So, Where Is All the Money Israel Earmarked for the Arab Community?

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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Israeli Arabs protest a surge in violence and lack of police forces in their communities, March 2021.
Israeli Arabs protest a surge in violence and lack of police forces in their communities, March 2021.Credit: Rami Shllush
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

Of all the items displayed before me as part of the 53-billion-shekel ($16.5 billion) celebration – this is the amount the United Arab List said was promised the Arab community in the coalition negotiations – I chose only a Jaguar automobile. The table set before me was packed with every possible goodie – just rake it in, but I’m not prone to ostentation, modesty is my path in life.

I thought, here the state budget has already been approved, and very soon the era of abundance will begin – the Arabs will rise a few rungs on the ladder of wealth. No longer will chicory, mallow and mujaddara adorn our daily menus – prepare yourselves for caviar, shellfish and the rest of the delicacies known mainly to the French. There was a time when a similar revolution of wealth awaited the Egyptian people. The famous singer Sheikh Imam prepared the people at the time for the wonders of the new era – “instead of gas, we will fill our cars with perfume,” he promised.

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In the meantime, our Jewish brothers are suffering an attack of bitter jealousy, and trying with all their strength to put an end to the joy. Hagai Amit, writing last Wednesday in TheMarker, added up all the sums promised and came to 34.4 billion shekels. Another 18 billion shekels was intended for transportation infrastructure in Arab communities, but was not approved, he explained. So what, 34.5 billion shekels is also quite a nice sum of money for those who were made used to sitting at the end of the table.

But Amit didn’t give up, and continued to cut without mercy: He took off 10.7 billion shekels – which was already allocated to the Arabs during the Netanyahu government in cabinet resolution 922 in 2015. Then he took off another 5 billion shekels that was allocated on Netanyahu’s watch to the Bedouin community, the Druze Arab community and the Circassian community. What’s left, for now, is just 18 billion shekels. Hey guys, where has my Jaguar disappeared to?

Did you think that’s the end of the story? You’re wrong. Write it down: About half of the 18 billion shekels “is not anchored in budgetary agreements, and depends on the good will of government ministries,” Amit whispered to us. That is why I’m asking in all seriousness: With all due respect, what’s wrong with a bicycle? You can ride them in the fresh air, near nature. We have missed you, Mother Earth.

But now it is my turn to ruin the party. Why is the cost of fighting crime in Arab communities listed in its budget, as if it was considered a governmental indulgence? Is the cost of fighting crime in Tel Aviv credited to the budget of the municipality? They are ignoring your safety – see the revelations of Moshe Nussbaum on Channel 12 News, that the “criminals in the Arab community are mostly collaborators of the Shin Bet and so they are immune” – and after that they ask you to pay the bill. So now reduce it by another 2.5 billion shekels.

In that case, the “enormous” accomplishment of the United Arab List totals just 6.5 billion shekels. In comparison, without being the “balance of power,” and without any commitment to government decisions, the Joint List in 2015 received 15 billion shekels for development in the Arab community, another 3 billion in 2017, and 2 billion more in 2019 – in other words, 20 billion shekels, and at a time when the Joint List’s supporters demonstrated against the Netanyahu government, waved all their banners against the occupation, settlements and the blockade of Gaza on high – and these days its leadership is enjoying the chilled ice cream of Ben & Jerry’s. They are acting exactly the way the legendary freedom fighter, boxer Muhammad Ali did – float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

For dessert, and leave aside the billions directed for the occupation, here is another tiny sum, which for some reason has been hidden from sight: In a different story Amit tells us that the state budget includes an allocation of 400 million shekels for Torah institutions, which are involved in redeeming the land in the occupied territories and also in mixed cities (TheMarker, August 3, 2021).

And I wonder: Why in the total amount is this sum not listed on behalf of the Arab community? How lofty it is – to liberate the Arabs from their land, and the land from the Arabs!

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