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From the Right: The Restless Minority Syndrome – Peace with Israel or Piece of Israel

The Arab minority, citizens of the state of Israel since independence, are not an ordinary minority. For over 60 years they have kept one dream alive, that of becoming the true owners and guardians of the land. The only stumbling block is the State of Israel with its Jewish majority. However, the Arab minority can not be blamed for not trying to chip at the barrier. Let’s consider some of the actions taken by the Israeli Arabs in support of their dream; some are obvious while others are seemingly insignificant but carry nevertheless equally important weight on the way to “victory”.

Recently a right-wing leader decided to march peacefully with a group of about 100 people, while holding the Israeli flag, through the centrally located Arab town of Umm al-Fahm. The police and the attorney general objected, claiming the march would inflame anger. The leader, realizing the absurdity of the claim, went to the high court of the land and won. The argument of needless and dangerous provocation is an easy way to avoid facing the bottled-up steam associated with the rise of nationalism among the Arab minority.

Arabs in the Israeli Parliament consistently and openly support Israel’s enemies, using the special immunity provided them as members. Dr. Ahmad Tibi was a de facto advisor to Arafat (at one point he also served as a deputy speaker of the Parliament!). Bishara (the founder of the Arabic Bilad party) was caught providing Hizballa with coordinates for easier targeting of Israel during the 2006 Lebanon War. He later used his immunity to escape Israel in order to avoid prosecution and currently lives in Lebanon. Just this month (December 2008) several Arab parliamentarians have decided to join other activists in order to break the marine embargo imposed on Gaza; never mind the embargo is in place partially due to more than seven years of unabated rocket attacks on southern Israel from that lawless strip. Is it fair to make generalizations about the Arab minority? In my mind it is; a ‘”silent majority”’ (of the Arab Minority) who live in a democracy allows me to do just that. If the Israeli Arabs do not condone the actions of their leaders, or those individuals among the population who aid terrorists on their way to commit suicide attacks, I would like to hear it loud and clear. Unfortunately, I do not.

In 2007, A group of prominent Israeli Arabs released a document titled “The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel.” The aim of the declaration is to reshape the future of Israel itself. The report for example criticizes the Law of Return and demands to share state symbols, such as the flag and national anthem. It is apparent that the document negates Israel’s legitimacy, and the raison d’être of Jewish self-determination; furthermore, it undermines the idea of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, since that implies the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish one. The document conveniently ignores the Palestinian issue in Judea and Samaria (aka the territories), but at the same time wishes to identify the Israeli Arabs as a distinct people as their brethren “on the other side” (hence the word “Palestinians” in the title).

There is no denying that the Arab minority has been discriminated against in various ways since independence. However, the past and present actions of Israeli Arabs leave very little doubt that they would have had forgone their dream of replacing Israel regardless of equality. To assess how deep the irreconcilable disagreements go, consider the following: in early 2007 a Muslim Arab legislator from the Labor Party, Ghaleb Majadele, was named a government minister, the first in Israel’s history. That development has been criticized as unhelpful by other Israeli Arab politicians, who mostly boycott the mainstream Zionist parties, running for Parliament on separate Arab lists and sitting in opposition. In an interview, Majadele distanced himself from the new document, saying that pragmatic political action would help the Arab sector more than any ideological program. “The fact is that Israel is a Jewish state, a state with a Jewish majority,” he said. “Can we change that reality with words?” Yet Majadele said that he, too, felt uncomfortable with national symbols like the flag, with a Star of David, and the anthem, which speaks of the “Jewish soul” yearning for Zion. “These were made and meant for the Jews, and did not take the Arab minority into account,” he said. “If Israel wants to integrate us fully, then we need an anthem and flag that can do that.”

Any future solution with the Palestinians should include in some form the Arabs of Israel. A two-state solution (or any other land-based solution) which would not have within its boundary the majority of the Israeli Arabs and Palestinians on one side and Israeli Jews on the other side is doomed to failure. In case some people still have doubts or dare not utter it, the conflict is religious at its core and as such may linger beyond belief. Yugoslavia is a prime example.

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