Friday, July 24, 2009

Zionist ship in danger

Number of citizens committed to original Zionist vision keeps on declining

Yaron London

Recently, the decision was made to indict a dozen Shfaram residents over the killing of Jewish terrorist Natan Zada. They pushed away the police officers protecting the handcuffed man and killed him with stones and blows. The town of Shfaram was outraged. Arab public figures complained that the dozen would not be facing justice had the murderer been Arab and the avengers Jewish. The root of the controversy stems from a similar moral dilemma that emerged in the trial of Shai Dromi, the southern farmer who shot to death an Arab burglar: What rights does a person who killed an attacker have? In Shfaram, a murderer was killed, while Dromi fired at burglars who he felt endangered his life. It appears that the line of defense adopted by the accused from Shfaram is thinner, because the danger was long gone before they assaulted and killed the attacker.

Yet these nuances are of no interest to Arab community leaders. Dromi’s acquittal promoted them to utter the oh-so-predictable response: The court gave license to fire at Arab citizens.

This is the case in almost any controversial affair involving the State and Arab citizens. The confiscation of land for public purposes is immediately suspected as being the continuation of a land robbery tradition. The National Service initiative for Arabs is perceived as a ploy to make it easier for the Jews to kill Palestinians. The erection of a cellular antenna in an Arab village is meant to make its residents ill.

These claims are infuriating, but we should not be complaining that Israel’s Arab citizens doubt the motives of authorities; they have accumulated bitter experience.

On the other hand, the experience of another rebellious sector is incredibly positive – the ultra-Orthodox. The State does not discriminate against them and grants them an exemption from military service and educational autonomy. Yet their decent status does not tone down their suspicions. Their isolationism is entrenched in well-formulated ideology, and their boldness is much greater than the audacity of Arab citizens.

The haredi pamphlets charging the Zionists with ongoing efforts to exterminate the Jewish people are as grave as the Palestinian expressions about the “Nakba” and “genocide.”

Sandbanks are lying in wait

Yet while the claims made by Arab Israelis are not completely unfounded, the haredi claims are almost entirely pure inventions. Last week we saw their masses rioting in Jerusalem. They knew that if Arabs blocked the Wadi Ara area to traffic they would be met with bullets. Yet those who block major roads in Israel’s capital are met with water cannons.

The Arabs and Orthodox make up roughly one third of the country’s population. In addition to them, there is a significant group of citizens who are not parties to the vision of a democratic, secular, modern, liberal, and open republic with a Jewish majority.

In my view, only espousal of this vision will enable the state to exist, yet the number of those who support it is increasingly declining. It may have dropped below 50% of the population by now. There is no other stable country in the world whose spinal cord is so thin. The nation’s skeleton has not yet disintegrated and its internal organs have not yet spread out in all directions only because our enemies are pressing us on all sides.

History is now showing its sense of humor. Zionism is a bold enterprise initiated by individual members of the educated Jewish middle-class in Eastern Europe. Most Jews rejected this vision, yet the tiny minority was successful. The proud Zionist ship brought whoever wished to join it onboard and set sail through rough seas.

Yet years have passed and the nature of the passengers has changed. Each faction wishes to sail to a different destination. Meanwhile, the sandbanks are lying in wait.

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