Toronto Federation committee explores Jewish-Arab relations ...

Toronto Federation committee explores Jewish-Arab relations with author of 'Son of My Land'

June 23, 2014

About 12 invited guests of the Israeli Arab Issues Committee at UJA Federation of Greater Toronto heard from Sagi Melamed, author of "Son of My Land" and Vice President for External Relations & Development at the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College.

Sagi shared stories from his book, exploring the complexity of Jewish-Arab relations in Israel, grievances and iequalities that divide, and signs of hope. He recalled a childhood friend, Ismail, an Israeli Bedouin who is now an Israeli diplomat in London.  Ismail's grievance is that his village in the Galil lacks a paved access road -- a relatively small grievance that symbolizes the unequal status of Israel's Arab citizens as few Jewish villages would lack a paved road.

At the same time, Sagi discussed national civil service as an opportunity for Arab citizens and how Rambam hospital in Haif, for example, is swamped with young Arab volunteers.  Sagi shared that national civi service, an alternative to serving in the IDF, has become more popular and accepted by Arab youth as a pathway to better careers and access to benefits comparable to those that IDF veterans receive.
Overall the picture Sagi painted was one of ongoing change in relations between Arabs and Jews in Israel, emphasizing how important it is to continue strengthening relations by bridging social and economic divides, and creating opportunities for personal connections across the cultures.

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