Netanyahu's Racist Mudslinging Against Arabs

Netanyahu is outraged when people cast collective blame on settlers, but has no problem drawing racist lines of separation when it comes to Israel's Arabs.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a new definition of the slogan “two states for two peoples.” One people, the Jewish people, is “completely Israeli,” isn’t infected with terrorism and feels bone-deep loyalty to the state. The other people, the Arab Israelis - or, more accurately, Israeli Muslims - lives in lawless enclaves, hoards weapons and engages in Islamic incitement and in terror.

Officially both peoples are citizens of the same state. But in terms of consciousness, according to Netanyahu, they are two hostile peoples.

Netanyahu will surely boast of the fact that his government, generations late, has agreed to allocate 15 billion shekels ($3.8 billion) to the Arab minority, in order to bring it somewhat closer to the Israeli Jewish space. But in the same breath, he repels Israeli Arabs as if they were lepers.

When the prime minister says he is “not prepared to accept two States of Israel, a state of law for most of its citizens and a state within a state for some of them, in enclaves in which there is no law enforcement and in which there is Islamist incitement, rampant crime and an abundance of illegal weapons,” the question that comes to mind is: Who stopped him from enforcing the law up to now? Who prevented him from building police stations, advancing education and embracing the Arabs as an inseparable part of Israeliness?

Much more disturbing than this, however, is his wholesale mudslinging against Israel’s Arab minority. “Enclaves,” “Islamist incitement” and “abundance of weapons” do not suggested isolated instances of crime or terror carried out by a few individuals. Every Israeli, Arab or Jewish, knows what and where these “enclaves” are. About 20 percent of the population lives in them.

Netanyahu and Minister Erdan visiting the site of Friday's shooting, in Tel Aviv, December 2, 2015.
Ofer Vaknin

Netanyahu is outraged by people who cast collective blame on religious Zionism, or on rabbis or on residents of the settlements — which could also be considered enclaves where Israeli law is not enforced and where there is an abundance of weapons. But he has no problem drawing racist lines of separation. In his view, just as the Arabs “threatened” to conquer the ballot boxes in the last election, they now threaten to destroy the state through terror. Instead of being grateful for the government’s largesse, Netanyahu complains, those Arabs are biting the hand that feeds them — as if they were pets who forgot their training.

It appears that it is no longer possible to dam the polluted spring from which Netanyahu draws the insults with which he fills the Israeli discourse. But it is possible and necessary to create a parallel dialogue, an alternative to the prime minister’s racist one. A discussion that will make it unequivocally clear that being “Israeli all the way” is the natural and undisputed position of every citizen, Jew and Arab alike.