Thursday, February 19, 2009

Half Full


"...I say 1/2 full:

Israelis come from more than 100 countries. They represent diverse ethnic, religious, and racial groups. Roughly half the population has origins in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Roughly one-fifth of the Israeli population is not Jewish. Most of those are Muslims, but Christinas, Druze and Baha’is, and other faiths are also represented.

Hebrew and Arabic are the two official languages.

The freedoms and rights associated with liberal democracy are protected in Israel. Israelis enjoy freedom of speech, assembly, and religion.Israel’s free press is one of the most vibrant in the world.

Unlike the mostly government-controlled media in the region, Israeli journalists report on all aspects of Israeli life, and do not hesitate to criticize. Israel’s Declaration of Independence guarantees freedom of religion for all.

Each religious community has its own religious schools, councils, and courts, and exercises jurisdiction over matters of personal status such as marriage and divorce. The holy places of each religion are controlled by officials of that faith, not the Israeli government. A popular slogan is that Jerusalem should be free and accessible to all faiths. Indeed it should be — and it has been only since Israel assumed responsibility for the entire city in 1967. Today, any Muslim is free to pray at their holy places in Jerusalem. Tens of thousands of Muslims peacefully pray on the Temple Mount during Ramadan.Israel also recognizes the freedom of assembly.

Tens of thousands of Israelis have turned out for rallies for peace, sometimes in support of their government and sometimes to protest its policies.

While the United States has only two major parties that are often criticized for being too similar, Israeli voters had political views 33 parties to choose among including three Arab parties.

Israel provides full equality for women. Women in Israel are protected by law from discrimination and abuse, and they have been engaged in all walks of life, from homemaker to combat soldier to prime minister.

Israel is one of the most progressive countries in the world in recognizing differences based on sexual orientation. Israeli law forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation. In August 2006, Jerusalem hosted Love Without Borders: WorldPride Jerusalem 2006, a weeklong event organized by LGBT activists from around the world. This demonstration was then the second one of its kind in the world.

Israel is not perfect. Who is?

No one should be surprised that Israel has fallen short in just 60 years plus given the external threats it faces.

As I say 1/2 full..."

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