Seven Fascinating Things I Learned in Israel

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I recently returned home from an unforgettable, two-week trip to Israel with the Young Jewish Conservatives. While there we spoke to members of the Israeli Knesset and Foreign Ministry, and traveled to parts of Israel—such as Hebron and Sderot—that most American groups never get to see because they are either politically incorrect or dangerous.

Here are 7 fascinating things I learned there that are worth sharing:

1.) I had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of “Save a Child’s Heart,” an Israeli medical charity that performs pediatric heart surgery for non-Jewish children in desperate need of help, free of charge. Since its inception in 1995, the organization has literally saved the lives of 3,000 non-Jewish children, 50% of whom came from Gaza, the West Bank and Iraq.

When I heard these statistics I could not believe it. I asked a worker there if this amazing organization helps the image of Israel in the Palestinian territories, as “Save a Child’s Heart” certainly assists many families who despise the Jewish State. She responded: “We hope so.”

2.) There are two UN refugee agencies in the world: First is the United Nations Relief and Works Administrations (UNRWA) for 5 million Palestinian refugees (which includes the descendants of the original 500,000 Palestinian refugees from the Israeli War of Independence) which employs 30,000 workers. The UNRWA has resettled no Palestinians.

The second refugee agency is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which assists every other refugee in the world–including 100 million displaced people during the last 50 years–and employs 7,000 people. The UNHCR has resettled tens of millions of refugees.

Looking at these numbers, one would think that the cause of the Palestinians is some how morally superior to that of all other war refugees. After all, why have so many more workers been assisting a dramatically smaller group of people? But if the Palestinians are unique it is only because of their moral inferiority, as they are the only group of refugees that regularly commit acts of terrorism against innocent civilians.

Another obvious question: why hasn’t the UNRWA resettled any of the Palestinian refugees? The answer, of course, is that the surrounding Arab states would rather have these refugees remain a thorn in Israel’s side, than help them start a new life. The UNRWA is happy to oblige.

3.) A couple interesting facts about the political right in Israel:

There are many on the Israeli political right who do not value the American-Israel relationship, and think it causes more harm than good (they are not big fans of AIPAC). And they are not just talking about the Obama era. Many of them, including Moshe Feiglin (Netanyahu’s political rival in Likud), think that America attaches too many strings to its support; they think that America routinely coerces Israel into making one-sided concessions; and they think that Israel needs to become independent of America, and more self-reliant in the international arena. In fact, Mr. Feiglin told us that he does not care if Romney or Obama wins the election, as Israel can take care of itself. Many of us in the YJC challenged his opinion, but to no avail.

Another interesting dynamic in Israeli politics was relayed to us by Gil Hoffman, the Chief Political Correspondent of the Jerusalem post. He told us that there are also many on the right in Israel who actually want President Obama to be re-elected because he has proven himself to be a failure with regard to the peace process, and they are therefore confident Israel will not relinquish any land as long as he is president. Conversely, they fear that Netanyahu would trust a President Romney, which could accelerate the peace process, eventually leading to Israeli concessions. Mr. Hoffman told us, “There is no peace process because of the President of the United States.” For this reason, many on the Israeli left are worried Obama will win re-election.

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  • JeremyMoodey

    This is a bizarre article. The author claims that Israel is not a racist country which oppresses its minorities, yet he himself uses racist language when he describes Palestinians as "morally inferior". Is he taking lessons from Mitt Romney? As for Israel not oppressing minorities, we are supposed to be impressed that 16 MKs are not Jewish. If the distribution of MKs reflected population, then the number should be nearer 25-30.

    The cheap shots at UNRWA are predictable, given the author's Zionist agenda. UNRWA has not resettled any refugees because Israel will not allow any of them to return to the homes from which they and their ancestors were forcibly displaced (and for which they still have keys and title deeds) in 1948. The Palestinian refugee problem is the biggest and most intractable unresolved refugee issue in modern times. There will never be a resolution until Israel finally stops its occupation and settlement of Palestinian lands and commits to an equitable peace accord.

    • p058720235

      1.Where did he ever state the Palestinians are "morally inferior"? He never said so!
      2.The parliamentary system does not reflect the population distribution! So, your claim is, saying the least, idiotic!
      3. There are 4-5 ARAB parties in the parliament – why so many you ask, they just can't get along with one another!
      4. "Cheap shots" at UNRWA???? There are undisputed facts which are outrageous!
      5. You want to tell me that all other refuges in the world returned to their place of origin????
      6. What about the 700,000 Jewish refuges that were chased out of Arab countries and settled in Israel. How come 22 Arab countries can not, better said, will not help their own "Ummah" ???
      You ignorance is amazing, your hatred is blinded by PURE FACTS presented in this article.

      • stern23

        Thanks P, for saying most of the things I intended to say. I would just like to elaborate on your point 5.

        JeremyMoodey completely misunderstands the term "resettlement" when it applies to refugees. As you correctly point out, UNHCR does not resettle refugees in their old homes, but in new countries willing to accept them! The fact that the Arab nations, with their vast spaces, refuse to allow Palestinians to settle within their borders is very telling.

        Even more interesting:
        "Palestinian refugees" in Lebanon are not allowed to live in certain areas, not allowed to go to certain schools, not allowed to work in certain segments such as law, medicine and more. As an ex-South African, that sounds suspiciously like apartheid to me!

        "Palestinian refugees" in the West Bank have been told that even if a country of Palestine comes into being (chas vasholem!!), they will not become citizens. They will continue to be "refugees"!!!! How on earth can Palestinians in Palestine be refugees! The only reason for it must be so that they can continue to claim their bogus "right of return".

        This is what JeremeyMoodey supports? Shame!

        • Raymond in DC

          It should also be pointed out there are Palestinian Arabs in refugee camps in Jordan and the West Bank whose families originally came from Gaza. Yet they're not permitted – by Palestinian authorities! – to "return home" and reclaim their properties!

          By the way, one of those refugee camps on the West Bank sits on land purchased by – and still legally owned by – the Jewish National Fund.

      • Kufar Dawg

        I had thought the number of Jews ethnically cleansed from muslime states in the Mid-East and N. Africa since the beginning of the 20th century was much closer to 1,000,000, and really, who's to say the ethnic cleansing of Jews from muslime states hasn't ended? Iran's Jewish populous is declining annually and no one has to wonder why.

    • normtrub

      THE Arab population Palestine grew from 600,000 to 950,000 between 1920 and 1936 owing to the substantial improvement in socio economic conditions produced by the development of the Jewish National home. The British authorities acknowledged this in a 1937 report by a commission of inquiry b headed by Lord Peel.
      The first thing to note is that “Palestinians” have not been living in Palestine (now Israel) from time immemorial. Turkish and British records are clear that Palestine was flooded with Arab immigrants from the late 1850’s onward due to the salutary effects of British colonial and Zionist developments from the mid-19th century onward. Groundbreaking work on the Arab historical demography of Palestine during the second half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries has been done by Professor Justin McCarthy in his book The Population of Palestine: Population History and Statistics of the Late Ottoman Period and the Mandate (Institute for Palestine Studies Series). McCarthy, not a Jew nor an Israeli nor a Zionist, writing for a Palestinian institute, demonstrates that the Arab population of Palestine almost quadrupled from c. 1855 to 1947. Only a tiny minority of Arabs can claim ancestral attachment to this territory, and even those claims are based solely on anecdotal accounts for which there is no empirical evidence.
      Then one must recall that the Arab side started the war, and lost the war. Israel accepted the UN partition plan in 1947. The Arab states launched a war. When an aggressor loses a war because the victim country successfully repulses the aggression, and in doing so captures some of the aggressor’s land, the disposition of that captured territory, and its inhabitants, must await a peace treaty between the belligerents. Refugees from the aggressor country have recourse to repatriation only in the context of a peace treaty. Most Arab countries have refused to make peace. It was Arab aggression that started the war. Had there been no war there would have been no refugees, and there would have been a state for the Palestinians since 1947.

    • Cromulent

      Jeremy – Germany called; do you know how to operate an oven?

    • alexa

      All the other millions refugees were not settled back in their own countreis. Not forgetting 850,000 arab jews refugees who didn't got back to theri home and properties. Why should the palestinians be different

    • PaulRevereNow

      "Racist language" isn't the cause of Palestinian moral failing–its their constant rocket and terror attacks against Israel.(Basic logic 101) The rocket and terror attacks are the cause of the author calling Palestinians
      "morally inferior." Understand? If the truth seems "bizarre" to you; let me suggest that you have been brainwashed, by all that multicultural nonsense they teach in American public schools. This is a GREAT article.

    • ziontruth

      "As for Israel not oppressing minorities, we are supposed to be impressed that 16 MKs are not Jewish. If the distribution of MKs reflected population, then the number should be nearer 25-30."

      Give Leftists an inch, they'll demand a mile. Just like their Muslim allies.

      "…because Israel will not allow any of them to return to the homes from which they and their ancestors were forcibly displaced…"

      No part of the Land of Israel is home to any Arab. Arabs are settler-colonist invaders in all of Palestine and should relinquish their illegal, ill-gotten gains for the sake of a just and viable peace.

      "…(and for which they still have keys and title deeds)…"

      Fake keys and fake deeds for a fake nation. Par for the course.

      "The Palestinian refugee problem is the biggest and most intractable unresolved refugee issue in modern times."

      A storm in the teacup were it not for Western thirst for Arab oil.

      "There will never be a resolution until Israel finally stops its occupation and settlement of Palestinian lands and commits to an equitable peace accord."

      There will never be a resolution until the Arabs finally stop its occupation and settlement of Jewish lands and commits to an equitable peace accord.

    • aspacia


      What about the 650,000 Jews driven from the homes in the vast ME, who were absorbed by tiny Israel?

  • paul1149

    Simply a stunning, incomprehensible moral inversion. I'm glad Romney acknowledged the issue of culture. Until the Arabs free themselves of Islam there will be no peace.

  • Cromulent

    I used to half-joke when I was younger that if God gave me the right to call my own exit when the time came I would prefer to go Slim Pickens’-style. Riding a large bomb dropped on Arafat.

    No one could question my bona fides on Israel.

    But if Bill Clinton couldn’t see his way to releasing Pollard then he should never be released. Whatever you might think of Clinton’s diplomacy you can’t accuse him of ignoring the Middle East. He had James Carville engineer Ehud Barak’s rise to power specifically to get a deal cut with the Palestinians. We’ve never seenanything quite like it.

    Clinton would have moved Heaven & Earth if necessary to get Yasir to sign on the dotted line. Releasing Pollard would have made him the most popular in Israel. But he couldn’t do it. That should tell you something about what’s in those secret files

    • ben traina

      Pollard did tremendous damage to our intelligence activities in the Middle East. The traitor should have been executed. Read Seymour Hersh's article in the 1/18/99 edition of the New Yorker. Israel and the U.S. have a common mortal enemy and should be close allies. But Israeli governments have repeatedly demonstrated that they have "no permanent allies, just permanent interests". Understandable. For both Israel AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!! I hope Pollard rots in prison for the rest of his despicable life.

      • Bamaguje

        Can't blame Israel for not completely trusting America given that there have always been antisemites within every US government, or at least American officials who do not have Israel's interest at heart… e.g. Carter, Obama.

        • Amused

          ben Traina I can see you know NOTHING of the Pollard case , Do you know what his job was ? Do you know why Cap Weinberger is so vehemently AGAINST any release of Pollard ? Did you know that moles in the CIA whose "work " did far more damage than anything Pollard did , and were exposed recieved lesser sentences ? Did you know that we have traded captured spies who did infinitely more damage to the US , with our ENEMIES ? It us NOTHING less than the extraordinary influence members of the Reagan and George H .Bush Administrations STILL wield with the Republican Party and the additional leverage Clinton's philandering gave them ? Have you heard of Iran-Contra ? Ollie North ? Doyou believe that Ronald Reagan was truly "out of the loop " as then V.P-.GHB claimed . " Pollards job was such that it tracked and /or had information on World-Wide ship movements , their cargos , port of origin and final destinations? I think not / connect the dots or investigate further for yourself .

  • Asher

    Its amazing that some Israelis would rather have an anti-semetic Obama than a President who definitely supports Israel, and would help them. Do they really think Romney would force them back to 67 borders or curtail settlements in Judea and Samaria. There is more to fear from the enabling of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Libya, and Syria…Obama is the one who changed the regimes that are surrounding Israel..That is pretty drastic.

  • Don Stevens

    I was a 'Volunteer', in Israel, in 1949. My wife, and I, were 'visitors', in Israel, in 1982 (taking a 250 mile bicycle ride). We are Jewish. We have Friends who are Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, etc. I've never understood the hatred towards Jews, or Israel. There are millions of People, of non-Jewish Religions, in Israel. When we were last in Israel, we asked many non-Jewish People, if they felt 'discriminated' against, in Israel. Not one, said that they were. Several said that their only 'problem', living in Israel, was how long it took to 'get through' Security, going in, and out, of Israel. I didn't tell them that we had the same problem. That's Security.
    Israel IS NOT A RACIST COUNTRY – and DOES NOT OPPRESS IT'S MINORITIES – Unlike most Middle-East Countries. We Love Israel.

  • Ghostwriter

    I don't understand the hatred,either. I've never been to Israel. But why are there idiots like JeremyMoodey who wallow in such disgusting anti-semitism is a mystery to me.

  • Kufar Dawg

    I had thought Jonathan Pollard had sold or offered to sell US secrets to countries other than Israel? It's one thing it he supports Israel, it's another if he's merely a mercenary.

  • Amused

    To the understandably uninformed as usual Kufar Dawg . You "thought wrong " .It was only Israel .