Israel’s minority citizens are able live with freedoms and rights unavailable in any other country in the Middle East thanks to Israel’s liberal democratic values.
According to the Israeli Declaration of Independence, Israel “will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irregardless of religion, race or sex.” The Israeli Declaration of Independence also guarantees “freedom of religion, conscious, language, education and culture” and called upon Israel’s Arab citizens to “participate in the up-building of the state on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all of its provisional and permanent institutions.” Israel, as a liberal democratic country and the only state ranked as free in the entire Middle East according to Freedom House, respects minority rights.
Presently, 12 Israeli Arabs are proudly serving in the Knesset. Israeli Arabs also serve in the Israel Defense Forces, Israel’s Supreme Court, as emergency medicine chiefs in Israeli hospitals, as doctors working on medical innovations, as members of Israeli civil society, as businessmen, as journalists, as diplomats, as soccer stars, as musicians, as television celebrities, and as professors at Israeli universities. Indeed, Israeli Arabs are able to contribute to every aspect of Israeli life, as full and equal members of society.
ISRAELI ARAB TESTIMONIES ON LIFE IN ISRAEL
As Boshra Khalaila, an Israeli Arab student told the Times of Israel, “I am married and doing a master’s degree [in Tel Aviv]. I am a liberal, free woman, with all the rights that I could enjoy. I compare myself to other women my age in Jordan, the territories, Egypt, any Arab country. They don’t have the rights that I have: freedom of expression, the right to vote. They are forced into marriage at a young age, and religious head covering, despite their own convictions. With me it’s the opposite; I have everything.”
Aatef Karinaoui an Israeli Arab politician declared, “Israel is a wonderful place for Arabs. It is the only democracy in the Middle East. Look at what the Arabs are doing to each other all over the Middle East. We don’t want to focus on that anymore here. People want to advance within the State of Israel. We want to prove that we are loyal and faithful citizens. I’m a proud Arab and a proud Israeli too. I’m not a Palestinian.”
Ismail Khaldi, who was the first Bedouin diplomat to serve in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, similarly asserted, “The Bedouin in Israel are an example of the contribution that one can give to this democratic and free state; that is why we [the Bedouin] are proud to be part of it. Since the establishment of the state, we have built villages and succeeded in achieving our aspirations of belonging and being a part of Israeli society.”
He continued, “I am a proud Israeli—-along with many other non-Jewish Israelis such as Druze, Bahai, Bedouin, Christians and Muslims, who live in one of the most culturally diversified societies and the only true democracy in the Middle East. Like America, Israeli society is far from perfect but lets’ deal honestly. By any yardstick you choose-educational opportunity, economic development, women’s and gay rights, freedom of speech and assembly, legislative representation—Israel’s minorities are far better than any other country in the Middle East.”
Recent polls demonstrate that most East Jerusalemite Arabs prefer Israeli rule to Palestinian rule, and that Israeli Arabs living near Judea and Samaria are adamantly opposed to land swaps because they would much rather live under Israeli rule than Palestinian Authority rule.
By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United With Israel