This nervousness might linger on longer than even the longest war
Since the Simchat Torah pogrom, Muslim Israelis behave beyond reproach despite fears expressed before. Though few openly spoke out against the pogrom, 80% have told pollsters of their disapproval. No sweets were distributed. Rather, it seems to have shamed most Israeli Muslims deeply, in contrast to many Muslims globally. Is this comparable to European shame after the Holocaust? (The pogrom was at a smaller scale than the Holocaust but also worse.) In Israel we say, Israeli Arabs got to know us.
Yet, not all Jews feel relief at the domestic quiet. A close Jewish friend of mine is in charge of a large workplace in Jerusalem where Muslims and Jews work. He is Mizrachic. Unlike me, his family has long memories of living with Muslims in Muslim society. They share a language and much culture. It gives them more understanding but also deep, unhealed hurts.
I’m not writing here to judge my friend. I’ll only describe what’s going on.
Some background. Since modern Zionism began in the mid-nineteenth century, Jews looked forward to starting a Jewish-democratic or a bi-national Muslim-Jewish State. Some Arab leaders seemed in, while most Muslims didn’t seem to care. In any case, neither option became possible for two reasons: Muslims kept murdering us (Chevron 1929 and on) and did not want any Jews around. The most shocking about the Chevron massacre was that Muslims, who were the friendliest fellow citizen for decades, suddenly could mass murder their Jewish neighbors. I’m not accusing the exceptional Muslims who saved Jews with risk to their own lives—they existed and must always be honored, but this is not our focus.
Traditional and religious Jews and Muslims in Israel are very happy to live separately and send their children to segregated schooling. Neither want their kids to intermarry, so there’s no problem there.
In healthcare, things in Israel are mixed. Patients and workers (except for cleaners: Muslims), including lab workers, nurses, and physicians, work together. Of course, and sadly, a woman and a Muslim still must do better than a man or a Jew to be taken seriously (sexism and racism are in Israel too. It’s not yet Paradise here), but many of them do. Jewish and Muslim patients also wait and room together. Inside our healthcare, there’s peace.
In times of war, most may not talk to each other, not to risk ending up in a fight, but some may bridge the gap when both sides understand that we have more in common than whatever (or whomever) divides us.
But my friend said: “I’m firing all the Muslim workers. I’ve started to hire Jews. A bit more expensive. (A Jew may pay four times as much rent in Jewish neighborhoods and could never live from the minimum wage.) I know that my Arab workers are friendly, but that’s always until something happens. I’m tired of waiting until one snaps and starts killing.”
I do understand, and I so regret. Because not leaving exceptions is racism. Even when done by someone who’s from the same minority (Mizrachic).
I suggested that Bedouin as a group can be trusted. He agreed, but only from these areas and not from those. (But I know a fantastic Ally from those areas.) And the Druze? “Sure, they all fight in the army. But I don’t want non-Jews in my workplace anymore. One exception, and we’re all dead.” I think: “Yeah, but one exception in a pogrom can save everyone.”
But I do understand. My parents, after the war, didn’t want a German car or washing machine. After the largest Jew killing in one day since the Holocaust, without the UNSC backing us up, we want to be left alone.
I have no solution. I’m just relating what’s going on. When Antisemitism stops, we’ll all live in peace. Sadly, that’s not going to be tomorrow.
I’m presently hardly leaving my house because I don’t want to run into a radicalized Muslim who wants his weapon to show his frustration about losing a war. Hundreds of thousands of citizens in the South and North had to leave their homes because Hamas and Hezbollah are more than happy to target noncombatants. Pollywood works overtime to fabricate Muslim suffering and rile up the Arab Street. May I state the obvious? The Israeli citizens are the real victims. We didn’t vote in Hamas. We did not disperse sweets when people were murdered. We don’t target civilians.
We want peace. But even when quiet is reestablished, resentment and weariness about being close to Muslims will not be over. But not from hatred. Listen to our funerals. We’re not a revengeful, hateful People. But we kind of hate being slaughtered, and so, we resist. But if Israeli Muslims become as thoughtful and careful as most German Gentiles after WWII, some vital good might come from the shame and the hurt about 10/7.