Professor Gadi Algazi, who heads Tel Aviv University's History Department, recounted the 'Land Day' rally at which he spoke Tuesday and explained that it was peaceful, but "two masked provocateurs turned it into something it wasn't supposed to be."
Algazi told Ynet on Wednesday that the two masked men, who arrived at the rally in Sakhnin holding posters of Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah and slain group member Imad Mugniyah, were a minority among the Arab residents of the north.
The professor explained that the struggle for Palestinian equality in Israel and the territories was important. "This is a national political minority struggling to receive the same rights that the citizens of Israel are given," he said.
"Ten thousand people arrived in Sakhnin to tell the state to behave differently, and to recognize the needs and dreams of our neighbors."
Algazi also mentioned the Bedouin protests in the south on Tuesday, stressing that they were the hardest-hit minority.
"They were robbed of 94% of the land in their possession, and they wanted to make the desert bloom through agriculture but now all they have left is the little ghetto in which they live. Promises have been made that in the near future their lands would be returned," he lamented.
'Two provocateurs inflamed tensions' (Photo: Shay Vaknin)
The professor also compared the Bedouins to the Native Americans in the US. "The Indians were driven to reservations and were supposed to content themselves with casinos and alcohol; the Bedouins are driven by the state to poverty and crime."
Algazi claims that until Israel reaches a historic settlement with the Palestinians, the existential threat referred to by its government will continue.
"As long as we are built like a tank moving through the Middle East, the peoples surrounding us will continue to fear occupation," he said.
"We need to change, accept the other, and thus be accepted by the Palestinians and Arabs around us. I have taken part in non-violent activities in the (Palestinian) territories, and in the end when you get to know them, those you fear, when you know what their children want and dream of, you understand that their only ambition is to live respectfully without being trampled."
Algazi was not the only Jew present at the Sakhnin rally. Kobi Snitz, 38 from Tel Aviv and a conscientious objector to army service, slammed what he called IDF brutality towards Palestinian protestors in Budrus village, near Ramallah.
"A democratic system does not involve a group of people sitting in an air-conditioned room giving orders to soldiers located dozens of kilometers away. The soldiers must object to immoral deeds. The fact that
Despite this he understands Israel cannot exist without an army. However he says the government is blowing the threats it faces out of proportion. "We created the millions of refugees in the camps, large parts of the state were captured from Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine, and we have become what history and the not-too-distant past warned us against," Snitz added.