LIVEBLOG: The Israel Trials
We’re the only ones allowed to bring in our laptops (plus Surge lol)
And it begins! Sound has already gone slightly off but we’re back on track
Debating standards have been set, and already there has been a ban on calls for violence, it’s gonna get tasty
The Soton Tab are also liveblogging this as well as Surge, don’t forget us please
Two out of three of the panel served in the IDF
Ahuva Tsegaye takes the mic first. She served for 6 and a half years, and calls it the most incredible thing she’s done in her life
Second panelist, Naomi Daniels introduces herself. Her parents walked from Ethopia, she was born in Netanya and completed two years of National Service
Finally, Michael Freeman, an ambassador at the Israeli embassy speaks next. He was born in England and lived in Israel for 20 years
Michael wants us to ask any questions, he’s open to anything, cheeky. He is happy this is in an informal setting so it won’t be too harsh
The first topic is the two state solution. The first question, “why is Netanyahu favour a one state solution?”
Michael urges that the Prime Minister is totally for a two state solution. He says that the Palestinians believe that the Jews have no claim or connection to the State or Land of Israel. So how can there be a two state solution if one side doesn’t believe the other has a right to the land?
One speaker asks “How can the world take Israel seriously when they continue to build on land that is Palestinian?” Michael believes that although the settlements are a big issue, they aren’t the issue. He believes the issue is the Palestinians rejection of a Jewish State in any of the land
Michael highlights “Why should Jews not be able to allowed in any Palestinian state?” to a hushed applause
Michael takes the mic again after a question on an allegation of racial sterilisation of an Ethiopian woman in Israel, Naomi says they were given birth control to build their life. She said it is not true that Ethiopian women do not the ability to have children, as she has 9 brothers. She does not consider herself an African refugee, but rather going back to her homeland which her parents dreamt of for years.
Ahuva also emphasises the fact that she had a big Ethiopian family living in Israel
The question asker says that after the policy, there was a decrease in the amount of Ethiopians born in Israel. Also, that these women did not know they were being injected with birth control. Michael comes back and says the women may not have known the difference between short and long term birth control.
An audience member says these women had no idea there were on birth control, even though Michael said they were offered it.
Naomi says these women could not understand Hebrew. Michael says they have no awareness of Ethiopians wombs being removed
An audience member (our News Editor Charlotte Colombo) asks Naomi and Ahuva if they consider if other Ethiopian Israelis did not have such a good experience as them
Naomi says that she did not have an easy life, she has experienced lots of racism in Israel, like she would in any country, even though she speaks Hebrew and considers herself completely Israeli
Ahuva says her life isn’t that different from the rest of the community. It was tough but they are intergrating
A controversial question “Do you really think you are equal in Israel?” Ahuva quickly responds and says she considers herself Israeli, she hasn’t forgotten her Ethiopian roots but she does feel equal. Naomi feels the same, even when she was the only Ethiopian in her class. “I know what I am worth” says Naomi, to a meaningful applause
Michael believes that we are closer to a two state solution. He says they are a long way away but they are very close. He says if there was a strong Palestinian leader, they would have an agreement very soon. Under the current leadership he does not see this happening
“People are sick and tired of burying their children” “Peace is better than conflict”
Ahuva says her parents had only one goal in life, to come to Israel, like most Ethiopian Jews. She says her parents kissed the floor when they finally made it to Israel in the 1980’s
Michael says yes, Israel does need to look at itself. Wasn’t expecting that.
He says Israel does have a problem with racism like every other country in the world, but there is no country in the world that is perfect.
Apparently, Israel’s minorities are doing well compared to other minorities in the world.
Michael says it shames him to see racism in Israel
Naomi wants to make a change not just for Ethiopians, but other minorities in Israel
Michael believes if Israel didn’t have national service they wouldn’t have a country, but he prays that one day Israel won’t need national service.
An impassioned audience member, who is a Palestinian herself asks “why does Israel need to protect themselves when Palestine doesn’t have an army…why does Gaza have a wall around it?”
Michael asks if she recognises the Jewish right to their own country. She says “Yes, as long as you leave the Palestinians alone, and both Israelis and Palestinians have their own rights.”
Michael says the IDF have never used white phosphorous, something the audience members disagrees with.
Michael says Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets, before being interrupted and asked to continue.
“You don’t measure a war by how many people are killed on each side”
“After the barrier was built, the terror stopped” “The barrier was a defensive measure”
An audience member asks “why does the Israeli government consider Hamas as someone to deal with?” Michael immediately says Israel do not recognise Hamas. If Hamas renounces terrorism and recognises Israel’s right to exist, he will sit and negotiate with them.
An audience member believes it is the Jewish people that started the war, and that Jewish people removed Arabs from their land.
“We’re not going anywhere, and the Palestinians aren’t going anywhere either”
We are now moving to the third and final topic of discussion, the rise of extremist ultra-orthodox tendencies in Israel
Israel has never had a stable electoral system
There is a law, if you are in full time Jewish education, you do not have to serve in the army, the ultra-Orthodox are exempt from the army
Israel has a growing economic problem
The challenge of the ultra-Orthodox: whether they contribute to society and serve in the army
“I’m a diplomat I’m allowed to do that” sassy Mike, tackling the haters one tweet at a time
Israel doesn’t have huge faith in the United Nations
“The only time there has been unfettered access to the holy sites is under Israeli control”
An audience member wants Michael to snake other nations
Michael says Israel does not threaten the people in the Middle East, but terrorism and radical Islam
The Israel/Palestine issue is not the main issue in the Middle East, and other regions accept this
“Why does Israel wants to us to forget its act? Why does it Israel slap people in the face but expect nothing but love?” A controversial statement
Michael says since 2000 Lebanon has carried on saying it’s going to destroy Israel
“Hezbollah are still determined to destroy us” “There’s nothing stopping a peaceful border with Lebanon”
The previous audience member says that Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, was a leader of a terrorist group
The host “can’t help but notice that this isn’t a question”
An audience member asks “Why doesn’t Israel have a more muscular foreign policy” a question Michael admits he has never had before