Alex Tselten was raised in the former USSR and has a high tech background in Israel. He has a keen interest in all things related to Israel.
I would describe him as a Right wing patriot and very secular, similar to many who made Aliyah from the USSR, Many of them are not Jewish according to Jewish law but I believe that Alex is..
He produces and hosts a very interesting program online called "Meet the Professors''. He interviews Israeli intellectuals from the social sciences and humanities who apply their research to Israel.
Today he interviewed Dr. Abed Hasab, a Muslim Arab intellectual who is well integrated into Israel's academia . He is an atheist and was one of the leading figures in the Israel Commuist party along with many Israeli Arabs and some Jews.
Dr. Hasab describes himself as an Arab, Israeli and a Palestinian. His multiple identities and priorities typically challenge Israeli Arabs.
His background and social position typify a not insignificant group of Israeli Arabs, but far from the majority. He has spent his life giving thought to his own identity and engaging in the politics that emerge from it.
He is a proud Israeli because of the modern advances and opportunities allotted to him and his family in the Jewish State. He denounces the corruption of the Arab world , including the "Palestinian Authority (PA)"
He decries Jewish "settlements" in the "territories" because they block a viable Palestinian state and a "two state solution".
He knows that Israeli Arabs will never want to leave Israel for that independent hoped-for Palestinian state and that in fact many PA residents would happily trade in their Palestinian citizenship if they could become Israeli citizens.
Yet he believes there should be a Palestinian state and that perhaps after that stage, there can be one state including everybody (that won't be a Jewish state of course).
He is definitely against Israeli Arabs serving in the Israel army and taking up arms against "brother Arabs''. But he is for integration of Jews and Arabs in education and beyond.
Alex tried to make sense of some of the apparent contradictory sentiments of the Arab intellectual. Clearly, there are contradictory thoughts and feelings in the mind and heart of Dr. Hazeb.
I fully understand him. I believe he and many other Arab Israelis will never feel totally at home in the country of opportunity that they live in. This atheist intellectual acknowledges his good fortune to live in the Jewish State but cannot imagine defending it from its enemies. This reflects deep seated tribal, ethnic and cultural identifications.
Imagine, then, the self perception of the average devout Muslim Arab in Israel.
All this is not new or surprising to me. The Arabs were not Zionist in 1948 when they tried to kill their Jewish neighbors and they are not Zionists now. The Arab population generally votes for Arab Knesset members who are fiercly anti Zionist. I understand their frustrations and mixed feelings about living in the Jewish State despite - or perhaps because - of how beneficial it is to live here.
What I found to be more interesting was that Alex could not make any sense of the contradictions.
He pointed out that many people fought each other for a long time and today are at peace, for example his former country and Germany. Today they are friends. Why can't the Arabs (PA) leave their narrative of Israel hatred and begin to understand the practical benefits of merging with Israel as Israeli citizens, willingly identifying with it and defending it? He explained that in the USSR all Soviet citizens served in the army, including Muslims and Jews.
Clearly Alex does not feel the deep emotional roots, identity and culture of his people that the Arabs do for theirs.
Arabs have always been taught where Islam believes is their rightful place is in society and that of the Jews. Arabs are taught that their religion displaced a false and evil religion and that Jews are meant to be ruled by Muslims.
Arabs find it very difficult to forgive Jews for defeating and thus humiliating them . Arabs are guaranteed in the Koran and by their long historical experience, that Jews just don't win wars against Arabs. Anything else is not acceptable.
Alex is the product of a Soviet materialist culture where there is little room for emotion, historic memory and national/religious loyalty (besides for the Comunist state of course).
In Alex is that strange combination of Israeli patriotism and complete distance from Judaism and any religious belief. The early secular Zionists (who are fast becoming "post Zionists' ') also had no use for Judaism or the Jewish religious faith.
Over a century ago they hoped to convince the Arabs of the benefits of building a new Socialist society together with the pioneers from Europe. Together they would eliminate hatred and backwardness.
They were disappointed when they were forced to fight the Arabs - none of whom were enticed by their progressive ideas.
Alex seems to be blind to this history and is making the same mistake that the atheist Zionists made a hundred years ago. The Jewish idealists of over a century ago have long abandoned their dreams and now lead the "peace camp" that longs to give away the land for some quiet and a "normal life".
Alex still loves his secular Israel and has not yet lost his dream of convincing the "primitive" Arabs to see the light.
How long will it take for him to understand what Dr. Hazeb was saying?
Shalom Pollack is a veteran tour guide, He says: "I have the oppportunity to observe many sides of our beloved country. As a Jew who has come home, I am passionate about sharing my observations and thoughts". He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org