The Peoples of Israel

The Peoples of Israel

© David Burton 2019

Peoples of Israel

     The Jew-haters, anti-Semites and Israel-bashers, along with the ignorant know-nothings of the world have long been spitting out their hateful screed that Israel is an Apartheid state. Nothing could be further from the truth! Israel is and has been - since its establishment in 1948 - the only totally tolerant and democratic nation in the Mid-east. Rather than listening to the outright lies and untruths being vomited by Jew-haters and the anti-Israel propagandists, ask the minority groups who actually reside in Israel if Israel is an Apartheid state. Go ahead and ask the same question about the other countries in the region.

     “In Israel, the majority of the population, or their parents, were born in other countries. Though most Israeli immigrants are Jewish, they are extraordinarily disparate in their origins and cultures. Not all Israelis are immigrants. Roughly one million people, many of whom are Arabs of Muslim faith, come from families who lived in Israel before it was formally declared a state in 1948. . .
     “The nation’s experiment in ‘Jewish pluralism’ has been remarkably successful, particularly given the extraordinary challenges facing the nation from outside its borders.  . . . Israel has managed to develop, at least among its highly diverse Jewish majority, a thriving, pluralistic democracy and a strong economy. And it has achieved a relatively high standard of living for most of its people—even for Israeli Arabs, if one compares them with their Palestinian, Egyptian, and Jordanian neighbors.   . . .” (Ref. 1)

     Is Israel totally discrimination-free? Of course not! BUT, neither is the United States nor any other country in this world totally free of discrimination.

     While many people only see Israel as a totally Jewish nation, such is definitely not the case. Israel is composed of many diversified peoples. Even among the Jews of Israel, there are many diverse groups. In spite of the ever-present media reports of the strife that exists in Israel – mainly between the so-called “Palestinians” and the Israelis – most of the peoples of Israel get along extremely well. In fact, the peoples of Israel get along very well compared with much of the rest of the world. As the saying goes, “Don’t believe everything you see and hear in the news.” It would also be well to remember that, “Bad news sells, good news doesn’t.” There is also a germ of truth in the accusation that some portion of the media has an anti-Israel and an anti-Semitic agenda.

     While reports of terrorism in Israel frequently appear in the media, the media fails to emphasize the fact that nearly all of the attacks are perpetrated by “Palestinian-Arabs” who are not citizens of the State of Israel. These terrorists are almost always residents of Gaza, the Arab West Bank (Judea and Samaria), or come from the neighboring Arab countries of Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Terrorist incidents by citizens of Israel are very few and very far between!


     From its establishment in 1948, the State of Israel has always respected the rights of all peoples residing within its borders. “Israel's declaration of independence guarantees that the government will “uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens without distinction of race, creed and sex.(Ref. 2)

     In 2018, Israel passed a law, “which enshrines Israel as ‘the national home of the Jewish people’ . . . “ (Ref. 3) At the same time, Israel’s Prime Minister reaffirmed that Israel “respects the individual rights of all its citizens.
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     “The Jewish nation-state bill is a Basic Law with constitutional heft that declares Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people. It anchors in law . . . the right of all Israeli residents to preserve their heritage without consideration of religion and nationality.(Ref. 3)

     Even without the declarations of equality and tolerance for all by the current State of Israel, Jews have had a Biblical imperative dating back thousands of years to be tolerant of and kind to all peoples living in their midst. I refer readers to the following: ”Do not ill-treat a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in Egypt” (Exodus 22:20); “Do not oppress a stranger; you yourselves know how it feels to be a stranger, because you were strangers in Egypt” (Exodus 23:9); ”When a stranger lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The stranger living with you must be treated as one of your native- born. Love him as yourself, for you were strangers in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33–34); ”For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are strangers, for you yourselves were strangers in Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:17–19). How many nations or peoples throughout the world can make such a claim to national and religious tolerance?

A Diversity of Peoples

     In writing about the peoples of Israel, I am referring to the peoples who reside in those areas which are currently part of the State of Israel – and within this definition, I include the Golan, which Israel officially annexed in 1981.[4] I exclude those areas referred to as Gaza and the West Bank. The area referred to as the West Bank is often called by its historical and Biblical names – Judea and Samaria. Keep in mind that the name “West Bank” only came into being at the conclusion of the Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, at which time Jordan occupied this area. The nation of Jordan is located to the east of the Jordan River and the territory in Palestine which it had conquered and occupied at the time of the 1948 armistice was henceforth referred to as the West Bank to delineate it from Jordan proper. Let’s also remember that the names Palestine and Palestinian were generated by the Romans some 2,000 years ago, around the time of the destruction of the Second Temple. Palestine denoted the client state that came under the hegemony of the Roman Empire in 63 BCE during Pompey's eastern campaigns.[5] Palestinians were all the people who lived in Palestine, including Jews or Israelites. Up until the time of the establishment of the State of Israel, this remained true. Under the British Mandate, all residents within the mandate were Palestinians – Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Druze, Christians, etc.

     In 1948, when the State of Israel came into existence, the population of Israel was around 800,000. “At the start of January 2019, Israel’s population stood at 8,972,000. This is a more than a 10-fold increase compared to when Israel was founded in 1948.
     “The Jewish population makes up 6,668,000 (74.3%); 1,878,000 (20.9%) are Arabs; and, those identified as “others” (non-Arab Christians, Baha’i, etc.) make up 4.8% of the population (426,000 people).” (Ref. 6)

     “Israel’s laws define it as a Jewish and Democratic State, and the fact is that it’s the world’s only state with a majority Jewish population.[7]

     “. . . demographics of Israel, taken on Israel's Independence Day in 2013, found 75% of the population is Jewish while Arabs account for 21% of the population. The remaining 4% (45,000) are referred to as ‘others’ and are family members of Jewish immigrants who are yet to be registered with the Ministry of Interior as Jews, non-Arab Christians or non-Arab Muslims with no religious or ethnic background.
     “Israel has a Law of Return, which grants all Jews and people of Jewish descent the right to citizenship. The Jewish people in Israel come from many backgrounds. About 73% are Israeli-born while 18% are immigrants from North America and Europe and almost 9% are from Africa and Asia. Jewish people from the former Soviet Union and Europe, plus Israeli-born descendants and Ashkenazi Jews, account for 50% of Jews in Israel.
     “Over the last 10 years, many migrant workers have moved to Israel from Africa, China, Romania, and South America. While there are no precise figures with many living in the country illegally, it's estimated there are up to 203,000 migrants, including 60,000 African migrants.” (Ref. 7)


Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews

     Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews represent two distinct subcultures of Judaism.

     “Ashkenazic Jews are the Jews of France, Germany, and Eastern Europe and their descendants. The adjective ‘Ashkenazic’ and corresponding nouns, Ashkenazi (singular) and Ashkenazim (plural) are derived from the Hebrew word ‘Ashkenaz,’ which is used to refer to Germany.
     “Sephardic Jews are the Jews of Spain, Portugal, North Africa and the Middle East and their descendants. The adjective ‘Sephardic’ and corresponding nouns Sephardi (singular) and Sephardim (plural) are derived from the Hebrew word ‘Sepharad,’ which refers to Spain.”
     “Sephardic Jews are often subdivided into Sephardim, from Spain and Portugal, and Mizrachim, from . . . Northern Africa and the Middle East. The word ‘Mizrachi’ comes from the Hebrew word for Eastern. . . . Until the 1400s, the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa and the Middle East were all controlled by Muslims, who generally allowed Jews to move freely throughout the region. It was under this relatively benevolent rule that Sephardic Judaism developed. When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, many of them were absorbed into existing Mizrachi communities in Northern Africa and the Middle East.
     “In Israel, a little more than half of all Jews are Mizrachim, descended from Jews who have been in the land since ancient times or who were forced out of Arab countries after Israel was founded. Most of the rest are Ashkenazic, descended from Jews who came to the Holy Land (then controlled by the Ottoman Turks) . . . in the late 1800s, or from Holocaust survivors, or from other immigrants who came at various times.” (Ref. 8)

     There was, and still is to some degree, a divide in Israel “between Ashkenazi Jews and Sephardi Jews (those of Asian-African background). For much of the state’s existence, the wealthier, better educated Ashkenazim have dominated its economic and political institutions through the Labour party. The Ashkenazi hold on the country has been weakening, however, as disaffected Sephardim allied themselves first with the Likud party in 1977 and more recently with the Sephardi-Haredi party, Shas. During the 1950s, the two groups had rough numerical parity. By the 1960s, higher birth rates among Sephardim tilted the balance in their favor. Recent immigration from the former Soviet Union has restored rough equilibrium between the two ethnic groups.” (Ref. 1)

     “For {all Jews, with the possible exception of the fanatic Haredi Ultra-Orthodox,} who live in Israel, there is . . . a shared dynamic sense of modern nationhood that has been instilled by the rebirth of a common Hebrew language, a strong belief in the return to their historic homeland and the constant threats of a hostile environment.
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     “Despite the attempts of many Oriental Jews to become fully integrated into the greater Ashkenazi community in Israel, they were faced with overt discrimination because their Eastern (Asian or African) society and culture were regarded as ‘Levantine’ (synonymous with corrupt and backward). Israeli political figures including Ben-Gurion occasionally spoke disparagingly of the ‘dissident’ underground movements, the Irgun and Stern Gang, and characterized many of their supporters as ‘primitive Yemenites’ and later used similar language (in private) in referring to the new immigrants from the Arab countries stigmatizing them as backward and creating a repressed resentment that endured for decades.
      - - -
     “{Early on,} the dominant approach of the {Israeli} establishment was to force the new immigrants into a melting-pot. The new Oriental immigrants in large numbers, in spite of a predominantly urban pattern of settlement in their original homelands, were shunted into agriculture in more than 200 moshavim (agricultural cooperatives) or resettled in new small size development towns in the peripheral Negev, Jerusalem corridor and Galilee and exposed to constant attacks by Arab ‘fedayeen’ (Arab irregular forces committed to terrorizing the border population).
     “- - - By the 1970s, {the Askenazi attitudes toward the Sephardim} and the very apparent lower class status of the Mizrachim provoked a new generation to rebel and assert their own identity as no less authentically Jewish {than the} older more established and largely non-observant European derived elite.” (Ref. 9)

     “Sephardim have gained political power through their support of the major rightwing/nationalist party, the Likud, and the largest religious party, Shas. The success of both parties stems, in disproportionate measure, from the Mizrachim, especially those who were less well off, and lived in the peripheral regions of the Negev and Galilee.[9] Much of the division among ethnic divisions of Israeli society dissolved in the traumatic attack on Israel by massed Egyptian and Syrian troops in the Yom Kippur war of October 1973, which led to an unprecedented solidarity among Israelis of all origins whose patriotism outweighed past grievances.

     “The real breakthrough in achieving a large measure of Jewish solidarity in Israel across ‘ethnic’ or geo-cultural lines came about as a result of Mizrachi participation in the astounding victory of the 1967 Six day War and the long ‘War of Attrition’ followed by the month long heroic struggle to defeat the Egyptian, Syrian, Egyptian and Iraqi forces in the Yom Kippur War after the initial surprise attack in October 1973. In 1948, the Mizrachi-Sephardi component at the time of Israel’s independence was no more than 15% and in 1956, many of the new immigrants from Asia and Africa were still in temporary transit camps and not fully integrated into Israeli society or the armed forces. In the military campaigns of 1967-73, a blood covenant was established that erased much of the negative preconceptions held by many Ashkenazim.
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     “In the important political and military areas, Mizrachim have {now} reached the highest levels . . .” (Ref. 9)

     “The current conundrum of Israeli Sephardim has been whether to maintain their heritage and their traditions, or to integrate into one or another sector of the Ashkenazi world.  . . . there are many Sephardim who have chosen to turn their backs on the values of the past and make common cause with the Ashkenazim . . .” [10]) (Ref. 11) As Israel continues to grow, the differences between Ashkenazim and Sephardim are rapidly disappearing. Instead, we find each group defining itself simply as Israelis and Jews.

Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Jews

     Ultra-Orthodox Jews are also referred to as Haredi, meaning Those who tremble (before God). “Some 10 percent of Israel’s people, the Haredi group, are deeply religious. The ritually observant Haredim wear distinctive clothing, and Haredi men often do not work, instead studying religious texts throughout the week. They are also exempt from military service. Tensions between the Haredi and secular Jews sometimes run high.” (Ref. 1) The Ultra-Orthodox Jews are, by definition, averse to change. They dress in the same outfits as their 19th-century forebears—dark suits, frock coats, and wide-brimmed hats. And they hew fastidiously to practices that were laid out in texts thousands of years ago.[12] Many, if not most, Haredi are highly intolerant of anyone – Jew or Gentile - who does not strictly adhere to the dictates of their sect’s leader.

     “When Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, granted a few hundred Haredi Orthodox Jews an exemption from army service, it’s likely he never dreamed that 63 years later, tens of thousands of Haredi Israelis would claim the exemption — or that the issue would be among the most contentious in modern Israel.” (Ref. 13)

     The vast majority of Haredi men spend their lives in religious study and their rabbis continue to discourage serving in the Israeli army. Haredi leaders worry that the army will open up a path to what they consider lax Jewish observance and some Haredi sects are anti-Zionist. There is considerable resentment against Haredi army exemptions from Israelis who do serve in the army — both secular and Modern Orthodox.[13]

     The ideal achievement for a male Ultra-Orthodox Jew is to learn and study Torah full-time in a Yeshiva (religious school). In Israel, the growth in the number of these Yeshivas has made this possible, but it has also created a host of growing problems: overburdened wives and mothers, a culture of poverty (over 55% of Haredim live below the poverty line), a lack of integration into Israeli society, and growing resentment from the rest of the country.

     As of 2013, the Ultra-Orthodox were the largest growing group in Israel, comprising over 10% of the population. Some 60,000 Ultra-Orthodox male students were exempt from military service, and estimates for the annual cost of supporting the Haredim and their large families stood at more than $3 billion because Israel pays stipends to Yeshivas for all students, their wives and for each child. Considering that nearly 25% of first graders were Ultra-Orthodox, this economic burden will greatly increase unless something is done.[14] By and large, Haredi society exists in relative isolation from the rest of Israel’s Jewish population and contributes little to the country’s economy, security, or technological prowess.

Yemenite Jews

     While most attention has been paid to the Yemenite Jews who arrived in Israel following the establishment of the State of Israel, Yemenite Jews actually “began to return to the Land of Israel in 1882, having been inspired by news of the developing Jewish community there, and expectation of the imminent arrival of the Messiah based on their understanding of a verse from Song of Songs.  . . .
     “Today, there are approximately 350,000 Yemenite Jews in Israel, living throughout the country.” (Ref. 15) What follows below is primarily the story of those Yemenite Jews who came to Israel after 1948.

     "At one time, the Jewish community in Yemen numbered around 60,000 people and dated back some 2,000 years. In 2016, Israel spirited 19 Jews out of war-torn Yemen in a "covert operation" to rescue some of the last remnants of one of the world's most ancient Jewish communities. The operation transporting them to Israel almost brings to an end the presence of the Jewish community in Yemen. Only 50 or so Jews remained and they chose to stay in the war-ravaged Arabian Peninsula country.” (Ref. 16)

     “Yemenite Jews in Israel have three basic identities: as Jews, as Israelis, and as Jews from Yemen. Any one of the three may take precedence in a given situation, but all are important to them.
     “The Yemenite Jews arrived in Israel with little preparation for life in an industrial state. None had a modern education or technical training. They had a very strong work ethic, however, and willingness to take on jobs others might consider demeaning. About 28 percent went to settle in more than fifty newly created cooperative villages (moshavim) and learned to become farmers. (Most of these families still have homes and farms in the villages, although many of their children have been well educated and have moved to urban occupations.) The other immigrants went to live in towns and cities. Many men went to work in the building trades or in industry, often learning skilled trades within a few years. Some worked in sanitation. Women, who had not usually worked outside of their homes in Yemen, were often employed as housekeepers in private homes, offices, and institutions. The younger the immigrants, when they arrived, were more likely to get some schooling, perhaps enough to become teachers or clerks. Today Yemenite Jews in Israel can be found in many occupations, especially as teachers, bureaucrats and organizers, skilled workers in industry, engineers and technologists, artists and musicians, and members of the military forces. There are growing numbers of professionals among them.
     “Yemenite Jews are integrated into Israeli society and participate in all the institutions of the state. Although there have been Yemenite political parties contesting national elections, these have usually not fared very well. Nevertheless, Yemenites are increasingly gaining political office, especially on municipal and regional councils and workers' councils . . .
     “An outstanding aspect of Yemenite life in Israel is their tendency to form their own neighborhoods. This is particularly important because they generally remain devoted to the practice of the Jewish religion, in the form that they knew it in Yemen. They maintain their own synagogues, employing their distinctive melodies and pronunciation of liturgical Hebrew, which they prize. Because an observant Jew is strictly forbidden to ride on the Sabbath and most holy days, a religious Yemenite family must be within walking distance of a Yemenite synagogue. Because there must be a congregation to support such a synagogue, there must be a sufficiently large population in the area. The Sabbath and other holy days are spent visiting family and friends, often participating in distinctive Yemenite social and ritual gatherings to eat and drink. They continue to celebrate the life-cycle rituals very much as they did in Yemen, and this, too, requires a group of like-minded neighbors. In Israel as in Yemen, community life centers on the family, the synagogue, and the observance of the cycles of religiously mandated activities.
     “The importance of Judaism for most Yemenites cannot be overstressed. Their distinctive expressive culture is based largely on their Judaism. Yemenite men tend to be extremely knowledgeable about religious practice, and most can direct synagogue services themselves. Their synagogues do not depend on the services of rabbis; members of the congregation take turns leading public worship.  . . . From Yemen they brought a corpus of poetry (based on religious themes), musical style and melodies, and distinctive dance traditions and costumes.” (Ref. 17)

Ethiopian Jews

     “The Jews of Ethiopia—known as the Beta Israel — have experienced a long history of famine, religious oppression, and civil war. But in the 20th century the community went through some major changes as it was transplanted into Israel.
     “In 1974, following a coup d’etat, Ethiopia came under the Marxist-Leninist dictatorship of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam. Under Mariam’s regime, anti-Semitism rose, and physical conditions worsened for the Beta Israel, with starvation across the country.
     “In May 1977, Israeli President Menachem Begin started selling arms to Mariam’s government, hoping to secure freedom for Ethiopia’s Jews. Later that year, Israel took 200 Jews out of Ethiopia on a plane that had emptied its arms cargo for Mariam’s use. . .” (Ref. 18)

     “In 1984, thousands of black Ethiopian Jews fled to Sudan to escape a brutal dictatorship in Ethiopia. Between November 1984 and January 1985 Israel evacuated 8,000 Ethiopian Jews in Operation Moses. But, when Arab countries learned of the airlift, they pressured Sudan to stop it, stranding some 1,000 Ethiopian Jews. Later, U.S. Vice President George H. W. Bush arranged to have Sudan allow Operation Joshua which evacuated another 800. In 1991, Operation Solomon took place. In 36 hours, some 34 Israeli aircraft transported an additional 14,35 Ethiopian Jews to Israel. [19]

     “By the end of 1991, only a handful of Beta Israel remained in Ethiopia, although many thousands of Falasha Mura, whose Jewish identity has been disputed, still remain{ed}” (Ref. 18)

     The immigration of Ethiopian Jews into Israel continues. “1,300 Falash Mura immigrated to Israel in 2017. In October 2018, the Israeli cabinet authorized a plan to bring a further 1,000 members of the community to Israel— and the first group arrived {in early 2019}” (Ref. 20) Integration in Israeli society is ongoing, with the major emphasis being that Ethiopian Jews are increasingly recognized as Israelis and Jews and as contributors to the State of Israel.

Karaite Jews

     In 1999, Israel was home to some 30,000 Karaites[21] who are Jews, but Jews with a difference. They are followers of a movement that broke away from mainstream Judaism in eighth-century Babylonia, and retained its separate identity and customs to this day.

     By 2016, it was reported that the number of Karaites in Israel had grown to about 40,000, with another 10,000 abroad, including about 1,000 in San Francisco.[22] The largest Karaite community in Israel is in Ramle. Other Karaite communities exist in Ofakim, Ashdod, Beer Sheva, Bat Yam, Jerusalem, Arad, Kiryat Gat, Rishon Lezion and three moshavim: Renen, Beit Ezra and Matzliach.[23]

     Israel's Karaites attend the same schools, hold the same kind of jobs and serve in the same military units as Israel’s other Jews.

     “But in one significant respect they are different: While the religious life of other Jews is governed primarily by the oral law, as embodied in the Talmud, the Karaites reject the Talmud. [Emphasis mine]
      - - -
     “For them, only the Bible counts. That makes the Karaite form of Judaism more restrictive in some respects, less so in others.
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     “The Karaites became a discernible element in Mideast Jewish life in the eighth through 10th centuries, with special influence in Egypt and in pre-state Israel. At the end of the 11th century, the center of Karaite activity shifted to Europe.
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     “A huge disparity between Karaites and mainstream Jews was created during World War II, when the Germans ruled that Karaites were not Jews — a decision that saved most of them from death, although some were massacred at Babi Yar in 1941.
     “At the end of World War II, the only sizable Karaite community was in Egypt. But after the Sinai Campaign in 1956, most came to Israel, though some also immigrated to France, the United States and other Western countries.
     “While Israel's 30,000 Karaites are scattered all over the Jewish state, they have managed to establish 11 synagogues. The largest is in Ashdod, south of Tel Aviv, the home of some 1,500 Karaite families. This rapidly growing port town is the venue for numerous Karaite cultural and religious activities.
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     “Karaites have never been numerous. In 1932, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, there were only some 10,000 of them in Russia and approximately 2,000 elsewhere in the world.
     "The Karaite Heritage Center houses one of Jerusalem's most interesting synagogues. This underground place of worship is in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. The synagogue is underground because of the Psalm: 'From the depths I called out to You.' Non-Karaites can only look in. Next to the synagogue is a museum that houses some fascinating artifacts. The Synagogue is one of the oldest in the world dating back to the 8th century. . .” (Ref. 21)


     With the relaxation of restrictions by the former Soviet Union on the emigration of Jews, Russian Jews, along with Russian non-Jews, have flooded into Israel since 1989. “In the past few years, Israel has seen an average of between five and six thousand Russian immigrants per year.” (Ref. 24) There are now over one million immigrants and their descendants from the former Soviet Union living in Israel.[25] They have their own newspapers in Russians and stores in some cities have their display signs in Russian. “Many of the nation’s one million Russian immigrants are not Jewish at all.” (Ref. 1)

     The impact of Russian immigration to Israel is evident in many Israeli cities and towns. In Ashdod, as elsewhere, “Many signs are in the Cyrillic alphabet. The men and women sitting in the cafes are speaking Russian. The shops sell vodka, black bread, pickled herring and Russian-brewed Baltika beer. You have to pinch yourself to remember where you are.
     “This scene, with all its echoes of the former Soviet Union, is not in St. Petersburg or Vladivostok, or anywhere else in that vast sweep of bleak northern lands. It is in Ashdod, Israel, a palm-lined, pastel-colored port city that sprawls along the mild shores of the Mediterranean.
      - - -
     “Israel now has the world's third-largest Russian-speaking community (outside the former Soviet Union), after the United States and Germany.
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     “Israel's Law of Return allowed the new arrivals to qualify for citizenship if they had one Jewish grandparent. Under rabbinical religious law, Jewishness passes through the maternal line. This defines more than 300,000 of Israel's Russian-speaking immigrants as non-Jews.
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     “Most of Israel's Russian-speaking community {are} on the {political] right. Since they . . . make up about 15 percent of Israel's 8 million people, they wield considerable political clout and have played a significant role in the general rightward shift of the Israeli electorate.
     “Russian-speaking immigrants form the base of the influential right-wing nationalist party Yisrael Beiteinu. The party has teamed up with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud to form a {sizeable political} bloc.
      - - -
     “. . . New technology has proved to be a major factor in defining {the Russian immigrants’} relationship with ‘non-Russian’ Israelis.
      - - -
     “. . . the immigrants from the Soviet Union are fully integrated into Israeli society and are a big asset to the economy. Yet . . . more than 20 years on, many of them choose to remain culturally separate.
     " ‘They meet Israelis, and they mingle with Israelis at workplaces, in the army, at school, at university. But after 7 p.m., there is some separation.’
     “. . . this is by choice. Members of the Russian-speaking community like to be together and are fiercely proud of their rich Russian language.
     " ‘This applies to the younger generation as well . . . Because even people who are now, let's say 30 [years old], and they have been here for 20 years ... when they go home, most of their friends are still Russian-speaking.’ “ (Ref. 26)

     Here in the year 2019, it has become quite clear that “. . . Russian Jews {have} played a significant role in the emergence of a successful Israeli market-based economy. Because the majority of Russian immigrants arrived in Israel with a high-level of education, the swell of intelligence allowed Israel to develop their high-tech industry into what has become a worldwide leader. As foreign investors began to notice the wealth of technological knowledge in Israel, venture capital in the country has increased, with many corporations such as Intel and Microsoft setting up manufacturing and R & D centers throughout the country. While the technology sector in Israel would have remained competitive without the fall of the Soviet Union, the influx of Russian brainpower to the country has certainly contributed to its worldwide prowess in the industry.” (Ref. 27)

     “Israel is home to a core Russian-Jewish population of 900,000 and an enlarged population of 1,200,000 (including Halakhally {religiously approved} non-Jewish members of Jewish households, but excluding those who reside in Israel illegally). The Aliyah in the 1990s accounts for 85–90% of this population. . . The increase in Jewish birth rate in Israel during the 2000–2007 period was partly due to the increasing birth rate among the FSU immigrants, who now form 20% of the Jewish population of Israel. 96.5% of the enlarged Russian Jewish population in Israel is either Jewish or non-religious, while 3.5% (35,000) belongs to other religions (mostly Christians) and about 10,000 messianic Jews.
      - - -
     “An estimated 45,000 illegal immigrants from the Former Soviet Union lived in Israel during the end of 2010, but it is not clear how many of them are actually Jews.
     “Currently, Russia has the highest rate of Aliyah {immigration} to Israel among any other country. In 2013, 7,520 people, nearly 40% of all olim {immigrants}, immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union.
     “Russian Jews have been very dominant in Israeli politics . . . while maintaining their tie with Russian motherland and play important role on the relationship between Russia and Israel.” (Ref. 25)

     The Russian immigration to Israel has played “a significant role in the emergence of a successful Israeli market-based economy. Because the majority of Russian immigrants arrived in Israel with a high-level of education, the swell of intelligence allowed Israel to develop their high-tech industry into what has become a worldwide leader. As foreign investors began to notice the wealth of technological knowledge in Israel, venture capital in the country has increased, with many corporations such as Intel and Microsoft setting up manufacturing and R & D centers throughout the country.
     “While the technology sector in Israel would have remained competitive without the fall of the Soviet Union, the influx of Russian brainpower to the country has certainly contributed to its worldwide prowess in the industry. Throughout history, the infusion of Russian Jews into the Middle East has played a large role in the creation and development of the Israeli state. From the yishuvs of the early 1900s, which laid the foundation for the Israeli economy, on through immigrants of present day, each group has had an impact on the country.
      - - -
     “The most significant result of this mass influx of brainpower has been the development of Israel’s high-tech industry, now a worldwide leader in technological development, and a hotbed for R & D, which has become the backbone of the Israeli economy. . .
      - - -
     “While Israel probably would have been able to survive without the immigration of the Russian Jews over the past twenty years, the competitive advantage which the Jews helped to create for the country may never have materialized. As can be seen by the fact that 50 percent of employees in high-tech industries are Russian immigrants, the immigration of Russian Jews in recent history has helped pave the way to Israel becoming, and remaining, a worldwide power in the science and technology sectors.” (Ref. 28)


     Samaritans are Israelite remnants of First Temple days. Samaritans are not considered to be Jews by the Orthodox Jewish community, although they observe practices close to that of Judaism some 2500 years ago. The Samaritans originally resided in Samaria, the mountainous, central region of the biblical Northern Kingdom of Israel - in what is now called the West Bank.[21]

     Until the 1990s, most of the Samaritans resided in the West Bank city of Nablus below Mount Gerizim. They relocated to the mountain itself near the Israeli settlement of Har Brakha as a result of “Palestinian-Arab” violence during the First Intifada (1987–1990). Consequently, all that is left of the Samaritan community in Nablus itself is an abandoned synagogue. The Israeli army maintains a presence in the area to ensure the safety of the Samaritans.[29]

     “The Samaritans claim descent from the Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (sons of Joseph) as well as from the priestly tribe of Levi. Their religion is based on the Samaritan Pentateuch and they claim that their worship is the true religion of Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile following the destruction of the First Temple. The Samaritans split from Judaism around 2,000 years ago, but because they speak ancient Hebrew and pray in synagogues, they are often mistaken for Jews. The Samaritans are a distinctly religious community and their high priest also acts as their political official and representative.
     “The Samaritans maintain relationships with both Israelis and Palestinians. Neither Muslim nor Jew, Samaritans function well in both societies. They {only} number around 800, divided between Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim in Samaria (West Bank) and the city of Holon, just outside Tel Aviv.
     “The Samaritans write and speak in an ancient Hebraic dialect which means that their printed script is different than modern Hebrew script which is based upon Assyrian/Aramaic script. Their children learn both modern and ancient Hebrew.
     “. . . The Samaritans are yet another minority community that is proud and happy to be living in complete freedom in the Land of Israel. They practice their religion and enjoy their lifestyle as they wish.” (Ref. 30)

     “Torn between two embattled national entities, the Samaritans have managed — against all odds — to weather centuries of persecution, from the Jewish Hasmoneans in the second century BCE to the Muslim Ottomans in the 17th century CE.
      - - -
     “The Samaritans . . . defied imperial conquests and clung to the land while much of the population of the Northern Kingdom of Israel was exiled to Assyria — presently northern Iraq — by King Sargon II in 722 BCE.
     “. . . When exiled Jews began returning to Jerusalem from Babylon in the 6th century BCE and building the Second Temple, they refused to recognize the Samaritans as coreligionists.
      - - -
     “Most Palestinian Samaritans bear Jewish first names as well as Arab ones, and all Samaritans living on Mount Gerizim carry Israeli and Palestinian ID cards, as well as Jordanian travel documents. . .” (Ref. 31)


     Early on, Israel’s Arab minority lived apart from and in an uneasy truce with Israel’s other citizens. Israeli authorities partially succeeded in integrating Israeli Arabs into the wider society. “Until 1966, Arab citizens lived under military rule in their own separate towns, which they could not leave without special permits. When the military administration was abolished, Arabs began moving out of farming and into jobs in manufacturing and construction, allowing the two peoples to begin to mix in commercial activity . . . The economic position of the Arab population has improved . . . Arab political parties have gained influence in the Knesset and are now critical voting blocs in the continuing struggle for power . . . (Ref. 1)

     “In keeping with Israel's democratic principles, the Arab citizens of Israel are afforded all the rights and privileges of Israeli citizenship. . . .
     “Today, Israel's Arab citizens are accorded full civil and political rights, entitled to complete participation in Israeli society. They are active in Israeli social, political and civic life and enjoy representation in Israel's Parliament, foreign service and judicial system. In the 1996 Israeli elections, nine members of Israel's Arab parties were elected to the Knesset.” (Ref. 2) In 2016, that number rose to seventeen.

     Arab villages and towns in Israel appear to the visitor to have less municipal services than Jewish communities. This is partly due to less financial support from the national government. But, it is also mainly due to the fact that Arabs pay less in municipal taxes than do their Jewish equivalents. Arabs feel It is disrespectful for an Arab to pay taxes to another Arab. The municipal administrators of Arab communities are almost always fellow Arabs, hence the lack of tax money in Arab towns and villages to pay for infrastructure and such.[30]

     “A research study conducted in Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva finds that Jews are three times as likely to pay property taxes than Arabs . . .
      - - -
     “. . . in the Arab sector, only 18.6% of property taxes are collected, compared to 53.7% in Israel’s Jewish sector.” (Ref. 32)

     Israel has been taking steps to alleviate this problem. In early 2015, Israel announced that it would allocate additional funding to Arab-Israeli towns. The agreement calls for $229.5 million to be gradually distributed to local Arab communities to close social and economic gaps.[33]

     Israeli Arabs are parliamentarians, judges, diplomats, and generals. In Jerusalem, the Star of David on Israel’s flag is no surprise in a Knesset member’s office. What seems unusual within Israel’s parliament is just two yards away: an engraved icon bearing an Islamic prayer in Arabic script. There are more than 1.5 million Palestinian Arabs who live inside Israel, and who are Israelis with full rights. Arabs hold prominent posts in Israel’s courts, diplomatic corps, and armed forces. An Arab has been on Israel’s 15-member Supreme Court. There have been Arab ambassadors and consuls-general for decades. Arabs are particularly well integrated in the public-health system, with many Arab doctors holding important positions in Israel’s 24 public general hospitals and in the Ministry of Health. Arabs excel in Israel’s military, some even as generals. Though Israel’s Jews and Arabs clash, they also cooperate far more than most journalists admit. In a Ramadan greeting Prime Minister Netanyahu described his country’s Moslem citizens as an ‘integral part of Israeli society.’[34]

     “Accounting for more than 10 percent of eligible voters, the political involvement of the Arab sector is manifested in national and municipal elections. Arab citizens run the political and administrative affairs of their own municipalities and represent Arab interests through their elected representatives in the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), who operate in the political arena to promote the status of minority groups and their share of national benefits.
      - - -
     “Israel’s Arab citizens, who constitute one-seventh of Israel’s population, . . . exist on the margins of the conflicting worlds of Jews and Palestinians. However, while remaining a segment of the ‘Palestinian’ people in culture and identity and disputing Israel’s identification as a Jewish state, they see their future tied to Israel. In the process, they have adopted Hebrew as a second language and Israeli culture as an extra layer in their lives. At the same time, they strive to attain a higher degree of participation in national life, greater integration into the economy and more benefits for their own towns and villages.
     “Development of intergroup relations between Israel’s Arabs and Jews has been hindered by deeply-rooted differences in religion, values and political beliefs. However, though coexisting as two self-segregated communities, over the years they have come to accept each other, acknowledging the uniqueness and aspirations of each community and participating in a growing number of joint endeavors.” (Ref. 35)

     In “Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel, Jews and Arabs mix freely and increasingly live in the same neighborhoods. Arabs serve in Israel's parliament, in its army and on its Supreme Court. And though discrimination in Israel, as in America, remains a scourge, there is no imposed segregation. Go to any Israeli mall, any restaurant or hospital, and you will see Arabs and Jews interacting.” (Ref. 36)

     As further evidence of the growing achievements of Israeli’s Arab sector, a recent report published by “Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE) showed that the number of Israeli-Arab doctoral students rose from 355 in 2008 to 759 in 2018.
    - - -
     “In addition, there was also a 90 percent increase in the past decade in the number of Arab students studying towards a master’s degree.
    - - -
     “The increase in the number of Arab graduate students mirrors the growth of Arab students who are studying for an undergraduate degree. Between 2010 and 2017, the percentage of Arab students studying for a first degree rose by 58 percent, from 26,000 students to 47,000 students, representing approximately 16 percent of all first-degree students in Israel.” (Ref. 51)

Moslem Arabs

     Moslem Arabs number around 1.2 million, most of whom are Sunni, and reside mainly in small towns and villages with over half in northern Israel. Bedouin Arabs, also Moslem, are estimated at approximately 250,000. They belong to some 30 tribes and comprise around 10% of Israel's Moslem Arab population. Living primarily in the Negev desert, they are a people struggling between their ancient nomadic way of life and the modern world. In keeping with Israel's democratic principles, Arab citizens of Israel are afforded the full rights and privileges of Israeli citizenship. They are accorded full civil and political rights and are entitled to complete participation in Israeli society. They are active in Israeli social, political and civic life and enjoy representation in Israel's Parliament, foreign service and judicial system.[2] “The Bedouin are currently in transition from a tribal social framework to a permanently settled society and are gradually entering Israel's labor force.” (Ref. 37)

Christian Arabs

     There are about 160,000 Christian Arabs who live mainly in urban areas, including Nazareth, Shfar'am, and Haifa. Although many denominations are nominally represented, the majority of Christian Arabs are affiliated with the Greek Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.[37]


     In 2014, “Israel took the first step in recognizing the nation’s Christians as an independent minority. Now, local Israeli Christians can register as a distinct ethnicity . . .
     “Lumped together with the Arab population for centuries, Israel’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) has been instructed to now recognize the bulk of the country’s Christians as Aramaeans, the actual ethnicity of most of the region’s Christians prior to the Arab Muslim conquest.”
      - - -
     “{This action} corrects a historic injustice that wrongly defined Israel’s citizens of eastern-Christian descent as ‘Christian Arabs,’ although other than their spoken language, they have absolutely no connection to the Arab nationality . . .” (Ref. 38)

     “While Christian communities in Arab and Muslim countries and in area controlled by the Palestinians suffer virulent discrimination and decline, the Christian community in Israel enjoys religious, economic and political freedom and continues to grow. The following is abstracted from Reference 39.
     “In 2013, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics reported that 161,000 Christians, or 2 percent of the population, lived in Israel at the end of 2013, compared to 158,000 the previous year.
     “Just under 80% of Christians in Israel are Arab. The majority of the remaining 20% are from the former Soviet Union. {In Israel,} Christian pupils out-performed their non-Christian peers in obtaining their high-school graduation certificates. In 2012, 69% of Christian pupils received their graduation certificate, compared to 61 percent of schoolchildren in the Hebrew education systems, 50% of Muslim pupils and 64% of Druze pupils.” (Ref. 30)

     “Amid cries of Israel being an apartheid state, not treating its minorities with equality and chasing Christians away, the opposite is true. [Emphasis mine] The Israeli Ministry of Foreign affairs has a very comprehensive understanding of its Christian citizens, who are a minority within a minority. Most Christian citizens living permanently in Israel are Arabs who were born to citizens of pre- or post-State Israel and at the time of this writing, they make up 2.1% of the population.
     “Christianity has a long history in the Land of Israel. The ruins of the oldest church building in the world were found in Megiddo; dating back to the 3rd century. Israeli law recognizes official church bodies that are responsible for registering marriages, births and deaths for their congregants. These are the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic (Latin rite), Gregorian-Armenian, Armenian Catholic, Syriac Catholic, Chaldean, Melkite (Greek Catholic), Ethiopian Orthodox, Maronite Catholics and Syriac Orthodox churches, as well as the Arab Anglican and Lutheran denominations.
     “For the last 20 years, every Thursday to Saturday in the month of December, a few hundred thousand visitors flock to the Wadi Nisnas holiday market. Also known as the Holiday of Holidays Festival, it is held in Wadi Nisnas; the mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhood of Haifa. This market serves to act as an inter-faith endeavor combining the three monotheistic holidays that generally occur around that time of the year – Hanukkah of Judaism, Eid Al-Adha of Islam and Christmas of Christianity.
     “In Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem, as well as in Nazareth and Jaffa, Christmas trees are lit with official ceremonies and celebrations and in addition, many hotels throughout the country that cater to foreign tourists have Christmas trees in their lobbies to add to the traditional Christian festivities. Carol services held in many churches are well attended by congregants and visitors – especially Jewish Israeli guests.
     “The Israeli Defense Force even hosted a Christmas party for Arab Christian soldiers.
      - - -
     “For many decades, another Christian event in Israel has taken place with much pomp and circumstance, and this year {2015} was no different. Monday May 2 marked the annual Easter parade of the Orthodox Christian-Arab Scouts in Israel. It took place along Yefet Street in Jaffa with the blessing of the municipality, who allows for roads in the area to be cordoned off for a few hours for the duration of the festivities. With an appearance made by the mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa and other dignitaries; hundreds of men, women and children participated in the parade including representatives of the various churches from Israel and the greater Christian community. . .
     “Unlike other parts of the region, the Christian community in Israel is growing and thriving.” [Emphasis mine]” (Ref. 40)


     “The Arameans are a small minority in Israel, with only about 200 families residing within the state. They are Israeli Christians, and for the first time as of September 2014 they are their own individually defined ethnic group and no longer have to identify as Arabs in Israel.” (Ref. 41)

     Israeli “Aramean Christians have a distinct ‘historical heritage, religion, culture, descent and language’ - all the conditions necessary to be recognized as a national or ethnic group.” (Ref. 38)

     IDF Maj. (res.) Shadi Halul, An Aramean Christian, called the recognition by Israel of the Arameans as a separate ethnic group “an ‘historic decision and an historic change for the relations between Christians and Jews in the State of Israel’ . . . Halul said the decision is ‘proof that Israel protects its citizens and the identity of its minorities, unlike all the Arab nations around us.’ “ (Ref. 42)


     “The Black Hebrews, a sect whose full name is "The Original African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem," have two centers of activity: Chicago and Dimona. About 2,500 members, led by Ben Ami Carter, live in Israel — most of them in Dimona, and the rest in Arad and Mitzpe Ramon, with some others residing in other parts of the country.
     “The Black Hebrews believe that they are descended from the ten lost tribes of Israel. They live according to their own special rules of conduct. Polygamy is permitted and birth control is forbidden. Their leaders decree who will marry whom, performing the weddings and approving annulments. Their dietary laws prohibit the eating of meat, dairy products, eggs and sugar . . . Members must adopt Hebraic names in place of their former ‘slave names.’ According to Black Hebrew custom, the woman's responsibilities focus on child­rearing and other family obligations. The Black Hebrews' closed society is isolated from the mainstream . . .
     “The first Black Hebrews began arriving in Israel in 1969, entering the country on temporary visas that were periodically renewed. In the meantime, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel declared that the Black Hebrews were not Jews, and therefore the sect's members were not entitled to Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return. Nevertheless, the Black Hebrew population in Dimona continued to grow due to their high birthrate and because many of them . . . illegally entered Israel using various forms of subterfuge. The Government of Israel avoided deporting the Black Hebrew members who lived in the country illegally, but at the same time also refrained from granting the Black Hebrews citizenship or permanent residency. . .
     “The Black Hebrews acquired legal status in an agreement reached with the Israel Ministry of the Interior in May 1990. . . At the beginning of 2004, the interior minister granted them residency, which does not carry mandatory military service.
      - - -
     “The Black Hebrews derive their income from their famous choir, their seamsters' workshop, which provides the sect with its colorful clothing, and from their vegetarian restaurant in Arad's commercial center, with an adjacent factory for vegetarian food products.
     “By the end of 2006, more than 100 of their youth, girls and boys, {voluntarily} joined the military. . .
      - - -
     “In sports the Black Hebrews have represented Israel at home and in Europe in track and field and national softball events, including the Maccabiah games. Their students have represented Israel in international academic competitions. Twice they have represented Israel in Eurovision, the international music competition.
     “In February 2005, in conjunction with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,  . . . the Black Hebrews opened the Dr. Martin Luther King/SCLC – Ben Ammi Institute for a New Humanity, a conflict resolution center in Dimona to teach holistic non-violence and reconciliation to families, communities, faiths and nations. Their story is a testimony of the great growth and maturity of the State of Israel nd its people.” (Ref. 37)


     “The Druze are a unique religious and ethnic group. Their tradition dates back to the 11th century and incorporates elements of Islam, Hinduism and even classical Greek philosophy.
     “. . . In Israel, the Druze are a close-knit community active in public life . . . They make up roughly 2% of the country’s population {around 180,000} and most live in the northern regions of the Galilee, Carmel and the Golan Heights.
    - - -
     “In Israel, the Druze are active in public life and subject to the military draft. In fact, for more than four decades, the Israeli military had a primarily Druze infantry unit called the Herev, or sword battalion. This is in contrast with Israeli Arabs, who are exempt from military service. About six-in-ten Druze men included in our survey say they have served (45%) or currently are serving (15%) in the Israeli military. Druze women are not required to serve. . . “ (Ref. 43) “The Druze concept of taqiyya calls for complete loyalty by its adherents to the government of the country in which they reside. As such, among other things, the Druze serve in the Israel Defense Forces.” (Ref. 2)

     Many members of the Druze community serve in Israel’s security forces, including the police, IDF, and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), and they are engaged in defense and counter-terrorism on a daily basis. Since its founding in 1948, the Druze community in Israel has been an integral part of the security and peace keeping efforts of this country. Many Druze have fallen in defending the State of Israel.[30]

     The Druze are of Arab descent, but they do not practice the Islamic religion. The Druze community reveres the biblical Jethro, the non-Jewish father-in-law of Moses. According to the Biblical narrative, Jethro joined and assisted the Jewish people in the desert during the Exodus from Egypt, accepted monotheism, but ultimately rejoined his own people. The tomb of Jethro at the Horns of Hittin near Tiberias is the most important religious site for the Druze community. It has been claimed that the Druze are actually descendants of Jethro.[30]

     “In 1957, the Israeli government designated the Druze as a distinct ethnic community at the request of the Druze communal leaders. The Druze are Arabic-speaking citizens of Israel and, at their request, serve in the IDF alongside their fellow Jewish countrymen. The bond between Jewish and Druze soldiers is commonly known by the term ‘a covenant of blood’. This relationship between Israeli Jews and Druze since Israel's independence in 1948 is both emotional and practical, partly because of the considerable number of Israeli Druze soldiers that have fallen in defense of Israel during Israel's many wars with its Arab neighbors.
     “Members of the community have attained top positions in Israeli politics and public service. Many Druze of college age attend the nearby Haifa University and Technion, and there are several members of the faculties at these universities that are Druze.
      - - -
     “ ‘The Druze community has bound its fate to the State of Israel. The proportion of enlistment in the IDF is among the highest in the state and many Druze are in IDF combat units. This is only part of our extensive activity for the Druze community and we are carrying out our commitments to the community,’ said {Israel’s Prime Minister}”. (Ref. 44)

     “Although a tiny minority, Israel’s 150,000 Druze citizens have a disproportionately high rate of recruitment to the IDF, most serving in combat units and many achieving high rank as officers. They are also represented in Israel’s Parliament and government. One more success story for a thriving minority community in a country maliciously libeled as an apartheid State!” (Ref. 30)

     The commitment to Druze equality in Israel was most recently reaffirmed by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in response to baseless criticism of the recently enacted nation-state law. The Prime Minister dismissed these complaints against the law as unfounded. Meeting with Druze representatives, Netanyahu said, “Nothing in this law violates your rights as equal citizens of the State of Israel, and nothing prejudices the special status of the Druze community in Israel. The people of Israel, and I am part of it, love and cherish you. We greatly value our partnership and our alliance.” (Ref. 44)


     “Israel’s Circassians came to Palestine from Russia’s northern Caucasus, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, where they had a reputation for being fierce fighters. In the mid-1800s, the Circassians were massacred and expelled from their homeland by Czarist Russia. The Ottoman Empire took in the Circassians to help them defend their empire. The Ottoman Turks settled Circassians in areas like the Galilee in Palestine.
     “Israeli-Circassians refers to the Adyghe community and they are Sunni Muslims. Circassians emphasize the separation between religion and their nationality. Today, about 4,000 Circassians live in Israel, mainly in the villages of Kfar Kama and Rehaniya.
     “Since 1958 all male Circassians (at their leader's request) complete Israeli military service upon reaching the age of majority, while females do not. . .
     “The Circassian community in Israel {has} shown {its} appreciation for living in a democracy that permits them to enjoy complete religious freedom by being among the most loyal supporters of the nation.
     Today, most Circassian children in Israel are fluent in Hebrew and Arabic, learn English at school and their Circassian language (Adyghe) at home. After Israel’s creation, male members of the community flocked to the defense establishment, particularly the border police. In recent years, the community has been making its mark far beyond the defense arena. An astounding 90% of Circassian-Israeli children go on to higher education. Circassians are still one more minority community who have prospered greatly in the Jewish state. . .” (Ref. 30)


     The world-wide Baha’i faith is headquartered in Haifa in Israel. The relations between Jews, Israel and the Baha’i has been an extremely cordial and mutually respected one. As opposed to many Islamic countries, the Baha’i are free to practice their belief in Israel and to administer their religion from the Jewish homeland.

     “Built in 1953, the gold-domed Shrine of the Bab in Haifa is one of the most visited landmarks in Israel. The Shrine contain the tomb of Siyyad Ali Muhammed – the Bab – a Muslim in Persia who proclaimed the coming of a ‘Promised One’ in 1844. In 1850, he was executed in Iran for heresy. In 1909, the Bab’s disciples brought his remains to Haifa.
     “Mirza Husayn ali Nuri (1817-92), known as Bahaullah or Baha Allah, the ‘Promised One’ founded the Baha'i faith in Iran in 1863. From 1852 to 1877 Baha Allah was imprisoned or exiled. During that time he wrote the Kitab al-aqdas (Arabic for ‘The Most Holy Book’). At the time of Baha Allah‘s death in 1892, the Baha'i were based in Iran and in Acre in Palestine.
     “Baha Allah is buried near Akko (Acre). Baha Allah‘s son, Abbas Effendi, or Abd al-Baha, spread the Baha’i faith around the world. Since 1962, the Baha'i have been administered by their Universal House of Justice, based in Haifa.
     “In more recent times, the Baha'i were Iran’s largest minority and were treated with relative tolerance by the Shah's regime. Iran’s current Islamic government now persecutes the Baha’i. In marked contrast to Iran’s treatment of the Baha’i, a very positive relationship exists between the Baha'i faith and the State of Israel. Israel even has a Baha'i Department under the Ministry of Religious Affairs. [Emphasis mine]
     “Baha Allah left explicit instructions that spreading the faith and accepting converts was forbidden in Palestine (now Israel). In keeping with this ruling, there are no permanent Baha’i in Israel. The only Baha'i in Israel are volunteer workers.” (Ref. 30) As of 1990, the number of Baha’i residing in Israel was reported to be 9,500. In the year 2000, It was reported the Baha’i population in Israel had grown to 13,734, which constituted less than 1/4% of the total population of Israel.[45]


     “Over the last 10 years, many migrant workers have moved to Israel from Africa, China, Romania, and South America. While there are no precise figures with many living in the country illegally, it's estimated there are up to 203,000 migrants . . .” (Ref. 49)

     “The southern neighborhoods of Tel Aviv have been overrun in recent years. The number of African asylum-seekers and economic migrants now living there is approaching 100,000.
     “Some have been repatriated. But most remain in the country illegally.
     “Israel finds itself in a conundrum–how can it turn away or deport those in need considering the Jews' own history? At the same time, how can the tiny nation of Israel absorb such numbers without taking a serious hit to its economy?
      - - -
     According to . . . a social activist from southern Tel Aviv, the ‘infiltrators' birthrate stands at 10,000 per year. That means 50,000 children in five years . . . South Tel Aviv is a ticking time bomb.’ “ (Ref. 46)

     Israel has been facing the same questions that arise in the US: “should border security be implanted before solving the immigration problem? What to do with those illegally in the country, and is there a humanity issue? The problem in Israel has arisen from the Eritrea Africans who {were} trying to escape persecution by migrating to Israel through the Sinai Peninsula.
     “. . . the basic law of Israel allows for any Jew in the world to have automatic citizenship for the simple fact that they are Jewish. Eritreans are not Jews, but Christians, so when they crossed the Sinai Peninsula without a visa they are considered illegal immigrants. Since Eritrea has a very harsh totalitarian regime Israel policy prevents them from being deported. It goes back to why Israel was established in the first place, that not many countries would protect the Jews from the Nazis during World War II. The quote by Menachem Begin best summarizes the intention, paraphrasing: ‘Israel cannot stand by when people are being persecuted and are not accepted by any other country.’
     “The Eritrean status is listed as ‘Asylum Seeker,’ a legal term. They are not refugees because they will not be granted the rights of citizenship with free education and health services. Nor are they illegal immigrants because they cannot be deported like someone who crossed the border illegally and was from France, for example. Israel never deports any group that is persecuted. [Emphasis mine]
     “The exploit and abuse of the Eritreans on their journey is very similar to what the Mexican drug cartels are doing to the illegals coming to the US.  . . . Bedouins {who were} hired to move the illegals across the {Sinai} desert . . . kidnapped them for sex trafficking, held them hostage for ransom, tortured the men and raped 90% of the women. Israel {was} unable to control the crimes because they {took} place outside their border. Within Israel there are those who have set up businesses surrounding the asylum seekers needs. For example, since they are not allowed to open bank accounts, Mafia bosses have become their bankers that transfer money to the asylum seeker’s family.
     “Also similar to the US immigration problem, the Israeli government has allowed them to find jobs, although there is a difference; the Eritreans are not allowed to attend schools, get health benefits, or have any rights as citizens. However, to prevent an increase in crime, the police told the government the asylum seekers should be allowed to work. {The} government {turned} a blind eye, realizing the jobs they {were} taking {were} ones Israelis {didn’t} want, the menial jobs of washing dishes, cleaning streets, and picking fruit.
     “{Some claimed that Israel was denying the asylum seekers citizenship because they were Africans}, ‘but it does not matter the color of their skin, that is irrelevant. Israel has accepted Jews from all over the world: Ethiopian, Chinese, Hispanic, Eastern European, and Western European, but the underlying thread is they are all Jews. We cannot grant the Eritreans citizenship because we need to preserve the Jewish identity of Israel. After all Israel is a Jewish state. 99% of Israelis agree and feel Israel has the right to keep its borders and to prevent permanent status to people who want to stay here.’
     “. . . ‘Many Israelis are sympathetic to them but realistically understand Israel is not able to support them financially. A few think they should be given full rights and citizenship. Another viewpoint is to deport them back immediately. But the overwhelming majority feels they should not be deported and they should be given minimum basic rights while at the same time making sure the border is secure with the building of a wall. The question arises what will happen to those already here? . . . Everyone believes Israel is not the solution for Africa and since they came here illegally they should not be made citizens.’
     “. . . Israel has not given them benefits because they do not want to encourage people to enter the country illegally. For those that argue that a wall does not work, they should look at the statistics: after building one between Egypt and Israel the number attempting to enter Israel illegally has decreased {to essentially zero} . . .” (Ref. 47)

     About a year ago, Israel implemented a new solution to its illegal immigrant problem. Israel offered a “choice to tens of thousands of African migrants in the country: Agree to leave voluntarily by the end of March {2018}, with a plane ticket and a grant of $3,500, or face possible incarceration.
      - - -
     “{This was} the latest phase of Israel’s long campaign to expel tens of thousands of African migrants and asylum seekers, mostly Eritrean and Sudanese, who entered the country illegally. At least 20,000 have already left Israel. . .
     “. . . Based on testimonies of people who have already left, . . . the main destination {appeared} to be Rwanda.

     “According to a news report in Rwanda, the country’s foreign affairs minister said . . . that it was in negotiations with Israel to take in African migrants who did not want to return to their countries of origin, and that up to 10,000 asylum seekers could eventually be settled in Rwanda.” (Ref. 48)


     While the United States has quite justifiably been referred to as a “melting pot”, Israel, with its numerous diverse peoples, with the ongoing tensions in and around it, and the circumstances that brought so many of its peoples to the Holy Land, could well be described as a “crucible”. Israel may be thought of as a mosaic made up of different population groups successfully coexisting within the framework of a democratic state.[35] “The State of Israel is a country that is well known for the Jewish presence and also the diversity of its culture and ethnical groups. It is the only Jewish-majority country in the world and is regarded as a homeland for Jewish people. . . The second largest ethnical group of the state is Arabs, which is the majority of non-Jewish population. Other minority groups of Israel include Arameans, Assyriains, Samaritans, Armenians, Circassians, Dom people, Maronities and Vietnamese.” (Ref. 50) Nowhere else in the Middle East, do so many different peoples freely live, work, and pray without fear of their government discriminating against them. While all is not roses, life in Israel for all its peoples is vastly superior to that of the peoples in the surrounding countries of the region. Israel’s people are totally free to leave if they don’t believe this – a very miniscule few have taken the opportunity to do so. Enough said!

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  27 February 2019 {Article 351; Israel_41}    
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