-- May 15, 2012- Yom HaNaqba, Cell Phone Rates Drop

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Israel Update
A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

May 15, 2012- Yom HaNaqba, Cell Phone Rates Drop

Today is May 15th. If Israel celebrated its birthday based on the secular calendar, today would be Israel's Independence Day. (Well sort of, because of Shabbat we actually declared our Independence on May 14th. However that is another story). In Israel, we, of course already celebrated Yom Haatzaut on its Hebrew date. To the Arabs of Israel and the Palestinians- whether refugees or not- this day, May 15th, has always been "Yom HaNaqba", day of the 'disaster'. The ''disaster' being, the birth of the State of Israel, and the subsequent turning of many of them into refugees.

How are we Jews, and even more specifically, we Jews of Israel, supposed to react to their commemoration? This is not a simple question, and it requires a thoughtful answer.

Personally, I am very conflicted on this matter. On one hand, one cannot help but feel some theoretical sympathy for all those who lost their lands, their homes, and/or for those who did not leave, but have been forced to live as a minority in their land.

On the other hand, the very fact that Palestinians still commeroate this day, is at the heart of the conflict. It is the reason that despite whatever actions we are to take, it's unlikely to bring about peace.

In the years immediately following World War II, 50 million refugees were created by shifting borders,as well as in the wake of the creation of newly independent states. The Independence of India and Pakistan, alone, created a migration of 20 million people. But it's only the Palestinians that still commemorate their "Naqba Day" More importantly, its only the Palestinians who have leaders, who to this day still speak about "the day when the current occupants of the land (us, Jews) will disappear and there will be space for all the refugees. This evening I watched excerpts of a speech by an Islamic leader giving such a speech to children in the Negev.

Maybe our government should launch a major campaign next year around Yom HaNaqba, saying we understand your pain. We are sorry things could not work out the way you would have wished. But, the reason there is a Yom Hanaqba is that your leaders could not agree to compromise. If they would have accepted the UN partition plan, there would have been no Palestinian refugees. There would have been a Palestinian state alongside the Israeli one for 64 years. Is it time now for you to give up your dreams that we will disappear and agree to the compromise that you failed to agree to in 1947? If you do, you will find a generous partner. I doubt it would make any difference- but why not try?

On a more positive note... New competitors have entered the Israel cellular scene and lowered costs dramatically. Already cell phones in Israel were not particularly expensive-- with unlimited plans, including the phone available for around $70/month, including tax. Now, the new competitors are offering unlimited plans, without phones for around $30/month. Tonight there is a spirit of national celebration. Finally something that is really cheap here.

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