Project Interchange trip to Israel: Day 3

Day3eBy Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande

I feel very fortunate as a Christian to have been able to visit two of the actual sites I have heard about in Sunday sermons and read about my whole life. First I visited The Basilica of the Beatitudes, which is on a hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee on the traditional site of Jesus’ delivery of the Sermon on the Mount.

We were also brought to the location of the Biblical account of Jesus instructing His disciples to throw their nets over the right side of the boat and then their nets were overflowing with fish. The spot where Jesus was cooking the fish is preserved:  Sacellum Primatus Sancti Petri, the Table of Christ. I also saw a boat that was recently discovered by two fishermen on the shores of the Sea of Galilee that carbon dates back to the time of Christ.

The American Jewish Council made sure we received the Israeli Arab perspective. We heard from Dr. Khalil Shikaki, Director of thePalestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. I learned the Israeli Arab community composes approximately 20 percent of the population of Israel. Israeli Arabs are Arab citizens of Israel, most are Muslim, but a significant number are Arab Christians representing a variety of denominations.

According to Dr. Shikaki, Israeli Arabs compose a fifth of the nation’s population, but do not receive their share of government resources. 56% of Israeli Arab citizens live below the poverty line, which they say is a direct result of the disproportionate allocation of resources. He sites the policing budget as an example.  Arab towns have 1.5 police officers per 100 citizens versus Israeli towns which have 3.5 officers per 100. Arab civil servants remain underrepresented in government, comprising only 7.5% of the employees.

Dr. Shikaki says the lack of zoning is a huge issue. Unlike in New Jersey, where we have local control, Israel’s central government drafts its zoning plans. 50% of Arab Israeli settlements still have no zoning plans, meaning they still don’t know where future roads and schools will go. Because of this, Shikaki says it’s very difficult to encourage development when everything is “build at your own risk.”

Things did get better for Israeli Arabs in 1992 when Yitzhak Rabin was elected Prime Minister. Since his party was in the minority in Parliament, Rabin traded votes with the Arab Caucus, leading to substantial improvements for Arab towns in the form of Government aid. This reminds me of what we in New Jersey used to call “Christmas Tree” items in the budget process.

We stopped for coffee on the West Bank today, along with soldiers on their break. It is interesting to take your coffee break and the soldier next to you has a semi automatic weapon on his back. That’s just the way of life here.


Posted: August 8th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Caroline Casagrande, NJ State Legislature | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments »

7 Comments on “Project Interchange trip to Israel: Day 3”

  1. Information Please said at 2:16 pm on August 9th, 2013:

    1. Are the taxpayers funding this vacation sightseeing trip, or is it being paid by this public official herself or her campaign fund, or is this a “gift” from a lobbying group? If a gift, is this legal?

    2. I doubt the weapon seen was a semi automatic; I suspect a full auto with selector switch.

    3. And the reason this is interesting to Monmouth County taxpayers is?

    Before I comment further, I would like to know the answer as to the funding of this trip.

  2. Art Gallagher said at 2:24 pm on August 9th, 2013:

    The trip, which includes state legislators from throughout the country as well as municipal leaders, is funded by the American Jewish Council.

  3. WaaaWaaaaaaWaaaaaaaaaaah said at 3:40 pm on August 9th, 2013:

    “Why is it interesting???”

    I guess that you never noticed the massive Jewish population that lives in Monmouth County. Just because you aren’t interested, doesn’t mean others aren’t.

    Hey, does the gun go *bang, bang*….then what does it matter buddy. Seriously…

  4. Molon Labe said at 8:39 am on August 10th, 2013:

    It is sleazy and unethical for an elected official to accept lavish gifts from anyone, particularly from an organization that is trying to influence the political process. If Caroline Casagrande wants to visit the Holy Land, let her pay for that trip herself. Sadly, she chose to become a whore. She is no different than a politician that takes an envelope full of cash. She is certainly no different than this guy (former Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt).

    Incidentally, that Israeli solider is holding an automatic weapon, not a semi-automatic weapon.

  5. Hey, Molon Labe Dude said at 6:00 pm on August 10th, 2013:

    And you don’t think the Arabs & Palestinians are NOT trying to influence other legislators?

    As WaaaWa said, there is a large Jewish community in our county. Nice to see that an up and coming legislator is taking the time to learn about that segment of our community.

    Stop being a hater and a divider. Most of all, take your head out of the sand with regards to what the Arabs are trying to do to us.

    And finally, your ad hominum pejorative attack (you do know what those two words mean, don’t you) on a wonderful and caring legislator is insulting beyond belief.

    How would you like to be called a pimp for whatever you do? So, in one of my harshest commentaries here, STFU


    Silence Dogood, Redux

  6. Actually said at 6:01 pm on August 10th, 2013:

    I should have titled my previous post Hey MORON Labe Dude


  7. WaaWaaaaaWaaaaaaaaaaaaaah said at 9:19 pm on August 10th, 2013:

    I agree with Silence DoGood & I was thinking the same thing, people should really know what a word or phrase means before attempting to use it.

    Hey Molon, check out PBS, they have some good shows that could help you brush up on your verbiage.