On Memorial Day eve, at 8pm, during the siren in honor of fallen soldiers, fireworks lit up the sky in the Arab-Jewish city of Lod. Naturally, this despicable event made headlines and was criticized through and through, and rightfully so.
An Arab man was behind this provocation, but he got what he deserved and was arrested soon after. An Israeli, a Lod resident, who wanted to harm the relationship between Jews and Arabs, stained our public — the whole Arab Israeli public.
Many in the Arab sector spoke against him, but unfortunately, there are others like him in our society — extreme individuals who don't represent us, who wish to deepen the rift within Israeli society and use every opportunity to do so.
Years come and go, but this year, it's especially important that the Arab public shares Israeli grief. Memorial Day isn't a Jewish event. It's an Israeli event, and as such, it also belongs to us.
I'm not naïve. Reality is complex, and the different sectors of our society face badges. Our sector also faces many challenges, like the challenge of becoming an integral part of Israeli society.
There are things we will probably never agree on. However, the fact that we can argue about it is only because our security forces work days and nights to protect us, and because of the sacrifices that IDF fallen soldiers made for our security. The IDF is the Israel Defense Force, its isn't here only to protect Jews.
Especially this week, when non-Jewish residents faced rocket barrages in the Bedouin cities of the Negev — Lakiya, Tel Sheva and Rahat. Some got hurt and one man died. It's clear that the enemy's weapons don't distinguish Jews from Arabs. The only things that stands in their way is our security forces.
This isn't new. During the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah rockets hit Nazareth, the biggest Arab city in Israel. Back then, I had the privilege of being part of the IDF and fighting alongside my brothers in arms. Some of them I lost in that war. Both Jews and Arabs. I was wounded myself. Despite the fact all of us came from different backgrounds, we had one shared target — to defend our country at any cost.
Memorial Day is the time to put all our baggage aside. All of us, no matter who we are, we must honor IDF soldiers who died defending Israel. That's because first and foremost, we're all Israeli citizens.
It's important that on this day, we focus on our sense of belonging and our sense of mutual respect. There will be plenty of time to argue later.
I hope that this year, extreme individuals from the Arab sector don’t use Memorial Day to make provocations. I hope that the sane majority in Israel will be able to commemorate fallen soldiers — and not only the Jewish ones — who all died to protect us all.
Memorial Day also belongs to us, Arab Israelis. We're also Israeli, and we have to remember that.
Yoseph Haddad is an activist and CEO of Together – Vouch for Each Other NGO, which works to connect the Arab sector to the Israeli public