Fueling the flames of discontent in Israel

Israel Photo 2.jpg

by: Andrew Faas
Author - The Bully's Trap - Bullying in the Workplace

Over the last few weeks the worldwide media have been portraying Israel as a country under siege, security forces and police shooting and killing people at random, and mass protests. This is resulting in a huge drop of tourists and business travel, and the potential loss of investment and intellectual capital (including scientist and researchers supported by Israel Cancer Research Fund)coming to this land of creation, innovation and resourcefulness.

Last week I had the privilege of being part of a North American delegation in Israel on behalf of the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF), and the researchers and scientists they support to celebrate ICRF's 40th anniversary.

Were it not for Israeli scientists funded by the ICRF, I would be dead today. Just over a decade ago I was diagnosed with Leukemia and given at most six years to live. Thankfully I was prescribed a drug, Gleevec, which turned my fatal condition into a chronic one. ICRF funded the research, which led to the development of this miracle drug, which targets the harmful cells without affecting the healthy ones.

The Faas Foundation has supported ICRF for close to a decade, obviously for personal reasons. More importantly however, it is our passion for basic research that has been the major factor. Without basic research there would be no discovery, and without funding there would be no basic research, which would restrain the development of better treatments and ultimately a cure.

Unfortunately, now as in 1975 when ICRF was formed, governments and big Pharma provide little investment in basic research. This is something we must lobby for. However, we cannot wait. Now, as it was then, we must continue to appeal for private funding.

On many occasions, on learning that I am involved with ICRF, friends and associates have commented that they did not realize I was Jewish. My response has been "I did not realize it either", as well as making the observation that all of us are the sons and daughters of the land of Israel.

ICRF is often characterized as a Jewish charity because of its name, which for unfortunate reasoning has restricted their ability to solicit support beyond the Jewish community. What is not properly understood is that the organization is actually the world’s cancer research fund because the scientists and researchers in Israel are from countries around the globe - a mosaic of different religions, ethnic backgrounds, colours and creeds, whose work directly and or indirectly affects every citizen of every country.

Consider what we witnessed when visiting a laboratory at one of the research centres in Israel. It was led by a Palestinian Christian whose team included a Jew and a Muslim working together in good faith with a collective sense of self and purpose. Much can be learned from this model. Just imagine if all the world leaders worked together in good faith with the same collective sense of self and purpose.

Also, consider the fact that no oncologist around the world is able to properly practice oncology without referring to the research done in Israel.

On learning we were going to Israel many of our family and friends expressed concerns for our personal safety based on what has been and is conveyed by the media, much of which misrepresents what we saw, heard and experienced. During the seven days we were there, other than increased non-intrusive security measures, we could not detect any of the extreme situations portrayed in the media. I should point out that we were not in a security bubble and went to both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and most nights walked to and from our Hotels to visit historical sites and restaurants. What was evident however was how quiet it was compared to previous visits, largely due to tourists and business people cancelling their trips to Israel.

On Saturday the front page of the Europe edition of The Financial Times" reported, "Day of rage brings new violence." The only instance of violence was "Palestinian posing as a journalist stabs a journalist with a knife before being shot dead in the West Bank." The Times also reported that "as of yesterday, eight Israelis and more than 30 Palestinians - including terror suspects who Israelis killed - had died in the violence in Jerusalem, Israel and the Palestinian Territories" On the same day the International New York Times reported that 20, not the "more than 30" Palestinians were killed. (It should not take a forensic reporter to give an exact number here!) Considering all of the reported instances of police brutality in the United States, it is a bit rich for the media to be fanning the fires of discontent in Israel, where the security forces and police have and are responding to threats and attacks on them and those they serve and protect. Mohammed Abbas, the Palestinian president, has also lost total credibility when he falsely accused Israel of "executing" a 13-year-old boy from Jerusalem. Perhaps the reason we are not seeing the Ferguson type protests is that most Palestinians view their leaders for what they are, who use extremists and impressionable children to wreak havoc, knowing the media will play along.

At the end of our trip we reflected on how overwhelmed we were with the expressions of appreciation from almost everyone we came into contact with for being there during this period, and their appeals to relay what we witnessed, indicating that the terrorists are winning the battle because of the economic and social consequences of people being afraid to come.

There is no question that this is a tense period for Israel and its people, and caution must be observed while living and visiting there. It is not however a war zone; rather it is a place where rational and pragmatic steps are being taken to protect its people and to prevent those who wish to do harm; and it is working.

In response to their appeal, I appeal to you as sons and daughters of the land of Israel, please do not let the terrorists win.