Last week the newly elected members of Afula’s City Council pledged to maintain the city’s Jewish character. It is probably not at all clear to the new council members just what that pledge implies, and its legality may yet be contested in the courts, but the spirit is clear: Don’t let too many Arabs into the city, whether or not they are home owners, business entrepreneurs, teachers or students.
Most residents of Afula have no doubt had a chance to drop by the city’s hospital, HaEmek Medical Center, either as patients or as visitors. Without any disregard for that hospital, I would recommend a visit to Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer or Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, after which they should rethink the pledge they have just been asked to make as Afula city councilors.
At Tel Hashomer in Ramat Gan they will find Arab doctors, including some professors, along with Arab nurses and nurses’ aides, providing the best of care to patients, Jews and Arabs alike. They work with their Jewish colleagues in perfect harmony.
Some of the best nurses at Tel Hashomer are young Arab women, professionally trained, who leave their homes in Umm el-Fahm at 5:30 A.M. to arrive on time for the morning shift that starts at 8 A.M. Some of the Jewish patients specifically ask for their assistance.
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There seems to be perfect peace and harmony between medical and administrative staff and patients. A visit to Rambam in Haifa presents a very similar picture.
Both illustrate the great strides that have been made in integrating the country’s Arab population into Israeli society and the economy. This is the result of the great abilities of Israel’s Arab citizens and the opportunities offered by Israel’s economy. This is to the benefit of all – the state of Israel itself and its Jewish and Arab citizens.
Of course, it is not only in the medical field that we can witness the contributions the country’s Arab citizens make to Israeli society. It just happens to be a stellar example. It can also be seen in the universities and colleges, in industry and in all professions.
Some of Afula’s municipal administrators may be unaware of the benefits that everyone would reap by having Arab citizens living in the neighborhood. Or perhaps they feel that these benefits can be obtained by keeping Arab citizens away from the city. They are wrong on both counts. They will learn.
>> Read more: Preserving a Racist Character in Israel | Editorial
With the giant scientific and technological strides it has taken, modern-day Israel has created opportunities for its citizens to advance and contribute to their country.
This progress is predicated on opening these opportunities to all of Israel’s citizens – Jews, Muslim, Druze and Christians. To providing every one of Israel’s citizens with a modern education and letting him or her fully utilize their capabilities. There should no difference between Jew and Arab here. Not in Afula and not at Tel Hashomer.
The fact that Israel is the nation-state of the Jews should not influence this in the least. On the contrary, Israel should pride itself on the equal opportunity in all fields that it offers all its citizens – Jews and non-Jews alike.