Are the Israeli Arabs a Trojan Horse
by Gad Nahshon
In the era of the Kosovo genocide, the leaders of the minority Serb community in the Village of Stovinje, told the leaders of the Albanian majority community: "Do not run away. Stay here. We had beautiful relations for many years. Stay, we will protect you."
When the police and the army came to Slovinje, the local Serbs put on masks and murdered the Albanians like butchers. They joined the new genocide. Should we take lessons from history? Do you remember what happened in Czechoslovakia when the German minority learned about the Nazi victory in 1933 on the other side of the border? Remember how they called on the Nazis to come and liberate them from the "Czech oppression?"
During the peace negotiations, the Israeli leaders have ignored the issue of the Israeli Arabs, their wishes, their demands, their issues of identity. They are, legally, good Israeli citizens. Only a few broke the law. Indeed, many integrated themselves into Israeli society. Many contributed to the well-being of Israel. There are 10 Arab members of the Knesset, and there is an Arab who serves in the Israeli Supreme Court.
The new Miss Israel is an Arab beauty queen! And there is an Arab female officer in the Israeli Army! There are also Arab soccer players on the Israeli national team. However, problems have originated in the recent dynamics inside the Arab community or the ethnic minority inside Israel. It originated in the fact that Arabs believe that they are always the victims of all kinds of discrimination in the Israeli democratic state. They always depict themselves as second class citizens or even define Israel as a country with an apartheid regime, a copy of ex-South Africa, although they are the minority. This issue is complicated because of the history of the Middle East, the State of Israel as a "Siege State," the multi- relations with its Arab neighbors and the past "Cold War."
Also, for example, the Arabs do not have to serve in the Israeli Army. For 50 years, Arabs had to suffer from ramifications of the Israeli-Arab confrontations and wars. Economically, of course, they have a higher standard of living than many other Arabs, although their average income is lower than the Israeli one.
But the core of this article is to focus on the issue of their true identity. And it must be pointed out that indeed it is not easy to be an Arab in Israel and many Arabs have to ask themselves "who am I?" These identity pains, found among the more educated Arabs, were expressed in literature and on the Arab stage.
The issue, today is to see what happened to their identity in the last 20 years. What is the dangerous dynamics as to the future of Israel in the Middle East as a Jewish State and as a true Zionist state. Also, is this dynamic detrimental to Israel's future? But before one can answer these questions, let outline some basic facts.
In 1948, only 120,000 Arabs lived in Israel under military control, which was dismantled only in 1966 by a decision of the "Shabak" (Israel's general security services). Today, there are 1.2 million Arabs in Israel, or 19% of the total population. Most of them are Muslims, while 150,000 are Bedouins. The non-Muslim Arabs are more educated than the average Arab. Around half of the Arab population is in the under 19 age group. The Israeli Jewish 19 and under age group is only 35%. The Arab population has increased its power in the last 50 years. The birth rate of a Muslim family today is almost double that of its Jewish counterpart.
This explains Israel's need for Aliyah. There is also a continuous assault of Arab propaganda and leaders against the Israeli Law of Return. Indeed, in 2025, the percentage of Arab population will easily increase to 25% of Israel's total population. In order to balance this Arab advantage, Israel needs at least 100,000 Olim each year! Politically, around 80% of the Arabs tend to vote for various Jewish or Israeli parties. In the 1996 election to the Knesset, 77% voted or 400,000 Arabs.
Another aspect of Arab demographics is the fact that there are 2.6 million Arabs (Palestinians) in Gaza and the West Bank. The estimate for the year 2025 is 7.4 million Arabs. Together with the Israeli Arabs, Israel will face a total Arab population of almost 10 million! This number may be inflated but the issue of a potential Arab population explosion is a real one. And Israel must deal with the issues of natural resources, such as water and many environmental questions as well. In addition, the Arabs are asking for recognition of their "Law of Return." There are many Arab refugees all over the world and they might like to go back to the West Bank. It is true that the Arab birth rate tends to decrease in response to modernity and urbanization but it is still higher than the Jewish one in Israel.
It is clear that the essence of the P.L.O. seems focused on the question of self-determination. The P.L.O. and its leader, Arafat, has a macro concept of "Pan Arabism," espousing the idea of a "Greater Palestine" in which every Arab is considered to be an integral part of a territorial dream.
One should also look at the "ecology" and "geography." Most Israeli Arabs live in the northern region of Israel. The Galilee had more Arabs than Jews in 1980! There is a high level of poverty among Arabs but one can not always blame Israel. The Arabs integrated themselves into the 50 year Israeli process of a better life. Of course, Israel made many mistakes but one cannot judge the past through the glasses of the present.
For many years, Israeli Arabs used to say: "We are Arab-Israeli." Of course they fought for their rights and protested against injustice and especially when they claimed that Israel or Israelis stole their lands. This issue has caused many confrontations between Israel's authorities and the Arabs. The Arabs developed a "myth of land" and their first organization was entitled (in 1964) "Al-Ard" (the Land). Arabs tended to protest and riot when they engaged in their "Day of Land." It is an annual memorial day to protest the "stealing of their lands." Of course, they do not mention the Arabs' assault on Israel since November 29, 1947 and later from 1948 to 1949 the Arabs attempt to destroy the new Israel and throw the Jews into the sea. During these days of "Lands," the Israeli police often had to intervene in order to prevent riots and maintain order when the protesters also burned Israeli flags in protest. But the most important fact which represents a danger to the future of Israel has to do with the recent Arab metamorphosis: today the Israeli Arabs define themselves as "Palestinians with Israeli identity cards."
Their "liberation" means first of all the espousing of a Palestinian identity and national consciousness. After all they, they have loyalty to their brothers and sisters in the West Bank and Gaza or in the U.N. refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria. They also have loyalty to the great idea of Pan Arabism. This transformation of the Arab identity leads to another explanation for this process: the rise of the P.L.O. and its successful international crusade including its ability to court the support of the United States. Not many years ago, the P.L.O. was on the American list of dangerous terrorist groups. The P.L.O. created a process of "Anti-Zionization" among Israeli Arabs. They tended to move to the P.L.O.'s camp. A new wave of national pride can be found among these Arabs. Recently, even the Israel Bedouins expressed their support for the P.L.O. Thousands of young Bedouins came to a rally in which Rajob, Arafat's "boss" of the security forces, was the main speaker. The event took place in Rahat, in the Negev, and the P.L.O.'s flag was seen over there. Furthermore, some Bedouins even expressed support for the Hamas.
In January 1998, the Israeli police arrested two Bedouins for helping the Hamas. It is clear that we are facing in the last decade an erosion of Arab support for the state of Israel as their future state. The logical conclusion that can be documented is that Arabs today view themselves as potential citizens or a branch of a new emerging entity: the Palestinian state. They are gradually developing their links to this new state. It is very natural for them to join a new Arab state. Being new Israeli-Palestinians, they are already on their new road to Israeli-Arab militancy. And Arabs, their well- educated, sophisticated elite, has learned how to use the Israeli democracy in order to achieve their goals. It is no secret that Arafat is a power player inside Israeli politics. It is no secret that he manipulates or tries to manipulate the "Arab vote," which has power due to the proportional coalition government system of election in Israel. For example, Rabin, the late Prime Minister, needed the Arab parties in the Knesset (10 seats) in order to stay in power. Even Bibi Netanyahu asked them to support himself. Arabs, like Jews, enjoy the fruits of political blackmailing, a way of life in Israeli politics.
Arafat even supports that Arabs' day of protest. When Israel celebrated its 50th anniversary, the Israeli Arabs, or some of them, had their day of "Nackba" (or from Arabic: "the Holocaust"). Their Holocaust is, of course, the establishment of Israel. In April 1998, the Israeli-Arab weekly reported that Arafat donated $800,000 to the Arab Israelis in order to finance their "Nackba" celebrations. According to this weekly, a special monument will be built and erected in the Galilee. The "P.L.O.-ization" of the Israeli Arabs has stimulated their degree of militancy. These Arabs have radicalized their protests. They do not hesitate to confront the Israeli police and they used the world media and C.N.N. without any considerations. A good example of the new Arab militancy is the style of the new young Arab leaders: Dr. Ahmad (TIBI) Tibi and the first Arab candidate for Prime Minister, Azmi Bishara. Both are members of the Knesset.
Tibi, a 40-year old gynecologist, a graduate of the Hebrew University, defines himself as a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship. It is not clear how the Rabin government allowed him, an Israeli citizen, to serve as a special advisor to the P.L.O. and Arafat! Tibi is also a "star" in the Israeli media. He is a very militant advocate of the P.L.O. and the Arabs under the umbrella of the "peace process." Tibi, of course, enjoys the support of the Israeli left and those who believe in the post- Zionist concept. Essentially, those who for "peace" will say "goodbye" to Israel as a Jewish state. They propagate a concept which the Arabs love: "Israel is the state of all of its citizens." It is one step before changing Israel into a bi- national state.
Azmi Bishara is a militant politician. He is Christian and an ex-Communist. He has a Ph.D. from a University in West Germany. He is a smart man. He always complains about the plight of the Arabs in Israel and rushes to defame Israel abroad. He supports the P.L.O. and probably, also, Dr. George Habash, the radical Marxist, anti-Arafat leader. He also does not condemn the terrorism of the Hezbollah, but the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. His views are extremely anti-Israel. Furthermore, like other Arab members of the Knesset, he visited Syria without official permission and then declared that the Syrians do not believe Israel. Bishara decided to run for Prime Minister, a public relations gambit. He presented himself as the spokesman for the Arabs.
Many Arabs, member s of the Knesset, became militant in their behavior. They developed relations with the P.L.O.. They visited Arab countries behind the backs of the Israeli government, as if they have their own Israeli foreign policy. Recently, a delegation of Arabs visited Assad, the Syrian dictator. They told him: "We come to you as Palestinians." One member of the Knesset, Talab A Sanaa, expressed support for Assad and blamed Bibi Netanyahu for the conflict in the region and a second member, Abed Al-Vahav Drausha, promised Palestinian refugees in a Syrian camp that in the near future they would all repatriate to Palestine. The refugees then cried out: "Haifa and Jaffa are calling us. By blood and fire, we will liberate you, Palestine."
The message is clear. Would Israelis expect to have a new nightmare? Recently, the P.L.O. developed a new tactic: they want the application of U.N. Resolution 181 in which the Western Galilee and Jaffa were declared to be Palestinian lands. And Jerusalem had to be a U.N.-governed territory ("corpus separatum"). This is the November 29, 1947 U.N. "Partition Plan" which the Arabs rejected with anger at the time.
A nightmare? It is hoped that the following conclusion will not come true: The probability of its own truism is high: the Israeli Arabs, the Palestinians with an Israeli identity, will join the coming Palestinian state. The will fight for this reunion. They will demonstrate and create many violent Intifadas. They will burn their identity cards and will protest to the U.N. and the international community> They will smear Israel in the media. They will build an international anti-Israeli movement which will demonstrate abroad against the "cruelty of Israel." Or, they will ask for an Israeli Arab autonomy! Israel must be alert to their reaction to the establishment of a new Palestinian state so close to their homes (Tul-Karem is only a ten minute ride from Netanya) and so close to their hearts, culture and heritage. They are from the same biological stock, they are the same people and now, the same nation. There are many Israelis who believe that this nightmare has no merit in reality.
Some rely on the existence of a huge peace loving camp. There are so many optimists among the Israelis, such as the great statesman, Shimon Peres, or Dr. Yossi Beilin. The Israeli left is even stronger today than in1996. "Give peace a chance" is the hope of many Israelis. They believe in the Arab's quest for a lasting peace. They blame Israeli war mongers for the conflicts with the P.L.O. and the Arab countries. They tend to forget the situation before 1967, believing instead in an Arab change of mind, and in the victory of co-existence in the Middle East region.
There are scholars, such as Dr. Eli Reches of the Dayan Center (Tel Aviv University), who developed a behavioral theory that the Israeli Arabs are Israelis first. And they have a lot to lose by joining the Palestinian entity. They are a sort of a new Arab ethnic tribe. They are not Palestinians.
But one can see for oneself that these Arabs belong to a minority within their communities. Arabs still complain about their inequality with the Jews. And their emotions and minds will change when a Palestinian state will be established. A state in which the Palestinian will be a free man. Of course, in a democratic Palestinian state. History teaches us as a lesson: when the Nazis came to power with Hitler, when the Third Reich climaxed to the sky of Europe, all the walls of resistence, all the defense mechanisms, collapsed like a building made of cards: Germans rushed to join the new Nazi messianism.
The outcome is crystal clear: the Palestinian national messianism will erupt like a volcano when Arafat will declare his independent P.L.O. state. Would the Israeli Arabs be only bystanders? How fragile would their integration into the Israeli mainstream be? One must also evaluate a new phenomenon inside the Israeli Arab community which can backfire for the Israeli advocates of peace and co-existence.
This is the prior decade's rise of a Hamas movement or Muslim fundamentalism in Israel. Those who believe in progress and democracy view this phenomenon as a process of regression and a setback for the anti-peace movement. This Hamas is the most radical element of the Israeli Arab population. Indeed, it has links to other Hamas movements. It stimulates more extremism, more militancy and more confrontation with Israel. It brings a wave of pessimism into the hearts of Israelis and cause them to rethink their concept of peace.
Some of the Israeli Hamas support the Hamas' terrorist activities. Some are willing to use violence against other Palestinians or the P.L.O. The Hamas is one of Arafat's most urgent problem. Today, no one really knows how strong the Hamas is in Israel, Gaza or the West Bank but this is a strong regional movement which is being supported by Iran and the Saudis as well. This movement rejects any peace negotiation with Israel and it believes in a Jihad, a sacred war against the "infidels," the Israelis. The Hamas never hides its call for a total destruction of Israel.
The high level of Arab militancy also stimulates illegal activities against Israel. There has been an increase of Arab illegal activities during the last decade. For example, in April 1998, the Negev's main water line was sabotaged. Some 100,000 cubic meters of water flows through this line each day. Some Israeli Arabs were also involved in the murder of soldiers. Recently, even responsible leaders changed their behavior. Deputy Mayor of Umel- Fahem, the "Israeli capital" of the Hamas movement, Dr. Suliman Agarbia, was arrested for allegedly transferring funds to the Hamas terrorist organization. He was a member of "Alamal House," a special bank which was outlawed by Israel's Anti-Terror Command.
The power of the Hamas keeps growing. Um-El Fachem is a Hamas city in Israel. In the major Arab city in Israel, in Nazareth, Salman Abu Ahmed, a Hamas candidate to the City Mayoralty, received 48% of the votes! The Hamas increased its power in the last Israeli municipal elections. It has a strong impact on the Arab section.
The Hamas gained power even among the Bedouins. They listened to speakers who promised them: "the light which shines on Gaza and Jericho will reach the Galilee and the Negev and that the Israelis must evacuate east- Jerusalem for good."
It is not surprising to hear the great Israeli statesman and the ex- Prime Minister express his belief, his painful pessimism: "The Arabs will never recognize us. The Arabs will always dream to destroy us. In their hate of the Jews, they form one united camp... They are waiting for the right opportunity to destroy Israel. . . We have to build our eternal wall of iron and preserve our military superiority." In the last election, the first Arab woman joined the Knesset. Husniya Jabara is from the liberal, left of the center Meretz party (which has 10 seats). This party has a long record of supporting peace and the civil rights of the Israeli Arabs. Ms. Jabara, a social worker, is from the town of Taibeh. But this did not prevent this town from participating in the recent riots ("Israeli Intifada" which took place in September- October 1998).
The reason for this riot was that the Israeli Defense Ministry confiscated lands for military training in the Hamas' controlled town of Um El Fachem. The Arab protest and riot was highly coordinated by the Israeli Arab National Committee, also known as The Supreme Monitoring Committee of the Israeli Arabs. The mass protest movement took all the Arab towns and villages like a storm. Also, this national "committee" organized a total Arab general strike as a protest. The unrest was registered in Nazareth and in the Bedouin village of Swaad, as well. The biggest protest was, of course, in Um Al Fachem. In the area of Vadi Ara, in the north, the Arabs protested against the Army, which confiscated land. In all the riots, the police used tear gas. Many Arabs were injured and some were arrested. The government made efforts to solve the problems but it was clear that the Arabs, wrong or right, became more militant and more extreme in their approach to Israel. It was also clear that Israel was sitting on an explosive Arab-Israeli bombshell. Arabs do not view themselves as Israelis. During the riots, they shouted: "Death to the Jews." They attacked the police with stones, fire and even Molotov cocktails. They were sensitive to the slightest confiscation of lands. They viewed any attempt to demolish illegal buildings, according to the Israeli law, as an assault on their existence and as an attempt to expel them from their "mother earth." They have no fear. The P.L.O. will defend them.
So what about: "Give peace a chance?" What will they do when a Palestinian state will be established? Will they riot again? Will they attack Israel with waves of "Intifada"? Will Israel face in the next century an "Arab block" in the Knesset whose goal will be to integrate Israel with the Palestinian state? Will the "Um Al Fachem syndrome" repeat itself? Will the Hamas movement control the Israeli Arabs because of its extreme militancy against the Jews?
Indeed, Arabs do try to change Israel. They would like to see a new national anthem. "Hatikvah" they have argued is a Jewish anthem. Then they will ask the Jews to find a new non-Jewish flag. And finally Israel will be asked to change the name of the State...
It is certainly the dream of Azmi Bishara, Dr. Tibi and even of the ex-mayor of Taibah and a member of the Labor Party ("One Israel") Rafika Haj Yihia, who also said that Barak and Bibi are the same type of leader from his point of view, both are "hawks..."
In the meantime, the Saudis have entered the game. Israeli Arabs must have a Palestinian passport in order to visit this country which controls Mecca... This is an excellent stimulation for the "Palestinization" of the Israeli Arabs.
How can Israel be so optimistic? How can Israel liberate itself from the nightmare of a "Palestinian Revolution" in the Israeli Arab streets?
How can Israel speak peace when Arab Israeli members of the Knesset such as Taleb A-Sanaa said: "Where do you find the Arabs in Hatikvah?" He also preaches to change the flag because it is a symbol of the Zionist movement.
Another member of the Knesset, Hashem Mahamid related to the Hezbollah, as a "liberation movement" and the pro-Hamas member Abd el-Malek Dahamsha said: "We will liberate Jerusalem from the Zionists, the enemies of mankind. Whatever the Zionist do won't help. Jerusalem will remain Arab..." These are the Arab members of the Knesset and not of the P.L.O. or the Hamas councils.
There are good peace loving people among Israeli Arabs, such as Haled Diab, a wealthy physician, an intellectual and a sensitive Arab. In an interview in "Yediot Ahronot" he said: "When I learned that 61% of the Israelis do not believe what the Arabs are saying I remarked that this is the shame of 50 years of Israel's life. For 50 years we the Arabs have expressed loyalty to the state... because we the Arabs do believe in peace. We want to live like everyone else. Jews such as the spy, Israel Ber, damaged Israel's security. And you stigmatize Arabs as un-loyal to the state."
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