Campaign uses coronavirus to end anti-Arab racism in Israel

Middle East Monitor  /  April 29, 2020

A video hailing the role of Arab medical professionals in Israel’s fight against coronavirus has gone viral. The 55 second clip shows health care workers in scrubs and wearing masks, which are removed at the end of the video, under the slogan “Partners in fate. Partners in government”.

According to a report by the Times of Israel more than 1.5 million of the self-declared Jewish state’s population have watched the video, which, its creators hope, will help to bring change into the country’s politics.

One of the creators and founder of the activist group “Have you seen the horizon lately?”, Shir Nosatzki, told the Times of Israel:

We wanted to say that if you trust an Arab person with your life in hospital, you should be prepared to trust them to be part of your government.

Adding that, “there was never a situation where so many Jewish lives were in the hands of Arabs”, creating a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to encourage a softening of the widely held view that Arabs and Jewish Israelis cannot be political partners.

The video tells viewers: “Tens of thousands Arab citizens of Israel are full partners in the war against coronavirus. They are also an inseparable part of the State of Israel.”

In the run-up to Israel’s third election in a year, held in March, Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party erected billboard signs as part of a smear campaign alleging that major rival, Benny Gantz, would enter into a coalition with the Arab-dominated Joint List.

Gantz denied the allegations, but in the aftermath of the election, many analysts have suggested the Israeli Resilience Party would have been able to form a government which relied on Joint List support from the outside.

The health crisis, however, has reignited the political row over Netanyahu’s 2018 law which declared Israel the nation-state of Jewish people, implying that Arab Israelis no longer had the right to live in the country.

In recent weeks, several frontline health care workers and news outlets have chosen to put the spotlight on Arab medical professionals fighting coronavirus in Israel.

This is because Israel relies heavily on Arab healthcare workers. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, Arabs, which account for approximately 20 per cent of Israel’s population, make up a quarter of the country’s nurses, just under a fifth of its doctors and up to half of its pharmacists.

To date, Israel has reported 15,782 coronavirus cases, including 212 deaths.