In today’s world of a 24 -hour news cycle, Twitter and other social media platforms, misinformation and half-truths have the ability to spread around the world faster than ever before. Lately, we have been troubled by the spreading of inaccurate information about Israel. As proud advocates for social justice, we can say that Israel shares the same values of freedom, inclusion and respect that our campus community regards so highly.
According to Freedom House, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization that conducts research on democracy, Israel is one of only two free countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Israel has the best record on gay rights in the Middle East, and Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest city, was recently named the world’s top gay destination by gaycities.com. On March 17, Israeli voters elected a record number of minority citizens to serve in the Israeli parliment, the Knesset, in an election administered by the Justice of Israel’s Supreme Court, who is an Arab Christian. These are just some of the countless reasons given by Senator Elizabeth Warren, a progressive icon, who praises Israel for being the only liberal democracy in the Middle East and one of America’s closest allies.
In the proud tradition of Israel’s successful peace deals with Egypt and Jordan, Israel remains committed to peace with its Palestinian neighbors, hoping to one day live side-by-side in peace with a Palestinian state. Toward this goal, the Israeli government has time and time again offered countless concessions for peace and continues to support an immediate return to negotiations without preconditions.
Alongside Israel’s government, the Israeli people continue to build bridges with their Palestinian neighbors in hopes of bringing about a sustainable peace. For example, the Israeli non-profit Save a Child’s Heart, regularly provides free, life-saving heart surgeries to Palestinian children. Hospitals throughout Israel also provide free medical care to Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza, as well as to victims of the Syrian Civil War. Even the daughter of Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader who has repeatedly called for the annihilation of Israel and all its citizens, received life-saving medical treatment last October.
In 1948, the United States was the first nation to recognize Israel, and the relationship between these two democracies continues to strengthen with bipartisan support. Israel is the only Middle Eastern nation that protects the freedoms and rights of all of its citizens, regardless of gender, religion or ethnicity. While Israel—like the United States or any other democracy—has its flaws and makes its fair share of mistakes, our community should celebrate Israel as a beacon of progressivism. The nation is a dedicated ally of the United States as well as a support of the efforts of those and only those who seek to rise above divisive rhetoric to bring about a sustainable peace for all people in the Middle East.
Goldberg is a member of the class of 2015.
Paster is a member of the class of 2016.
Goldberg and Paster are members of UR Israel Council.