‘Israel speaks Arabic’ is not a phrase you would hear in most of the Arab world but it is the name of the Israeli government’s latest PR initiative.
The official Facebook page is designed to reach out to Arabs both inside Israel and around the Middle East. Posts include surveys showing Muslims love living in the Jewish state.
It sounds a little unfeasible perhaps but according to their statistics it is accurate. However, the first question on most Arabs’ minds will be: but what about Palestine?
The Israeli foreign ministry is responsible for starting up the page, which includes links to Israeli artists covering songs by Arabic legend, Umm Kulthum and speeches by Israeli president, Binyamin Netanyahu asking for talks with Palestinian PM, Mahmoud Abbas.
If you were unaware of the history of the region or the current conditions in Palestine, you might believe the Israeli state to be an Arab friend. But the page does not mention the continued military Occupation of both Palestinian areas, the regular incursions into Gaza and the ongoing settlements built in the West Bank.
None of these issues are accidental side effects or radical Israelis going it alone. They all stem from Israeli government policies and most Arabs cannot look past these to see a “friendly face” in their own language on Facebook.
Most poignantly, ‘Israel speaks Arabic’ congratulates Muslim pilgrims returning from Hajj to the Occupied Palestinian Territories while failing to mention that the same people are barred from attending prayers at Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
According to the page, Israel only wants ‘to be in a state of peace with their neighbors and cousins’ but Arabs cannot look past a history of bulldozers and bombs for the sake of a few more social media ‘likes’.
What do you think about Israel reaching out to Arabs? Is there more work to be done? Tell us what you think below.
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