The Shin Bet in Our Beds

The Arabs say to themselves: Let’s resign ourselves to the discrimination - it's more merciful than the flood of incitement we will get if we fight it.

Saja Abu Fanni
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Saja Abu Fanni

With no connection to the election results in Nazareth, which Ali Salam won by a decisive majority in the second round, the disturbing question is: Did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, through the head of the Shin Bet security service and the attorney general, try to influence the outcome of that election? That is what Yael Gvirtz’s article in Yedioth Ahronoth on March 10 would indicate.

Gvirtz writes that Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and their partners had an interest in Salam winning the election and that “to prepare the election, the head of the Shin Bet and the attorney general were mobilized as well ... [The latter] sent, at the request of those who employed him, an urgent letter to the Supreme Court demanding a repeat hearing ‘due to allegations of forgeries’ − even though claims of forgery never came up in court during the appeal of the election results, nor was a complaint lodged with the police.”

If this had happened in Tel Aviv there would have been an uproar of inestimable force, and it is possible that everyone involved, including the prime minister, would have been thrown out of office. But the Arabs are a different story. Nobody gets excited over the long romance that has been going on between them and the Shin Bet.

The Shin Bet has been involved in all aspects of the lives of Israel’s Arab citizens. Its people settled in our homes, nested between our bedsheets, interfered between father and son and between husband and wife. So it is only natural that the Shin Bet should be dealing with the Negev Bedouin’s protest against the Prawer plan, nor is it surprising that even Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, the former head of the National Security Council, was involved in the discussions about the Prawer plan − as if the issue had to do with the Iranian nuclear plant at Bushehr rather than the unrecognized Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb.

It is natural because when there is an intention to apply the state’s Jewish character to the Negev sands, it is obvious that those who sabotage this national plan must be treated in the same way as a foreign agent working to undermine the state’s foundations. In a situation like this, the fact that all the Bedouin did was come out in defense of their homes is irrelevant.

The time has come to recognize that depriving Arabs is the flip side of giving preferential treatment to Jews in Israel. When the State of Israel’s goal is to “redeem” the nationally-owned land in the Galilee, there is no alternative but to treat the mayor of Sakhnin’s request to expand his city’s limits as a malicious plan to undermine the country’s existence, no matter that all the man wanted was to make life better for his city’s residents.

On the same day as it was reported that Shin Bet officials were investigating and issuing warnings to Bedouin active in the protest against the Prawer plan, TheMarker ran two pertinent items. One reported profound discrimination in the allocation of funds to Arab local councils, while the other spoke of the bleak situation of Arab children. It may be said with absolute certainty that the Shin Bet is meddling here, too. After all, it is hardly likely that all the clerks in the government’s ministries are evil Arab-haters. Someone is standing behind the curtain, controlling the valve that determines the proper dose to make sure that the Arabs remain far behind − just like the Shin Bet official who interferes in the appointment of Arab teachers.

The Arabs themselves are supposed to accept the discrimination as a kind of background item in a country not meant for them. If we look closely at the accomplishments made in the country, we will see that they are fragmented and not continuous: the freeing up of a few dunams here, a production facility there. And that is why development in the Arab sector looks like patches on a garment that is threadbare and falling apart.

It is not only the establishment that opposes the Arabs. Public opinion is also hostile to their struggle − so much so that the Arabs say to themselves: All right then, let’s resign ourselves to the discrimination, since discrimination is more merciful than the flood of incitement we will get if we fight it.

On Land Day in 1976 the Arabs came out to demonstrate against the massive wave of land expropriations. The government suppressed the protest brutally, and six young men were killed. This was portrayed as though the Arabs had undermined the country’s existence.

“Welcome to the Jewish Knesset,” the prime minister said to his British guest last week. Well, today it’s the “Jewish Knesset,” tomorrow it will be the “Jewish Negev” and later on it will be the “Jewish Galilee” − until it becomes the “Jewish Greater Israel.” But don’t worry: the Arabs are here, among other things, to save the Jews from their own crazies.

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