A year has passed since the events of May 2021 but the effects are here with us

It is hard to forget the feeling of danger, fear, and terror that gripped the Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel only a year ago when the mixed cities were engulfed in chaos. Many Israelis locked themselves up in their homes, fearful of going out and meeting their neighbors. But only a few weeks later, the Israeli society seemed to have managed to overcome that terrible outburst.
 
The absolute majority of the Israeli citizens opposed the violence. The business community, civil society members, and policy-makers came out to voice their disgust and opposition to the incitement of hatred and supported the ideas and values of a shared society. Shortly afterward, a new government was formed, and for the first time, an Arab party joined the ruling coalition.
 
The strengthening of the political power of the Arab citizens and their representatives, and their participation in the government, constitute a fundamental change that puts an end to the longstanding denial of their legitimacy and challenges the nationalist anti-democratic policies that characterized recent Israeli governments.
 
Last year, for example, the Arab society received significant funds to improve equality in infrastructure, education, and employment and to tackle the violent crime epidemic. By all means, this is only a drop in the ocean compared to what is required. And yet this is still the largest funding ever approved by any Israeli government for these needs.
 
In recent months, we have been reminded that any extremist provocation still threatens civil sanity and our co-existence. Today, when the government is unstable and the threat of new elections is looming, we must not ignore and underestimate the danger of the hate campaign launched to oppose the Arabs being part of the government, their portrayal as an existential state to the State of Israel.
The quick return to normality after the recent violent incidents, the mobilization of political and community leaders who moved in to calm the situation, and the dominance of the sane voices calling for restraint – all of this serves as the best proof that the attempts of the far-right to portray all Palestinians as "enemies from within" were without success.
 
The events of May 2021 were used by the extreme right to stir up hatred and racism. The attempt to frame those events as simply Arab riots against the Jews, to downplay the role of violent Jewish extremists in the war that happened on the streets of Israel is an example of their fight for the hearts and minds of the Jewish public. Powerful radical forces on both sides devote most of the energy to igniting a violent confrontation between the state and its Arab citizens and between Jews and Arabs in Israel on the whole.
 
To adequately respond to this challenge, Palestinians and Israeli Jews alike have to take responsibility for our shared life, and be the real partners in building a shared future in a democratic and egalitarian society that works for everyone. The answer is education in coexistence and equality in all sectors of civilian life in Israel. We at Givat Haviva are here to contribute our expertise and experience to this struggle.