Israel's Arabs shoot themselves in foot

Arab-Israelis may pay price for failure to recognize Jewish state's legitimacy

A new poll by the "Mada al-Carmel" center reveals that 90 percent of Arab citizens in Israel believe that a Jewish state cannot guarantee them full equality. Sixty one percent object to the country's definition as a Jewish state, even if they get most of their rights.


The implication is that a clear majority of Israeli Arabs does not recognize the Jewish right for self-determination, that is, the right for a country of their own.


The recognition of the Jewish people's right for self-determination is the genuine litmus test for anyone who discusses the Israeli-Arab conflict. Those who do not recognize our right for self-determination are in fact calling for elimination of the country, even if they coat it with nice words such as "bi-national state" or "a state of all its citizens"


Similarly to the Arab leadership in the country, the Arab academic community in Israel also rejects this Jewish right. For this reason, two years of discussions at the Israel Democracy Institute in an attempt to establish a convention between Jews and Arabs have failed. The Arab-Israelis who took part in the discussions did not agree to the existence of a Jewish state alongside an independent Palestinian state, which all Jews in the discussion agreed to.


"The moment I agreed to a Jewish state, I agree to be a subtenant," "explained Dr. Adel Mana, who also said that "the Jewish right of self-determination does not necessarily mean a Jewish state."


This means, for example, Jewish autonomy in the framework of a country of all its citizens. The implication, to my understanding, is that Jews would not be able to decide on bringing in new immigrants, developing new weapons, or establishing a new military brigade without Arab consent.


Arab minority's unique demands

When we see the position articulated by Arab Israelis on this matter, one may mistakenly think that the existence of a large minority of a bit more than one million people (roughly 20 percent of the population) is only an Israeli phenomenon.


This is not the case: In Ukraine, 11 million out of 52 million citizens are Russian; In Latvia, they make up more than 30 percent of the population; In Bulgaria, ten percent of the nine million are Turkish Muslims; while in Romania, a similar percentage of the 25 million citizens is Hungarian. Yet nowhere does the large minority question the country's national character and does not demand to change the national anthem and flag, as do Israel's Arabs.


Just like the Palestinian minority in Israel, each one of the abovementioned minorities has its own national state across the border where all its national desires are realized, while as a minority it fights for securing full equality and possibly collective rights such as educational autonomy or official status for its language. These struggles are not always successful.


Israel's Arabs are entitled to full equality in terms of civil rights (and they indeed enjoy it in all matters related to their political rights) as well as to certain collective rights. They are also entitled to equality in development and budgeting. Yet they are not entitled to question the legitimacy of the state as Jewish and as a manifestation of the Jewish people's right for self-determination – a basic, recognized right of every people.


If Israel's Arabs do not modify their position and continue to object to defining Israel as the Jewish people's state, where they live as a minority with full equality, they should not be surprised to see the Knesset legislate strict immigration laws, or growing calls to move the Green Line west in the triangle region where Arab communities are concentrated.


The implication of this would be to shift a large Arab population, with all its assets, to the Palestinian Authority, which will become an independent state – in that case they will be getting their just desserts.


The writer is an attorney


פרסום ראשון: 12.04.06, 23:46
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