A video lauding Arab doctors and nurses as heroes of the coronavirus crisis has gone viral in Israel, and its creators are hoping it will help bring about some change in the country’s politics.
More than two million Israelis — representing over a fifth of the entire Israeli population — have watched the 55-second video that shows Arabs from around the country at work, in scrubs. “Now they’re called heroes and we’re all applauding them,” says the text.
A campaign urging Israelis to consider: since they trust Arab doctors and caregivers to save their lives, why not work with them in national politics as well?
The creators of the video set out to challenge the nation as well as express its gratitude. “We wanted to say that if you trust an Arab person with your life in the hospital, you should be prepared to trust them to be part of your government,” Shir Nosatzki, the activist behind the clip, told The Times of Israel.
She said that the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to get Jewish Israelis to open up to the idea of Arabs as political partners. “There was never a situation when so many Jewish lives were in the hands of Arabs,” she commented, noting that Arabs are disproportionately represented in medical professions.
The video ends by telling viewers: “Tens of thousands of Arab citizens of Israel are full partners in the war against the coronavirus. They are also an inseparable part of the State of Israel.”
The closing slogan is: “Partners in fate; partners in government.”
It is a protest against the political climate in which Israel’s mainstream Jewish politicians will not enter coalitions, or informal political alliances, with the Arab-dominated Joint List. “We want an Arab party to be able to be legitimate players in a government, and that the atmosphere on this issue changes so that it is, at least, an option,” said Nosatzki, director of a two-year-old pro-coexistence group called, “Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?”
“The Israeli health care system is an inspiring place,” said Arsalan Abu Much, a doctor at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan who has been helping Nosatzki to promote the video. “We work together side by side Jewish and Arab doctors, friends, colleagues. Treating all patients. It’s time that the political system takes up this model.”
As well as going viral among Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel, the video is also striking a chord with some Palestinians who work in Israeli hospitals. At Rambam Health Care Campus on Monday morning, physician Khalen Abu Dalu said even though he does not have a stake in Israeli elections as he is not an Israeli citizen, he is excited by the video, feeling it captures the mood of the crisis.
“It’s like we’ve all just received an electric shock that makes us realize we can actually be together,” Abu Dalu, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem, told The Times of Israel. “If only we could deal with each other in general as we have during this period.” He said: “People feel now that we’re in the same boat. With everyone united against this tiny enemy, the virus, there’s a sense of unity.”
The United Nations has praised Israeli-Palestinian co-operation on dealing with the coronavirus, which has included joint training of health staff and Israeli provision of protective gear for Palestinian medical and security personnel.
Nosatzki, who was a leading voice in Israel’s 2011 social protests, said: “There is coexistence in the hospitals, but there’s still a feeling that we can work together on daily life but not cooperate on a political level. It’s not racism, it’s a complex situation. But what we see today shows us that if it can happen in the stressful situation of a hospital during a crisis, it can happen in politics.”
Indeed, if Israeli Jews and Arabs jointly fighting Covid-19 could help draw the moderates on both sides closer together and help them learn to live in Holiness, Peace and Prosperity, that would bring closerProphet Isaiah’s vision (19:23-25): “On that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. On that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.”
From this we learn that the miracle of reconciliation can often unite rivals in a win-win resolution; and it can occur in our own lifetimes if the descendants of Prophet Isaac and Prophet Ishmael negotiate a settlement that reflects the religious policy that “…there is no sin upon them if they make terms of settlement between them; and settlement[reconciliation] is best.} (Quran 4: 128)