Ori For Israel – Full Disclosure

Hi,

My name is Ori, I live in Israel and I have started this blog in the hopes of getting another voice out there. I’m here to make Israel’s voice heard. There it is, full disclosure. I am not hiding my agenda, on the contrary, it’s my blog’s title and I am proud of it. For years now I have seen my country getting misrepresented worldwide and having its’ side and its’ voice almost completely absent. It gotten to the point where I decided it was time to do something. This blog, should it even get read by anyone, is my first small step.

I am here to tell Israel’s side of the story through my point of view. I am doing this because at the end of each day I love my country and am concerned for it. I am not on anyone’s payroll. I am here because, as Alan Dershowitz said about his book A Case for Israel, Israel is perhaps the only country in the world who needs someone to repeatedly make its’ case for it. Sadly, looking at the world we live in, you would hope that at the very least more countries and more regimes would be under constant criticism, condemnation and de-legitimization. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

FreedomeHouse.org’s map of world freedom. Countries in purple are not free, countries in green are free and countries in yellow are somewhere in between. Though not visible (due to its’ size), Israel is a green country – a free country. You can visit freedomhouse.com and read a full report on each country.

As I am doing a full disclosure here, I will repeat that I am writing to promote Israel’s side. I am here because I love my country and I am proud of it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have problems, ways to go, and many issues that need to fixed and resolved. It doesn’t mean I absolutely agree with everything my government, the one I voted for and the one I didn’t, does. No country is perfect. If you think yours is, I have nothing to say to you. I am here trying to get the message across to those who are interested in at least hearing both sides of the story.

Some people choose to fight people like me in with violent ways. If you’re a terrorist (a.k.a. hacker, freedom-fighter or whatever you want to call yourself), I am probably powerless to stop you. Unlike you, I don’t wish to hurt you or make your ideas or thoughts less heard, and I don’t have a problem with listening to what other people have say, as long as it is done within the lines of reasonable free speech. If you do want to destroy my blog, just be honest with yourself and everyone else – you are not interested in peace or dialogue, for yourself or for others. You are a terrorist and a fundamentalist seeking to annihilate freedom and thought that differs from your own.

Why am I so proud of my country, despite its’ shortcomings? Here’s a small list of some of the good things in Israel (if you’re from a western country, these might seem trivial to you) –

First of all, it’s a democracy. One of the biggest testaments to that is citizens of Israel who sometimes, like in all democratic countries, lash out and talk about the lack of democracy, and the different actions of its government, all the while using every ounce of free speech, freedom of media, freedom of assembly and so on to express that. In Israel, I have a vote, an equal say, in which party will get to lead my country. When I disagree with something my government does, which could happen quite frequently, I can voice my opinion with no fear. Today, especially in the race of ratings,Israel’s media and various news companies and agencies have a very critical voice of the government. They enjoy the privilege of passing constant judgment without an arrest warrant hanging over their shoulder. A Knesset (Israel’s parliament) member doesn’t show up for an interview to be cuddled, but to experience a “grilling”. He or she is held accountable. So is everyone else.

In the past months, with the highlight being the past weeks, Israel has been flooded with protests, most of which bare a direct antagonism towards the government and a personal onslaught to its’ highest members. For weeks now the streets and squares all over the country are filled with people carrying signs, demanding a fiscal change and the majority of the media, some much more than others, back the protesters and their cause. To this day, not one fire has been shot towards them, not one soldier has been sent to quiet them down, no tank is approaching on the horizon and some protestors have even exercised their right to enter the Knesset and be present at its’ assembly and yet again protest, some in very unpleasant way. Yet there’s still free to keep protesting. It’s amazing what we can take for granted.

The next issues are a derive of the first one, but deserve a mention all on their own –

Anti-discrimination laws based on gender and sexual harassment laws are only a few of the many laws passed in Israel to guarantee women’s rights, a movement still in amazing growth. That movement, rooted deep inside Israel’s Knesset, includes equaling women’s pay and rights with those of their male counterparts, extension of Maternity Leave, protection for being fired due to pregnancy or motherhood, protection from domestic violence, obligation to have a female representation on all public entities and much more. Just last month, Israel celebrated the first woman achieving major general rank in the military. A female prime minister has been appointed way back in the 70s and the leader of the biggest party in parliament today is a woman, Tzipi Livni, who has served as a minister and cabinet member in many of the former governments, as well as plenty of other women, including in the current government and surely the next ones to follow. Overall, 10 women has served in  Israel’s cabinet. In the previous government a woman served as the head of the Knesset (Dalia Itzik), and the current head of the supreme court, thus the entire justice system, is a woman as well (Dorit Beinsh). Many women have achieved high ranks in public and private companies, some of which are CEOs, owners or main shareholders of some of Israel’s biggest industries and banks. Women are not stoned and there are no laws dictating what they’re allowed to wear or show. There are no tickets or criminal records for wearing a revealing outfit. Abortions, while a regulated procedure, is legal and allowed, as well as divorce and plenty more – women have a choice in Israel. A control over their destiny. A right over their body. And the list just goes on.

In his speech before the U.S. congress, Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said very accurately, “In an area where women are stoned and gays are hang” –Israel is different. Israel allows gays and lesbians to serve openly in all branches of the military, has four different annual gay pride parades (Tel-Aviv, Haifa, Eilat and Jerusalem), some of which are funded with the help of various departments inside city hall, and the supreme court has a respectable line of rulings towards gay rights, including in issues such as inherence from a loved one, adoption and surrogacy, recognition of marriage status and more. In relative to its’ size, Israel has an almost enormous amount of openly gay celebrities. For over a decade now,Israel’s mainstream TV and cinema has dealt with same-sex relationship and gay characters. Dana International, a transgender woman, has been an official represent of Israel (twice) in Europe’s song contest, the Eurovision, and has in fact won in 1998.  In August of 2009, after a devastating attack on an LGBT gathering place, the Bar-No’ar, Israel’s prime minister has visited the scene of the crime and heard from activists. Last Saturday, at an event marking two years to this heinous crime, Benjamin Netanyahu sent a message talking about an open liberal society that denounces hate and vowed that Israel’s police won’t stop hunting down the attacker. Israel’s minister of Education, Gideon Saar, as well as Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, have spoken at a rally to commiserate over the tragedy when it happened. Not only that, but the current Israeli parliament has an openly gay Knesset member, Nitzan Horobitz, who also formed the Knesset’s lobby against Homophobia. The ironic thing is that Israel’s democracy doesn’t only allow the liberals and “enlightened” to protest for their rights, but also allows those we deem “less-progressive” to be heard. Which is why you can find various religious groups opposing pride parades and using their freedom to protest for what they believe in, hurtful and obsolete as it may seem.

The Israeli Arabs, while still have many to achieve (and the ability to fight for it legally), enjoy a variety of rights and freedoms as well. Though Israel is often referred to as the Jewish state, more than a million of its’ barely 7 million citizens are non-Jews. Most of them are Arab (Muslim, Christian etc). Many anti-discrimination laws speak about race and religion. Arabs too, as all citizens, get an equal vote in democratic elections. Ever since the first Knesset of Israel, there were Arab represents in the parliament (though most prefer to stay in opposition), and Israel even has an Arab in the role of Ambassador (Ali Yahya, in Finland, appointed in 1995, later became the Israeli ambassador to Greece). Arab is an official language in Israel and all road marks, public services and so on must be written in both Hebrew and Arab and be directed coherently at all communities. There are many laws referring to affirmative action towards Arabs, for instance the ones applied in higher-education facilities like Israel’s universities. As a direct result, there are many doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers and more white-collar Arab labors. In fact, on January 11th, 2010, Israeli president, Shimon Peres, took Israeli’s richest and most influencing men and women on a bus tour to promote employment of the Arab sector in Israel’s leading companies. On the side of culture and leisure, there are Arab artists, actors and writers. Arab women enroll in Miss Israel competitions, like Rene Raslan, who won the pagent in 2002. Israeli Arabs can and do participate in different reality shows (among them are Big Brother and Israeli Idol). A hit primetime show, written by an Israeli Arab writer, Sayid Kashhua, and starring Arab actors, dealing with issues of living inside a Jewish majority, has been a big success and just finished its’ second season. Though not the first, it too dealt with romantic relationships and friendships between Arabs and Jews in Israel. Israel’s sesame street depicted an Arab character, played by Yossef Suede, and taught children about co-existence and tolerance. This list as well goes on (including, to tie with the previous paragraph, the freedom given by law to gay and lesbian Arabs, some of which too take part in pride parades).

An example I’ve already used, reality shows – society’s lowest common denominator – can clearly show the many diversities inside the Israeli society and the many rights its’ citizens enjoy. Jews, Arabs, Gays, Ethiopians, Russians and many more participate (and sometimes win or make it very far) in shows like Big Brother, Survivor (another testimony to women’s freedom), Race to the Million, The Bachelor and many more (as well as in hit game shows).

Israeli politicians gone sour are investigated to full and put to trial. In these days, former Israeli president Ehud Olmert, who ended up resigning due to allegations and corruption investigations against him, is standing numerous trials today on these accounts. In last April, Israel’s former president, Moshe Katzav, who also had to resign due to an investigation conducted against him, was convicted on two accounts of rape charges. In prison today sits former Israeli Minister of finances who was found guilty of embezzlement. In 1977, Israeli Prime Minister, Itzhak Rabin, resigned after a journalist exposed his wife’s bank accounts in the United States. Again – there are more examples. This is a result of the very important democratic principal applied in Israel– separation of powers (between government, Knesset and courts).

In its’ short lifetime,Israel has managed to produce some of this era’s greatest inventions and revelations. Israel Aumann has won a Nobel prize for his work on economics’ Game Theory field. Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover won a Nobel Prize in 2004 for their discovery of the works of a protein called Ubiquitin. Just two years ago, Ada Yonnat, won a Nobel prize for her discovery of the Ribosome structure and function. Israel developed the first ever system to intercept short-range rockets – the Iron Dome system detects rockets fired at civilian populations and has successfully intercepts more than ten of these rockets since it was first stationed last April.Israel is also one of the leading countries in cancer studies and stem cell research and in face has one of the best cancer-recovery percentage in the world. Roof-top heaters (long standing solar system that saves energy while achieving hot waters at home),  the two-handle toilet flush and the super-iron battery are also among Israeli invention as well the Disk-on-key and the world’s smallest camera (used in endoscope medical examinations that helps detect and diagnose diseases). Once more the list goes on – from discoveries and innovative experiments in Physics, agriculture, medicine, Biotechnology, energy and much more, Israel is constantly making an enormous contribution to progress, healthcare and technological problems throughout the world. While a large portion of the world restricts Internet access,Israel has a growing number of restaurants and buses that supply free Wi-fi connection and governments that work to get the internet to every citizen and to lower prices on both infrastructure and connectivity.

In over 60 years, Israel’s justice system has only executed one person – A Nazi captured and brought to Israel who was put to a thorough trial, Adolf Eichmann. He was represented by a lawyer and received a fair trial. A few decades later, when Israel put to trial another suspected Nazi, John Demjanjuk, he too got representation by a lawyer and received a fair trial. He was declared unguilty due to reasonable doubt. Demjanjuk was found guilty in a German court this past May. Besides the fact that even those suspected of the most heinous crimes imaginable receive said fair trial, in over 60 years, while other counties in the middle east amputate for shoplifting and hang or stone, Israel has never executed its’ own citizen, for whatever crime, horrible and devastating as it may be and in fact has only executed one man.

Honestly, I can go on. But like I said, this is just a short list of why I am proud to be standing up for my country. Above all that, true, there is a conflict getting most of the world’s attention regarding Israel. While Israel’s side is hardly ever told, at least in an unbiased way, and while I can’t wholeheartedly say that Israel is always in the right, it is most definitely not always in the wrong. While facing its’ own issues and problems, Israel has many to be proud of and many to work on. I am here because I am not ashamed to be an Israeli, on the contrary. The above are only examples of why I am trying to make a case for my country, why its’ side deserves to be heard as well. This is what this blog is about and I am not hiding that.

In many of my travels around the internet, I have found that there are people inflicted with blind hate. Those who refuse to allow a tiny bit of ration in their already predetermined thoughts of hate, are only going to find here another place to spread their venom. I do not have the energy or the time, seeing as I do have a life (I’m a student and currently have a job) besides writing here, to try and deal with those only seeking to leave hurtful, hateful, vicious comments who only advance hatred, to say the least. I apologize in advance to who these sure-to-be comments would offend for not making more of an effort to remove them or impose a strict rational free-speech policy. I also apologize if these comments affect me and discourage me from reading and commenting the comments left by those who don’t seek to be hateful and nothing more, even if my views doesn’t match theirs. If you’re not blinded by hate, I encourage you to comment, even if you disagree with me.

Hoping to be able to reach to some people, who are interested,

Ori

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4 Responses to “Ori For Israel – Full Disclosure”

  1. sobermaven Says:

    Your blog as is awesome, Ori. Your country is awesome too.

  2. George Marx Says:

    Great site ! I will tell all my friends to read id and they must tell there friends. Thanks for the info. Im from South Africa and we always get the negative news. Im getting the Jerusalem Post via internet for more news and info. Sha Alu Shalom Jerusalem .

  3. Dan Says:

    Thank U Ori for all the info.
    I love Israel and the Jewish nation.
    I don’t want to get religious but U are G-D’S chosen people and the apple of HES Eye.
    In time to come G-D will deliver Israel.
    Keep up the good work Ori .
    I am in South Africa and am taking a strong stand for Israel.
    I am not Ashamed to say long live Israel and fight for your rights.
    I love u all.
    Shalom. Dan

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