The Surreal Israeli Nation-state

Arab Israelis are objecting to the threat the bill poses to the equality they don't even have.

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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The Israeli-Arab city of Umm al-Fahm.
The Israeli-Arab city of Umm al-Fahm.Credit: Reuters
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

In the Egyptian play, “The Witness Who Saw Nothing,” Sarhan Abdul-Basir runs to pay his telephone bill. He worries that his telephone will be taken away – even though he doesn’t even have one.

This is the story of Arab-Israeli citizens and the proposed Jewish "nation-state bill": They are objecting to the threat the bill poses to the equality that they don’t actually have.

Therefore, get ready, my dear Arabs, for the expropriation of all the lands that you’ve hidden in the garret and stored under the floor tiles. It’s also time to inform the Agbariah family of Umm al-Fahm, which controls the Dead Sea Works, and the Basharat family of Yafia, which controls Israel Shipyards, that they must return the keys immediately. After all, the assets of the Jewish nation-state belong only to the nation-state’s Jewish families.

Meanwhile, the six Arab members of Knesset will have to resign immediately, particularly Housing and Construction Minister Ahmed Tibi, who has been pouring budgets into places like Taibeh and Jisr a-Zarqa. And they wonder why there’s a housing shortage. At the same time, difficult as it may be, we’re going to have to dismiss all the Arab major-generals in the Israel Defense Forces. How can the IDF win wars if half of the General Staff is Arab, and the Southern Command commander’s name is Ahmed?

It’s also time for those four Arab tycoons and three Arab bank CEOs to go back to playing backgammon in some Nazareth coffee shop. Oh, and the presidents of the three leading universities in the country will have to get used to queuing up nicely at the local Employment Service office.

The nation-state revolution is not going to leave a single stone unturned. From now, say “farewell and good riddance” to the Palestinian flag, while the anthem “Baladi,” will be consigned to the dustbins of history. Finally, instead of the Nakba narrative about the displacement the Arabs suffered in 1948, the children of Israel will learn about the Jewish revolt that liberated the land from foreigners.

It’s time to call a spade, a spade. After the nation-state legislation, the world will have total clarity regarding what state we’re talking about. After all, the way things have been managed here has always been an aggressive expression of the nation-state in all areas of life, except perhaps during the short period of Yitzhak Rabin’s second government. Finally, the nation-state will have a title that befits its grim reality.

That’s why the Arabs are now saying that what’s happening is the best thing that could have happened to them. No more playing hide-and-seek between the theory and reality; we’ve merited the nation-state law.

This law is also good for Jewish democrats, the ones who demanded that we, the Arabs, accept the definition of the state. For our part, we repeatedly stressed that we understood that the State of Israel was established as an expression of the self-determination of the Jewish people, and that we understood that this definition was not merely scenery that gets changed every other day. What’s more, we also said that the problem was not the state’s lack of Jewishness, but its excessive Jewishness, at the expense of democracy and equality.

We told our friends that we knew their intentions were pure, but that the wolf disguised as the kindly grandmother has evil intentions. Today the true face of the right has been exposed, and it’s racist and ugly. That why we say to our Jewish friends, out of a feeling of shared fate: Stop dancing with the wolves.

Still, there is some good news. At the initiative of the Sikkui nonprofit association there was a conference last week of Arab and Jewish local council heads to discuss regional cooperation in the center and the north. The good news comes from among those who bid each other good morning at dawn and say good night to their neighbors at sunset.

After all, at the end of the process, Arabs and Jews will still be living together, and whoever advocates a different vision harms his own people, first and foremost.

But this mutual existence must be based on justice. The source of the anger is discrimination, not poverty. Because discrimination carries within it humiliation, and humiliation is contrary to human nature.

And so, my dear Arabs and Jews: If you are discriminated against, rebel. And if discrimination goes in your favor, also rebel.

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