Israeli Arab politicians’ rejection of Israel’s Jewish nature has become ever more blatant and pronounced. Thus we have Tibi telling President Reuven Rivlin during the September 2019 parliamentary consultations on the formation of a new government that “we are the owners of this land… we did not immigrate here, we were born here, we are a native population.”60 Six months later, after another round of national elections brought the Joint List’s Knesset representation to an unprecedented tally of 15 MKs, Tibi was far more brazen. Writes Efraim Karsh
Rather than strive to nip this growing radicalization in the bud, successive Israeli governments ignored the real nature of the development and instead sought to woo the Israeli Arabs by additional socioeconomic incentives (à la the Orr commission’s misconceived recommendations). Meanwhile, the legal system grew increasingly reluctant to enforce legislation designed to prevent the subversion of Israel’s national security and sociopolitical order, notably Article 7A of the “Basic Law: The Knesset” stipulating that:
A list of candidates shall not participate in elections to the Knesset, and a person shall not be a candidate in elections to the Knesset, should there explicitly or implicitly be in the goals or actions of the list, or the actions of the person, including his expressions, as the case may be, one of the following: (1) Negation of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; (2) Incitement to racism; (3) Support for an armed struggle by an enemy state or of a terrorist organization, against the State of Israel.
Unlike 1965, when the Supreme Court ratified the disqualification by the Knesset’s Central Elections Committee of an irredentist Israeli Arab movement that rejected Israel’s existence from participating in national elections on the grounds that “no free regime—particularly in light of the lessons of recent history—can lend a hand to the recognition of a movement that undermines that very regime,”56 in recent decades it has systematically blocked all attempts at disqualification despite unequivocal violations of Article 7A. Hence not one of the Arab MKs who visited enemy states and openly identified with their genocidal designs on Israel was barred from participating in elections, let alone prosecuted; nor were Arab parties and/or MKs made accountable for their rejection of very Israel’s existence (whether directly or through such platitudes as support for the “right of return”—the standard Arab euphemism for Israel’s destruction via demographic subversion),57 identification with terror organizations (in March 2016, for example, Balad and Hadash berated the Arab League’s designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization as undermining the struggle against Israeli expansionism and aggression), 58 or even collaboration with them (e.g., the participation of Hadash and the Joint List’s leader Ayman Odeh in PLO-organized events and reported receipt of PLO money).
As a result, Israeli Arab politicians’ rejection of Israel’s Jewish nature has become ever more blatant and pronounced. Thus we have Tibi telling President Reuven Rivlin during the September 2019 parliamentary consultations on the formation of a new government that “we are the owners of this land… we did not immigrate here, we were born here, we are a native population.”60 Six months later, after another round of national elections brought the Joint List’s Knesset representation to an unprecedented tally of 15 MKs, Tibi was far more brazen. “The expression ‘Eretz Israel’ [Land of Israel] is colonialist,” he stated in a radio interview. “I reject with disgust the phrase ‘Judea and Samaria,’ it is the Palestinian West Bank, in the occupied Palestinian territories.”61 And Odeh was no less forthright, telling Rivlin that “We are not solely interested in full civil equality. We are a national group that de- serves full national equality.” In other words: ending Israel’s existence as a Jewish state in favor of a binational state in which Jews would be reduced to their “rightful place” in Islamic history as a “tolerated religious minority.”
Given this mindset, it is hardly surprising that when in late April 2021 Hamas drew thousands of rioters to the Temple Mount by using the age-old canard of an imminent Jewish threat to the al-Aqsa Mosque, Odeh embraced the ensuing jihadist violence on the holy site with alacrity, in total disregard of his party’s communist-secularist ideology. “Salutes from the coastal plain, from the Galilee, from the Triangle, and from the Negev to the Jerusalem youth who are waging an intifada against the occupation,” he wrote on his Facebook page on April 24. The next day, as Israeli police sought to calm the situation by removing some roadblocks on Temple Mount, Odeh escalated his rhetoric. “The occupation is retreating before the Jerusalem youth and is removing the barriers at the Damascus Gate,” he gloated. “These are great and honorable positions by the people of Jerusalem, which will ebb and flow until the outbreak of the decisive intifada that will end the occupation and raise the flag of Palestine over Jerusalem’s mosques and churches, and over the walls of liberated Jerusalem.”
Echoing Arafat’s ominous threat to sacrifice millions of “martyrs” in order to hoist the Palestinian flag over Jerusalem’s walls, Odeh upped his rhetoric once Hamas triggered the fourth war with Israel in a decade by firing missiles on its capital city as Israelis were celebrating Jerusalem Day (May 10). Having long proclaimed the supremacy of the Israeli Arabs’ Palestinian identity over their Israeli citizenship,63 he praised their violent assault on their Jewish compatriots in support of Hamas as “a stand of glory and belonging.” “Nothing will separate us,” he stated. “We are one people, and we’ll support the most righteous cause in the world until the end of the occupation and the establishment of the state of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.
He amplified this message on numerous occasions in the coming days, misrepresenting the rapidly spreading Arab violence across Israel’s cities as both patriotic support for their Gaza brethren and an act of self-defense against “settler attacks” backed by the “fascist security forces” on Israel’s Arab citizens.65 “When we are united and struggle together we [may] lose one day, yet win a lifetime by asserting our dignity and status,” he proudly stated as the Gaza war and the violence across Israel’s cities entered their second week. “Our people wrote glorious days over the past week, especially the young ones who showed admirable fierce nationalism. We acted like a united people committed to a collective decision—[this] is a great value that greatly strengthens our people’s position.”
Not to be outshone by his peer, Tibi applauded the escalating Temple Mount violence as a heroic defense of al-Aqsa by “the youth of Jerusalem and the youth of the ‘inside’ [i.e., Israel’s Arab community]” against the “occupation forces” and “occupation police.” When Hamas missiles began falling on Israeli towns and villages, Tibi uttered no word against this indisputable war crime and instead praised the spreading Arab violence across Israel’s cities as “underscoring our unity with our Palestinian people, with the just cause, with our blessed al-Aqsa Mosque, with our people in Sheikh Jarrah, and against the killing of children in Gaza.”67 In the next 10 days, as thousands of Hamas missiles continued to batter Israel’s population centers, Tibi vehemently defended the terrorist assault on his country of citizenship as a “just struggle against occupation,” ignoring altogether that the Gaza population has been living under PA rule since May 1994 and under Hamas rule since 2007. In his account, Israel has never intended to release its grip of the Palestinians and has used the decades-long peace negotiations as a ploy to sustain the “occupation” by other means, which fully justified the continuation of Palestinian “resistance.”
Even Mansour Abbas, head of the Islamist Ra’am party, who sought to keep a low profile so as to avoid alienating his Jewish partners during negotiations on the formation of a “government of change” that would oust PM Benjamin Netanyahu, didn’t shrink from whitewashing the scope and intensity of Arab violence by putting it on a par with the handful of violent Jewish responses. In a letter to Netanyahu on May 25, Abbas and his fellow Ra’am MKs condemned the detention of some 1,500 suspected rioters as a deliberate act of collective punishment aimed at intimidating and suppressing Arab youth—“an indigenous group entitled to special protection under international law”—and demanded the immediate suspension of the ongoing police campaign to bring rioters to justice.
End of Part Nine
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