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To Trump, Israel's Arabs Are Objects

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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Israeli Arab residents of Baka al-Garbiyeh protesting President Donald Trump's peace plan, Feb 1, 2020
Residents of Baka al-Garbiyeh protesting President Donald Trump's peace plan, this weekend. Advocating the transfer of the Israeli Arab community to a prison.Credit: Rami Shllush
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

The section of U.S. President Donald Trump’s peace plan about the possibility of the Israeli Arab "Triangle" communities joining a Palestinian state testifies to an attitude that sees people as objects, as animals, or in the best case, as slaves.

That last reading almost certainly informed the esteemed members of the U.S. peace team when they came up with this crazy idea. At the glitzy party held last week in the White House, it was possible to see many spiritual grandchildren of slaveowners, who carry this tradition in their veins, even if that accursed era ended long ago.

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I saw delighted people, dressed up in their fancy coats and ties. And I wondered how such people could feel the pain of the Palestinian in the refugee camps or in the shade of the barrier that separates him from his land. Or of the Palestinian living within Israel, where racist groups are closing in on him from every side.

Such people – after they seal the fate of simple people across the seas – will go on to the next cocktail party to seal the fates of miserable people inside the United States, too. They'll jail the children of immigrants. Or impose sanctions on yet another rebellious country, and cause real starvation among its unfortunate citizens.

This is the essence of the new "broker" who sits in the White House. Donald Trump does not see people; he sees objects or slaves. For now, his goal is to be reelected, by all means necessary. The day is not far off when he will turn his back on the Jews of the United States, too. In his next term, he will also no longer need the evangelicals; the election will already be behind him.


Now the schadenfreude of the extremists in Israel has reached new heights, as if the Arabs prefer to live in the State of Israel and not in their own state, despite the fact that they keep stressing their national attachment to the Palestinian people. The extremists say: What do you want? After all, you are moving along with your homes, land and property – why should you refuse?

So let us assume that this is what will be, and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or whoever takes his place, will not have any second thoughts and at the last minute leave “just” the land inside Israel – the question is whether any stone will be left unturned in what will be called the “Palestinian state.”

So what we're talking about is the transfer of ownership from a country where the Arabs are discriminated against but still citizens, to a country that is more a prison surrounded by barbed wire fences and split up by checkpoints – and where the bedrooms of its prisoners are subject to nighttime visits of soldiers from the neighboring country.

What is this schadenfreude about? Instead of being embarrassed about what you've done to your neighbors – starved them, crippled them and expelled them, until even Donald Trump lamented their situation – you come and boast.

This is where I recall Al-Samaw'al (Samuel) Ibn Adiya, the 6th-century Arab poet whose clan converted to Judaism, who said: “It would not harm us that we are few, and our neighbors are honorable, while the neighbor of the many is humiliated.”

So we will agree happily to move to the Palestinian state, if you promise us a country with a strong air force that will prevent bombings by aggressive neighbors; an army that will defend the borders to prevent infiltration and raids; and free passage by air and sea. But a prison? That’s too much.

Someone who's been friendly with a gang of people for 40 days has already become one of them, says the Arab proverb – so how can this look after 72 years? We must admit the truth: There is a great deal of beauty in our shared society, even at the height of the anger over racist incidents. But this will be a test for the good people among the Jews, and they are numerous: To stand up against such unconscionable plans, alongside their Arab brothers. Otherwise, they will not recognize their own faces when they look in the mirror.

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