Conversations with Arab Citizens of Israel.
Twenty percent of Israel’s population are Palestinian Arabs; those who remained in its boundaries following the 1948 war. They are locals, rooted in their land and communities. They are citizens who are integrated into the state’s economy, politics and culture, but are excluded from “the Nation”. We embarked on a journey intended to get to know them through their personal life stories, their dreams, and hopes for the future. We found people yearning to be listened to, citizens who reject any suggestion to separate them from the state or their land. Despite the harsh difficulties, it is hard to compete with their optimism. Their life stories create a fascinating mosaic of individual-personal narratives, a kind of oral history, one that does not appear in textbooks. This is not a “representative sample” or an “opinion poll”, but rather, a collection of in-depth conversations with private individuals from different walks of life. For us, this journey is a mission. We see the Arab citizens as neighbors and partners with a fierce desire for mutual respect, trust, and strong affinity. We believe with all our hearts that there is a way to reach a common understanding. This book is another small step in the arduous path toward a better future for all of us, the locals, in our shared homeland. DR. SARAH OZACKY-LAZAR is a researcher of Arab society and its relationship with the state, a veteran activist for peace and shared society, and a research fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. YOAV STERN is a business entrepreneur and social activist, a former journalist, who served as a correspondent for Arab society in Israel in Haaretz, newspaper and a commentator on Arab media.