It’s been some time since I last wrote a positive post on Jewish-Arab relations here in Israel, but there are two news, which I really think are positive.
The first is related to the popular song contest “Eyal Golan is Calling You” (at least popular here), where the contestants are trying to become the best Mizrahi-singer in Israel, or at least winner of a contest, where the genre is Mizrahi. Mizrahi is a special genre of music, which kind of can be described as a mix of Greek and Arab music, song in Hebrew. It was the form of expression for the Mizrahi Jews (hence the name), who are Jews from the Arab countries, in earlier decades, where their social standings typical were below the average social standings, and there was a general discrimination against them. It wasn’t very mainstream until Zohar Argov, the “King of Mizrahi,” had his success and opened the genre for the wider Israeli public. Later he was followed by stars such as Zehava Ben, Ofra Haza, Sarit Hadad, and already mentioned Eyal Golan.
So why am I making such a fuzz out of this? Well, because of this group of Jews’ background, their love of Arabs is not big. There are some voices among them attempting to re-embrace their Arab identity, but the overall majority of them really has a hard time with Arabs. And therefor it is even more amazing that the winner of the contest was a 25-year old Arab woman from Haifa, Nissren Kader, who totally blew people away with her performance.
I find it positive because it shows that Arabs also can have success in a world, where they normally would be considered unwelcome. This victory was based on Kader’s skills, and the viewers choice to focus on the voice, more than the identity, proving that the mutual dislike can be set aside. Kader herself also expressed surprise and pride, stating that this showed that though there is disagreements and trouble between Jews and Arabs, then people can see other sides of each other, and not always making the hard relation be the overall defining subject.
Anyway, read more here:
The second news is about a hockey team in the northern part of Israel, very close to the borders to Lebanon and Syria. To be honest, just the idea of a hockey team is in itself amazing enough to receive attention, but this team is the result of generous philanthropy, a local hockey fan, and an Arab mayor crazy about sport. The team puts young Jewish and Druze teens and pre-teens together, exposing them for each other and their similarities.
Normally it isn’t that weird to see Jews and Druzes in a positive relation, but this case differs, since the Druze youths are from Majdal Shams, which is situated in the Golan, next to the Syrian border, and many of the Druzes there holds great sympathy for Syria, at least among the older generation. I have talked with some younger Druzes from the Golan, who told me that their generation felt more connected to Israel, though the older generation wanted to return to Syria. That was some years ago though and I don’t know how it is today, though I don’t think it has changed that much.
Read more about that here:
Anyway, I really wanted to share these two news with you. It’s not all war and hatred here, though finding the positive stories sometimes feels like finding an oasis in the desert. But I’m sure that that will change.