‘Extremist’ Jew Mourns After Arab Leader Dies of COVID-19

Mukhtar Ahmed Nama was Israel’s 200th victim of the coronavirus pandemic

A Jew who mourns the passing of an Arab friend? An Arab leader who seeks coexistence with Israel? Can it be?
Hadas Parush/Flash90

Ahmed Nama had a choice to make.

Like all local Arab leaders in the Holy Land, he could either identify with the “Palestinian cause,” or he could make his peace with Israel.

He chose the latter, and for decades the small Galilee Arab town of Deir el-Asad has lived in harmony with its Jewish neighbors.

On Sunday, Nama became the 200th Israeli to die of COVID-19. Among his mourners was Yehudah Glick.

Yehudah Glick is a former Member of Knesset. But he’s best known as an activist for Jewish religious freedom atop Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. In the eyes of the international community, that makes Glick an “extremist.”

According to the mainstream media’s portrayal of the Middle East, neither of these men should exist.

A proud Arab mukhtar (village leader) who seeks coexistence and integration with the Jewish state?

A nationalist Jew who publicly mourns the death of an Arab whom he called “friend”?

Ahmed Nama and Yehudah Glick do not represent an exception. They represent the norm. But their reality is too often ignored by the media.

Most Jews and most Arabs coexist peacefully in Israel. Most Arabs have no problem living as citizens of the Jewish state, where they enjoy far more freedom and success than their people in neighboring countries. Most Jews are not racists, and though they advance the interests of the Jewish state, they know that the Arab minority is an integral part of Israel’s future.

But that’s a less sensational story than conflict. Nor does it mesh with the carefully-cultivated narrative that Jews hate Arabs, and that Arabs can never forgive the Jews for “stealing their land.”

That’s why you’ve never heard of Glick’s work with Nama to promote tolerance, coexistence and cultural exchange between the Jewish and Arab communities. Glick has also been active in efforts by the Israeli government to close the income gap between the Jewish and Arab sectors.

The truth is that I’d also never heard of these particular initiatives. But not because I was unaware that Jews and Arabs coexist peacefully. Rather, coexistence is so commonplace that this was but one example among hundreds, if not thousands.

The true extremists are those who seek to perpetuate a conflict that most of the people on the ground want no part of by highlighting only the very worst of what happens in the Holy Land.

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