I don’t envy Lucy Aharish. It isn’t easy and isn’t simple to be avant-garde. She is blasted both by the Jewish radical right and by the Palestinian radical right. The coalition of extremists has once again expressed a uniform stance. For the former she is too Palestinian, supporting the struggle for equality, reconciliation and peace. For the latter she is too Israeli, because she chose the road of integration.
Aharish is avant-garde because she refuses to play by the rules of the herd. The herd demands hatred and incitement. The herd is against giving the Palestinians rights or giving the Jews rights. The herd has a lot of power in the Arab sector, and it’s also strong, we must admit, among part of Israel’s Jewish elites, where Aharish has already been attacked too.
As far as they are concerned, Aharish is the “Arab darling.” That’s really not okay. Why she should be spewing poison against Israel. Only then, this fascism – which is sometimes disguised as “left-wing” – will grant her an authorization certificate.
The good news is that Aharish is not alone. We are witnessing the development of a generation of young Arabs who have decided to become an integral part of the State of Israel. They refuse to identify with Hamas. They refuse to be part of the hatred campaign. They have decided to do rather than incite.
Some of them have even been integrated into the Foreign Ministry. The number of young Arabs integrating into the high-tech industry has increased in recent years, and there has also been a significant leap in the participation of Arab women in the labor market.
The last two things happened, among other things, thanks to Economy Minister Naftali Bennett’s personal involvement. Certain elements within us will continue to spread the tales about “the Israeli society which is becoming increasingly racist,” while the real action is also being sponsored by the government. I doubt there is a single country in Europe capable of presenting such levels of Muslim integration, but they definitely know how to preach.
So there are those who speak about equality and there are those who create it. Aharish creates it. The more she and similar people – like George Deek, who served as the Israeli deputy ambassador to Norway, or businessman Imad Talhami, and many others – become the face of the Arab public in Israel, the Jewish public will be more supportive of equal rights and the level of hostility and racism will drop.
Most Arab politicians in Israel prefer a different direction. One of them, Basel Ghattas, even had the audacity to accuse Aharish of “admiring the oppressor,” based on Frantz Fanon’s theory. It’s so good to have some philosopher or theory to rely on, because the truth is the opposite. More than those politicians want to improve the situation of Israel’s Arabs, they want to harm Israel. That is exactly Hamas’ logic. It’s not looking for welfare and prosperity for Gaza’s residents. The only thing it wants is to harm Israel.
Aiman Uda, the head of the Joint Arab List, was one of the main opponents of the integration of young Arabs by joining the IDF or communal service. Others on his list turned the Arab recruits into villains and threatened Greek Orthodox priest Father Gabriel Nadaf, who encouraged enlistment. That’s the way to nurture alienation, hostility and racism. It’s probably also the goal.
What is happening in Israel isn’t much different from what is happening in Europe, even without an “occupation,” “Nakba” or “apartheid.” There is a minority which preaches integration, opposes hatred and incitement and supports women’s liberation, and there is a radical or Islamist minority which chooses the opposite way. The problem is that the former sometimes need bodyguards because the latter are violent and much more influential.
Aharish is also avant-garde because she had the courage to come out strongly against the flow and against the herd. As any avant-garde, she belongs to the minority. But this is the minority which gives hope for equality and prosperity.
For her sake, for the sake of Israel’s Arabs and for the sake of the State of Israel, we should hope that this avant-garde wins.
Reprinted with author’s permission from YNet News