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A Real Arab Spring

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A Real Arab Spring – Norman Lebrecht
(Daily Alert)

Coming out of a movie last month at an Israeli mall, I ran into a conga line of men, women and children shuffling their way into a McDonald’s. The men wore T-shirts and jeans, the women flowery headscarves and varied outfits. It was someone’s birthday. It took a second look to realize that the celebrants were a family of Israeli Arabs. Today there are 1.6 million Israeli Arabs, some 20% of the population. They enjoy full civic rights and a high level of prosperity.

    As I drove through the Arab heartlands in Galilee, I passed a noisy town with three-storey houses and an exclusive European car dealership. On Friday night, there are as many Israeli Arabs strolling along the promenade along the Tel Aviv seafront as there are Israeli Jews. Over the past 25 years, normalization has set in. Learning Hebrew at school, Israeli Arabs have made careers in most parts of the economy and in academic life. One of the most popular comedy series on commercial Israeli television is entitled “Arab Labor.” It makes merry with the tensions raised by a middle-class Arab family who move into an urban Israeli apartment block. One of the Arab actors, Mira Awad, has represented Israel at the Eurovision Song Contest.

    Economic progress and social participation are positive indicators of how the country and the region might function if and when a peace agreement is reached. The Israeli Arabs serve, in this respect, as role models for a postwar utopia. They also refute hostile cliches such as the perpetual accusation that Israel is somehow an “apartheid state.” The apartheid libel denies the blatant reality that Israel is an evolving society with more tolerance for minorities than any of its neighbors (and most European states). The casual confidence of its Arab citizens is testimony to a healthy society. (Standpoint-UK)

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