# 357 – Israeli Arabs & Corona by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
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# 357 – Israeli Arabs & Corona

Helping others to understand Israel - and Israelis to understand others...
Member Since
Sep 2016
Published Books
380
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Israeli Arabs during Corona Crisis

What a uniquely strange time to write. Most of us have already  lost, 1st-hand or 2nd-hand, friends and family. Why on earth am I writing another ‘Letter’? Well, in my miniscule way, I am trying to stay one step ahead of abnormality. Enough said.

Personal status? Aviva and I are lucky to have a roof garden, now blooming. She exercises more than I, but the twisting and shaking to 60s hits, plus a daily walk with Aviva, are keeping me breathing normally.

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# 357 – Israeli Arabs & Corona by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
# 357 – Israeli Arabs & Corona by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com

The kids and grandkids are OK, although, as we all know, it is not easy to be so enclosed with young children. How will this affect them?

We shall get through this. Perhaps we shall learn from this, although history teaches us that we won’t. We are human, and that’s not necessarily an optimistic phrase. Taking 80/20 for granted, let’s focus on the 80% of society who are contributing to getting through this, some more visibly than others. (Same ratio for the political leaders).

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Today’s situation in Israel: just under 800 cases and 41 deaths. Of course, those figures don’t tell the full story, but the number of fatalities is still well below countries with a similar number of recorded cases. The worst statistics come from the ‘crowded’ areas and those who ‘listen less’ to government guidelines. These are the religious Jewish areas, such as Jerusalem, Bnei Brak (suburb of Tel Aviv, max. 2 km from here) and a strangely-divided town half-way from here to Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh.

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I won’t dwell on the  stupidity of the orthodox, some of whom usually defy any directive from the government, and really do expect God to protect them, thereby putting others in danger.

So to the Israeli Arabs…

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First, a quick comment re ‘Palestine’. Gaza is officially not our responsibility. We are continuing the humanitarian supplies through the 2 borders, and the treatment of a limited number of Gaza’s in our hospitals. Currently, of course, no workers coming in, as is the case in non-Corona times.

The rest is the responsibility of UNRWA and the Gazan’s Arab brothers, in particular the neighbour, Egypt, and the financial supporter, Qatar.

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And the West Bank – I think it is fair to say that whatever I now write about Israeli Arabs, is relevant for the West Bank Arabs, albeit via the relatively good co-operation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The ‘official’ reports show around 250 cases in the 2 areas, with just 1 death. But, as we know, the statistics for many countries are questionable, (zero cases/deaths in Yemen and N. Korea). 80/20?

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I approached the INSS (Institute of National Strategic Studies). They are based in Israel. Another ‘think tank’. But I have a friend who is one of the senior researchers there, and know him to be serious, informed and balanced with his views.

The Israeli Arabs DO have much about which to complain, but the fault cannot be laid solely at the authorities’ doorstep. Factors:

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  • The social structure gap has not yet been closed. Many Israeli Arabs live in crowded small towns and villages. (Because they want to). The homes are also crowded, with large families, including the grandparents. And such towns and villages are often ruled by one tribe, with instructions only being heeded when they come from the tribal leader.

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  • Not all information was available quickly enough in Arabic. Although many of Israeli Arabs are even bilingual, again, in those smaller towns and villages, not.

  • Because of cultural differences, quite a few Arabs are not online. This delays factual information.

  • Many smaller or rural mosques are still full. Many Muslims still follow the rule to party 5 times a day – close to each other.

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  • The Bedouins in the Negev desert are more ‘separated’ from Israeli society. The authorities still turn a blind eye to a lot of the officially illegal communities. In normal times, who cares. These days, it leads to Corona cases.

  • The Bedouins love their Friday weddings. The authorities have not yet taken the necessary steps to restrict these.

  • And again, modern communications are not sufficiently in place.

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There are incredible opportunities that can rise out of the horror of Covid-19. I have written recently about two important subjects.

The first is the political power of the Joint List, the 4 Arab parties that combined, in order to not only rise above the minimum threshold required to gain seats in the Knesset (Parliament) but to become the 3rd largest political party in Israel.

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A reminder that these 4 parties dislike each other just as any rival parties do. But, for the sake of the advancement of their cause, they took the clever step of working together.

The coalition talks over the last few elections place the Arab parties in a revolutionary position: the consideration to bring them into government.

Until now, their more extreme members have precluded any chance of gaining support from the Jews.

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(Important note that a strong part of our health providers, doctors, nurses, medical technicians etc. are from the Israeli Arab community).

This is now an opportunity for them to work with us, for the health of the country and the betterment of their community.

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I also wrote about the silent Arab majority in Israel; those who actually call themselves ‘Israeli Arab’ rather than ‘Palestinian’. I made a friend, Mohammed Safuri, who spoke so openly about those who are happy here,  do not want to live anywhere else, and who just want to be left alone. They would vote for such inter-communal cooperation.

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We have no idea where this virus will take us. We have no idea what is waiting for us on the other side. There will be changes, including social changes on many levels.

This is a minuscule subject relative to what is happening to our World. I pray we shall all get through this with the least of hurts, and that, here in Israel, we shall realise how valuable it is to be at peace with each other.

Stephen

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