The growing problem with Israel’s 1.5 million person Arab population is one that has no easy solution. From the Druze in the north, some of whom still pledge allegiance to Syria (and fly Syrian flags from their houses), to the Bedouin in the south, some of whom express intense dissatisfaction with Israel (the mayor of Raat said this week that he would rather celebrate Nakba than Israel’s independence), there is an increasing chorus of discontent. And this is not even mentioning the largest segment of the Arab population in the Galilee, some of whom have been rallying this week for ‘Palestine’.
You notice in my previous paragraphs that there are many ‘some of whoms’. The fact is that Israel’s Arabs are not monolithic in attitudes toward Israel. Many Druze and Bedouin serve admirably in the IDF. These and other Israeli Arabs are involved in every aspect of Israeli life and government–from the Knesset to the Supreme Court . Yet the attempt at integration has been resisted at every turn by many in the Arab community–including Israeli Arab representatives in the Knesset who constantly castigate Israel under the banner of ‘fighting against discrimination’.
Without doubt, the two most vitriolic Israeli Arab Knesset members are Balad MK Hanin Zoabi and MK Ahmad Tibi of the United Arab List. Zoabi, the Israeli MK who was on the last Turkish flotilla, had this to say three weeks ago: “I hope the Palestinians launch a massive popular resistance, one that is political and strategic, like the First Intifada.” Most recently, Tibi branded Israel’s Knesset as ‘Nazi’ and ‘fascist’ for passing the ‘Nakba’ law which requires Israel’s attorney general to fine (at his discretion) local authorities and other state-funded bodies that hold Nakba Day events which support armed resistance or racism against Israel, and/or desecrate the Israeli flag or national symbols.
Yesterday, Tibi spoke at a Nakba rally in the Gallilee attended by an estimated 15,000 Israeli Arabs. Many in the crowd carried signs that proclaimed that Kfar Saba, Petach Tikva and other cities in Israel proper are ‘occupied’. Tibi exhorted the crowd with references to ethnic cleansing, lost Palestinian villages, and Israeli ‘pulverizing’ of the Palestinians.
The day a new state of ‘Palestine’ is declared will be a day of reckoning for the discontented Arabs. Will they stay in Israel or cross the new border into ‘Palestine’? Or will they more likely look at the acquisition of ‘Palestine’ as just one more stage in the process that will ultimately lead them to Kfar Saba, Petah Tikva, and Tel Aviv?
israelstreet fact of the day:
The Arabic population of Israel consists (approximately) of:
1.2 million Sunni Muslim Arabs (living mostly in rural towns in the Galilee region)
250,000 Bedouin Arabs (living in the South and divided among over 30 tribes)
123,000 Christian Arabs (mostly living in urban areas like Nazareth and Haifa)
122,000 Druze Arabs (mostly living in 22 northern villages in the Golan–on the Syrian border)