What Diaspora Jews Could Learn from Israeli Arabs

Nov. 16 2016

In the newspaper Haaretz, the journalist Odeh Bisharat recently urged his fellow “Arab leaders of public opinion to say outright” that, despite “a mountain of problems,” Israeli Arabs “have it good” in Israel. Indeed, notes Evelyn Gordon, a number of surveys have shown that, whatever their politicians and media may be saying, this is the opinion of most Israeli Arabs:

The latest evidence came from last month’s Peace Index poll, [which] found that Israeli Arabs are actually more optimistic than Israeli Jews about the country’s situation—in sharp contrast to what one would expect to find if, as both Israeli and foreign-media outlets like to claim, Israel was suffering from a rising tide of [Jewish] anti-Arab racism. . . .

Nevertheless, there’s one very real barrier to further improvement: Israeli Jews largely believe that most Israeli Arabs care more about the Palestinian cause than about their own country’s wellbeing, for the very good reason that this is what they hear, over and over, from Israeli Arab leaders. This obviously encourages anti-Arab sentiment and impedes integration. And as Bisharat correctly noted, it will be very hard to change this perception as long as Arab-Israeli opinion leaders refuse to say publicly that it’s false.

Bisharat’s advice, however, is no less applicable to the Jewish world—there, too, the refusal to “say outright” that things are good in Israel, despite the problems, is causing serious long-term damage. . . .

All you hear from most liberal Zionists nowadays, both in Israel and abroad, is a vile caricature of Israel: occupation, settlements, racism, discrimination—every evil in the modern pantheon. And when that’s all the kids have ever heard, why wouldn’t they end up thinking a Jewish state is a bad idea?

Problems obviously shouldn’t be swept under the rug; Israel is a good place to live precisely because it tries so hard to keep improving. But you can have too much of a good thing, and with regard to obsessing over Israel’s flaws, that point was passed long ago for both Israeli Arabs and Diaspora Jews.

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Read more at Evelyn Gordon

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel and the Diaspora, Israeli Arabs, Israeli left

 

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship