“Police terror,” “a silencing campaign,” “a witch-hunt,” “a Kafkaesque situation,” “fascist tactics that have become the norm,” “a declaration of war on Arab Israelis,” “a threat to democracy” – these was just some of the hue and cry raised by Arab Israelis over the arrest of Ameer Makhoul and Dr. Omar Said on espionage charges.
And so, hundreds of Arab community members took their pain to the streets of Haifa, holding up Palestinian flags and singing the Palestinian national anthem, in order to protest the “framing of those who object to government policy,” as Balad Knesset Member Hanin Zoabi charged.
Indeed, how can one not feel sympathy for the “innocent victims” of the governmental framing operation? This time around it was Makhoul and Said, while three years ago it was another precious member of Zoabi’s party, Azmi Bishara, who left Israel never to return – he too was apparently persecuted only because he disagreed with government policy.
Meanwhile, over the last decade, hundreds of Arab Israelis were the beneficiaries of hard-working government officials who “framed” them over suspicions of carrying out terror attacks, acts of espionage, aiding and abetting the enemy, and the smuggling weapons. According to the Arabs, the courts and judges must also be part of the “fascist tactics that have become a norm.”
Yet despite the above, a hint of doubt emerges that the suspicions against Makhoul and Said in respect to serious security offenses, including espionage and contacts with a Hezbollah agent, are not only the result of the police’s and government’s wild imaginations – just like it appears that the security charges against some Israeli Arabs were not an unfounded product of the wild Shin Bet imagination.
Solidarity with our enemies
The fact is that despite the “police terror” and “silencing campaign,” the State of Israel usually does not hold Makhoul and his ilk accountable for grave statements. Indeed, Makhoul’s literary pearls of wisdom include declarations such as “I hate the Israeli flag,” “the firing of rockets at Israel is not a war crime,” and “Arab Israelis face a racist and colonialist threat from the State.” Meanwhile, even accusations that Israel is planning a Holocaust in Gaza, as the head of the Arab Israeli Monitoring Committee claimed, just like vigorous cheers in favor of Gaza martyrs in the very same rally, were mostly ignored by the State.
Moreover, even if only a handful of Arab Israelis crossed the lines and committed offences, the vast majority of the Arab-Israeli community time and again puts its trust in representatives who view the elimination of the Zionist enterprise as a supreme goal.
Moreover, the same handful, and their supporters too, saw no wrong in rising up against Israel at a time of distress, upon the Second Intifada’s outbreak. These people rioted in the streets and attacked anyone in their way, targeting the State and its Jews while their brethren in Judea, Samaria and Gaza were engaged in a murderous terrorist struggle against Israel.
Indeed, solidarity with Israel’s enemies, slamming the State’s character, supporting violent acts against the “occupation,” and full understanding shown to the motivates of selected martyrs are largely required pre-conditions for any Arab-Israeli politician who seeks his community’s support.
Meanwhile, various Arab community representatives occasionally meet with enlightened Arab rulers in order to discuss Israel’s injustice, its “apartheid regime,” and the racism prevalent in the Jewish State. On the last such occasion, they visited the glorious king Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.
We should also note that the vision outlined in documents drafted by leading Arab-Israeli figures explicitly noted that “Israel is the result of a colonialist act initiated by the Jewish-Zionist elites in Europe and in the West. The “minimum demands” articulated by one of the more moderate Arab representatives, Dr. Asad Ghanem from University of Haifa, were to change Israel’s definition from a Jewish State to a multicultural state, allow Palestinian refugees to return to Israel and get full citizenship, and grant full Israeli citizenship to any descendent of anyone marrying an Israeli citizen.
Yet all of the above will of course not undermine at all the great belief prevalent among many local academic, journalistic, and cultural icons that a return to the 1967 borders and the establishment of a Palestinian state will bring two-state peace, and of course an end of the conflict.
Dr. Shaul Rosenfeld is a philosophy lecturer