Edward Said chose to live his life in the American democracy and preach from a very comfortable chair. Just like him, elected representatives of the Arab public in Israel also revel in the democracy that was imposed upon them by the Jewish occupation of 1948, but when they have to choose a side, they prefer to criticize Western culture rather than confront the Arab culture.
The leaders of the Arab public could have become symbols for the possible integration of Islam with democracy and modernism.
They could have set an example for the Arab world and showed it that things could be done differently.
They were supposed to raise the flag of progress and tolerance on behalf of the minorities and be the first to demand that the international community intervene in Syria when weapons of mass destruction were used - because these Arab leaders, who live in democratic Israel, are allowed to speak their mind without restrictions.
They feel comfortable in the confrontations with the Israeli majority. Sometimes they are right, but most of the time they create extremism with the nonsense they spew. Yet this courage to confront disappears when the injustices occur beyond the fence. Instead, MK Mohammad Barakeh points a finger at American imperialism, while other Arab leaders remain silent or squirm.
Israel is by no means perfect. Just last week more 'price tag' graffiti was discovered in Beit Safafa, while residents of Yizhar prevented a Defense Ministry driver from entering the settlement only because he was of Druze origin. Dark racism is usually accompanied by ignorance and delinquency. These symptoms must be dealt with severely. The issue of Judea and Samaria also demands a diplomatic decision. Maintaining a status quo for 46 years is not a policy.
And yet, despite the difficulties and the extremist fringes, we are a light unto the nations, not because of the massacre in Syria or the human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, but because of the moral bar we have set for ourselves. We are a light unto the nations because after 65 years of existence under a constant threat, the hearts of most Israelis do not harden when they witness an injustice, regardless of where it takes place or which religion is involved.