The anti-Israel position in response to the armed conflict between Hamas and Israel brought out the same style of criticism as the anti-racist movement. Both efforts reject any mention of the behaviors of the designated oppressed – black Americans and Palestinians – and both suppress any discussion of positive developments that counter their victimization narratives.
In the anti-racist movement, there is no public discussion of the gun violence that has led to unprecedented black homicides, more than 90 percent committed by black assailants nor mentioning the behavior of those killed by police: their physical resistance, often because of pending felony charges against them. Nor will they mention statistics that indicate the rareness of police killings of unarmed blacks –30 in the last 30 months.
Moreover, anti-racists are unwilling to discuss successful police reforms. There has been little publicity that in the last year there were no police shootings in Newark; and the number of 2020 homicides there were unchanged from the previous year whereas it increased by more than one-third across urban America. Newark was not alone as a number of other cities had dramatically lower 2020 homicide increases than nearby cities: St Petersburg had a 5 percent increase compared to Tampa’s 51 percent increase; and St Paul had a 13 percent increase compared to Minneapolis’ 73 percent increase.
From my interviews with police personnel and community activists in these three cities, I found that each had strong police-community relations. All the cities also shared three other characteristics: Reform-minded leadership with longstanding community ties; police community liaisons deeply embedded in Black communities; and a large share of young officers with many locally recruited. Similar results can be found in many other cities, including Las Vegas and Pittsburg, but these successes are marginalized because they bring into question the desired anti-police narrative.
Similarly, anti-Israeli narratives never mention the behavior of Israel’s adversaries. Neither the Harvard nor Princeton resolutions condemning Israel for war crimes mention Hamas and its launching of over 4,000 rockets. And the liberal press never characterizes Hamas as a terrorist group. Most troubling, many pro-Palestinian advocates embrace Hamas even though its Gaza rule reflects many abhorrent aspects: no independent press, no independent judiciary, no municipal elections, sharia rules that harshly discriminate against women, and its actions against the LBGTQ community. Just as with the silence on black behaviors, these references are considered blaming the victims and strengthening the oppressors.
Also, any mention of the dramatic progress made by the Israeli Arab population as a result of government policies must be ignored. While, of course, discrimination remains, Arab citizens of Israel have seen a dramatic improvement in their wellbeing. Arabs comprise more than 20% of student graduates from Technion – Israel’s MIT – and they have made Nazareth a hub for startups and international company sites. Fully, 17% of Israeli doctors are Arabs and they make up 24% of nurses, and 47% of pharmacists. And thanks to affirmative action programs, the share of Arab teachers in Jewish schools has doubled in the last six years and the share of Arabs in government employment has reached 10%.
Although the majority does not accept Israel as a Jewish state, 65% of Israeli Arabs are proud to be Israeli, up from a low of 31% in 2007. And nearly 80% view Israel as a good place to live and prefer living in Israel over a potential Palestinian state. And a growing share is signing up for alternative national service positions.
This was the positive backdrop of the Arab support for Ra’am in its quest to become part of a ruling coalition, something that fully half of all Jewish Israelis came to support. And its goal has been reached as Ra’am is a crucial part of the new Change Coalition that will succeed the Netanyahu government.
Ra’am success both with the Israeli Arab electorate that helped it surpass the 3.25 percent election threshold and its gaining a pivotal position in the new government coalition should be a wakeup call to those who vilified its splitting from the Arab Joint List and minimized its chances to succeed. Critics have mistakenly listened to Israeli Arab leaders who did not represent the wishes of the Israeli Arab populace. Similarly, Black Lives Matter’s call for defunding the police does not represent the views of the black populace. Events in Israel once again demonstrate that we should be cognizant of this growing gap between the rhetoric of so-called leaders and the desires of vulnerable populations that they claim to speak for.