Hey Right-wingers, the Arabs Are Staying

The ultra-nationalists are dreaming about ethnic cleansing, Armageddon, anything. Any miracle will do. But no miracle will happen.

Gideon Levy
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Israeli Arabs commemorate the October 2000 riots in Kafr Kana, October 1, 2010. Credit: Reuters

The main news first: The Arabs are here to stay, even if our most ultra-nationalist politicians keep rising.

They’re here even if Avigdor Lieberman becomes president and prime minister; Naftali Bennett becomes foreign and defense minister; Yariv Levin becomes minister of justice, enlightenment and morality; Itamar Ben-Gvir becomes interior and public security minister; Miri Regev becomes culture minister; and “the Shadow” — rapper Yoav Eliasi — becomes strategic affairs minister. Even if all this happened, the Arabs would stay.

The Arabs of 1948 are staying, as are those of 1967. The Arabs in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and the entire region – they stay where they are. Israel’s dream for them to somehow wither away will never happen. They won’t leave, they won’t be expelled. They’re here forever. It’s their sumud, their steadfastness.

With the demise of the two-state dream, brought about in part by the characters listed above, Israel should consider what to do. It’s the ultra-nationalists, those Arab-lovers, who are doing everything to ensure the establishment of one big state including Arabs. It’s they who should be concerned about this shocking news.

They should be spearheading attempts to improve relations with the Arabs in order to be accepted in the region. They, who didn’t want two states and will most likely get only one, must understand that this state will be like Yugoslavia, if not Somalia, unless they quickly take action to become more accepted by their unwanted neighbors, the steadfast ones.

They should be the legions fighting in defense of the language — Arabic, naturally. They should be imparting the heritage — that of the Nakba, obviously. By all means possible, they should be combating the discrimination against Israel’s Arabs and the displacement of Arabs in the occupied territories.

As soon as they realize that the Arabs are here to stay, they should think about our shared future, shouldn’t they? As soon as it’s clear we’ll be living in the shared dwelling you wished for, dear annexationists, we should think about our shared future. We’ll need a residents’ committee and a treasurer; we’ll have to take turns cleaning the stairwell.

This is what you wanted, wasn’t it? One-fifth of this country’s inhabitants are staying – they can’t be shoved into a corner more than they have been already. If you want another two to three million from the West Bank, please behave accordingly. This is want you wanted – you’ve won, so go for it. Start taking your plan seriously.

This, of course, is wishful thinking. The ultra-nationalists still believe that if only they made Palestinian lives more miserable, abusing both Israeli citizens and subjects of the occupation, beating and humiliating them, killing and arresting them, maybe a miracle would happen and they’d disappear.

Things will somehow turn out well, perhaps a voluntary or involuntary transfer, perhaps ethnic cleansing, Armageddon, anything. Any miracle will do. But no miracle will happen.

So what is to be done, dear right-wingers? What goes through your minds when you proclaim that it’s all ours, that Hebron is ours forever and Nazareth is a Jewish city? Apartheid? That won’t work. Transfer?

The world won’t allow it. Do you think the Arabs will surrender — that they’ll grovelingly accept being sixth-class citizens forever, or residents of the West Bank with no rights? This has no precedent in history.

What would happen if people on the right changed their habits and, for once, thought a few years ahead? What kind of country do they want? What sort of relations? What are their plans? What are their conclusions?

You don’t have to argue with them, only ask them a simple question: What will be here? Let’s say we happily embrace their teachings, eagerly adopt their vision, and everything becomes for Jews only, as they so fervently wish. What will happen here? What about the Arabs?

Actually, the right doesn’t worry about such trivia. Deep in its heart it still believes that the problems will all go away. In the meantime, Haaretz columnist Rogel Alpher is leaving but Mohammed is staying. He’ll be here long after us.