Doug, USA

August 7, 2011

Jonah,

I am a Software Engineer / Under-Grad student living in Texas, USA Have traveled to many places in the middle east and central Asia and interested in traveling to the the West-Bank, Gaza, and Israel at some point.

I’ve studied Israeli and Palestinian literature around the conflict recently (English translations) and am curious what your impressions are as an Israeli of the issue of discrimination within Israel between Jewish and non-Jewish citizens. I know there have been cases in the past of Palestinian-Israeli’s attempting to serve in the military and being denied. As I understand it, serving in the military is not only required for Jewish citizens, but also somewhat of a right of passage. It goes on your resume, etc and is harder to get a job without it. I’m curious what your exposure has been to such discrimination. Do you have Palestinian-Israeli friends?

As an American, it frustrates me to hear Bibi give a speech on the floor of the US Congress and make statements that would be vigorously opposed in the Knesset and yet are cheered by both sides of the aisle here. I’m curious what reaction you had to that if any and more broadly how Israeli’s view such response from American politicians, is it seen as the backing of a strong ally or as pushing Israeli politics more towards the right?

Have you ever read Khirbet Khizeh? I’m what impression it gives a modern Israeli soldier given it was written from the perspective of one during 48 by someone who served in that war.

Doug,

Thank you for taking the time to visit the site and get in touch with me.

I must say I think that it is very cool that you have studied the literature that has come out of the region. Israel has a long line of very accomplished authors and I have enjoyed reading many of them. I have also enjoyed reading multiple Palestinian authors. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Sari Nusseibeh’s memoirs.

As far as discrimination goes, it happens in any society. In regards to the military, Israel is a conscript army and all citizens are required to serve. Due to the fact that many Arab-Israelis have family members that live in Lebanon, Syria, and multiple other unfriendly nations they are given exemptions on a case by case basis. Seeing as how I am not an Arab-Israeli I have not had any personal experience with the process of being exempted from the IDF before even being allowed to begin the draft process. I do have an Arab-Israeli friend who actually fought the IDF in order to see that he did not serve, his mother is from Haifa and his father is from one of the multiple Bedouin tribes that live in Israel. I hope this answered your first question.

In regards to the speech that Bibi gave to the Joint Session of Congress in the US, I was hoping that you could be more specific to which specific statements you are referring to. As far as my own personal opinion about the overall reaction to the speech I think the truth lies some where in between your two assumptions. Although, I personally do not agree with Bibi’s political leanings, I give the Prime Minister credit for understanding who his audience is and being extremely calculated in what he said. To me his speech sounded like he was trying to assure his base that he wasn’t making any back-room deals with the US and to stand strong against Pres. Obama’s misquoted and misunderstood remarks about the future borders of a Palestinian state, while at the same time allowing for members of the House and Senate to say to their constituencies that they are working with an Israeli leader who wants peace and a two-state solution and is willing to give up settlements. It was a very well written speech and as some one who loves politics and everything that surrounds it, I would love to meet that speech writer and shake his hand for being able to word things in such a way that does not sell out the Prime Minister’s ideals while at the same time making the Americans feel relatively comfortable by showing that he isn’t a crazed land grabbing lunatic that will never make peace and will always be an ally to the US. I don’t agree with the message but I am quite impressed with how it was framed and delivered.

I have not read Khirbet Khizeh, but I will put it on my reading list and be happy to let you know what I think about it once I get around to reading it.

Sorry for the delay in my response. I hope you come back to the site with any further questions you may have and you may find our archives quite intriguing.

Jonah

Thank you!

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