Today’s Haaretz features an interview with a prominent 34 year-old Israeli Arab, Abir Kopty, who applauds and echoes co-director Scandar Copti of the Oscar nominated film “Ajami,” for his statement that he doesn’t “represent Israel.” While it is distressful to learn of this ongoing sense of alienation by Israeli Arabs, this is mostly out of a reasonable sense of grievance rather than hatred. In particular, note the following passages:
Question: “Where does [the State of Israel] not represent you?”
Kopti: “In the occupation policy, in the settlement policy, in the policy of racism and discrimination. Eighty-percent unemployment among women; the many employers who do not hire Arabs. The development budget – hardly 4 percent of it reaches the Arab local authorities. Upper Nazareth is almost swallowing up Nazareth because it is expanding so much, and Nazareth has no lands to expand onto. Nazareth does not have an industrial zone. Education – I don’t study my past, my identity – I study the history of the Jewish people. I also see the teachers’ fear of teaching our history, the fear that the Education Ministry will dismiss them. …”
Question: “Can you understand the Jews who feel so threatened?”
Kopti: “Yes, I can understand the feeling of a minority amid an Arab Middle East, I can understand that the Iranian president’s statements are frightening, I can understand the trauma of the Holocaust that people still experience to this day. I can understand these things, certainly.
“My problem is not with the sense of fear and being threatened; my problem is with how the political system uses these feelings and manipulates them to shut the eyes of the people and block their ears – to silence all opposition to policy. Because the Jewish people are not the only people who have suffered, there are many other nations that are suffering, and you have to see this. My problem is that specifically a nation that suffered so much cannot see beyond itself and its own home.”