Monday, October 19, 2009

A World of Soldiers and A Common Culture of Freedom

I see people posting quotes all day, throughout the day, almost every day. Sometimes, one touches me, sometimes it amuses me. I hear from other mothers of soldiers in America and see how much we share. A worry, a love, a pride, a freedom, a culture. Thousands of miles away and yet the same.

Sometimes, their words ring a bell so true I have to stop and share it with others.

Posted by: @McCore:

It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.

Israel is a true democracy surrounded by countries and enemies that do not believe in the rights of the individual, the woman, the innocent. In 1948, the year Israel was founded, women were given the right to vote.* By contrast, in Saudi Arabia, men were allowed to vote only in 2005, in the first local elections ever held in the country. Women however were not allowed to exercise their right to vote or to stand for election on that occasion. Egypt gave women the right to vote only in 1956; Iraq only in 1980.

At any moment, if I wished, I could drive to the airport...even drive myself to the airport, purchase a ticket, and fly anywhere I want. Even today, in Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Jordan, Morocco, Oman and Yemen, married women must have their husbands' written permission to travel abroad, and they may be prevented from doing so for any reason. In Saudi Arabia, women must obtain written permission from their closest male relative to leave the country or travel on public transportation between different parts of the kingdom. I contrast this to my waking early many months ago and driving to the far north to pick up Elie; or driving south, or east, or west.

All this and more passed through my head as I read this simple line - it is our soldiers that defend our freedom and enable us to separate ourselves from the culture and laws that are used to limit the rights of our neighbors. Something like 10% of our parliament is filled with people who oppose our very existence - our own parliament. They stand in the halls of our government, free to speak, and condemn our being in our land. How many Jews are there in governments in Arab lands? I believe there is one in Iran, believe it or not, but as far as I know, that is all there is and yet we have more than 10 Arabs in the current parliament (Knesset) - I think there are 13, actually. In fact, there have been Arabs in the Israeli Knesset since its first elections in 1949.

No, it is not the politicians or the lawyers that guard our right to be here, to be free - it is our soldiers, our sons, my son, who tonight sleeps near our northern borders. Elie is close to Syria physically, but culture and values create a chasm that will never be crossed.
  • The Syrian government should reveal the fate of the prominent lawyer and rights activist Haytham al-Maleh, 78, who disappeared on October 14, 2009, and should release him immediately and unconditionally if it is detaining him, Human Rights Watch said today.**
  • The Syrian government should free the lawyer and rights activist Muhanad al-Hasani immediately and unconditionally. Aug 4, 2009.**
  • Article 548 of the Penal Code, which had waived punishment for a man found to have killed a female family member in a case “provoked” by “illegitimate sex acts,” as well as for a husband who killed his wife because of an extramarital affair.(this was waved only 3 months ago).**
  • Syrian authorities should immediately make public the fate of all detainees at Sednaya prison, at least nine of whom are believed to have been killed when military police used lethal force during unrest in the prison last July. Jul 4, 2009 **
We are a country with a court system, a government we elected and can replace. For all that the world argues otherwise, we are free here to vote, to drive, to elect, to employ. People do not disappear into our prisons. Gilad Shalit has not been allowed to see his family in three years; Arab prisoners regularly get visitation rights from their families, their lawyers.

A world, a culture, a chasm so great divides us from the land so close to Elie and it was this that touched me today as I read these words. For this service that my son gives his nation, today I drove to work, in a country that allows me as a woman to drive; for this I voted in the last elections; for this I walk unmolested and free on the streets of this beautiful city.

For this, Elie sleeps tonight after a day in the army.

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* According to http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/suffrage.htm

** http://www.hrw.org/middle-eastn-africa/syria

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