Nephews of Hamas Leader Served In Israeli Army
The gentleman pictured to the left is Hamas leader and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. As reported last week in the Daily Telegraph, Mr. Haniyeh, who has sworn the destruction of Israel, actually has two sisters, married to Bedouin men, who live relatively prosperous lives in the Israeli town of Tel Sheva, in the Negev Desert, and who hold full Israeli citizenship. Some of his nephews have even served in the Israeli Defense Forces, which accepts Bedouin and Druse Arabs as enlistees.
One frequently hears leftists in the United States and Europe condemn Israel as an apartheid state, which committed ethnic cleansing of Palestinians at its creation. This news story helps put the record straight. Consider these facts:
* Mr. Haniyeh's sisters hold full Israeli citizenship, may vote in free elections, have freedom to practice their Muslim faith, and freedom to criticize the Israeli government. They own their own homes. Their children, who served in the Israeli Defense Forces, may attend university if they are able to pass the entrance examination, as many Israeli Arabs do. They have more extensive civil rights than they would have in any Arab country. Their standard of living and level of education are higher than that of the citizens of any Arab country.
*In contrast, the Palestinian Authority, even before Hamas came to power, adopted a Jordanian law dating back to pre-1967, under which any Arab who sells land to a Jew is guilty of a capital offense, i.e., the death penalty. This law is not theoretical--it has been enforced.
*If the sisters of an Israeli leader, such as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, were to move to a town under the control of the Palestinian Authority, it is likely that their lifespan would be measureable in hours. If they survived (and there are some Israeli Jewish women living with Arab husbands in towns under Palestinian Authority control), they would have no right to practice Judaism, no ability to own property and no civil rights.
*Israel has approximately 2,000,000 Arab citizens. These Arabs are for the most part the descendents of about 150,000 Arabs who remained in Israel after its 1948 War of Independence. One often hears Israel accused of genocide and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians. If that is the case, Israelis are very bad at genocide, since its Arab population has increased over ten-fold in less than 60 years.
*In contrast, of the several hundred thousand Jews who formerly lived in Arab countries, prior to the creation of the State of Israel, only a few thousand remain. Only Morocco and Tunesia still have significant Jewish populations. Those Jews who still live in the Arab world, again excepting out Morocco and Tunesia, are second-class citizens living in fear and trepidation. Jewish populations in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Iraq, which once numbered in the tens of thousands, are now reduced to tens. When the British Army entered Baghdad in 1921, Jews were the single most numerous ethnic group, comprising some 80,000 people out of a total population of 202,000, as related in this academic paper. The Jews of Baghdad outnumbered the Shias, the Sunnis and the Kurds in that city. Its illustrious Jewish families included the Sassoons. Now perhaps less than 20 Jews remain.
Who, then, has conducted ethnic cleansing and operates an apartheid state, Israel or the Arab nations?
Lowell adds: With tongue just slightly in cheek, I object to the above characterization of Mr. Haniyeh as a "gentleman."