For, while Ra’am (and, for that matter, the Joint List, which may well join the ruling coalition once the floodgates to participation by anti-Israel parties in government have been thrown open) will undoubtedly be able to extort short-term gains that will further erode Israel’s sovereignty and governability over the Arab sector, this development is bound to intensify Israeli Arab radicalization and Jewish frustration, and will put the two communities on a collision course before too long. Writes Efraim Karsh
The May 2021 Israeli Arab riots, like their October 2000 precursor, were not an act of social protest but a nationalist/Islamist insurrection in support of an external attack. It was not socioeconomic grievances that drove the Israeli Arabs to wreak wanton violence on their Jewish compatriots for the second time in 20 years but the growing radicalization attending the decades-long betterment of their socioeconomic condition. The more prosperous, affluent, better educated, and politically aware the Israeli Arabs have become, the greater their leadership’s incitement against their state of citizenship—to the point where many ordinary Arabs have come to openly challenge their minority existence in the Jewish State.
Of course, many Israeli Arabs would still be content to get on with their lives and take advantage of the freedoms and opportunities afforded by Israel, no matter how much they might resent their minority status in a Jewish state. This has been evidenced inter alia by their vociferous protests whenever Israeli politicians propose the inclusion of frontier Arab-Israeli settlements in a future Palestinian state as part of a land ex- change within the framework of a peace agreement. Indeed, even many East Jerusalemites, who are entitled to Israeli social benefits and are free to travel across Israel’s pre-1967 borders, would rather become citizens of the Jewish state than citizens of a new Palestinian one.
Yet from the onset of the Arab-Israeli conflict a century ago, Palestinian Arab society has always contained militant segments that were large enough to allow its perennially extremist leadership to sway the silent majority into repeated disasters. Just as Hajj Amin Husseini and Yasser Arafat immersed their hapless subjects in disastrous conflicts that culminated in their collective undoing and continued statelessness in total disregard of the massive material gains attending Arab-Jewish coexistence, so Israel’s Arab leaders used their constituents’ vast socioeconomic progress over the past decades as a vehicle of radicalization rather than moderation.
Contrary to the celebratory media hype, Ra’am’s inclusion in the motley ruling coalition established after the May 2021 riots signifies the continuation of this dangerous trend rather than the growing Israelization of the country’s Arab community. This is not the first time an Arab party has joined a ruling Israeli coalition: the now-defunct United Arab List (UAL—not to be confused with today’s Joint List) participated in the Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin governments as early as 1974-77.71 Yet while the UAL’s cabinet membership, let alone that of Labor and Likud Arab ministers and deputy ministers, implied acquiescence in Israel’s Jewish nature (as did outside support by small Arab parties in the 1950s and 1960s), Ra’am is an Islamist party that rejects the idea of a Jewish state altogether. Its participation in the ruling coalition is nothing but an opportunistic ploy to strengthen the position of the Arab sector, especially the Bedouin community that constitutes its electoral mainstay, vis-à-vis the state without accepting its legitimacy. Hence its categorical insistence on legitimizing the illegal Bedouin settlements in the Negev that have effectively stymied government sovereignty over vast tracts of that desert—which comprises nearly two-thirds of Israel’s total territory—and made them no-go zones for Israeli Jews.72 And hence its threat of a religious war should Jews be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount—Judaism’s holiest site—and insistence that “the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, with all its 144 dunums area [i.e., the entire Temple Mount], is an exclusive Muslim possession and no one else has any rights there.”
Dating back to Hajj Amin Husseini’s 1920s exploitation of the Temple Mount as the foremost rallying cry for anti-Jewish violence, and to Arafat’s denial of the existence of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, this denial of the Jews’ millenarian attachment to their holiest site, and by extension to the Land of Israel, is a sad testament to how little the Palestinian/Israeli Arab leaders have progressed over the past century.
By predicating its precarious existence on an anti-Zionist party seeking Israel’s eventual transformation into an Arab/Muslim state, the June 2021 motley government has set an extremely dangerous precedent—not only for the strength and well-being of Israeli democracy (i.e., a government headed by marginal parties enjoying minuscule electoral support), but also for the future of Arab-Israeli relations in Israel. For, while Ra’am (and, for that matter, the Joint List, which may well join the ruling coalition once the floodgates to participation by anti-Israel parties in government have been thrown open) will undoubtedly be able to extort short-term gains that will further erode Israel’s sovereignty and governability over the Arab sector, this development is bound to intensify Israeli Arab radicalization and Jewish frustration, and will put the two communities on a collision course before too long.
End of Part Ten and Concluded
Blitz is neither an Israeli State nor Jewish owned or sponsored publication. It is an independent journal which has been publishing the truth under extreme adversities since 2003. Editor of this newspaper, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury served seven-years rigorous imprisonment for the ‘crimes’ of denouncing anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial; for confronting radical Islam and militancy; for promoting interfaith harmony; and for defending the State of Israel
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