The horrific sights of the last few days in Acre, Bat Yam and Or Akiva – mob attacks on Arabs and Jews, businesses vandalized and thugs terrorizing entire neighborhoods – raise deep concern for the state’s future and for the ability of Jews and Arabs to live together as Israelis.
The violence in mixed Jewish-Arab cities smashed the illusion that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sold the public, that the Palestinians in Israel had renounced their feelings and aspirations and are now only interested in their standard of living. It has once again transpired that the perception of discrimination and deprivation, alongside offenses to their religious sensibilities and the ongoing occupation are continuing to boil under the relative calm prevailing here in recent years,
But even in the shadow of the violence, the beatings and the fires, we must not be dragged to groundless comparisons. These aren’t the “2021 pogroms.” Israel isn’t the small, defenseless Jewish community of 100 years ago, but a developed state with a strong army, police force and legal system, which are tasked with deterring external threats and handle internal anarchy displays firmly and swiftly. Returning to references of the British Mandate era reflects a lack of confidence in the authorities and encourages acts of revenge.
The lesson to be learned from the events is clear. Israel needs reconciliation and a process of mending the discrimination and the oppression of the Arab minority. Netanyahu, who during his 12 consecutive years in power has fostered hatred between the people and strived to emphasize Jewish supremacy and a creeping annexation in the West Bank, is the last person who can lead such a process.
The current outburst is registered in his name and should serve as an alarm signaling the urgent need to terminate his rule. It’s also a signal that Jewish and Arab leaders need to cooperate in creating a more just and egalitarian society.
- Israel set to impose curfew in mixed Jewish-Arab town over rioting
- Synagogue complex set ablaze; Gantz extends state of emergency in central Israeli city
- Netanyahu: Israel may deploy military to quell violence in mixed Jewish-Arab cities
This mission should have been led by Yair Lapid, who holds the mandate to form a government; Naftali Bennett, his partner to the idea of a government of change; and Mansour Abbas, who said he would support such a government.
But amid the pressure from the harsh state of current events, Bennett stated Thursday that a government of change was no longer on the agenda. Instead of standing in the breach during an emergency, he folded and paved the way for the worst option of all: The continued reign of the person responsible for the horrible state our country is in.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.