What Diaspora Jews Could Learn from Israeli Arabs https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/israel-zionism/2016/11/what-diaspora-jews-could-learn-from-israeli-arabs/

November 16, 2016 | Evelyn Gordon
About the author: Evelyn Gordon is a commentator and former legal-affairs reporter who immigrated to Israel in 1987. In addition to Mosaic, she has published in the Jerusalem Post, Azure, Commentary, and elsewhere. She blogs at Evelyn Gordon.

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.

Read more on Evelyn Gordon: http://evelyncgordon.com/time-to-say-we-have-it-good-here/