The recent riots on the Temple Mount instigated by the Islamic Movement force us again to turn our attention to the Israeli Arab community. How many times does it need to be said that the most important challenge facing Israel is the integration of Israel's Arab citizens into Israeli society? That the government needs to place priority on providing a climate where Israel's Arab citizens enjoy not only equal rights, but also equal opportunities, and share equally with the Jewish citizens of Israel the obligations of citizenship. In other words, that they feel at home in Israel. How often does it need to be repeated that a large minority community that feels alienated from the country it lives in is dangerous to all concerned?
The explanation for the years of neglect by Israeli governments are two-fold. The "law" of Israeli governance is that you do the urgent first and the important later. Setting a policy for the integration of Israel's Arab citizens may be important, but compared to the multitude of problems constantly facing the government, it does not seem urgent.
Second, there is the false belief that once Israel has reached an agreement with the Palestinians, the problem of Israel's Arab citizens will solve itself. Some even argue that it can only be dealt with at that time. This is hardly self-evident. There is no law of physics, or for that matter of political science, if it can be called a science, that links the two issues. On the contrary, it seems that when and if an agreement is reached with the Palestinians, the integration of Israel's Arab citizens, if not resolved by that time, will become even more difficult to resolve than it is now.
Many of Israel's Arab citizens appreciate the fact they live in a democratic society, which provides many educational opportunities, where the rule of law prevails, and where women have been liberated. It is therefore doubly painful to them to sense that there is no full equality for them, that in many areas they are discriminated against.
But there is an Arab movement that does not share that feeling at all, that does not seek equality in Israel, and whose objective it is to destroy the State of Israel. That is the Islamic Movement, an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
It is actively engaged in inciting the Arab population to hate Israel and its Jewish citizens. Frequently the incitement leads to riots like the recent ones in Jerusalem.
Every year the movement holds a mass rally in Umm al-Fahm under the banner "the Al-Aqsa Mosque is in danger." The rally is attended by tens of thousands and there the lie is spread that Israel is planning to destroy the Muslim holy site, and that Israel's Muslims and Muslims throughout the world must mobilize to prevent this sacrilege.
The fact that Israel scrupulously provides for freedom of worship at all holy sites does not matter to them. The lie is being spread and believed by many.
A few years ago the Islamic Movement initiated the building of a mosque in Nazareth opposite the Church of the Annunciation, a Christian holy site, announcing that this mosque was going to tower over the church. The whole project was illegal: There was no building permit. Nevertheless, construction began, and prayers were already being held on the building site.
It was only after much hesitation that the government finally insisted on enforcing the law and prohibited the pursuit of this grandiose project, designed to spread hate between the Muslim and Christian communities.
In working toward the integration of Israel's Arab citizens in Israel's society, the government must clearly differentiate between law-abiding citizens and those who are working to undermine the State of Israel.
The Islamic Movement is a subversive organization that is attempting to undermine the State of Israel. Most of the Israeli Arabs who have engaged or planned to engage in acts of terror were members of the Islamic Movement and products of its educational institutions. It is a movement engaged in sedition - inciting to rebellion against the authority of the state.
Sedition is unlawful, and the Islamic movement should be declared illegal. That would not only avert a growing danger but also send a clear signal to Israel's Arab citizens that respect for the law and the country's institutions is an essential element in the process of integration into Israeli society.
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