Israeli Arabs: "We Are Part of the Palestinian Nation"
by Gad Nahshon
The Israeli Arabs defined themselves as members of the Palestinian Nation. This tendency has been accelerated by the ever growing rise of the Palestinian identity in Gaza and the West Bank. There is no doubt that, in the near future, this tendency will reinforce itself. It is a natural and logical process. The climax of this process will be: Israeli Arabs will tear their Israeli identity cards, will call on world public opinion, will call on the U.N. and the European community to give them the opportunity to fulfill their 'ancient' dream of joining the great Palestinian Nation which reached a state of nationhood and full sovereignty or: the establishment of a new Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank. For the majority of the Israeli Arabs, the 'green line' (the borders) has no real meaning. Who will stop them from their great 'family reunion' with their brothers and sisters in the new Palestinian state?
Recently, the process of 'Palestiniazation' and 'PLO-nization' inside the Israeli Arab section has been intensified. First, there was a rally of the Druzes and many asked to change their status from 'Druz' into 'Arab.' The Druz's were Israel's best devoted allies in the Muslim world. They have contributed to Israel's defense and security. Today, they feel like second rate citizens. Even among the Israeli Bedoines one can see erosion of supporting the Jewish state. It is clear that the new Palestinian nation would like to enlarge its territories between the sea and the Jordan River. This nation might even claim to own territories which belong to Jordan since half of the population of this country is Palestinian.
A new scholarly research which was conducted by Dr. Asad Ganam for the distinguished 'Center for Peace' in Givat-Haviva, a leftist institution in Israel, demonstrated clearly the erosion of Israeli identity among the Israeli Arab population or 17% of the total Israeli population. Dr. Ganam concluded that 67% declared themselves to be 'Palestinian Arab' rather than 'Israeli Arab'. Only 11% said that their identity is 'Israeli Arab.' To compare: in research which took place in 1995, according to Israel's most circulated daily Yediot Ahronot, 38% declared themselves to be 'Israeli Arab'! One can see the logical process of erosion, although, Israel has improved the rights and well-being of its Arab sector. Also, the 'peace process' has no influence on their way of identifying themselves. Their degree of expectation from the rise of Palestinian nationalism is very high which means more tensions. Of course, their environment of a modern democratic open society and their enjoyment of Israel's economic progress had some influence on their identity: 46%, according to Yediot Ahronot said that they are just 'Israeli Palestinian Arab.'
By the way, Dr. Ganam argued that the research expressed the frustration from Ehud Barak's policies in comparison to those of the late Rabin. There is only one conclusion out of this research which shows that the Israeli Arabs are devoted to Israel's well-being: only 25% said that they are looking for the establishment of a new Palestinian state in greater Palestine, one the ruins of destruction of the state of Israel.
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