On Wednesday, researcher Dr. Anat Berko wrote of her recent visit to an Israeli Arab village, where she found an under-reported respect that many Israeli Arabs have for their state.
Berko focused on a local business owner, Muhammad, explaining:
A while ago we went to get the car fixed in one of the Arab villages in Israel’s northern coastal plain near where my husband was born. The area is a microcosm of Jewish-Arab coexistence, characterized by the kind of easy relations between good neighbors. The repair shop is run by a man named Muhammad, who welcomed us into his office and offered us Turkish coffee with cardamom, in the best Arab tradition. Despite the complex situation in the Gaza Strip, there was no tension in the air. …
Pouring the coffee, he said the following: “I want you to know that in our village there are 10 boys serving in the IDF and fighting Hamas in the Gaza Strip. We even have one girl serving in Border Police Force.”
According to Muhammad, the residents of his village are Muslim and view Israel as their country. For the most part, Muhammad’s neighbors “opposed Hamas’ aggression against Israel, and would not live anywhere else in the Middle East.”
Berko observes that one of Hamas’ efforts during Operation Protective Edge was “to destroy the delicate fabric of the various communities in Israel, Jewish, Druze, Christian, Muslim and Bedouin, and attempted to create chaos within the country to influence the outcome of the war.”
However, despite the contentious relationship between the Arab and Jewish societies often highlighted in the media, Berko ends her report on an optimistic note:
Recent surveys have indicated a rise in the participation of Arab in the National Service (a non-military framework of public service) as well as a significant rise in the number of Christian Arabs enlisting in the IDF. Arab society in Israel is not monolithic, and the amazing pluralism of Israeli life means Christian Arabs, Bedouin and Druze serve in and lead elite IDF units. For example, the Druze Golani Brigade Colonel Rasan Alian, who was wounded, left the hospital to return to command his soldiers on the battlefield in Gaza.
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