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