Israel's Arab minority fear the revelation that former Knesset Member Azmi Bishara is suspected of aiding Hizbullah during last summer's war will dent their precarious relations with the Jewish majority, Arab Israeli leaders said Wednesday.
Some of them fear that the Jewish State will deport its Arab citizens during a future war.
According to suspicions, Bishara contacted a Hizbullah official during last summer's war in Lebanon and handed him information on strategic locations in Israel for the Shiite group to target. Bishara allegedly received hundreds of thousands of shekels in exchange for his cooperation.
“Perhaps in the short term the Jews will not pay attention to the Bishara affair due to the Winograd report, but in the long term this will affect relations,” said Professor Aziz Haidar of the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.
“The Jews will perceive the allegations as further proof that ‘some action must be taken against the Arabs’.”
'Shin Bet learned its lesson'
Prof Haidar said a mass deportation of Israel’s Arab citizens is not out of the question. “The Jewish public is prepared to accept any act against the Arab population; therefore, the Arabs are discussing the possibility of a second Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic - refers to the flight of Palestinian Arabs during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war).
“In a situation of chaos and war in the Middle East, Israel will use all means possible to repeat what happened in 1948. If, God forbid, another war breaks out, the chances would increase that Israel would expel thousands of Arabs from their homes to ‘diminish the demographic threat’,” he said.
“I have been claiming for a while now that if the current situation persists, a confrontation between the two communities will erupt soon and will be more severe than the October 2000 riots. I intend to say this to Prime Minster Ehud Olmert during our scheduled meeting with him next week.”
Jafar Farah, director of the The Mossawa Center - The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel – is also fearful of mass deportation.
“The Arab population is not taking the calls for a ‘transfer’ and evacuation lightly,” he said. “This atmosphere of incitement is already being expressed in verbal attacks against the Arab-Israelis.
“I fear that certain elements will try to take advantage of the situation and the lack of leadership to physically attack Arab citizens. The media must prevent this deterioration, which is being led by the extreme right.”
According to Prof Haidar, many Israeli Jews believe the allegations against Bishara are well-founded, as they “are always willing to accept anything related to security issues without asking questions.
“I believe the Shin Bet learned its lesson, and instead of letting Bishara become a martyr they kicked him out of the country,” he said.