Palestinian citizens of Israel gathered in northern Tel Aviv in support of the anti-dictator uprising that has spread all across Egypt. An Israeli journalist was on hand to ask the opinions of Israelis who gathered to observe the protesters. The results are shocking, but not in the surprising sense of the word.
This video evokes in me a great degree of sadness. Each one of the people interviewed is motivated, in large part, by their fear. Fear of the Palestinians, of the Palestinian flag, of the Arabic language, or of Egyptian democracy. In some people, the fear has clearly morphed into anger and hatred.
Some of these Israelis refuse to accept the fact that those demonstrating in central Tel Aviv are in fact Israelis themselves. At the end of the video, those yelling at the Palestinian Israelis to return to their homes are just ignorant. The Palestinian Israelis are still in Israel because they were among the fortunate Palestinians who never had to leave their homes in 1948 or 1967. They are truly at home, but have been made a minority by the birth of Israel -- that's not necessarily a moral judgement, it's just a fact.
Those interviewed have never had a friendship with a Palestinian, much less an in-depth conversation with a Palestinian, I can nearly guarantee you of that.
It also struck me how self-centered and nationally-centered these folks were, which isn't unique to Israelis, but is (God forgive us) symptomatic of the human race. These Israelis interviewed believe Mubarak is good. Why? They believe Mubarak is good because he maintained peace with Israel, and Israel didn't have to defend itself against a hostile Egyptian state. Does calling him a man of peace have any relation whatsoever to the way he treated the Egyptian people? Does his 30-year-long torture and repression of those who expressed public dissent have any relation to whether Mubarak was a good man, was a peaceful man? No, of course not. Mubarak was good if he was good to me. He should be kept in power because his rule was good for me and my countrypeople.
Nationalism is a nasty thing. Racism is even nastier.