Contributed by CAMERA fellow Avital Zenilman

Pick a random student crossing North Charles Street or roaming around campus, and ask them a question about Israel. The common answer will most likely be related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and probably verbatim from the media. But no one seems to know about Israel beyond the conflict and many people are perfectly content with remaining apathetic. Being indifferent towards a country that is so important, despite its small size, should not be an option.

Israel has brought life to the desert, and the country continues to thrive. An Israeli invented the first practical surface drip irrigation emitter, which allows for plants to grow in the dry heat of the desert and across the country. Though the Sea of Galilee is the only natural source of fresh water, Israel developed a desalination process to provide more water, as well as a reclaimed water process, which treats wastewater to then be reused in agriculture.

Inventions created in Israel have enhanced people’s lives as well in the world of science and technology. It is there that a bionic walking assistance system was created, which enables paraplegics to stand, walk, and climb stairs. They were of the first to develop and manufacture USB flash drives. Israel invented Waze, a navigational system based on GPS that provides turn-by-turn information as well as the option for users to submit data, thus providing real-time reports about certain routes and travel times.

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The focus that was placed on Israeli elections, or the lack there of, was truly something amazing. While people seemingly focused only on the outcomes—which party will win the most seats or who will be the next prime minister—most people overlooked the most obvious fact about Israel: there were actual free elections. No one person intimidated voters and there were multiple parties on the ballot, each with its own views that may differ from others. It was a genuine free election in the only democratic state in the Middle East. And yet people do not realize how incredible it is that these elections were open and fair, and actually occurred.

It is a democratic state. People have the ability to vote for whomever they wish to see in government. They have the rights of freedom of press, assembly, speech, as well as women and gay rights. It is a safe haven for people who have been deprived of basic and civil rights or who are fleeing persecution in neighboring countries; for instance, Christians are free and protected in Israel while they are persecuted in other countries, and under ISIS. The government protects its people against terrorist attacks by implementing security checkpoints as a means of preventing possible suicide bombers. Israel has shown willingness to ease the restrictions, but only after terrorism and violence decrease to ensure the safety of its citizens.

Israel accepts all people, regardless of religion, race, gender, nationality, etc., and extends rights to them. And that fact cannot be ignored.

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