Friday, June 21, 2013

The Integration of Arab Israelis

Mike L.

One of the foremost Arab Israeli journalists is Khaled Abu Toameh of the Jerusalem Post and the Gatestone Institute.  He has a recent article published entitled simply The Arabs of Israel in which he writes the following:
Israel's Arab citizens are clearly not listening to the bad advice they have been getting from some of their leaders, including Arab members of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, who keep inciting them against Israel.

These leaders and parliamentarians -- who say they want the Arab citizens to boycott national service and any attempt by the government to fully incorporate them into Israeli society -- have been waging a campaign against the Israeli government's plan to recruit Arab citizens for (civilian) national service as an alternative to military service.
Nonetheless, according to Abu Toameh a recent report by the Israeli Administration for Civil-National Service demonstrates a 76 percent increase in Arab volunteers for national service since September of 2011.

He writes:
Economics and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett said in response that he was aware that some leaders of the Arab community were strongly opposed to the idea of national service for Arab youths.

"There are some who do not want to see the Arab and Jewish sectors live in fine and healthy coexistence," Bennett remarked. "But we won't let them win."

The Arab volunteers are sent to hospitals, schools and even fire stations in their own communities.
Unlike most of the surrounding countries in the Middle East, Israel is a highly diverse enclave on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean that does, in fact, seek to integrate all of its citizenry into the larger society.   What Abu Toameh suggests is not that Israeli Arabs are seeking political rights, because they already have something near full political rights, but jobs and rights to equality in terms of the distribution of services.

I think that we can pretty much all agree - however grungingly by some - that services within Israel should be allocated as a fairly as possible and should not in any way be dependent upon anyone's religion or ethnicity.  I do not know the extent to which the government of Israel shortchanges the Arab minority when it comes to services such as access to water, employment, education, medical necessities, and so forth, but I do know that the Muslim Egyptians are chasing Christian Egyptians out of that country, that Jews have been driven out of almost the entire Middle East, and that I am not even allowed to step foot in Saudi Arabia if I out myself as a Jew.

Thus it becomes rather difficult for me to give much veracity to hysterical claims of oppression against the local Arab population, particularly given the fact of Pallywood which means that we cannot trust the toxic claims coming from anti-Israel Arab leadership, to begin with.

And that's the problem.

The struggle, as is often pointed out, is maintaining Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people while still giving non-Jewish Israelis the fullest measure of democracy and freedom as possible.  That's the goal, or it certainly should be, in my opinion.  Therefore I am heartened to see a significant increase in Arab-Israeli participation in national service programs despite the fact that many of their leadership encourage them not to do so and despite the fact that the numbers of people involved in those programs still remain rather low.

I am not one of those who thinks that Israel is on the verge of self-destruction unless it capitulates to all Arab demands prior to the institution of the two-state solution.  I am not a fan of the status quo but I also do not see why it cannot continue, on and on and on, as it has done decade upon decade.  In the mean time, Israeli Arabs who are not terrorists or Islamists should be encouraged as much as possible toward national participation and integration into the larger Israeli community.

I have full faith that Israel will continue to thrive and prosper going forward for a long time to come, but the more that Israel can live up to its founding documents the better.


  1. Encouraging. Take the toxic legacy of hate out of the equation, and I'd imagine that everyone in the region, of any ethnicity and any religion, would admit, if they were being completely honest, that Israel offers the best opportunities of well-being and a better life for all.

    An unfortunate rarity in that part of the world.

    Perhaps if so many western 'liberals' wouldn't continue, from their safe and comfortable basements and offices and living rooms, egging on and providing aid to those who benefit solely from inciting hatred of, and promoting conflict toward, the Jews of the Middle East, we could all move forward.

    Regardless, Israel thrives!

    It would certainly be nice if Egypt and Syria and so many others could thrive, as well, on their own and without so many "let's you and him fight!" voices interceding otherwise.

    1. Yup.

      "Perhaps if so many western 'liberals' wouldn't continue, from their safe and comfortable basements and offices and living rooms, egging on and providing aid to those who benefit solely from inciting hatred..."

      I feel reasonably certain that if well-meaning and, perhaps, guilt-ridden white Anglo westerners were not so enamored of the fake Arab-Soviet narrative of perfect Arab innocence in the face of Jewish savagery, then maybe Arab teenagers in the Middle East wouldn't be so inclined to throw rocks at Jews at any given opportunity.

      I am telling you, my man, I am not of the political right, but the left is not a friend to the Jewish people or to the Jewish State of Israel, because they are playing a major part in keeping the hatred and the violence toward us alive.

      You and I live in the the US, so we don't have to deal with it, but the same is not true for our friends and relatives in either Europe or the Middle East, and we should not forget that fact.

      You live in Philadelphia and I live in Oakland, but we are privileged among those of us from Jewish descent because we do not have people - usually - spitting hatred at us or throwing rocks at us.

      And maybe that's the best reason that we should stand up for those of us that do.

    2. I certainly do not, and never will, forget that fact.

      Well said, brother...

  2. Yesterday the IDF website reported two young men sworn in on a Koran. Which is to me, remarkable. But you have to constantly remind yourself that over there is not over here.

    "Integration" is I think the wrong word. Ethiopian Jews like Miss Israel or Yemeni Jews flown in last year or Russian Jews in the 1990's - they are integrated. To the best of anyone's abilities and intentions. But the Muslim Arab Israelis have been there since before 1948. There aren't any Arabs clamoring to be let in to be Israeli citizens, apart from the the odd 'palestinian' here and there. They've been integrated for decades as opposed to 'palestinians' in Lebanon who are not allowed even basic civil and human rights since 1970. The issue really is one of crafting a civil society that's (oddly for the Jabotinsky revisionists) not based on an ethnic monoculture. Perhaps Jews' diaspora history of being residents of every other country first has something to do with it. Or maybe Sabras really don't care all much as long as people leave them alone to be and do what they like. Or who knows, maybe the Arabs themselves perfer it and don't want to leave or they can't, unless it's to Western Europe or North or South America and they just stay.

    But apart from the economic drivers that might induce Arabs to want to be Israeli citizens there's certainly the social and political ones not driving them out either. They might feel they would be slightly happier living in nominally Muslim Jordan or Iraq or Algeria but the costs of suffering economically PLUS the stigma of being Israeli expats even if those other countries allowed them in, which they likely never will, outweigh any plausible benefit. Who knows and why question it?

  3. I don't like it when the circumstances task me of all people with raining on a parade, but it looks like I have no choice...

    The article shows that having multiple nations in the same nation-state doesn't have to flare into conflict, even when we're talking about Arabs in the Jewish state. It's a risk all the same, and I'm reminded how everything was calm and harmonious in 1936 right before the riots, or in 2000 on the eve of the Second Intifada.

    I believe multinational states are an inherently risky proposition. Nations have enough of a job preventing internal strife all by themselves; sharing their political home with other nations usually strains things beyond control.

    I know it's politically incorrect to advocate single-nation states in our age, but I believe such states are the wave of the future, for the simple reason that they are the only ones that are going to survive. Israel's DOI, as well as today's multi-culti thinking, are both outdated mindsets that will soon enough be buried along with the nations that don't reject them in time.

    In addition, we all know the world doesn't praise Israel for its multiculturalism, not even within the pre-1967 borders; integrating the Arabs in pre-1967 Israel is seen as much an "obligation" on Israel's part (because they're the "original inhabitants" who've been on this land "for countless generations," you know) as pulling out of the post-1967 territories. And if the latter is done, the world will insist on integrating the full package of millions of "refugees" into the remaining pre-1967 Israel. But even were the world more charitable, it wouldn't be worth the risk. Multinational states are tinderboxes to one degree or another.

    And all that's apart from the very idea that the Jewish nation has to share its one single, tiny state with members of a nation, the Arab nation, that has plenty of states, most of them much bigger than Israel. That doesn't strike me as a fair deal at all. Jewish nationalism lost the plot somewhere along the line when the idea of setting up a state by the Jews exclusively for the Jews was forgotten for the sake of looking "enlightened."

  4. I don't believe that Zionism has to compromise. It's goals are its goals and that is as self evident at the words on the US Declaration of Independence. When any other state voluntarily surrenders its own nationhood then we can talk about adjusting the obligations of Zionism.

  5. Ziontruth,

    Israel already is a multi-national country, is it not?

    Arabs represent about 20 percent of the country - as you hardly need me to mention - and their stance toward the country as a whole needs to be normalized.

    The more Israeli Arabs partner with Israeli Jews the better for everyone involved and that's really all that I am saying.

    If we are beginning to see signs of that normalization then this is a good thing.


    I am not saying that Zionism needs to compromise.

    What I am saying is that increasing levels of Arab Israeli investment in the country, via things like national service, should be a highly welcome development by all Jews.

    Do not think for one moment that I am wearing rose-colored glasses. I read the polls of local Arab opinion on things like violence toward Jews.

    Nonetheless, positive developments are positive developments and when they show up they should be welcomed and encouraged.

    1. Mike,

      "Israel already is a multi-national country, is it not?"

      Yes. What I'm saying is that's a problem, and not something to be proud of.

      "Arabs represent about 20 percent of the country..."

      What I said about Zionism losing the plot somewhere.

      In its pre-1967 borders, we're talking about 8019 square miles (20770 km²) that are supposed to serve for the eventual gathering and self-determination of all the world's Jews. Normally that would already be straining things, but I trust in this nation's resourcefulness. However, sharing such a pitifully constrained area with another nation is just out of line. So little land, with chronic water shortages, and we're supposed to share it with another nation?! And not just any nation, but one that's already in possession of a great number of states on a huge mass of land. Now there's a textbook case of injustice for you.

      I'd like the stance of Israel with the neighboring Arab states to be normalized. I don't want normalization of the encroachment of the Arab nation on the very little we have. That's why I insist that even if Israel were to follow the old two-state model, such a resolution would be unjust if not implemented with a population exchange where the Arabs of pre-1967 fully relocate to the new Arab state.

      Israel has an obligation to integrate Jews. Jewish returners from everywhere on the globe should be integrated. The Ultra-Orthodox should be integrated by making all of them work for their living except the very few (in the order of a few hundreds) who truly are suited to full-time Torah study. But not members of another nation. That's not what the Jews set up their nation-state after nearly 2000 years for.

      "Nonetheless, positive developments are positive developments and when they show up they should be welcomed and encouraged."

      I don't trust the situation to stay so. In October 2000, when the Arabs of pre-1967 Israel joined their brothers in the post-1967 territories in rioting against the Jewish state, that event came as a horrific shock to Israeli Jews, after many years of peaceful coexistence in pre-1967 Israel. You never know what could bring change. I don't trust them. The only non-Jewish minority in Israel I trust not to engage in funny business is the Druzes, because of their religious doctrine of loyalty to the host state same as the Jews have.

      Except for the Druzes, I don't want the Jewish state shared with any other nation. I've been reading on the situation in multinational states all over the world for a long time, and it's not a pretty picture. I'm not making any special pleading for the Jewish case—all nation-states turn out to be worse off for having more than a single nation in them.