Israel’s independence and the relevance of Zionism today
Earlier this week, I wrote how Israel’s 69th birthday party, the celebrations for Independence Day, reflect its amazing economic progress over the decades. In this third and final review, I want to look at one of the lesser known aspects of Zionism – how to relate to Arab minorities.
While pre-state / pre 1948 Zionist leaders fought amongst themselves, many accepted that there must be room for non Jews to play a full roll in the new country. Given geopolitical dynamics, that statement has not been easy to fulfill all the time and there is still much to be done. What can be said is that today, about 25% of the population is not Jewish and this is roughly represented in the Kenesset, the Israeli Parliament.
How does this outreach manifest itself outside the realms of politics? I want to delve into the complex situation in Syria. The international media, even those outlets known to be hostile to Israel, has often reported and filmed how Israel has been treating thousands of wounded civilians fleeing from the battles in Homs and elsewhere.
I have read an analysis on the activity of the hospital in Nahariya. This is located near the Israeli-Lebanese border and whose managing director is Dr Masad Barhoum, an “Israeli, an Arab and a Christian – in that order“. Since 2013, the hospital has looked after about 1,600 Syrians, roughly 70% of those treated in Israel. The average period of hospitalisation is about 23 days, which reflects the seriousness of the injuries. And the cost of this treatment, estimated in the hundreds of millions, comes out of the purses of the taxpayers.
Remember, from time immemorial, Syria in its various forms has displayed nothing but outright hostility to Israel. And it is difficult to latch on to similar outreach work from Arab countries in the region. In the worst case scenario, Iran is investing its precious oil revenues in strengthening the armies of Hizbollah and Hamas, the very opposite of what Israel is practicising.
My hope is that when there is a Palestinian leadership that comprehends what this form of Zionism can offer them – as per Egypt and Jordan previously – then the path to peace can open up for all.