The mainstream media’s been at it again, trying to paint Israel as an apartheid regime amid the ongoing Corona crisis. The implication is that local Jews and Arabs live in perpetual tension.
An incident that occurred last week could indeed have caused friction between Jews and Arabs, but instead was turned into an opportunity to strengthen the coexistence that actually characterizes Israeli society.
Last Wednesday, two Bedouin Arab teenagers filmed themselves smashing tombstones and scrawling graffiti at a Jewish cemetery near the southern town of Beersheva.
Graduates of a program called Desert Stars, that aims to “promote a thriving Bedouin community and a strong Israeli society,” wasted no time organizing a crew to repair and renovate the Jewish cemetery.
Israel Today’s Esti Eliraz spoke to one of those Desert Stars graduates, 24-year-old Mustafa Sanaa, to better understand the true nature of Jewish-Arab relations in the Holy Land.
Israel Today: Why was it important for you to repair the Jewish cemetery?
Mustafa: We didn’t want that blame would fall on the entire Bedouin community. The perpetrators we’re 13-year-old boys who desecrated a sacred place. But the rest of our community was not involved, and it was important to us that they [the Jewish community] know that. Our community is opposed to incitement against the Jewish community.
How are relations in general between Jews and Arabs in Israel?
The Arab and Jewish communities get along very well. Those who quarrel and stir hatred for both peoples are the media and politicians, and it’s a shame that they do so.
What can Israel to do better integrate its Arab and Bedouin populations?
The State of Israel needs to invest more in the Negev, particular in education. For example, if there was a community center with educational activities, the youth could be receiving proper instruction and positive value, instead of wandering the streets. If the kids who desecrated the cemetery had understood the meaning of their actions and the injury it caused, they wouldn’t have done it. How can we make sure they understand in the future? With proper education.
Right now, there is discrimination in education. In Herzliya, for example, much more money is invested in education than in the south. Both the State of Israel and Bedouin society need to give one another a hand in aiding integration.
Do you like living in Israel, even thought it’s a Jewish state? Or would you, given the opportunity, move an Arab-majority country?
Myself, my parents and my grandparents were all born here. There are some things I don’t connect with, like the Nation-State Law (which enshrined Israel’s Jewish character in Basic Law) and the aforementioned discrimination in education. But I’m good here.