Opinion |

Protecting Israel’s Arabs Has Become a Matter of Coalition Talks

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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Lawmaker Mansour Abbas entering a meeting in Ramat Gan, last month.
Lawmaker Mansour Abbas entering a meeting in Ramat Gan, last month.Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

What journalist Moshe Nussbaum disclosed on Channel 12 News – that most Arab criminals are collaborators with the Shin Bet security service and therefore enjoy immunity – is something we’ve sensed after every murder of an Arab, every bomb thrown at a home, every shooting that shattered windows. Our hearts said the police and the security services were to blame, but the Israeli public chose to shut its eyes.

This is an internal Arab issue, they said, a matter of mentality, of people without “civic courage.” This is a cruel accusation, a lack of “civic courage,” in the face of criminals with Shin Bet immunity.

Meanwhile, instead of inviting senior law enforcement officials to their studios, TV news shows invited Arab community leaders, rebuked them for not fighting violent crime and asked mayors – who have presumably been threatened themselves – to beg residents to show civic courage, cooperate with the police and report the people who shoot at them. It appears that only shame kept them from asking residents to lock up the criminals, as well.

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The government, for its part, wanted to draft proposals, find funding – 1 billion shekels ($300,000,000) from here, 2 billion from there, 500 million from somewhere else, and public opinion danced to the tune of the blood merchants. The discussion was about how to pay for it. And slowly but surely, the goal of protecting Israel’s Arab citizens became a matter of coalition negotiations. This was truly trading in the Arab blood flowing in the streets.

That’s how it is now: funding to fight crime in exchange for supporting one government or another. If protecting lives is a matter for coalition negotiations, the structure called “the state” has collapsed. After all, protecting citizens is what turns a group of individuals into a state.

Protecting the lives of citizens is not bound by economic constraints. First you thwart crime, then you worry about paying the bills. But when it comes to the Arab community, first they find funding for handcuffs and only then make arrests, if at all. Now, even the budgetary issue turns out to have been a sorry excuse.

In other countries, a disclosure like Nussbaum’s would topple governments and drive people out of their minds, and then out of their homes. But in Israel, everything is permitted as long as the victims are from the “non-Jewish sector,” to use a term commonly used by state institutions. It turns out that in Israel, no price is too high to protect Shin Bet collaborators – not even 100 murdered Arabs a year.

Yes, the sun still shines – even when the state’s main intelligence agency colludes with criminals not behind enemy lines, but among its own citizens, who are supposed to be equal and to enjoy the protection of the state. Who knows, maybe the winds will change and the security services will decide that Arab citizens of the state are the enemy.

The new government, in its entirety, must take clear, swift and courageous action to destroy this evil, and not only for the sake of the Arabs. What begins with the Arabs spreads to the Jews. A state commission of inquiry with jaws, not only with teeth, must be established. What is happening now is the beginning of the collapse of the state, which is cooperating with and protecting criminals.

Soon, not only will Jews and Arabs be incapable of recognizing themselves in the mirror, but what they see will terrify them.

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