As we have seen, this self-incriminatory diagnosis is not only totally misconceived but the inverse of the truth. Israeli Arab violent defiance of the state and its institutions in previous decades had increased, not declined, in tandem with socioeconomic improvement. Indeed, the Arab community’s behavior in the subsequent two decades would further disprove the Orr commission’s conclusions. Writes Efraim Karsh
In a Knesset debate on September 21, 1993, a week after the euphoric signing of the Oslo I Accord on the White House loan, Likud MK Benny Begin warned of the agreement’s likely radicalization of the Israeli Arabs and made an impassioned plea for restraint: “I urge Israel’s non-Jewish citizens in Wadi Ara, the Galilee, and Acre to understand that this agreement will plunge us all into a fundamental instability that might undermine the edifice we have laboriously con- structed for over 40 years.”
This plea proved unavailing. When, in February 1994, a Jewish fanatic murdered 29 Muslims at prayer in Hebron, large-scale riots erupted in numerous Arab localities throughout Israel with mobs battling police for four full days. The scenario repeated itself in April 1996 when dozens of Palestinians in south Lebanon were mistakenly killed in an Israeli bombing of terrorist targets, and yet again in September 1996 when Arafat, capitalizing on the opening of a new exit to an archaeological tunnel in Jerusalem, stirred a fresh wave of mass violence in which 15 Israelis and 58 Palestinians died.
Things came to a head at on September 29, 2000, when Arafat launched his war of terror against Israel. The next day, the “supreme follow-up committee of the heads of Arab municipalities in Israel”—the effective extra-parliamentary leadership of the Israeli Arabs—issued an official statement deriding the killing of seven Palestinian rioters as a “pre- meditated, horrendous massacre” and proclaiming a day of national mourning, strikes, and demonstrations. “The blood of our wounded has mixed with the blood of our people in defending the blessed al-Aqsa and crossed the green line [i.e. the pre-1967 line],” ran the statement. “It does not stand to reason that we’ll remain aloof in the face of the… barbaric actions in Jerusalem and the attempt to desecrate al-Haram al-Sharif and to subject it to Israeli sovereignty.”
Responding to their leadership’s call, on October 1 the Israeli Arabs unleashed a tidal wave of violence against their Jewish compatriots that lasted for a full 10 days and was suppressed with great difficulty and the killing of 13 rioters. “The October 2000 events shook the earth,” read the report of the Orr commission appointed to investigate the causes of the eruption:
They involved thousands of participants in many simultaneous places and the intensity of the violence and aggression was extremely high. Various means of attack were used against civilians and members of the security forces, including Molotov cocktails, metal steel marbles unleashed from slings at high speed, stone throwing by various means, rolling of burning tires and in some cases also live fire. Jews were attacked on the roads merely for being Jewish and their property was vandalized. In a number of instances, they were just inches from death at the hands of rioting mobs; indeed, on one occasion a Jewish citizen was killed. Attempts were made to invade and threaten Jewish localities. Main roads were blocked for prolonged periods of time and traffic to various Jewish localities was severely disrupted, at times even cut off for a long time. The aggression and violence were characterized by great determination, lasted for long periods of time, and persisted even in the face of attempts to stop them through various means of crowd dispersal.
Yet while acknowledging that the riots brought Israel to the verge of full-fledged internecine strife, and rebuking Israeli Arab leaders for failing to direct their grievances to democratic channels and for having delegitimized the state and its institutions in the eyes of their constituents, the commission viewed the riots as essentially an act of social protest attending the “primarily neglectful and discriminatory” handling of the Arab sector by successive Israeli governments.
As we have seen, this self-incriminatory diagnosis is not only totally misconceived but the inverse of the truth. Israeli Arab violent defiance of the state and its institutions in previous decades had increased, not declined, in tandem with socioeconomic improvement. Indeed, the Arab community’s behavior in the subsequent two decades would further disprove the Orr commission’s conclusions.
End of Part Six
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