Sometimes I feel doubtful of the wisdom of Arabs in relation to the way we have been dealing the Arab-Israeli conflict. In one hand, we raise our voices everywhere demanding more rights and protection for the Palestinians while on the other hand we abandon, ignore and neglect what we call Arab 48.
Israeli-Palestinians, Arab-Israel, or Arab 48 form around 20% of the Israeli population (that is around 1.5 million). They are a large minority in a country that claims to be a heaven of democracy in the middle east. That is of-course a big fat lie, for anyone living in Israel, it is well known that some animals are more equal than others. That kind of discrimination, and while pretty severe in Israel, is not explicit for that country. For instance, Jordan has been accused for not being fair towards its citizens of Palestinians origins in regard of government and military representation, but that issue of discrimination is a whole other story that is not the reason of why I am writing this blog post.
It is well known that minorities in any given society are usually subjected to one kind of discrimination or another, that has usually lead to a kind of solidarity between the members of the sub-society that forms that minority, and with some kind of a stable protected environment such minorities has usually been able to build some kind of power, whether it is economical like christians in Jordan or political like Jews in the USA.
This hasn’t been the case of Arab-Israel, maybe partly it has to do with the severity of discrimination and negligence of any kind of development provided for the Arab communities by the state of Israel, but also it has to do with the abandonment of the other Arab states. In a way an Arab-Israeli is treated as an Israeli in all of the Arab countries. In countries like Lebanon for instance, there is a law the imprison any Lebanese citizen for dealing with any Israeli citizen which includes Arab-Israeli.
It is a pretty complicated matter, for some Arabs, those Palestinians who stayed in their homes and agreed to hold an Israeli nationality, are traitors. I can’t understand this logic, for my own mind, I do see the other side of the coin, where those Palestinians who stayed in Israel are heros. They are the ones who are keeping the Palestinian and Arab identity alive in Israel today.
With the continues systematic assault of Israel to erase that Arab identity, it should be an obligation for the rest of the Arabs to open their arms to their follow brothers. It should be in our best interest to empower that minority in Israel that should play a bigger role in the politics of Israel locally and regionally.
Have any of us imagined the state of national identity of Arab-48? Trying to hold to their Arab and Palestinian identity in a country where everything feels foreign?
A friend of mine, a Palestinian-Israeli, explained to me how happy she was when she came to Amman for the first time of her life. “They are Arabs like us”, she felt a sense of belonging, a similarity of culture and language that connects us in a very deep way. She has also explained to me how much it hurts to realize that those Arabs who should be their bigger family, refuse to welcome them for their Israeli nationality.
The question that we should all ask ourselves:
Where is the wisdom of abandoning Arab-Israel, in dealing with our conflict with the state of Israel? Have we thought of the harm our boycott policy and economical sanctions we inflict on those Arabs with our boycotting of Israel? and in the state of war, how much Arabs in Israel would be at risk in the same way other Arabs are at risk in the Arab country at war?
We also need to identify what do we really want out of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Is it a political play of identities where we want to preserve that Arab identity of that area? or is it the people that concern us the most? Is it purely a land issue?
Maybe it is time to re-value our strategies in regards of dealing with Arab-Israel, especially now at a time where Abbas is calling for a Palestinian State, and the risks such state put on those Palestinians living in Israel, where Israel might seize that chance to force another horrible big transfer!