What is going on between Arabs and Israelis?

With the on-going murderous attacks by some Arabs on Jews, you may be surprised to discover that there are still many recent examples of co-existence and cooperation between Jews and Arabs both inside and outside of Israel.

Israel continually demonstrates that it values the lives of Arabs.  Israel’s emergency services Magen David Adom recently completed its first training course for 15 young medics who will provide emergency response to Jews and Arabs in Eastern Jerusalem.  The medics are bilingual in Hebrew and Arabic.  Next, the Jerusalem Foundation has opened a home in Abu Tor, for Jewish and Arab children with hearing impairments.  It contains four pre-school classes and an audiology institute with clinics and advanced technology.  And Israel has been showing its “Education Without Borders” photo exhibition to the United Nations in Geneva to highlight that it is the only Middle East country to provide education for all hospitalized children, including Arabs and minorities.

Despite the incitement from the Palestinian Arab leadership, Israel continues to provide medical assistance to PA residents.  Israel’s Civil Administration took Palestinian Arab doctors from the PA city of Jenin to Israel’s Emeq Afula hospital where they learnt the workings of the surgery, trauma, internal medicine and pediatric care departments.  And Israeli humanitarian organization “Save a Child’s Heart” (SACH) is performing life-saving surgery on PA and Gaza children at its Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.

There is plenty of recent evidence that the quality of life for Arabs in Israel is improving.  The number of university-level degrees awarded to Israelis has increased substantially over the years but the increase is largest amongst Israeli-Arabs.  One of the most popular professions for Israeli-Arabs is pharmacy.  35% of Israeli pharmacists are Arab - up from 20% in 2000. 

And things should only get better, with the Israeli Government pumping a one-time budgetary supplement of 900 million shekels ($230 million) to Israeli-Arab councils. It is designed to “integrate Israel's Arab citizens into Israeli society as equals among equals”, said Prime Minister Netanyahu.  Meanwhile, Israel’s Economy Ministry and the Joint Distribution Committee-Israel (JDC) continue to open Arab-run employment centers. They now serve 63 municipalities in Northern and Southern Israel and since 2012 have placed 9,100 Arabs, including many Bedouin women, in local jobs.

Staying with Bedouin Arabs, young Bedouin siblings Karin, Samar and Shadi al-Touri are among the top Israeli tennis players in their age groups.  And the portable “anaerobic digester” from Israeli start-up HomeBioGas turns kitchen waste and livestock manure into cooking-gas.  It has become popular with Negev Arab Bedouins and rural Palestinian Arabs who previously damaged their health by burning wood or goat manure for cooking.

One of the most promising signs of co-existence is just 45 minutes north of Tel Aviv, where Israel is expanding the 1000-residents town of Harish into a city with up to 100,000 inhabitants.  The plans have been praised by its orthodox Jews, secular Israelis, former Soviet and Ethiopian immigrants and Arabs.  Meanwhile, 40 mayors from cities around the world have converged on Jerusalem for the 30th annual Mayors Conference.  The delegation will get a taste of the "Start-Up Nation" when they meet with Jewish and Arab leaders of successful Israeli tech hubs.

Even Arabs outside of Israel are getting to see the benefits of co-operating with Israelis.  Egypt’s Ahmed El Hady - fellow at Princeton University’s Neuroscience Institute - is co-chair of the NeuroBridges 2015 Conference - a scientific meeting of the minds between Arabs and Israelis.  And UK TV station Sky News reports that the Gulf Cooperation Council, made up of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman, wants to buy Israel’s Iron Dome system for its six members.

The international media doesn’t mention that the first contact many Arab migrants have on reaching European shores is with Israelis.   On the Greek island of Lesbos they first meet IsraAID Doctor Tali Shaltiel from Jerusalem and Nurse Majeda Kardosh from Nazareth who treat them for hypothermia, dehydration, wounds, illnesses and trauma.  And we must publicize the rescue by Israelis aboard an Israeli training yacht of 11 Syrian and Iraqi migrants whose boat capsized overnight near the Greek island of Kastellorizo. 

Here are three more Arab-Israeli stories that you may have missed.  Firstly, Israel's new ambassador to Jordan, Einat Shlain, presented her credentials to Jordan's King Abdullah II at a ceremony at the Basman Palace in Amman.  Einat is Israel’s first female ambassador to an Arab country.  Next, despite sporadic rocket fire from Palestinian Arabs in Gaza, farmers in Israel’s Nahal Oz have been giving agricultural advice to Gaza farmers in Khan Younis.  The Gazans are seeking new varieties of potato suitable for food such as chips.  Israeli farmer Yankale Cohen said, “Maybe they’ll stop shooting at us because of the potatoes?”  Lastly, Amir, Sunny and Muhammad Riad Hamed from the Arab-Israeli village of Muqeible contacted the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel when they found a pelican with a broken wing in their yard.  The bird is now receiving treatment at SPNI’s wildlife hospital.

Finally, I just love this article by Lebanese-born, Canadian Arab Fred Maroun.  He writes “Why do the overwhelming majority of Israelis respond to hate with love?  I believe that Judaism teaches love because love is effective while hate is not.”

Let’s get that message broadcast loud and clear.

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
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