Arab society is part and parcel of Israeli society and it should be represented and discussed in the daily media reports about the virus that all Israelis follow so closely
Watching TV these corona-stricken days, one would think that all persons living in Israel are Jewish. We see no reports about the Arab localities, hear no news about the availability of supplies in the supermarkets there, and hardly any word about the hospitals in the north or southern parts of the country. Last Saturday — after a long delay — we heard that no corona tests were being performed among Arab citizens of Israel.
Arab citizens of Israel, totaling some 20% of the population, are here and there. Here – in pharmacies and in the hospitals located in the center of the country, places receiving a great deal of media attention. There – in the Arab and mixed localities – parts of the same Israel that are nowhere to be seen in primetime.
The health of Arab citizens over there – in the Arab and mixed localities – is not as good as that of Jews. There the Infant mortality rate is double the rate among the Jewish population: 6.0 cases per 1,000 births versus 2.3 among Jews. Life expectancy at birth for Arab citizens is lower than that of Jews: 82.3 for Arab women compared with 85.1 for Jewish women, and 78.0 and 81.7 for Arab and Jewish men, respectively. Arab citizens smoke more than their Jewish counterparts, are they are more prone to obesity, diabetes, stroke, asthma and depression.
Both ¨here¨ and ¨there¨ you can see Arab men and women in the healthcare professions: the most recent data published by the Health Ministry (2015) indicated that 15% of the 25,331 physicians employed in the healthcare field were Arab. The ratio is similar among nurses. The estimate is that 20% of the medical staff in hospitals consists of Arab citizens. Pharmacy has become a field often associated with the Arab population: in 2014, the Health Ministry reported that 42% of pharmacists were Arab, and it is only logical to assume that this figure has increased. In other words, Arab healthcare professionals are on the frontlines of the war against the corona virus.
Since the Arab population is less healthy than the Jewish one, and since Arab healthcare professionals are playing a significant role in the public health system´s fight against corona, one would expect a better coverage of the impact of the disease on Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel. Arab society is part and parcel of Israeli society and it should be represented and discussed in the daily media reports about the virus that all Israelis follow so closely.