Take Control, You’re the Majority

The world accuses Israel of violence, racism, discrimination and violating international law; but in fact, only a small, vocal and over-represented minority is responsible for that reputation.

Shaul Arieli
Shaul Arieli
An Israeli flag is seen in front of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim.
An Israeli flag is seen in front of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim.Credit: AP
Shaul Arieli
Shaul Arieli

The rage against Israel throughout the world over the military operation in the Gaza Strip brings into sharp relief the paradox of the “collective punishment” the international community applies against Israelis. The world accuses Israel as a whole of violence, racism, discrimination and violating international law, while in fact it is a small minority of Israelis who are responsible for that reputation. Most Israelis become accomplices against their will.

Only one out of 20 Israelis will answer yes at passport control in Costa Rica, for example, when asked whether they live in the occupied territories, or in East Jerusalem — considered a violation of the international covenants that prohibit a state from moving its citizens into territory it has occupied.

Only one out of every 10,000 Israelis — if he is not hiding behind a fake address within Israel — will answer the question posed by a European Union customs officer by saying that he exports products made in the settlements. For the rest of the Israelis, the label “Made in Israel” will be truthful, thus prevent a boycott of their products.

Only three out of 10 Israelis believe that there is no such thing as the Palestinian people and are opposed to any permanent arrangement that involves dividing the land between the two nations. The rest support the two-state solution, as long as the division is carried out in accordance with the recognized parameters of the Clinton plan, the Annapolis Conference and the Geneva Initiative.

Only seven out of 20 Israelis would oppose the evacuation of isolated settlements in the West Bank as part of a peace agreement, or a total freeze on settlement construction until an agreement is reached. Only one would join them were a proposal for unilateral evacuation to be introduced. All the rest favor a reorganization of the settlers within the major settlement blocs, either unilaterally or in the context of a negotiated agreement.

Only two out of 10 Israelis want Israel to become a single state that annexes the West Bank to it and gives equal rights to all inhabitants. Only one would join them if the annexation included depriving the Palestinians of citizenship rights.

Only three out of 10 Israelis would oppose redefining the borders of Jerusalem to exclude the city’s Arab neighborhoods, with their 350,000 inhabitants, and only four would oppose those neighborhoods’ becoming the capital of a future Palestinian state.

This vocal minority, which is small but violent and racist and whose representation in the Knesset and the cabinet exceeds its share in the population, is the one that paints the television screens with the colors of condemnation of Israel and draws its portrait. All the Nobel Prizes, startups and brilliant developments in agriculture and technology pale beside the news reports of settlement expansion, land expropriation, opposition to a peace agreement or terribly extreme incidents, for now, of violent acts toward the Palestinians.

This minority, because of its rejectionist policy, leads Israeli society every year or two toward an escalation in violence for which Israel must pay by defending its home front. Most Israelis enlist in the army, and many of them report for reserve duty.

This is the same majority that naturally also pays the financial price for these conflicts. The middle class and small-business owners are the ones who go through the yearly savings that they had put aside for a family vacation, who labor under a mortgage and the high cost of living and suffer from socioeconomic disparities.

This is the majority which, if it should grow tired of the reality imposed upon it, can bring the other Israel into the light. This is the majority that must reject the prevalent and convenient assertion of those who are fond of the “nation that dwells alone” and “the whole world is against us” agenda and do not distinguish between anti-Semitism and opposition to Israel’s policy. If this majority desires life — a life of the prosperity and recognition it deserves — then it must rise up and say: No more.

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