אמג'ד שביטה
Amjad Shabita
Israelis protest in Tel Aviv against Donald Trump's peace plan

Israel's Arabs are here to stay

Opinion: Trump's peace plan put the issue of revoking our citizenship on the table in order to weaken a strong, formidable minority, but like our parents, we know how to balance the two sides of our national identity

Amjad Shabita |
Published: 02.28.20 , 19:17
I would like to tell you a little about my mother. Why should you hear about her? Because she's a resident of the Arab town of Tira, a place that, along with its neighboring towns, received a whole paragraph dedicated to it in U.S. President Donald Trump's Mideast peace plan.
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  • My mother Ravia is one of the first Arab nurses to work at Meir Hospital in the Israeli city of Kfar Saba. She worked there for about 40 years, saving the lives of Jews and Arabs alike.
    הפגנה של מחנה השלום בתל אביבהפגנה של מחנה השלום בתל אביב
    Israelis protest in Tel Aviv against Donald Trump's peace plan
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    Today she's a 75-year-old pensioner. Or maybe it's 74, we're not sure since her birth certificate was lost along with her toys in 1948, when she was about 3 or 4 years old.
    My mother was lucky, because just like my father Abed, she moved to Tira after she and her family were forced out of their home village of Miska in 1948, and even though Tira is only 2 kilometers away from Miska, my mother remembers that day as an awful tragedy.
    A few years after her family's displacement, my mother's father was shot dead by IDF soldiers who claimed he tried to sneak back into his evacuated home village.
    But even back then my mother never knew the taste of despair.
    "How was it for you with living surrounded by Jews all around you?" I asked her.
    "It sure wasn't easy," she says, "even so the racism that we know today was unheard of back then. People were ashamed to talk to us the way they do today, to question our citizenship and disrespect our standing."
    That last sentence still resonates with me. My mother, who for years was one of the only Arabs working at Meir, experienced less hostility decades ago.
    And I know exactly why: it's because today we're a strong, formidable minority.
    חגיגות רמדאן בטייבהחגיגות רמדאן בטייבה
    Ramadan festivities in the Arab city of Taibeh
    My mother knows that U.S. President Donald Trump's ill-conceived peace plan isn't implementable, yet it successfully achieved its purpose.
    It gave legitimacy to ask all those questions no one ever dared ask before, and put the issue of revoking citizenship on the table.
    We're not talking about revoking the citizenship of some criminal either, but hundreds of thousands of citizens who are sure to lose not only their jobs, but their education and the connection they have to their families.
    Why would anybody insert citizenship revocation into Trump's proposed peace plan in the first place? Mainly to diminish that same national minority in Israel, to make them easier to oppress and discriminate against.
    Ultimately this is the real reason, because all the rest of the talk about wanting the people of Wadi Ara and the "Triangle" of Arab towns near the Green Line to become citizens of Palestine is a lie.
    For if we abide by Trump's peace plan, there is no way the Palestinian people will ever receive an independent state to call their own.
    הפגנה של מחנה השלום בתל אביבהפגנה של מחנה השלום בתל אביב
    Israelis protest in Tel Aviv against Donald Trump's peace plan
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    We will fight as Israeli citizens for the right for our people to have an independent Palestinian state based on the pre-67 borders.
    We will also fight for our people's right for recognition as the Palestinian people, and because of these efforts, generations of Israelis will grow up thanking us for liberating them from a terrible occupation.
    In the State of Israel lives a large Palestinian minority clinging to its Israeli citizenship and national affiliation. We have known how to balance the two sides for 70 years, and we will keep that same balance for the rest of our days.
    In the end, we are not the problem, it's those who refuse to deal with this reality.
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