„I´m an Israeli Arab. Hamas does not represent me“ – Prof. Mouna Maroun, Vizepräsidentin der Universität Haifa

heute möchte ich Ihnen eine hoffnungsvolle, tröstliche und ans Herz gehende Veröffentlichung von Professor Mouna Maroun weitergeben.

Mouna Maroun ist Vizepräsidentin und Dean of Research an der Universität Haifa. Davor war sie Leiterin des Exzellenzzentrums Sagol Department of Neurobiology, eins der wichtigsten weltweit.

Mouna ist eine „first-generation university graduate“ – die erste in ihrer Familie mit einer akademischen Ausbildung und die erste Frau aus ihrem Heimatort, Isfiya, die sich ein PhD – einen Doktortitel, erarbeitet hat.

Wir sind sehr, sehr stolz, dass Mouna Maroun ihre einmalige Karriere mit einem Stipendium des Deutschen Fördererkreises e. V. für Arab Graduate Women angefangen hatte.

Folgender Text von ihr ist am 21. November 2023 im US-Magazin NEWSWEEK und anderen Zeitungen weltweit veröffentlicht worden:

Von Mouna Maroun:

I’m an Israeli Arab. Hamas does not represent me.

What is it like to be an Arab in Israel right now? In a word: horrible.

I’ve spent the majority of my life in Israel’s north, a beacon of coexistence where Jews and Arabs have lived side by side in harmony. Yet today, for the first time in my life, I understand why Jews are afraid of us.

Like all Israelis, I was glued to the news on the morning of Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists infiltrated the country and indiscriminately murdered and kidnapped men, women, children, the elderly, Jews, Arabs and foreign nationals. The staggering numbers are now permanently etched in our minds; over 1,400 murdered and 240 taken hostage. Like all Israelis, I was devastated.

When I saw an elderly woman being abducted and taken into Gaza, I felt that it could have been my own mother, who is now 95. When I read reports of young children being slaughtered, I thought of the son of my best friend. He used to play as a baby with his small, delicate fingers slipping through      my hair. Now grown, he’s serves on reserve duty in the IDF, and I lose sleep every night wondering if he’s safe. And when I saw pictures of the Arabs and Bedouins who were killed, I saw myself.

Against this backdrop, the paranoia, tension and fear that Jews feel when they encounter Arabs is understandable. As a researcher who studies how the human brain works, I can tell you that when the brain experiences grave stress, it’s natural to generalize your surroundings as a coping mechanism. The suspicious looks that I was accustomed to receiving when traveling in and out of Ben Gurion Airport are now being directed at Israeli Arabs across the country.

I’m embarrassed. And Hamas is to blame.

The other question I’m frequently asked is, “Do you condemn Hamas?” Asking Israeli Arabs this question misses a fundamental aspect of just how much we’re intertwined with Israeli life. Does it make sense to ask an Israeli Jew if they condemn Hamas? Of course not. This is why the world needs to understand that Israeli Arabs reject Hamas and its ideology just as much as Jews do.

Another question I’m asked is, “Don’t you feel bad for the Gazans and what is happening to them?” Certainly, I do. Every day, I think about the many Gazan children crying out for their mothers, just as much as I can’t stop picturing the Jewish children in Hamas captivity. For those captive Israeli and Palestinian children crying similarly out of fear,      I ask: Who is feeding them? Who hugs them when they cry? Who is telling them everything will be okay? And in this instance, Hamas is also to blame for cynically weaponizing their fear to further an agenda of terror.

Showing empathy for one side in a conflict does not negate the capacity to have empathy for the other. Rather, it shows that you’re human. Arabs do not need to choose a side in this conflict. For the sake of humanity, I implore the Arab community to move forward and to cleverly and responsibly understand the Jewish      narrative     , since           we for 75 years, have been asking them to understand ours. For the first time, as an Arab minority we are requested to stand with empathy and understand the majority’s narrative. 

At University of Haifa, we’re preparing to do just that. While the beginning of the school year has been delayed due to the war, the University’s administration is brainstorming ways to turn down the temperature on campus so that our students are reintegrated into a peaceful environment.

In the city of Haifa, there are mixed neighborhoods and mixed apartment buildings. At the University, Jews and Arabs learn and grow together. This is the paradigm that Israel must replicate in order to move on from the tragedy of Oct. 7. I’m not upset when I see the posters in Hebrew around campus stating, “Together We Will Win,” because I know that Arabs are included in that fight. Together we can use our voice to speak against rising levels of discrimination we’re seeing.      

I was also      asked recently if I ever see myself leaving Israel to a place with a much larger Arab population, like France. My answer is clear: I’m not going anywhere. Israel is my home. For Jews and Arabs alike, this country is special. When each of us sees an olive tree, we’re in awe of this majestic force of nature’s ability to grow out of the arid desert soil. If Jews and Arabs are adamant about not going anywhere, it’s up to both communities to determine what’s next in a healthy and productive way.

On Oct. 7, Hamas did far more than kill 1,400 people. It also set back any hope we had for peace, gearing us all up for another generation of nothing but violence. But for every tragedy, there is a silver lining. A recent survey by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) indicated that 70% of Arabs in Israel identify with the State of Israel. IDI reports the highest percentage of respondents who feel part of the state since they began asking this question in 2003. This demonstrates that the Arab community in Israel aspires to further integrating into society and distancing itself from bad faith actors like Hamas.

Israeli Arabs and Jews are like salt and pepper — they both belong on the table, and once they’re sprinkled into a dish, it’s almost impossible to distinguish between them. They must embrace and cherish their shared destiny by working with each other, engaging in meaningful dialogue and understanding that when it comes to coexistence and shared life, there’s nothing to fear.

Haifa, 21. November 2023

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