The two million Arab citizens of Israel have become the subject of envy by their Palestinian brothers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. An example of the successful and thriving life of Israeli Arabs can be seen in Arraba (pictured), a town located in the Galilee region in northern Israel. With a population of 26,000, Arraba is now one of the leading communities in the world in the number of physicians. (Image source: Yaakov/Wikimedia Commons)
Palestinians living under the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip can only dream about the quality of life their Arab brethren enjoy in Israel.
Thanks to the current leaders in the PA and Hamas, the Palestinian people are sunk in abysmal living conditions. Poverty, unemployment, and repression have been their lot for decade after decade. This is because the PA and Hamas have repeatedly rejected peace plans that offer prosperity to the Palestinians.
Recently, the PA and Hamas rejected US President Donald Trump's plan for Mideast peace, which includes a $50 billion investment and infrastructure proposal to create at least a million new jobs for Palestinians. The plan calls for projects worth $27.5 billion in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and $9.1 billion for Palestinians in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. Projects "envisioned include those in the health care, education, power, water, high-tech, tourism, and agriculture sectors."
Palestinian leaders, however, have said "no" to the Trump plan, and dubbed it an "American-Zionist conspiracy to liquidate the Palestinian issue and Palestinian people's rights."
These leaders, who rejected the Trump plan even before they saw it, clearly care nothing for the well-being of their people. By refusing the $50 billion offer, Palestinian leaders have again proven that they prefer to see their people continue to live in poverty and misery than accept a proposal to fund various economic projects and provide jobs for the many unemployed Palestinians. The real losers of the Palestinian leaders' inveterate rejectionism are, tragically, the Palestinian people.
Meanwhile, there are other Arabs in the region who are more fortunate than the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip: the Arab citizens of Israel. These citizens are lucky that they do not live under the rule of the corrupt and incompetent leaders of the PA and Hamas. These Arab citizens are fortunate because they live in Israel.
The two million Arab citizens of Israel have even become the subject of envy by their Palestinian brothers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hardly a day passes without the Palestinians receiving yet another reminder of the good and comfortable life of the Arab citizens of Israel.
The latest example of their successful and thriving life can be seen in Arraba, a town located in the Galilee region in northern Israel. With a population of 26,000, Arraba is now one of the leading communities in the world in the number of physicians.
"There are 400 physicians in Arraba," said Dr. Tarek al-Sa'di, an internist from the town working at Rambam Hospital in Haifa, which was founded in 1938, 10 years before the establishment of the State of Israel. "Arraba has the highest number of physicians in the world. We are talking about 15 physicians for every 15,000 residents. This is a very high percentage."
Plastic surgeon Yusef Nassar, also a resident of Arraba, remarked: "Something strange is happening in our town. In every home, you will find three or four physicians. I have several clinics all over the country. Who comes to my clinics? From many cities and villages, Jews and Arabs alike."
Saeed Yassin, a veteran family physician from Arraba, is the proud father of three physicians – two boys and a girl. "I also have two other sons who are pharmacists," he said.
In addition, Dr. Yassin pointed out, his 10 brothers and sisters are all physicians. "Every six months, you hear the fireworks being launched to celebrate the graduation of another 15 or 20 physicians who passed the medical exams," he added. "It is not even rare to see that one family has physicians, lawyers and engineers. It has become normal for us."
Arab women in Israel also seem to have more opportunities than those living under the PA and Hamas. The residents of Arraba note that the number of female physicians in the town is even higher than that of males.
Dr. Wuroud Yassin, who works at the Carmel Hospital in Haifa, graduated from the prestigious Technion – the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.
"I studied at Technion together with people from various backgrounds and religions, including Arabs and Jews," she said. "I was the only girl in my family, and I was taught that there is no difference between a boy and a girl. I was also taught that nothing is impossible if you work hard."
Another story of success in Arraba is that of psychologist Saleh Kana'neh, founder and director of El-Razi Center for Diagnosis, Treatment and Rehabilitation, the first center of its kind to group a professional staff to diagnose disabled children and young adults and develop innovative remedies that suit the Arab community in full coordination with the government, the health departments and the local authorities.
Considered the mecca of mental diagnosis and treatments of Arab children: the center has provided nearly 50,000 treatments for 1,500 children in daycare facilities and has supervised 20,000 diagnoses in the diagnosis centers, in addition to providing thousands of hours of guidance for the patients and the staff.
"We also provide treatment to Jews," Dr. Kana'neh stated. "We are proud that most of our employees are women. You won't find one home in Arraba that does not have at least one academic. This brings pride to our Arab community. In Arraba, we have 100 psychologists. That means we have one for every 2,500 residents of the town."
Such stories of success of Arabs tend to be ignored by the international media and community. These individuals, who are living in Israel, are obviously comfortable.
If they were living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and complaining about Israel every day, they would have received the attention of the entire world.
International journalists covering the Middle East and many international organizations prefer to turn a blind eye to such stories because they show the positive aspect of life in Israel.
Here is more unwelcome good news regarding the Arab citizens of Israel: The Israeli government announced in 2018 that in the last two years, it has invested 4.5 billion shekels ($1.3 billion) in the Arab regions. The government also announced that it would invest 20 million shekels ($5.6 million) in the high-tech Arab market. Overall, the government has decided to invest 15 billion shekels ($4.3 billion) in the Arab-Israeli sector by the end of 2020 in order to "reduce the social and economic gaps between the minority sectors and the general population through changing the mechanisms for allocation of funds."
While the Israeli government is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to improve the living conditions of its Arab citizens, the leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are continuing to deprive their people of foreign aid, a better future and hope.
The $50 billion dollars the Trump plan offered the Palestinians will end up being withheld because Palestinian leaders have something else on their minds: to continue enriching their own bank accounts at the expense of their people. No wonder, then, that when Arabs -- including Palestinians -- dream of a better life, they often dream of moving to Israel. No wonder, as well, that most Arab Israelis do not want to become part of a Palestinian state, and have been demanding to stay in Israel.
Bassam Tawil is based in the Middle East.