With the recent visit of Pope Francis to Israel and the West Bank, the New York Times might have discussed the situation of Christians living in the Middle East. Its Jerusalem reporter Jodi Ruderon might have reported on the substantial difficulties faced by Christians in the Arab world in contrast to their increasing integration into Israeli society beyond impressive occupational and educational advances.
Instead, in her first article on the Pope’s visit, Rudoren’s main role was to get an anti-Israeli statement from a Palestinian source. One would expect she would choose one of her Balad party contacts or even someone in the PA leadership. She chose, however, to give a forum to Omar Barghouti whose only importance is that he is the chief spokesperson for the BDS movement. In her final article on the Pope’s visit, Rudoren chose another BDS supporter, Diana Buttu. In 2012, Buttu condemned Prime Minister Abbas for continuing negotiations rather than pressing the International Court to sanction Israel for “war crimes” and “apartheid,” and she hoped that European governments would support an international boycott movement.
In the past, Barghouti and Buttu have used unfiltered anti-Jewish rhetoric. Barghouti suggested, “Many of the methods of collective and individual ‘punishment’ meted out to Palestinian civilians … are reminiscent of common Nazi practices against the Jews.” In a November 2012 op-ed for the Globe and Mail, Buttu called Gaza “an open-air prison” and charged that “Israel’s latest bombing campaign…does not distinguish civilian from combatant, adult from child.” She accused Israel of setting “policies on the minimum number of calories needed to prevent malnutrition.”These choices, I believe, verify the claim I made in my last blog post that the New York Times has decided to legitimize the BDS movement and Rudoren has become a mouthpiece for Palestinian nationalists.
The lack of discussion of Christians living within Israel is part of the continued blackout of positive news on Arab citizens of Israel. Two readers of my last blog post sent me recent evidence that I want to share. One reader sent me the recently released Statistical Abstract of Israel 2013. While I had presented evidence of the substantial occupational and educational advances, the Abstract demonstrates that these improvements have substantially changed Israeli-Arab perceptions of their own situation. During the two-year period, 2004-5, only 40 percent of Israeli Arabs were “very satisfied” with their economic conditions. By the last two survey years, 2010-11, the figure had risen to 60 percent. Together with more positive assessments of their work conditions and life situation, these surveys demonstrate that Israeli Arabs recognize the substantial gains made in the last decade.
A second reader sent me information on the latest survey of Israeli Arabs conducted by the Haifa University sociologist, Sammy Smooha. His 2013 survey found the percentage of Israeli Arabs who accepted Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state rose to 52.8 percent from 47.4 percent the year before. The percentage of Israeli Arabs who believe that Israel can exist as a Jewish majority state was 43.1 percent, up from 29.6 percent a year earlier. The share of Israeli-Arabs who accept their identity as such without identifying as Palestinians increased from 32.5 percent in 2012 to 42.5 percent in 2013. Thus, despite the efforts of Palestinian nationalists, Arabs living in Israel are increasingly embracing an Israeli identity and rejecting a one-state solution. Maybe at some point, Ruderon will present these findings and change the Arab sources she uses. There is always hope!