A recent discussion is taking place within groups that raise funds for the Galilee region of Israel as to whether these funds should also benefit non-Jews.

On the face of it, this seems like an academic question.

After all, 40 percent of the Israeli population who live in the Galilee region are not Jews.

Indeed, the villages with no Jewish population whatsoever in the Galilee were also under the gun of the Hezbollah this past summer. Of the 52 Israeli citizens who were killed by Hezbollah artillery, 24 were non-Jewish Israeli citizens.

My own son has served in IDF combat units with many loyal non-Jewish Israeli citizens who live in the Galilee – Bedouins, Druze, and Circassim – three non-Jewish ethnic groups who fight for the state of Israel.

The dilemma involved in aiding some of the non-Jews in the Galilee has nothing to do with their ethnicity.

It has to do with their loyalty to Israel, and the extent to which their communities aid and abet the armies that are at war with Israel.

Throughout the 34 days that Hezbollah fired 4,000 missiles aimed at Israel’s civilian communities in the Galilee, some of the democratically elected leadership of the Israeli Arab communities who sit in Israel’s Knesset expressed support for the Hezbollah, and went so far as to cross the lines to travel to Syria and Lebanon to express their support for the Hezbollah attacks. The Arab deputy mayor of Haifa was forced to resign his position after he supported Hezbollah attacks on his own city.

Yet the past few months have witnessed countless polemical pieces which claim that Israel neglected to prepare its civil defense system for the Israeli Arab population in the north. The fact is that shelters were not prepared in any part of the Galilee, with the notable exception of Kiryat Shmoneh.

What most media outlets have not reported is that many of the Israeli Arab municipalities simply refused to cooperate with the Israel Defense Force Civil Command.

A case in point: In July, after two Arab children were killed in the Israeli Arab city of Nazareth, Ronny Sofer, the correspondent from the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot arrived on the scene and discovered that the city council of Nazareth had cut off the air raid sirens, as had other Arab municipalities, because they did not want to be bothered on Israel Memorial Day or Holocaust Remembrance Day. Some of the Israeli Arab municipalities had even refused to cooperate with the Israel Defense Force civil command in the construction of air raid shelters.

So if a given non-Jewish community in Israel flies the flag of Hezbollah instead of the Israeli flag, the address for their humanitarian needs may lie elsewhere.

That is the dilemma for the people who contribute to the Galilee region of Israel: to help Israel’s loyal citizens, not to buttress a fifth column.

©The Bulletin 2006


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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.