December 3, 2014

Hi Everyone!

Since 1990, I have been living in Ma'ale Adumim.
When the Rami Levy supermaket in Mishor Adumim opened on August 24, 2004, I started to do my shopping there and I visit once every 1-2 weeks. I usually get a lift with a friend who has car. It is about a 10 minute drive from where I live.

Initially, I went shopping there for the best prices and for the experience of late night shopping at a well stocked supermarket. It reminded me of late night shopping in Pathmark in Brooklyn, New York (the old country). Over time, prices on some items have gone up but in general Rami Levy is competitive. I also get a kick out of shopping at certain times of the night when an announcement is made over the loudspeaker that Maariv will be taking place in the shul (a very nicely furnished bomb shelter with very comfortable seats). Most, if not all, Rami Levy supermarkets have a shul. The minyans I attended have a wide range of different people including workers and shoppers.

The customer service in the Mishor Adumim store is great! If I have a problem or question, I can turn to any employee for help. Many times I have asked stockboys to find out where a product is or if they have something in stock. He would stop what he was doing and help. As simple as that. The managers are also very attentative and will put the customer first. The checkout counters have baggers and if a cashier has a problem, a manger will come over right away to help. The floor manager does not just sit somewhere drinking coffee. They are actively working to keep the customer satisfied.

Back in 2004, when I first started to shop at Rami Levy in Mishor Adumim, I was a little bit apprehensive. Many of the workers, including management, are Arab and many Arabs from the surrounding areas shop there. I am sure that others felt the same. After a few months, I started to appreciate what Rami Levy has done at his Mishor Adumim store and many of his other branches. Hundreds of Arabs are employed by Rami Levy. Hundreds of Arab families shop at Rami Levy. I do not have any Arab "friends" in the store but I consider the Arab workers who help me and others to be very good workers. Toward closing time at night, I usually hear over the loudspeaker in Hebrew: "Rides for workers living in Ma'ale Adumim neighborhood number 8 are leaving soon." I was not familiar where neighborhood number 8 was so I asked a cashier and she told me that was the code for Azaria - an Arab neighborhood between the south side of Ma'ale Adumim and Jerusalem. I laughed and still smile today when I hear it.

Last month, when I heard that Soda Stream was closing its Mishor Adumim plant, I felt that was a big mistake. Hundreds of Jewish and Arab workers would have to be laid off or travel a large distance to the future plant in the Negev. They are supposedly moving because they are getting a large grant to build a new plant in the Negev. I think they should have been given a grant to expand the facilities in Mishor Adumim.

Over the past 24 hours, I have read many comments people have made that the mayor of Ma'ale Adumim should fire all 2,500 Arab workers that the city employs. This includes cleaning services, gardening and many other city services. This would be a huge mistake.

Several years ago, I sat at a cafe in Canion Adumim (the mall) with a visiting European student researcher. He wanted to know my opinion about the "settlements", the political situation and what it was like living in Ma'ale Adumim. I described what I do and how I like it here and our rights to build and live anywhere in Israel. For the answer to how we live with our next door Arab neighbors I told him to pay a visit to Rami Levy.

Yes, there are security threats that we must take seriously. Yes, employing thousands of Arab workers to work in our city is not an easy task. Would we be able to fill all those positions with local residents? I do not know. Should we? If there are unemployed local residents who would want to work in these positions they should apply. Will we find so many local workers who can fill all these positions? Probably not. Would the area be a better place if Arabs were unemployed and relying on the Palestinian Authority to help them? Probably not.

Do not misread my opinions of employing Arab workers as liberal political leanings. I believe that Eretz Yisrael belongs to the Jewish people and that we should build, settle and live in all parts of our country. We have biblical rights and modern day rights to the land. My maternal grandparents and great grandparents (including my great-grandfather Jerusalem historian Pinchas Grayevsky) grew up in Jerusalem and are buried on Har Hazeitim which is the oldest Jewish cemetary in the world.

My paternal grandfather made aliyah from the United States to Tzfat in 1922. He was a rich businessman (no, I do not have the money part but I still consider myself a "Rich-man"). He employed many Arab workers in Tzfat and Haifa. Were there problems doing that? Yes. In fact during the 1930's there were Arab strikes and rioting and he had to move the family back and forth between his homes in Tzfat and Haifa. On my website is a 1936 letter from the manager of the Jewish Forward in New York (Baruch Charney Vladeck) to my gandmother in Haifa. He asked if things were calming down after the strike. You can read the interesting letter at: www.jr.co.il/richman/new-york-letter-to-haifa-1936.htm

My point is that Jewish people have always lived in Israel and over the past century many more have come back home to their Jewish homeland. No one is going to kick us out. We have Arab neighbors in Israel and around us. That is a fact that is not going to disappear tomorrow morning. Many of our Arab neighbors want to live in peace and just want to earn a living and put food on the table. Those that want to harm us should be arrested, thrown into jail or thrown out of our country. Those that attempt to kill us, should be killed. An IDF soldier, border police, security personnel and regular police should not have to think twice or hesitate if they can prevent an attack and prevent others from getting hurt.

From a historical perspective, Arabs in Israel (including Judea and Samaria) are mostly immigrants that came to Israel after the Jewish immigrants started to make the desert bloom. I am not going to give a history lesson here. You can read dozens of articles about our Jewish history and politics at: www.jr.co.il/articles/politics/index.html

You may ask: But what about the national aspirations of the Arabs / "Palestinians"? For all realistic purposes they have a local country - it is called Jordan. Many of their local traditions, customs, educational books are Jordan based. But what about the "Palestinian Authority"? The PA was created by a group of people that thought they knew what is best for the Arabs. It has become a nightmare for both Jews and Arabs. The history of Arab internal affairs is based on tribes and clans. Over the past 100 years when countries try to force "western" democratic systems or replace dictatorship leaders with other dictatorships in the Middle-East, it has only brought disastrous results. The world is rallying behind a "Palestinian State" because it is good for the Arabs? Give me a break. Better than giving me a break: Go visit Rami Levy during any day of the week and see how peaceful co-existance can really work.

Yes, there have been many terrorists attacks and rioting over the years and it rises and falls and rises again. Throwing stones, shooting fireworks at people, throwing molotov cocktails and stabbing people in supermarkets and synagogues are all terrorist attacks. Israel must enforce the law and bring harsh penalties on these terrorists including punishments for their immediate families that did nothing to stop them. The claim of "I did not know" is a BS answer. When a family loses their home or loses their Israeli social security or health insurance you bet this stands as a strong encouragement  for parents to prevent their kids from going wild in the streets.
If people want to become martyrs by planning to carry out terrorists acts - we should make sure they become martyrs before they harm anyone. If the Arab text books and television shows promote terrorism, take away the books and close down the television station. Any other country would have done it long ago.

Will I continue shopping at Rami Levy? Yes, I will.
Will I continue to ride the Jerusalem Light Rail? Yes, I will.
Will I thank the Arab bus driver when I get off the bus and thank the Arab supermarket workers for helping me? Yes, I will.
Will I be more alert to suspicious looking people on the bus, on the train, in the streets, in the mall and supermarkets? Yes, I will.
I wish a Refuah Shleima (full recovery) to all those wounded in the terror attacks.

I understand everyone's reactions after any terror incident whether it is a car being hit by rocks or a stabbing in a supermarket. I have the same reaction. Would I prefer local residents being employed in our supermarket? I would. Do I think that laying off hundreds of Arab workers will solve the security problem? I do not think so.

I know that Rami Levy and the mayor of Ma'ale Adumim are reviewing security in Mishor Adumim. I am sure Rami Levy himself will be talking to all his employees on how to handle / behave during these hard times. In a few days, if you really want to see what peaceful co-existance is all about, go do your shopping at Rami Levy in Mishor Adumim. Realisticly speaking, the world does not really know or care what is happening here. Trying to appease Muslim voters or oil producing countries has been their motto for many years. Endorsing "Palestinian Statehood" has become the most important thing in the world to them. They are so blind to what is really going on here. Take the billions of Euros and dollars being wasted on the Palestinian Authority / PLO and invest it in local enterprises. If you want to see how it works, go shopping in Mishor Adumim. If you see me there shopping, you are welcome to say hi.

Shabbat Shalom,
Jacob Richman
Ma'ale Adumim
Israel



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