Pinch Me: I Don’t Exist

Pinch Me: I Don't Exist

Pinch Me: I Don’t Exist

I bet you thought Palestine hadn’t achieved statehood. After all, their UN bid for recognition as an independent state, failed. You wouldn’t know that from surfing the web.

Two years ago, before I took my current job at Kars for kids, I was writing a white paper on geographic information systems (GIS) for an outsourcing company. I went to the ESRI website and explored the various maps. I remember that at that time, the name of my country, Israel, was nowhere to be found on the GIS world maps, though all the neighboring Arab countries were clearly marked.

Today, I revisited those maps. Happily, Israel was properly labeled. However, just for the heck of it, I typed in Efrat, Israel.

“No results found.”

Well, what if I let the search engine second guess me? I typed in Efrat, where I live, and bingo, the map gremlins helpfully filled in the search field with:

“Efrata, West Bank, Palestinian Territory.”

Efrata Palestine

I was reminded of something that happened last week when I decided to write up a study on education that was commissioned by the OECD. The study suggested that most Israeli students are happy in school. That was blog worthy. But I needed pix. I always put pictures in my blogs to break up the text.

I decided I’d download the Excel tables on student engagement for all 65 participating countries and take a screenshot to accompany my piece. I downloaded the file. But when I opened it, I was surprised to see a note at the top of the chart:

“Note: The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the authority of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and Israeli settlements in the West Bank.”


There are 65 participating countries in this study, yet only one of them is singled out for special mention.  Just one of them has its territory marked with a question mark. One country alone has its legitimacy questioned: Israel.

Only one country has a question mark hanging over its head.
Only one country has its territory marked with a question mark

It seems to me those poor benighted Palestinians wield an incredible amount of power to have the entire OECD trembling before it, afraid to say that the Golan Heights is part of sovereign Israeli territory, terrified to admit that Judea and Samaria might be at the heart of the Jewish homeland, and scared witless to say that Jerusalem isn’t once mentioned in the Koran.

Even though Palestine the State doesn’t exist.

The blog post completed, I turned to my work inbox to catch up on correspondence. I scanned my HARO digest for relevant items. One query summary caught my eye:

“Summary: Doing business in the Middle East?”

I clicked the hyperlink to read the full query and read this:

“Query:  For an article in Global Trade magazine, I am interviewing executives, business owners and entrepreneurs active in doing business in Arab countries, including Algeria, Bahrain,Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Oman, Qatar. Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, West Bank and Gaza and Yemen. I am especially interested in interviewing companies exporting consumer goods. Interviews will be about their strategies for entering and succeeding in these markets. Small companies are fine. Regional experts, authors, consultants, advisors, bankers, etc. with experience in region will also be considered.”

Note that “West Bank and Gaza” are lumped together in this query as “Arab countries,” though neither of these locales can be considered a country, but rather exist inside one country, Israel, which of course, is not an Arab country.


Of course, the State of Palestine is recognized by 134 UN member states, even though it doesn’t exist, while the State of Israel, which does exist, is not recognized by 32 UN member states.

It certainly does get confusing for someone like me, who lives in Efrat, in the Judean Wilderness, pays taxes to the Israeli government, votes in Israeli elections, has an Israeli passport, but is said by the GIS people to live in Palestinian Territory, when not a single “Palestinian” lives in Efrat. It’s difficult to comprehend how I can be holding an Israeli identity card while identified by a reporter at Global Trade magazine as living in an Arab country, especially since the state flag is decorated with the Star of David as opposed to a crescent. Furthermore, it’s hard for me to see how the OECD perspective on where I live is “without prejudice” when clearly it is prejudiced against the Jews who have attained actual statehood (i.e. me) as opposed to the “Palestinians” who have not.

Will someone please enlighten me?


About Varda Epstein

A third-generation-born Pittsburgher on her mother’s mother’s side, Varda moved to Israel 34 years ago and is a crazy political animal who spams people with right wing political articles on Facebook in between writing about education as the communications writer at Kars for Kids, raising her 12 children, and noshing constantly on fried food


  • Lloyd S.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but even under Israeli law, Judea and Samaria are not part of Israel. While the Golan and East Jerusalem have been legally annexed, Judea and Samaria have not. And if they were annexed, Israel actually would fit the definition of an “apartheid state” unless it extended to the Arab inhabitants the full rights of Israeli citizenship.

    • Varda Epstein

      Lloyd, they’d reject it, were it offered. So your point is not a point. They don’t recognize Israel, so they wouldn’t accept Israeli citizenship. That’s one reason Judea and Samaria should be annexed forthwith.

      • Lloyd S

        I don’t know – a lot of the so-called Palestinians claim to want a one state solution with equal rights for all. It would be an interesting experiment from afar, but I wouldn’t envy you living in the middle of it.

        • Varda

          They want that one state to be “Palestine” and not “Israel.” They’d never agree. They never agree to anything.

  • Moishe Rubinsky

    Ms. Epstein you nailed it. The article “Pinch me; I don’t exist” is one of the more concise, true to fact articles that I have viewed iin many years. It is accurate, you live it daily, you shared a part of your life with your audience and for that, Toda raba!

    “Israeli Law” does not supersede G_d Law, although the majority of Jews/Israelites think man law is better than God Law.

    The Torah and Scriptures are absolute. People can debate it, yet when they debate it with a Torah Jew, they can not and will not win. We are the rightful owners, possessors of the Land of G_d. There is no debate, there is prejudice, they is anti-Antisemitism, there is anti-Zionism, the is anti-Zion but the bottom line is This, the Land of G_d, the land of Ms. Epsteim, Moishe and this and that belongs to us.

    Israeli Supreme court and politicians are a corrupt as the “world order” so who do I chose to follow, the NWO or HaShem EchaD…I follow G_d, the Creator and the executor over HIS land. Period! Great article.

  • Lloyd S.

    So, Moishe, the Neuterei Karta and others of that ilk don’t follow G_d’s law? And the members of the religious Zionist movement are the only one’s in the whole World who are following G_d’s law? Mazel tov to you all. But if you’re going to take that position, then clearly you don’t need the support of the rest of the World’s Jews or sympathetic Christians, or anyone else. Indeed, wouldn’t the support of such people offend Ha-Shem?

  • Joseph Hertzlinger

    It might be possible to take advantage of this. If Palestine is the legitimate State then that makes Israelis illegal aliens and the politically-correct will have to defend Israelis. Just accuse the BDS people of aiding nativists.

    • Varda Epstein

      Ha ha. That’s amusing Joseph. But you know it wouldn’t work like that. Not when the Jew is underdog.