Here is the second part of my recent update to “Look how Israel treats its Arab Minority” published last year. You can still read the first part here. In part 2, I focus on the successes and on-going efforts to integrate Arab citizens within the Jewish State.
I’ll start with some of the successes. Professor Hossan Haick from Israel’s Technion is one of the prime examples of Arab-Israelis who have grasped the opportunities and risen to the top of his profession. This excellent instructive Israel Technion film explains how his invention – the early diagnosis ‘Nano Nose’ – works. The breakthrough device recognises minute traces of molecules emitted by mutant cells.
President Shimon Peres''s MaanTech Program has been responsible for providing jobs for 125 Israeli Arabs in Israel’s hi-tech industry. Peres and Cisco Systems CEO and president John Chambers launched the program a year ago. And in November, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu awarded the Prize for Initiative and Innovation at the Hebrew University. The winners included Nazareth-based Galil Software, a pioneer Israeli-Arab hi-tech company that has changed the employment map for engineers and tech professionals in the Arab sector and provides an example for young Arabs who aspire to careers in engineering and high-tech and becoming entrepreneurs themselves.
To ensure these successes continue, Hadasit - the technology transfer company of Hadassah Medical Organization – has launched “Ways”, a medical investment incubator for joint Jewish-Arab biomedical ventures in the Galilee. One of Hadassah’s own joint Jewish-Arab research teams has proven the value of such efforts. In November, it concluded a three-year study with the announcement of the discovery of a key ovulation gene. In 2008, a teenage girl who had not gone through puberty arrived at Hadassah’s Paediatric Department. The team analysed the girl’s DNA, made a full genetic map of two of her family members and pinpointed a mutation found only in one specific gene.
Outside the medical world, Israeli-Arabs continue to advance to top positions. Dr Abu Hamed was the only one of five siblings who wanted to pursue a higher education. Today he is director of the Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, based at Kibbutz Ketura. And it is heart-warming to see the environment bringing religious leaders together. Jews, Muslims, and Christians from the Jerusalem-based Interfaith Centre for Sustainable Development held an Eco-forum in July to confront environmental degradation.
In the arts and entertainment arena, Israeli Jewish singer Achinoam Nini (Noa) recently returned from performing in India (Goa and Dehli) with Israeli-Arab singing partner Mira Awad. In November she co-hosted the 2011 Speaking Arts Conference in Jerusalem and introduced dozens of Jewish and Palestinian Arab musicians, actors and dancers. Back in September, music was the medium of Peace, when voices were raised into the night at the Arab-Jewish Community Centre in Jaffa. The free concert included Israeli youth ensembles Bat Kol and the Voices of Peace Choir. And only in Israel could 28 artists from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Morocco and Egypt exhibit their works, on display during August at the Museum on the Seam in Jerusalem.
The Sports world frequently brings Israeli Arabs and Jews together. The Freddie Krivine Foundation has been a smash-hit for Arab-Israeli tennis players, having built over a dozen tennis courts in Arab-Israeli cities like Nazareth. It has subsidized tennis lessons for about 6,000 young Israeli Arabs, including Bedouin Ruan Zubidate, who travels to tennis matches around the world representing Israel. Meanwhile, A group of millionaires (Arab and Jewish) have launched an “adopt an athlete” fund to help Israeli athletes reach the 2012 Olympics. The first athlete to benefit is Yousef Abdelghani, an Israeli Arab boxer.
So is Israel an apartheid state? Saudi writer Khalaf Al-Harbi opined that the secret to Israel''s success lay in its democratic regime and its respect for the human rights of its citizens (Translated by The Middle East Media Research Institute.) Even Judge Richard Goldstone confirmed that ''nothing in Israel comes close to the definition of apartheid''. And Denis Prager brilliantly rebuffs the absurd and obscene charge with this powerful film including examples of Arabs in top Israeli positions and professions.
But let’s hear it from members of Israel’s minority groups themselves, including Arabs (Muslims, Christian and Druze), who speak out about co-existence in the Jewish State.
No wonder that a recent survey shows that 40 per cent of East Jerusalem Arabs would rather move than become citizens of any PA state.
But I’ll leave the final words to Mustafa Salim, an Arab Israeli resident of the northern village of Muqaibla. In a gesture of solidarity, Mustafa did not shave or cut his hair for more than five years until Gilad Schalit was released from captivity. “I am very proud of what I did and of the State of Israel.”
I am confident that 2012 will be full of similar co-existence news stories. It all depends on where you look.
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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