Avigdor Lieberman's campaign slogan "no loyalty, no citizenship" keeps popping up in a different context. For example, another Yisrael Beiteinu politician, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, couldn't bear the thought of the cabinet earmarking some NIS 800 million to develop infrastructure and services in the Arab community, so he hastened to pull the campaign slogan out of the racist archive.
"We can't allow the state's financial support for minorities to be handed to a community whose leaders are loyal to Israel's enemies," Misezhnikov said about a plan drafted by Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman.
The plan approved by the cabinet yesterday is a good one, even if too modest for the Arab community's needs. It focuses on creating jobs at a cost of NIS 220 million, upgrading transportation to the tune of NIS 100 million and developing land for building some 15,000 housing units at an investment of NIS 316 million. The state will also invest around NIS 150 million in a program to reduce violence in several Arab towns.
But Misezhnikov and Yisrael Beiteinu, whose ministers voted against the plan, aren't interested in the needs of one-fifth of Israel's population. The minister and his party see the Arab public as a fifth column, active and potential spies, whose sole desire is to bring about the destruction of Israel - their country.
Opinion polls show that at least 72 percent of Arab teenagers see themselves as citizens of Israel and recognize its right to exist as a Jewish state. This does not convince Yisrael Beiteinu, the party that is causing Israel such great damage. When this party's leader, who unfortunately is our foreign minister, said about the Arab minority that "leniency is suicide," we cannot expect a less racist approach from his representatives in the cabinet.
The Arab minority in Israel deserves to have the historic injustice of Israel's discriminatory policy toward it amended in a way that closes the gaps between its living conditions and those of the Jewish majority. It deserves equal opportunities, even if they come appallingly late. The cabinet did well to adopt the development plan and push the Yisrael Beiteinu ministers who objected to it into the dark corner where they belong.
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