Until a fortnight ago I’d never known such coexistence in Israel, says Yossi Klein Halevi in The New York Times. The pandemic – the first lethal crisis in Israel “that wasn’t about its conflict with the Arab world” – had brought Israeli Arabs and Jews closer than ever. About 17% of doctors and 24% of nurses are Israeli Arabs. Media coverage of coronavirus focused on doctors in hijabs and co-operation on respiratory wards, not societal divisions. One story “told of an Arab nurse who recited deathbed prayers with an ultra-Orthodox Jew”. There was a political opening, too, with Israeli Arab parties finally willing to join a governing coalition after four deadlocked elections in two years. Then a property dispute in East Jerusalem triggered “the worst interethnic violence since the 1948 War”.
Suddenly the chance of “historic partnership” has unravelled. Now, to form a shared civic identity, Jews “need to fulfil Israel’s founding promise to grant full equality to all citizens”. Both societies share a sense of brokenness, yet they rarely think of each other’s plight. “What is it like to be a Palestinian citizen of a Jewish state that occupies your family? What is it like to be a Jew who has finally come home, only to live under constant siege?” Only when we share “the Israeli dream” can we finally be free.
Read the full article here.