Israel’s Strategy for the Arab Community: Humiliate and Conquer

There's a rift between the Christian schools and the Arab public schools, but critics should study the DNA of the government, which works in the service of the settlers.

Odeh Bisharat
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Arab students protesting the lack of budgets for Christian schools outside of the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem September 6, 2015. Credit: Emil Salman
Odeh Bisharat

Day by day the people at the Education Ministry grew angrier at the church schools. On Saturday, the day before the agreement was to be signed, the ministry voided the understandings and brought out the doomsday weapon: It withheld funding and the salaries of striking teachers.

Actually, I understood the officials at the Education Ministry. After all, the longer the strike, the more the schools’ achievements came out: a high percentage of students passing the matriculation exams, and the training of scientists, doctors and lawyers.

But all the while the people responsible for Arab education in the public schools are mired in depressing reality, with the achievements of the Christian system highlighting the failures of the Arab public system. Instead of learning from them and praising them, one side crosses the red line.

What spin and mudslinging went on, straight from the Education Ministry to the leaders of the Christian schools’ fight, all to discredit a just struggle. The Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the fourth Caliph, said on this matter: “Speak the truth when their intent is falsehood.” After all, if there’s some truth to the rumors,  the intent wasn’t to fix anything, but to incite and divide.

This strike is a groundbreaking struggle for the Arab community in Israel. For the first time it’s waging a long-term fight at the national level. One possible result of such open-ended struggles is total failure, so the strikers’ achievements in this complicated situation must not be taken lightly.

The struggle is also groundbreaking because those who linked up with a right-wing government realized at the moment of truth that for this government, “you’re all Arabs.” There's no difference between a Muslim, a Christian and a Druze.

Now, alongside a sigh of relief, criticism is heard because the strikers didn’t attain all their demands. My advice to critics is to study the DNA of the government, which works in the service of the settlers. If the church schools were some “division” — like the Settlement Division of the World Zionist Organization — the 50 million shekels they received would have ballooned to 200 million shekels, more than $50 million.

And this isn’t directed at Arabs exclusively. Our high school teachers, Jews and Arabs, endured a long strike more than a decade ago and emerged by the skin of their teeth.

In contrast, the reality on the ground justifies the investment in the Settlement Division. Thanks to the money that flows there, a marvelous hilltop youth has come into being, destroyers of Arab vineyards, price-taggers, settlers setting fields on fire. And recently we’ve also been blessed by setters setting Palestinian children on fire.

But beyond it all the basis of the struggle is justice. Justice must be at the basis of every human society. Without it, humanity is distorted and distorts.

Justice isn’t just a material matter — it’s first and foremost a spiritual matter. Poor people who aren’t discriminated against will enjoy good mental health. But if such people feel discriminated against, even if they’re wealthy, they will be filled with bitterness because discrimination humiliates, and humiliation is against human nature.

The humiliating discrimination must stop. I don’t want to live in a place where I’m discriminated against or where I’m favored over others. The privilege of favor humiliates the moral basis of my soul.