Israelis Are Just Dying to Teach Us Arabs About Love of Life

Yet I fail to fathom how a country who claims to sanctify life lets so many of its citizens die in neighboring lands.

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
An Israeli soldier stands guard over Egyptian prisoners in El Arish, Sinai, during the Six-Day War in June 1967.
An Israeli soldier stands guard over Egyptian prisoners in El Arish, Sinai, during the Six-Day War in June 1967. Credit: Shabtai Tal / GPO
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

After the country’s leaders determined that Arabs love death I decided to check the facts. This is what I found. The vast majority of Arabs who died in battle with Israel fell in their own land, in Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, with Palestinians dying in all those countries. In contrast, 99% of Israeli casualties died in foreign lands, in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and in what remains of Palestine. I, with my limited capacity to understand, fail to fathom how those who sanctify life die in the neighbor’s living room? If it were only one living room and only once, we’d understand, but this happened in all the neighbors’ living rooms, in all the confrontations that took place.

In 1956, 231 Israelis were killed in Sinai. In 1967, 779 soldiers died in the lands of all of Israel’s neighbors. Even in the 1973 October War that the Arabs initiated, all 2,656 Israeli casualties died in foreign lands. So who yearns for death, the one who dies at home or the one who dies in his neighbor’s back yard?

I also discovered that real estate is dearer than life. This is what late Defense Minister Moshe Dayan meant when he said that it’s “better to have Sharm al-Sheikh without peace than peace without Sharm al-Sheikh.” Golda Meir also thought so. She refused to discuss Egyptian proposals for resolving the Sinai issue. She was confident that in a crunch, life-affirming Jews would be willing to die on the altar of Egyptian real estate. I feel very sad when I see emotional families at the army’s induction center, depositing their most precious possession in the army’s hands, from where they are sent to protect valuable real estate in the occupied territories.

PM Golda Meir, accompanied by her Defense Minister Moshe Dayan (C), meets with Israeli soldiers at a base on the Golan Heights during the Yom Kippur War, Nov. 21 1973.Credit: Reuters

While sifting through the evidence I noticed a forgiving attitude towards leaders who, in their arrogance, led people to their deaths. Ariel Sharon embroiled the country in a war in which 675 soldiers died, but he quickly returned as the country’s leader. Just before the end of the Second Lebanon War, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert launched a final operation in Wadi Saluki, in which 11 soldiers were killed at a time when it was already clear that Israel would withdraw from any territory seized. However, Olmert was forced to resign not because of his dismissive attitude to the lives of Jews but because of envelopes stuffed with cash.

You ask about the Palestinians. Well, the diagnosis is simple: There’s a West-Bank-sized bone stuck in the throat. If you swallow, it’s the end of the Jewish state. If you expel it, it’s the end of the Greater Land of Israel. As long as Israeli dignitaries don’t make up their minds, the occupier and the occupied, arm in arm, continue with their danse macabre.

And here I’d like to lend support to Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh. He said that the hidden message of Arabs is that “with the push of a button or the brandishing of a knife one can transcend to a better world and leave behind the challenges of this world.” Precisely, honorable Commissioner. This world’s challenges, namely the occupation, is what pushes people to prefer death to the life you offer them.

Police Commissioner Alsheikh, in the Knesset last week. The Palestinians' "hidden message," he said, is that "there is no importance whatsoever to life." Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

However, praise the Lord, not everything is gloomy. In timely fashion the community center in Zikhron Yaakov decided to discuss relations with Arabs in Israel. The organizers, with great consideration, invited Alik Ron, a senior police commander during the October 2000 events in which 13 young Arabs were killed. They also invited Prof. Arnon Sofer, who meticulously registers every Arab who dares to be born, Yossi Chen, a former senior Shin Bet security service operative and Lt. Col. (res.) Shabtai Koh.

A friend of mine who saw the list of invited speakers was furious. “What about the canine unit? The dogs there can smell an Arab from miles away.” Then he fumed about another oversight. “What about the elite cyber 8200 unit? With them the audience could learn what goes on in the bedrooms of Arabs!”

And so, life-affirming Jews from Zichron Yaakov, who cannot hold a conversation with the Arab residents of Fureidis who live just across the road from them, are dying to teach us about love of life.

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