Partnership With Its Arab Citizens Will Determine Israel's Future

The standing of the Arabs is the visa with which Israelis will be able to enter the world's nations.

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
Joint Arab List leader Ayman Odeh, center with megaphone, and MK Dov Khenin, left with glasses, during a left-wing protest after Palestinian-Israeli violence in Tel Aviv, Israel October 9, 2015. The signs read: 'Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies'.
A left-wing protest after Palestinian-Israeli violence in Tel Aviv, Israel October 9, 2015. The signs read: 'Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies'.Credit: Reuters
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

A terrific battle is raging over the image of the state. Recently the key issue at stake in the confrontation arose, which is this: the standing of the Arab population.

Important topics that have preoccupied the state down the generations have been shunted aside, from the question of who is a Jew to the status of Shabbat, to the Conversion Law. The life-saver for the state turns out to be the position of Arabs.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has raised the issue as strenuously as he could. Speaking over the blood of the victims of the hideous crime in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu declared war on the Arab citizens in the nation of which he is the leader.

The truth is, Netanyahu is second to none in his genius at formulating cutting questions, ones that demand an answer by the enlightened, who cannot hide from it: If you oppose real partnership with the Arab population in shaping the face of the nation, the nation will continue its descent into darkness. And if you support that partnership, the path will be open to a nation whose status in the family of Middle Eastern nations is secure – and forgive the arrogance, but its status in the world as a whole will be secure. The standing of the Arabs is the visa with which Israelis will be able to enter the worlds nations.

It is time for the center to have its say on the matter. When it comes to the Arabs, the difference between the center and the right is that the right operates without moral inhibitions, and proudly states that it has no inhibitions, while the center operates without inhibitions and states, head held high, that it has some. Its a good thing we have Netanyahu, who places Israeli society in front of a mirror with the racist ugliness that has infected it. It makes the job clearer, because racism has to be uprooted. It cant be prettified.

On the other side is the Arab population. Indeed, first of all the symbols: These, including the name of the state, arouse bitter memories for Arabs. After all, it was the State of Israel that destroyed my village, Maalul, under a flag being waved proudly. It is pretty certain that those setting the dynamite sang Hatikva after completing the demolition.

Therefore, putting aside this emotional issue, Arabs are as Israeli as could be. Just look at whats been happening in the last few days. Nashat Melhems father hastened to tell the police that it was his son who carried out the attack in Tel Aviv; the State of Israel rewards him by arresting him and other family members, over and above conducting humiliating searches. Even the family of Yitzhak Rabins murderer was treated more considerately.

Meanwhile, reality, as measured by studies and forecasts, advises us that Israel cannot advance one more step without full Arab participation in the economy. Hence that harbinger of the new reality, in the form of the plan for equitable budgets for Arabs.

The heroes – forgive me for involving pathos in current events – are the top people at the Finance Ministry. They, speaking with the states mouth, not ideology, announced that billions should be allocated to the Arab community. All that Ayman Odeh, Moshe Kahlon, Gila Gamliel and the people of the Sikkuy equal-rights association, Ron Gerlitz and Rawnak Natour, did was interpret the meaning of the faint voice of history for the hearing-impaired. (For the sake of transparency, I am a member of the Sikkuy management).

But the real heroes of the new economic plan are the new Arab generation, which is starting to take its place in the various segments of the economy. Not as suppliers of hummus that racists could cut out at any moment, but as the meat and potatoes of the Israeli economy.

The more it hurts, the louder the screaming – thats Netanyahus situation. A new reality is taking shape before his eyes, and hes the one whos supposed to write the check. Could there be a crueler punishment? Guys, turn the volume up! I want the pleasure of listening to the thunder of historys laughter.

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