IDF Releases Plans For Trains In West Bank

The Israel Defense Forces publicized plans to build a network of high-speed trains that would run between West Bank population centers and connect them with Israel, Jordan and Syria.

The network, according to a blueprint announced Wednesday by the IDF’s Civil Administration, would by 2035 carry up to 30 million passengers on nearly 300 miles of track between 30 cities. It would run across the West Bank and connect with major Israeli cities and with border crossings into Jordan and Syria.

Because the network would run through Areas A and B in the West Bank, which are Palestinian-controlled, the project would need approval from the Palestinian Authority to move forward. So far, the Palestinian Authority has refused.

The project’s high cost could delay it for years even if it were approved.

“There is no intention to advance the plan to the implementation stage at this time,” said an official from Israel’s Transportation Ministry, according to the Times of Israel. “This is just on paper. It’s not going to be built for years.”

 

Nefesh B’Nefesh

The Dorn family is leaving Kemp Mill to start a new life in Israel. Pushing luggage piled high on carts, Ian and Gali Dorn and their three boys made aliyah July 22.

Marietta and Nissan Jaffee made aliyah on Monday through Nefesh B'Nefesh.

Marietta and Nissan Jaffee made aliyah on Monday through Nefesh B’Nefesh.

Neither Ian Dorn nor his wife had a job awaiting them in Israel.

“I am going on pure faith,” he said, adding he is worried about providing for his family and realizes he may not remain an architect in his new country.

Gali Dorn is an Israeli with lots of family there, and they seem more than anxious to join them and especially enjoy the numerous kosher restaurants everywhere.

Dorn is proud that someday his son’s will all serve in the Israeli army, although like any parent, he hopes it’s not during wartime.

He is worried about terrorism, noting that violence anywhere can be frightening. However, he said, “I don’t want to live my life worrying.”

The Dorns are five of the 231 new Israelis that joined Nefesh B’Nefesh’s 49th charter flight. Making aliyah last Monday were 31 families, nine couples, 106 children and 47 single people, 11 of whom will be joining IDF.

They came from 31 states. The youngest one was two months, the oldest 78 years. Some had dreamed of making aliyah for as long as they can remember, others were still a bit in shock that they were actually starting a new life in Israel.

Also making aliyah was Yaakov Lipman and his wife, Ahuva. He said he was sure “the time is right” to move from Kemp Mill to Israel.

Their four children, who range in age from eight to 12, are starting to get older, explained his wife. The family has spent much of the past two summers living in Israel and has already begun the transition.

“It’s where we belong,” Ahuva Lipman said. He husband agreed, noting, “The question always was why don’t we go” and not why should we go.

Still, Yaakov Lipman said, “There will be difficult parts, like anything else. We have faith that since our reasons are good, Hashem will take care of us.”

They have family already in Israel including his cousin, Knesset member Dov Lipman.

Their son, 11-year old Naftali, had a big grin and a thumbs up before declaring the whole family wanted to come.

Yonatav and Hannah Beker live in D.C. and met when they both attended an AIPAC conference four years ago. The next year, they were married in Israel.

Yonatav is from Israel and has only lived in the states for six years. But Hannah grew up in New Mexico and has only been to Israel twice. They plan to live with his family for a short time until they can find a place to rent.

He already landed a job and will be a director of communications at Teva Pharmaceuticals. His wife will be going through to Ulpan to be immersed in Hebrew and admitted to having “a lot of anxiety about learning the language.”

Israel “is the best place to start a family,” Yonatav Beker said. “We are really looking forward to starting a new life” with their nine-month-old daughter, Ella.

His wife agreed, adding that their daughter will be among cousins and other children, enjoying “the whole Jewish experience.”

Marietta and Nissan Jaffee of Baltimore are fulfilling a “long time dream,” she said, adding that one daughter already lives in Israel and her son will be studying there soon. Another son is remaining in Baltimore.

As she spoke, her husband concentrated on the Hebrew language tapes he was listening to. He is retired from government work, but said he hopes to use his experience as a massage therapist. She has been a teacher for close to 25 years and hopes to find work in that field.

“My husband has been wanting to go to Israel for the last 30 years. He had to bring me along, but I am now so ready,” Marietta Jaffee declared. She said she plans to “just dive into life there,” and go through Ulpan absorption class to learn Hebrew.

Also on the flight was Rabbi Jeremy Stern, president of ORA, Organization for the Resolution of Agunot. While moving with his wife and three children, he will still keep his position and open an ORA office in Israel. He expects to return to the New York office frequently.

Stern said he dreamed of living in Israel “since we got married and before,” and will life in Efrat.

In New York, he spends $24,000 a year for his four, three and one year old to attend half-day nursery school. In Israel, his children’s schooling will be free, he said happily.

The flight to Israel was free to all making aliyah as well as the several reporters invited to witness, compliments of the Jewish Agency.

With this flight, Nefesh B’Nefesh has started 35,000 people on their new lives in Israel. They ease people through paperwork and government bureaucracy and guide them through housing, education and career decisions.

The government’s Ministry of Absorption provides six months of financial help for the new olim. The amount depends on the number of people in the family and begins at 18,000 shekels for six months for a single person.

The organization held a short ceremony in the New York airport before sending everyone into the security lines. Official after official welcomed the olim home, promising they will not be alone.

But the biggest spontaneous applause and appreciation went to former prisoner of war Gilad Shalit, who spent five years in captivity after being kidnapped by Hamas. He uttered no words, just smiled and waved. He graciously agreed to have his photo taken with many people and shyly shook his head when asked if he would speak to this reporter.

The ceremony at Ben Gurion was more elaborate and emotional. Hundreds cheered, waved flags and sang songs as everyone disembarked from the plane. Speaker after speaker welcomed everyone home.

Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel , told everyone to “open the Bible. Now it is your tourist guide.”

Dov Lipman, who made aliyah from Silver Spring in 2004, welcomed all to “the magic kingdom,” and told them there had been wrongly told that the Disney World was the real magic kingdom.

Following the lengthy flight and numerous speeches, everyone gathered up their large duffel bags and other luggage and headed out to their new home.

 

 

 

 

Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks To Resume

 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stepping off a helicopter after flying from Amman, Jordan, to Ramallah, West Bank, to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abba, July 19, 2013. (State Department photo/ Public Domain)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stepping off a helicopter after flying from Amman, Jordan, to Ramallah, West Bank, to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abba, July 19, 2013. (State Department photo/ Public Domain)

Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations will resume, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced.

“The representatives of two proud people today have decided that the difficult road ahead is worth traveling,” Kerry said in the Jordanian capital of Amman on Friday, where he was on his sixth visit to the region since assuming his job in February.

Top negotiators from both sides — Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat — will meet next week in Washington to advance the talks, Bloomberg News reported.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will have “tough choices” to make as talks proceed, Kerry said.

The terms of the resumption of talks were not made clear. The Palestinians have demanded that negotiations be based on the pre-1967 lines; Israel has resisted such terms.

The Baltimore Jewish Times will have further analysis of this situation in the coming weeks.

Letter To The United Nations

16 July 2013

Excellency,

This morning, mortar fire shook the early quiet for the communities of Northern Israel. The fasting and prayers of thousands of Israelis commemorating the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av were interrupted by a barrage of mortar shells fired from Syria. At the same time, and in a grave violation of the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement, tanks, trucks and armored vehicles belonging to Syrian government forces entered the buffer zone.

The violence that has shaken Syria is sending shockwaves throughout the region and threatening to further destabilize the Middle East. For two years, Israelis on the northern border have lived with the chaos and uncertainty of a war that threatens to spill over into their backyard. It is only a matter of time before a rocket or mortar shot from Syria falls on an Israeli home.

Israel has thus far shown maximum restraint and issued numerous warnings through UNDOF. However, the Israeli government will not allow its citizens to be the ongoing victims of these attacks and will continue to exercise its right to self-defense, as appropriate, and take all necessary measures to protect its population.

I urge the Security Council to condemn the incident and the Syrian government’s grave violation of the Separation of Forces Agreement. I should be grateful if you would have this letter distributed as an official document of the Security Council. I wish to inform you that an identical letter has been sent to H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. Allow me, Excellency, to renew to you the assurances of my highest consideration.

Yours truly,

Ron Prosor
Ambassador
Permanent Representative

 

Specialized Medical Team Averts Recurrent Miscarriages

Following nine miscarriages and 17 years of marriage, a couple from Georgia, Eastern Europe, finally has become parents thanks to Israel’s thorough treatment. Michael and Tamari Berikashvili of Tbilisi, Georgia, last week miraculously welcomed their beautiful daughter Mariam into the world.

Georgian Couple, Baby - 07.14.2013Following almost two decades of the heartbreak resulting from an inability to carry their repeated pregnancies to term, doctors in Georgia advised the couple to consult with specialists at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa, Israel. For them, such a move was not considered extreme, given their desperation to become parents and the glimmer of hope that the Holy Land could offer.

The Berikashvilis traveled across the continent to meet with Prof. Benjamin Brenner, Rambam’s director of the Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplantation Institute and the head of the hospital’s coagulation unit.

The meeting, for which they had travelled so far, was an eye opening experience, Michael said. “We came to Rambam to check the reason for our repeated miscarriages. For many years, we did not know what the problem was, but the tests given by Prof. Brenner found that Tamari has a condition called Hematologic Hypercoagulability,” he explained.

This condition, also known as Thrombophilia, is common among women who have recurring miscarriages. Dr. Brenner and researchers at Rambam’s coagulation unit found the link between repeated miscarriages and Thrombophilia, and have determined an effective treatment for the prevention of these miscarriages.

Physicians are able to diagnose Thrombophilia with a simple blood test, but the Berikashvilis did not have access to this procedure in Georgia. Once diagnosed, Tamari was given proper medication and became pregnant for the tenth time. Because of the risk involved with such a pregnancy, the couple returned to Israel after 13 weeks gestation, rented an apartment in Ramat Gan and frequently visited Rambam for consultations with Prof. Ido Solt, the director of Rambam’s special unit for high-risk pregnancies.

“After a couple goes through so much to become parents, everything intensifies,” said Prof. Solt, “Throughout the months of observation and prenatal checks, there were many emotions, pressures and fears, but once we saw that the pregnancy was developing normally, we all started to enjoy this amazing experience.”

“It’s not easy to go through all this when we were between Israel and Georgia, ” Tamari admitted,” but we waited seventeen years together, and I was ready to do everything to become a mom. We made sure to talk to and update our family in Georgia constantly. Meanwhile, the hospital staff was with us all the time and helped us through the process. ”

When the couple left Rambam on July 7, they were escorted by nurses and physicians who had been involved with their treatment throughout the pregnancy, culminating in little Mariam’s birth. The couple said that Rambam has become their second home after developing a strong connection to all those who gave them such dedicated care. Expressing hope, the Berikashvilis plan to visit the gynecology and hematology staffs next year, with Mariam and perhaps another blessing.

 

Israel Launches Information War Against Hizbullah

If you click on the Israeli army’s new Hizbullah website, you will see a red and black logo that reads, “Hizbullah, Army of Terror.” The site is a combination of graphics, text and videos, all focusing on the Lebanese-based, Iran-proxy terrorist organization and its leader, Sheikh Hassan Na’srallah.

New IDF Hezbollah - 7.14.2013One link refers back to what Israelis call the Second Lebanon War of 2006, and in fact, the site was launched on the seventh anniversary of that 34-day war between Hizbullah and Israel that was triggered by a cross-border raid by Hizbullah fighters that left eight Israeli soldiers dead and two captured. It ended with a United Nations – brokered cease-fire.

The website warns that Hizbullah today is stronger than ever.

“Seven years later, Hizbullah has developed capabilities to strike anywhere in Israel,” it says.

A neon-green graphic that follows the text shows the different weapons Hizbullah now in its arsenal and how far each one is able to reach. The missile with the longest range, the Scud-D, can travel more than 430 miles, potentially penetrating deep into Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well as Israel, as well as targeting American military assets in the region.

“Since the war, Hizbullah has tripled the size of its missile arsenal,” the website says. “In 2009, an IDF intelligence report revealed that Hizbullah had built close to 1,000 military facilities throughout southern Lebanon. The installations included more than 550 weapons bunkers and 300 underground facilities. Since the report’s release, Hizbullah has continued to build facilities in the region, enhancing its ability to strike at nearby Israeli towns and cities.”

The website says that Israel is in more danger than ever before.

“Hizbullah’s weapons are capable of causing far more substantial damage than its 2006 arsenal,” the website continues. “With its current abilities, Hizbullah is capable of bombarding Israel with continuous, precise attacks over an extended period of time.”

The website is the product of Israel’s new interactive media branch, a spin-off from the IDF Spokesman’s Unit. Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovich, the head of the new branch, says some 30 soldiers work there, and put out content in English, Hebrew, Arabic, French, Spanish and Russian. Two of the soldiers, she says, are native Egyptians who moved to Israel about seven years ago.

“This is the first time a military invests in such a platform using confidential information.” Leibovich told The Media Line. “When information will be interesting and high quality it will create a buzz about Hizbullah, and raise awareness about this organization that is sitting on our border with 60,000 rockets [pointed in Israel’s direction].”

Leibovich said some of the information came from classified sources, including combat intelligence troops based on the Lebanese border.

On the other side of the border, however, Lebanese journalists were not impressed with the website.

“This is the kind of information that any person can get on the web,” Farid Chedid, the editor of Lebanon Wire told The Media Line. “There is nothing new – it’s just a compilation of anti-Hizbullah propaganda.”

In Lebanon, Chedid says, Hizbullah is seen as an Iranian proxy, but it also runs a network of schools and clinics, providing salaries to thousands of Lebanese and social services to many more.

The website was put together by Pvt. Gabriel Freund, 25, an immigrant to Israel from Australia with a background in computer graphics.

“We tried to tell the story of the terrorist organization Hizbullah to the world in a way that is easy to share,” Freund told The Media Line. “We tried to make it as interactive as possible. You can see it is user friendly and you can easily access different parts of the site.”

The website also includes animations and videos showing how Hizbullah uses civilian homes from which to launch weapons. It was launched as Israel has undertaken a campaign to convince more of the international community to define Hizbullah as a terrorist organization. Seven states, including the US and Israel already define Hizbullah that way.

Leibovich says the interactive media branch has gained a large following with 340,000 followers on Facebook and more than 35 million page views on YouTube.

“This initiative shows the military has to adapt to a new media war zone which is interactive media,” Leibovich said.

A similar website on Hamas is currently being planned.

View the website>>

 

Wall-to-Wall

At sundown on July 15, we begin the commemoration of the destruction of the Temples. Tisha B’Av, the Ninth of the Hebrew month of Av, is a day of mourning.

“The destruction of the Temple was by sinat chinam, the inability for our people to get along,” said Jerry Silverman, president and chief executive officer of the Jewish Federations of North America.

For centuries, and particularly after Israel reunited Jerusalem as one city in 1967, the Kotel (Western Wall) has served as the most significant site in the world for the Jewish people. It is the last remnant of the Temple and a place where Jews from around the world gather to pray, a living testimony to the strength and resilience of the Jewish nation.

But in recent months, the Kotel has served as an image of divisiveness. Monthly, we read of clashes at the Kotel — not between Palestinians and Jews, but between Jews and Jews. The Women of the Wall are calling for the right to pray out loud, dressed in talitot and tefillin and to read from the Torah. The Orthodox establishment is pleading for status quo, to maintain a prayer environment that allows for Orthodox men and women to pray comfortably (on separate sides) at the Western Wall.

Just this past Monday, between 5,000 and 7,000 ultra-Orthodox seminary girls turned out at the Kotel to counter and oppose the Women of the Wall’s monthly prayer service. Approximately 250 women came to pray under police protection. Again, it was a media nightmare.

In late May, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called upon Natan Sharansky, head of the Jewish Agency for Israel, to intervene.

“He asked me if there was a way to bring down the tension,” Sharansky said in a phone call from Israel. “And so I tried to understand what is the most important thing about this fight.”

Sharansky said he spoke with the rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites in Israel, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz. He talked with leaders of Nashot HaKotel (Women of the Wall) and with the heads of Jewish communities from across the religious spectrum in America and Europe.

“I found that the real desire was to make [the Kotel] a place of connection and not division,” he said.

071213_wall_to_wall1And so Sharansky proposed a plan.

The large plaza running up to the Kotel will be divided into two equal areas: one managed under ultra-Orthodox rules mandating separate prayer areas for men and women; and one in which egalitarian prayer of all denominations will be allowed. The reconfiguration of the site would be implemented in two phases. The first, which planners hope will be completed within a year, would include redirecting foot traffic to the Wall into one joint entry way, which will then be divided into the two sections. The egalitarian section will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The second phase, which requires complex permit procedures regarding archeological excavations and Muslim controlled areas, will take another year. When the second phase is complete, the entire Kotel plaza will increase in size.

But the big elephant in the room is, will this plan work? Are people getting what they need, and can the Kotel once again be a place of unity and cohesion?

The History
To understand the importance of the Kotel, one has to understand from where it came.

In the year 37 B.C.E., Herod was appointed king in Jerusalem and he soon initiated a huge renovation project for the Temple. He hired many workers who toiled to make the Temple more magnificent and to widen the area of the Temple Mount by flattening the mountain peak and building four support walls around it. The Western Wall is the western support wall built during this widening of the Temple Mount Plaza.

This Second Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E., yet all four Temple Mount support walls remained standing. The Western Wall (as opposed to the other three) is considered the most special because of its proximity to the Holy of Holies in the Temple. And since the Temple’s destruction, the Kotel is the closest remaining site to the Temple that is accessible to Jews.

Over the generations, the Kotel became a place of prayer and longing for the Jewish people.

“Every day, three times a day, we pray in the direction of the Bais HaMikdash [Temple],” said Rabbi Yaakov Menken, who runs Torah.org. “The Kotel is the closest we can get to it now.”

In art and music, the image of Jerusalem was conveyed via the image of the Western Wall.

The Old City of Jerusalem, and the Western Wall within it, was not in Jewish hands from the War of Independence in 1948 when the Jewish Quarter of the Old City fell to the Jordanians until the Six Day War in 1967, when, led by paratrooper Motta Gur, the Jewish people penetrated the Old City through the Lion’s Gate and took it back.

“In 1967,” said Rabbi Menken, “everything changed.”

The Kotel, according to Laura Shaw Frank, a doctoral student in Modern Jewish History at the University of Maryland, College Park and a Jewish history teacher at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community High School, has become symbolic of Jewish sovereignty over the land of Israel (a national symbol). Additionally, she said, it reminds us of a period in which the Jewish people were closest to God (a religious symbol).

“The Kotel does not just belong to Israeli citizens,” said Israeli author and journalist Yossi Klein Halevi. “It belongs to the Jewish people.”

Two Jews, Three Opinions
Because of the wall’s importance, Jews across the globe waited with bated breath for Sharansky to unveil his intentions. The two parties — two sides with the same ultimate goal of praying at the holiest site of the Jewish people — accepted the plan but still do not see eye-to-eye.

“It hurts,” said Rabbi Rabinowitz on a call from his Jerusalem office last Sunday morning. “But I will not start a war over it.”

Leah Aharoni, co-founder of the grassroots movement Women For The Wall, a group whose self-proclaimed mission is to “preserve the sanctity and tradition of the Western Wall in the spirit of Jewish unity,” said in an essay that liberal Jewish movements and Orthodoxy sometimes sound like both sides are talking to a brick wall; neither side can penetrate the thinking of the other. This lack of mutual understanding, she noted, is especially apparent in the discussion of women’s rights in Judaism.

“Orthodoxy views the Torah as a God-given document, which governs every aspect of Jewish life, while liberal movements, starting with the Pittsburg Platform [a pivotal 19th-century document in the history of the American Reform Movement], either completely reject or call into question the divine authorship of the Torah,” Aharoni wrote. “The two schools are at odds, because they truly speak two different, mutually exclusive languages.”

She equated the parties to two people, each wearing a different pair of tinted eyeglasses — one blue, one red. She said they are staring at the same wall but can’t come to terms about its color.

Aharoni’s group claims Women of the Wall and groups like it are coming at the dialogue from a position of rights.

“Liberal Judaism staunchly supports women’s ability to pick their own forms of worship,” Aharoni wrote.

In contrast, she explained, Orthodox Judaism speaks in a language of responsibilities. She said in the name of Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato that “human beings come into the world to overcome challenges and elevate themselves spiritually, based on an intrinsic value system articulated by a Higher Authority. … Traditional Judaism views men and women as fundamentally equal yet different, with each gender tasked with its own set of responsibilities.”

Women of the Wall wear prayer shawls and pray at the Western Wall. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Women of the Wall wear prayer shawls and pray at the Western Wall.
(Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

“Women of the Wall are hoping to incite a revolution among Orthodox women,” said Rabbi Menken.

He noted that they don’t want Orthodox women to be OK with being different from men, but to “be more feminist, to demand change from their rabbis.”

He said Women of the Wall offends Orthodox women, because it is essentially telling them that they practice as they do not by choice, but because they don’t know any better.

“They are saying Orthodox women are too repressed, ignorant and stupid to know there is a better way,” Rabbi Menken said.

But head of Women of the Wall Anat Hoffman does not agree. She said she is not fighting a battle for Orthodox women — or even a battle for herself. She said she is fighting for the State of Israel.

While Hoffman noted that her group, which has been around for 24 years, is appreciative of steps that have been made in the past, such as the erecting and beatification of Robinson’s Arch, adjacent to Jerusalem’s Western Wall worship area and available to egalitarian groups for worship, “separate is not equal.”

“It is not that I am Rosa Parks, but I don’t want to sit at the back of the bus,” she said. “Robinson’s Arch is the back of the bus. … Even if you make better upholstery in the back and add air conditioning, it is still the back of the bus. I want to be in front of the bus like everybody else.”

Hoffman said that it has taken years for Women of the Wall to get the media attention it needed to move its agenda forward. Israelis, she said, did not catch on. In Israel, most people are either religious or secular.

“The media couldn’t understand how you could be a feminist and deeply religious,” she said.

But now that the Diaspora population has learned of the group, she does not believe American leaders will accept anything less than the Sharansky plan. Sharansky told the JT that the prime minister recently appointed a separate commission to ensure the plan’s feasibility, and pending positive findings, work on the Kotel plaza will commence.

Halevi said he does not think Sharansky’s plan is the best-case scenario. Rather, he would recommend a time share: a part of the day when the Kotel is set up like an Orthodox synagogue and another part when it is available for egalitarian prayer.

“That is simply impossible under the current reality,” said Halevi. “This is a respectable fall-back plan.”

Sharansky said he did examine other options — and the demands of other, niche groups (such as Orthodox women who want separate prayer but want to sing aloud and read from the Torah). But, he said, “You cannot give an answer to every group.”

“Those who want makhloket [divisiveness], even if we gave them a new Kotel, they will find makhloket,” said Rabbi Rabinowitz. “If they don’t want it, then this will serve as a solution.”

A Success Story

Earlier this month, Yael Kohn-Sharon was visiting the U.S. from Israel in search of funding for Kav Mashve (The Equator). Founded in 2007 by Israeli businessman Dov Lautmann, Kav Mashve was created in response to studies indicating that very few university-educated Israeli Arabs were able to find employment suitable to their education and training.

“Lautmann, whose Lautmann Fund works in part to promote collaboration between — and equality among — Israeli subpopulations, worked with Dr. Irit Keinan and with Israeli manufacturers and employers’ associations to create the nongovernment organization. Kav Mashve is now working to reshape Israeli employment opportunities in a way that its founders believe is a win-win for both Jewish and Arab Israelis. Kav Mashve’s activity is supported by the prime minister’s office, and both Arabs and Jews work for the organization.

We have to change the mindset,” said Kohn-Sharon, Kav Mashve’s CEO. “Most employers look for employees who are similar to them. Then they have mutual ground. It’s the easiest way. Why should I make the effort to recruit from a different culture? How would they fit with the team? There is a lack of information. We tell them the advantages of hiring an Arab candidate.”

Kohn-Sharon believes that Israeli Arabs bring creativity to the workforce; someone from a different culture sees things differently. And, she finds, they are very loyal to the company that ultimately hires them.

“It is difficult for them, a struggle, so when a company opens the door for them, they will be loyal. I’m talking very generally here,” she said. “It breaks down walls of stereotypes when Jews and Arabs can work together.”

Kav Mashve identifies talented students in high school — those students with the highest grades who are highly motivated. Kav Mashve staff meet with the students and parents and track the students through college.

Others are identified once in a university through a Kav Mashve career course teaching job-search skills, including how to write resumes and sit for an interview. The course is offered to third- and fourth-year students studying economics, law, science and business.

This year, the organization began working with recruiting companies, teaching recruiters how best to work with Kav Mashve candidates.

“Until this year,” explained Kohn-Sharon, “we did the matching, but we are looking for people in Israel who should be doing the work — not us. We want to make real change in Israel. Others have to take responsibility.”

But their work doesn’t stop when the candidate is hired. Kav Mashve offers workshops for employers on diversity and tools for employees to understand each other. And while some businesses don’t want to make their hiring an issue by having the workshops, Kohn-Sharon insists the preparation will make the job placement smoother.

To date, Kav Mashve has placed 700 Israeli Arabs in suitable jobs. They are working with thousands of students and 600 employers.

“Usually it is a success story,” she said. “And usually the companies want to hire more.”

See Also, Jewish and Arab Israelis: Different Perspectives

Jewish and Arab Israelis: Different Perspectives

Sammy Smooha says there has been a hardening of Arab Israelis’ viewpoints on Israel.  (Provided)

Sammy Smooha says there has been a hardening of Arab Israelis’ viewpoints on Israel.
(Provided)

An extensive survey released late last month indicated that Arab Israelis have become more extreme in their attitudes to the state and its Jewish majority, while Jewish Israelis have maintained their positions or have become more amicable to the Arab minority.

On the surface, the statistics of the 2012 Index of Arab-Jewish Relations In Israel seem straightforward, but professor Sammy Smooha of Haifa University, who conducted the study, said this is not the case. There are many reasons for the shift, and Israel has to own up to its side of the story.

“Why the hardening of the Arab view?” asked Smooha on a recent call from Israel. In the last decade, he answered, Arab-Israeli aspirations have been shattered.

“The second term of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, from 1992 to 1995, was a golden age of Jewish-Arab relations. The Oslo Accords meant for the Arabs the right to self-determination. … Aspirations for peace skyrocketed,” said Smooha. “Rabin … reduced many of the discriminations against the Arabs, he engaged in negotiations with their leaders, he respected them, and he felt the Israeli government could work with the Arab Israelis with respect and with equality.”

After Rabin’s assassination in November 1995, the Arabs’ hopes were shattered; the gap between their aspirations and reality became wider and wider.

Moreover, he said, Israeli action against the Palestinians since 2000 — the second Lebanon war, Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Defense — affected attitudes, too.

“Arabs were disaffected by the state’s behavior toward [the Palestinians],” he said.

What is striking is that Israelis don’t recognize this. But Smooha said, “Why would they?” The issues that affect the Arabs often have little to do with the Jews, and the Jews don’t see it from the Arab perspective.

“Let’s take the war on Gaza. While from the Arabs’ view this was against the Palestinians, against the Arabs, and they feel a part of that group … as far as the Jews are concerned, this is an act of war and security and has nothing to do with the Arabs of

Israel,” Smooha explained.

In addition, he said, as Israel becomes more democratic — and despite media reports, he said it very much has — this affects the Jewish perspective. Jews are becoming more centrist (not right or left), which leads to a more moderate viewpoint and a goal of treating Arabs more equally than before. The Arabs, who live in Israel and read and learn about political enlightenment, become more politicized. The more they know, the more impatient they become with the continual discrimination.

Discrimination is a strong word. But Muhammad Darawsha, co-executive director of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, said it is the right term to use when referring to Israeli treatment of its Arab citizens. He said even the state has admitted that discrimination exists. In 2007, for example, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert delivered a speech in which he accused Israel of “deliberately and institutionally discriminating against Arabs.”

Darawsha is not short on examples of this discrimination.

Israel’s Land Authority has a policy of preferential treatment of Jews in land appropriation and ownership. Jews control 97 percent of the land; Arabs, who make up 21 percent of the population, 3 percent.

Double the amount of the municipal budget goes to development of Jewish infrastructure. There are gaps in the education budget; Arabs children learn in schools without enough classrooms and with outdated curriculum. The result is that only 12 percent of Arab children (as opposed to 25 percent of Jewish children) attend a university.

And after college, there is discrimination in the workforce.

Israel Launches Pilot ID Program Challenged In Court

Israel’s Interior Ministry began a two-year trial of its controversial biometric data program.

Beginning Monday, Israeli citizens seeking to obtain or renew their national identity cards can choose to receive a smart ID card by submitting their biometric data, including fingerprints and facial contours.

The pilot program will start in Rishon Lezion and Ashdod. It will be available in all population registry bureaus nationwide by the end of August.

Israel civil rights organizations challenged the program in court, claiming it violates the privacy rights of Israelis. Data leaks and information theft are also a concern, according to the organizations.