In 1941, the tremendous Egyptian singer and musician, Mohammed Abdel Wahab, sang “Al-Karnak” for the first time. The song, dedicated to the vast pharaonic site that was built and expanded by many kings, was written by the poet Ahmed Fathi, who wrote the words to many of Abdel Wahab’s songs. The tune was written by the musician himself.
One of the lines in this immortal song says: “I roam without destination, and how long my roamings are.”
That is precisely the situation in which we, Arabs with Israeli citizenship, find ourselves.
In short, we’ve have utterly lost our way, a situation which stems, above all, from an absence of leadership.
The present intifada is the third during my lifetime thus far, and the number of wars in Gaza is greater than 10. I categorically reject the romantic soubriquet that the Jews give to some of their wars, “operation,” which aims mainly to give the fighters on the Israeli side the feeling that this is a short “trip” – we eliminate the “terror” and go home. There’s naturally no need to mention “operations” that encountered complications, and how Israel looked for ways to exit the imbroglio, mainly by turning to the Egyptians.
If we may attach an Israeli name to the 2021 intifada, nothing is more suitable than “Springtime of Youth 2.” It began in the summer of 2021; its leaders on the ground are violent teenagers, both Jewish and Arab; and it blends in well with the overall violent atmosphere in the Middle East, known as the “Arab Spring.”
In my humble opinion, for Israel’s Arab citizens, this intifada comes in the wake of a total loss of the way, in terms of both education and values; and incidents at the Al-Aqsa Mosque always have been, and always will be, an excellent spark for igniting intifadas (see the events of October 2000.) The present events were ignited at a time when violence is raging in Arab society, in which acts of vandalism and the destruction of public property are a daily sight. That means that the idealized reasons offered by the Arab interviewees in this newspaper, when they explained what sent them out to the streets prior to the escalation, is another chapter in the “1001 Nights” (“We can’t remain silent any longer,” Haaretz, May 13).
- Israeli oppression united Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line
- ‘We can’t remain silent any longer’
- 'There's systematic expulsion of Arab society in Israel, and we've reached a boiling point'
The leadership of Arab society, and in particular the Joint List following its defeat in the election, is still in shock, and its declarations and acts show as much. On the one hand they are proud Palestinians, and on the other hand they support Naftali Bennett, one of the most extremist right-wing leaders and a declared enemy of the Arabs, and meet with Rabbi Chaim Druckman, one of the original founders of the settlements and everything in the universe that is anti-Arab.
The failure of the leaders of Arab society in the battle against the internal violence is their most outstanding trademark, and from this point, it’s a short road to blaming “everything that moves” – the State of Israel, the police, the occupation and more; everything but the true cause of violence: the Arabs themselves, and their itchy trigger fingers. If that is not the case, let the heads of the Arab public explain why rank-and-file Arab civilians possess about 400,000 thousand illegal weapons, according to their own statements.
Vandalism and damage to public property are very characteristic of Arab society in Israel – from throwing garbage in all the areas surrounding their communities to real destruction of the facilities built by local governments. In Kafr Kara a public park was destroyed a night after its inauguration. In Umm al-Fahm, signs with street names were destroyed.
There is no way to explain the motive for these things, except for noting that this is the mentality of people who enjoy this way of life, in the absence of leadership.
The Arab public leadership can shout as much as it likes – it isn’t the Israel Police’s job to place a policeman next to every bench in a public park or every street sign. That means that the present damage to traffic lights, signs and other objects in the public domain, is in no way related to the protest or to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
All the traffic lights from Kafr Kara up to Umm al-Fahm on Highway 65 have been destroyed. Going onto the highway from the surrounding communities has become a real nightmare. Just to clarify that this really is vandalism for its own sake, those traveling on the road should pay attention to the dozens of vehicles – belonging to Arabs – that have been set on fire all along the highway, and whose owners only sin was that they parked them in the wrong place at the wrong time, in the opinion of the rioters.
In addition, how will the leadership of “the protest” and the various supporters of Al-Aqsa explain the stoning of ambulances that came to evacuate wounded Arabs? How will they explain the damage to the electricity and communications infrastructure in the communities themselves? After all, damaging the electricity grid in Ara hurts its residents only, not the residents of Hadera.
In conclusion, there is no question that the violence and racism in Jewish society have escalated. The failure of the Public Security Minister and his police force is total. But on second thought we can reasonably assume that the rioting of the rampaging right resembles what they told us in the high school in Hadera about the pogroms in Russia. Somebody, who apparently benefits from the chaos, is providing direction, hoping to put off the last act: trial and prison. It’s hard to dismiss the feeling that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to form a government is related to the present intifada. And as in all the previous rounds, Hamas – the best friend of Netanyahu and the suitcases of money that he transfers to it – is there in order to set the fires and save him.
But what is more serious than its mobilization to help Netanyahu, is the fact that the Arabs in Israel are being dragged into the organization’s war games. Stop this insanity now. We, Arabs and Jews, want to live here together.