liters of diesel into Gaza to restart its power station. And when the snow trapped a Palestinian Authority ambulance carrying a very sick woman, Israeli soldiers from the Kfir Brigade were there to help it back on the road.
The PA shuns normalisation of relations with Israel, but the 20,000 Palestinian Arabs working for Israelis in Judea and Samaria (25 percent more than in 2012) illustrate that the reality is quite different. In August we also read about the hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian Arabs who have become business partners and colleagues in joint start-ups. For example Israeli startup Naked Sea Salt partners with a Palestinian Arab company to use eco-friendly methods to harvest salt from the Dead Sea. And the massive project involving Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority will construct a pipeline from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea to produce millions of cubic meters of drinking water for the region, hydroelectric power and replenish the critically dwindling Dead Sea. Even Al Jazeera broadcast the news of the joint project.
Work by Israel for the PA includes support for a new industrial park, near Bethlehem (so much for the “apartheid wall”!). Further construction projects, like that of Israeli water treatment company Mapal Green Energy, are recycling domestic sewage and water for Palestinian Arab villages. This could explain why the PA’s many leisure parks managed to keep their swimming pools full throughout the summer.
Despite the PA being constantly occupied with incitement, there are still occasional opportunities for optimism. In September, five Arab schools in East Jerusalem decided to switch from the Palestinian to the Israeli curriculum so that their students could study for the Israeli bagrut (matriculation exam). Then as Moslems celebrated the end of the Moslem holy month of Ramadan, approximately one million Palestinian Arabs received permits to enter Israel as tourists – 200,000 more than last year. And we may see more videos of Israelis (hopefully not in IDF uniform) and Palestinian Arabs dancing together.
Before anyone says that this is all new, here is a selection of Israel''s "occupational therapy" from previous years. And here, and here and here.
Finally, future prospects for peace lie with the next generation. We can only hope that sufficient children remain untouched by PA hate education to achieve this. Some will have played in mixed teams with Israeli children in the May 2013 Mini Soccer World Cup at Israel’s Kiryat Gat stadium. It was (UK) Liverpool’s soccer manager Bill Shankly who said, “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death… I can assure you, it is much, much more important than that.”
More good news will occupy this space in 2014.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
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