Sunday, June 29, 2014

Moment of truth

Dr. Haim Shine

The fabric of relations between Israel's Jewish and Arab citizens is still fragile. Over the years, it has been customary to hope that there was a wide fundamental gap between Israeli Arab leaders, who exhibited clear extremism, and the Israeli Arab public, which appeared more moderate. But Friday's violent demonstrations in Umm al-Fahm, along with the malicious and belligerent comments made recently by Balad MKs Hanin Zoabi and Jamal Zahalka, have cast a sad light on the prospects for true coexistence in Israel. Before dealing with two states for two peoples, it is vital that we first clarify the definitions of the peoples.
The demonstrators in Umm al-Fahm on Friday showed unequivocally that they identified with the actions of Hamas, rather than Israel's efforts to find the kidnapped teens and defend its citizens, including Arabs. Keep in mind that, more than once, Israeli Arabs have fallen victim to terror attacks carried out by their Palestinian brothers.

The Umm al-Fahm demonstrators displayed patent ingratitude. Everyone knows that none of them would agree to move to an Arab country or the Palestinian Authority, even for a hefty sum of money. They would lead the battle against including Umm al-Fahm in a Palestinian state. Israeli Arabs enjoy the benefits of Israeli democracy, while at the same time they identify with Israel's most bitter enemies. Israel does not compel its Arab citizens to enlist in the military and take part in the just struggle against terrorism. But Israel does have the right to expect loyalty from its citizens during turbulent times. We will not forget that Israeli Arabs, including MKs, collaborated with the enemy, aiding its plot to harm Israeli soldiers and civilians.
For Israeli Arabs, the moment of truth is approaching. They must decide who they are loyal to: the state of which they are citizens or the forces of darkness that have been trying to terrorize Israel for years. There cannot be dual loyalty in this case, as there is a built-in contradiction between the two options.
The dozens of demonstrators who threw rocks and bottles at police and shut down a major traffic artery put years of hard work in danger. If the Israeli Arab public does not -- in a sharp, decisive and courageous voice -- renounce the MKs, the inciters and the advocates of militant Islam, then expect days of fierce and needless clashes ahead. Everyone must know that while Jews are perhaps naive, they are in no way "suckers."

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