Raed Salah
Ben-Dror Yemini

We must stop Raed Salah and his ilk

Op-ed: While recent events make it seem like Israeli Arabs are the enemy from within, the hatemongers are only a loud minority. We must support the sane, moderate majority and take a firm hand against the violent instigators and inciters.

Sheikh Raed Salah was arrested again on Tuesday. These are his best days. He's succeeding. Three of his followers carried out the terror attack on the Temple Mount and caused an outbreak of violence; the murderers' funeral became a display of solidarity with the shahids (martyrs) not unlike Hamas's anti-Semitic rallies; a young Arab man was killed in Jaffa and a Channel 2 reporter was almost lynched while covering the funeral while nearby businesses refused to give him refuge. The impression we're left with is that Israel's Arab citizens are becoming the enemy from within.  



But we ought to be careful not to give the strife-mongers and barons of incitement—the Salahs and Zoabis of the world—more credit than they deserve. There are Hamasniks among them, to be sure. But before the wounds that have a hard time healing become an incurable disease, we should remember that polls conducted in recent years show most Israeli Arabs are actually in a different place—somewhere far less violent and enraged.


According to Israeli Democracy Index, for example, 55 percent of Arabs are proud to be Israeli, and in complete contradiction to the fight their leadership wages, over 50 percent of Arab youths want to do national service. The percentage of recruits among them increases every year.


Raed Salah in court after his latest arrest (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Raed Salah in court after his latest arrest (Photo: Motti Kimchi)


How can this gap between the polls, which give cause for optimism, and even the process of Israelization among the country's Arab citizens on the one hand, and the displays of violence and hatred on the other hand, be explained?


Well, Arab society in Israel, much like Muslim communities in neighboring countries and in Europe, has a radical core that isn't quite marginal. Sometimes they are nationalists of the Balad variety, other times they're jihadists of the kind Salah nurtures, and sometimes they're a combination of both. They don't need to be a majority to provoke strife and instigate hatred. They're not the majority in any of the neighborhoods or quarters or suburbs in Europe, where they successfully create hotbeds for fanatic Islam. But they have an enormous advantage, despite the fact they're a minority: They're determined, they're vocal, and they're violent.


And there is another component in Western countries, like in Israel, that makes them stronger. They always, and I mean always, get support and justification from the "forces of progress." It were Jews from the Left who circulated a petition of support in the Joint Arab List. Those who despise Lehava and the Hilltop Youth, the racists, fascists, chauvinists and their ilk on the Jewish side, get excited when they encounter those types on the Arab side.


The "forces of progress" don't identify with the Muslim majority that leads a normal lifestyle and doesn't busy itself with hatred towards Jews. They support the furious and hateful. The justifications made by those radicals don't encourage reconciliation or peace among nations, only radicalization. But this has been the fad for years now.


Their justification mechanism has a lot of excuses: discrimination, exclusion, racism, occupation. This is all nonsense, because there are other minorities—both in Israel and elsewhere in the world—who don't turn to hatred or terrorism.


Clashes over tensions on the Temple Mount (Photo: AFP)
Clashes over tensions on the Temple Mount (Photo: AFP)


In general, this phenomenon of unfathomable hatred also exists where there isn't a shred of exclusion, colonialism or occupation. And mostly, it exists inside the Muslim communities—between Sunni and Shiite, Sunni and Sunni, man and woman. After all, they are the ones leading the oppression mechanism in which the Muslims are both the oppressors and the oppressed. And it's always the violent minority that oppresses the majority.


As far as Israel is concerned, the Arab minority has suffered from discrimination, and some discrimination still exists. But during the last few decades there has actually been an effort to make up for past sins. The left-wing regime is the one that instated the military administration in the West Bank, as well as the discrimination, and it is actually the right-wing regime that is investing in the Arab population. For example, the five-year plan announced by the most right-wing government Israel has ever had. In addition, Israeli Arabs enjoy equalization payments from the Interior Ministry, special budgeting by the Education Ministry and high National Insurance payments compared to their relative size in the population.


There is no magic solution. The right direction should include supporting the sane, moderate majority, and taking a firm hand against the hate- and violence-mongering minority. It's not easy, nor is it simple. But it's important to remember that those who identify with Hanin Zoabi and her ilk are not part of the solution. They're part of the problem.


פרסום ראשון: 08.16.17, 15:27
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