Monday, January 13, 2014

The Other Side of Israel: My Journey Across the Jewish-Arab Divide – by Susan Nathan

A Book Review:

The author (who is Jewish) emigrated  from England to Israel after her children were grown up.   Against the advice of friends and family, she moved to Tamra, an Arab town of 25,000, whose other residents Arab Israeli citizens.

Her story is a strong indictment of how the Israeli Government and Israeli Jews treat the 20% of Israeli citizens who are Arabs.   The story is primarily not about residents of the West Bank or Gaza (who are not Israeli citizens).

The parallels with how Black People were treated well before the Civil Rights era resonated with me.   I can not imagine Black People being told over a period of decades that their land and houses were not legally their own, with more and more land confiscated for White People.

The racist nature of “Israel for the Jews” is shown within many of the author’s explanations.    In some ways the story portrayed shows sometimes more subtle forms of exclusionary policies.

Arabs are not in the Israeli military and many loan programs require one to be a veteran of the Israeli army.     The Jewish National Fund owns a huge portion of the land in Israel and becomes the owner frequently when land is confiscated from its Arab owners.   Its status as a non-governmental agency shields it from significant Israeli laws which might otherwise give at least a little protection to Arab Israeli citizens.

One need not agree with everything the author says to be greatly affected by her words!   While this book is far from perfect, it is a significant book for those who may at least be open to a non-traditional perspective on Israel.

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