When Israelis speak to foreigners who do not read our website or similar publications, we quickly notice that they have absolutely no idea what it is like here. Their ideas about Israel come from various, sometimes deliberately incorrect descriptions in the media and social networks.
For example, the question, “Do you have any contact with Arabs?” When asked by a foreigner, this typically implies that a Jew in Israel doesn’t know the human side of the “enemy” and is only able to see him as foe. This question makes it clear, however, that the questioner knows nothing about Israel, but has formed an opinion anyway, because Arabs are everywhere!
According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the Arab population of Israel was 1,956,000 citizens (21.1% of the total population) at the end of 2020. So of course we have contact with Arabs! There are mixed cities like Jerusalem and Lod, though most towns are either predominantly Jewish or Arab. But even if there are usually no close friendships between Jews and Arabs, they know each other at least superficially.
There is a lot of construction going on in my Jewish Orthodox neighborhood and almost all construction workers are Arabs. It is similar in pharmacies, which are completely in Arab hands for reasons that I do not understand. No matter what city, if you are looking for an Arab, you will find him behind the counter of a pharmacy. The Arabs in the pharmacies are very friendly, a welcome change from the notorious service of many Jewish vendors.
Then there is Tel Aviv. I lived there about 10 years ago, and the Jews and Arabs of this city mostly want nothing to do with politics, religion, conflict and the whole balagan. Different priorities apply there. A good job in the high-tech industry, parties on the beach and the eternal question that plagues this city: is there a fitness club for straight people anywhere?!
In the disputed areas of Judea and Samaria there are sometimes even the best examples of coexistence between “settlers” and Arabs. If the Arab neighbors are of good will, there are good relations; if not, a fence must be built around the Jewish community and security services set up. But when things go right, it’s to the benefit of all. For example, a friend from a settlement told me that there is a dentist in the neighboring Arab village who has studied abroad and is very good. The dentist is also very cheap compared to a Jewish one and all Jews in the area only go to him. Unfortunately, there are people in the Arab village who would attack Jews if they entered the village unaccompanied, and that is why the dentist has set up a shuttle service that safely picks up the Jewish patients from home and brings them back.
So yes, I have contact with Arabs and it’s mostly positive. Nobody hates the Arabs and those Arabs whose heads have not been turned by the Palestinian hate propaganda, integrate well into Israeli society and have every chance of a happy and successful life here.