The Arabs of Israel are people to be pitied. They are second-class citizens. They have split loyalties. They suffer all kinds of slights. Some of this may be correct, although I didn't see much of this when I lived in Jaffa eight years ago.
Maybe it's more the case in rural areas. But, frankly, Arab villages and towns seemed to me (from the outside, to be sure) to be rather prosperous, certainly as prosperous as development towns in the Negev.
Believe me, I am not denying that it's more difficult to be an Arab in Israel than a Jew. But this is true everywhere. Minorities never feel quite equal to the majority. This, as we all know, is the case even in our own country where Barack Obama's dazzling rise has not quieted people's anxieties.
So why am I riffing on this scene?
Because I read an article by Bradley Burston in today's Ha'aretz reporting on a public opinion survey done by the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's JFK School in Israel. One of its queries to Israeli Arabs revealed that 77% of this cohort wanted to live in Israel more than any other country in the world. Todd Pittinsky, director of the project, told Burston that he was surprised by the happy news of great expectations and good results in the field.
Of course, I can see why Israeli Arabs would shudder at living across the borders with Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. And living in emerging Palestine would be seen as a curse, a true curse? But why not Great Britain or Australia, America or Russia, for that matter?
Ask that question of the ordinary Israeli Arab. How would he answer? "Are you crazy?"