Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Lebanon war turns the spotlight on Arab Israelis

Yossi Alpher, "The Palestinian citizens of Israel and the Lebanon war," BitterLemons, Edition 32, August 14, 2006.


The Bedouin and Druze sectors, who serve in the IDF and are more closely identified with the state, here and there expressed open criticism of Hizballah and support for the Israeli war effort. The Christian minority kept its silence.

But the large Muslim majority of Palestinian citizens of Israel opposed the Israeli war effort even as Hizballah fired rockets at them and despite the fact that a number of moderate Arab governments openly took their distance from Nasrallah. This represents a palpable widening of the internal Israeli Arab-Jewish gap. While we will--and should--all no doubt hasten to get back to our diverse modes of peaceful coexistence when this war ends, this issue should not be swept under the carpet. Hizballah, with Iran's backing, has in recent years successfully recruited several Israeli Arab agents. Now we must recognize that it has also made progress in winning over the hearts and minds of the Palestinian citizens of Israel.


...the only time we heard serious and vocal Israeli Arab objections to Nasrallah was when he advised Arab residents of Haifa to leave their homes temporarily to avoid harm, implicitly admitting that he had little control over where his rockets fell. In fact, despite 17 deaths (as of August 10) and dozens of injured in Arab communities from Haifa to Nazareth and Mrar, few Israeli Arabs left their homes (unlike Jewish residents of the north, most of whom moved south if they could afford to), thereby attesting to their determination not to be displaced again as Palestinians were in 1948.


The monthly peace index published by Tel Aviv University's Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research found on July 31-August 1 that 68 percent of the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel defined Israel's war in Lebanon as unjustified; 79 percent claimed that Israel's air attacks on Lebanon were unjustified; 56 percent judged Hassan Nasrallah's declarations to be credible while 53 percent found that IDF reports were not credible.

These findings correspond roughly with declarations made to the media by Israeli Arab citizens under fire in the north; only a small minority of those directly affected by Hizballah's rocket attacks spoke out against Hizballah, while most either condemned Israel or adopted the neutral pose of condemning the war and the mutual destruction and supporting an immediate ceasefire.

Khaled Jubran, "View of a Palestinian citizen of Israel: Swallowing men and their dreams," BitterLemons, Edition 32, August 14, 2006.

Breastfed with centuries of suppressing its original native Indians, saturated with centuries of slavery, America has now decided to lighten our eastern existence with the flames of blessed "democracy'. In other words: "Pax Americana".

I can't think of another culture--undemocratic, cynical and savage as it may be--that would name a four ton atom bomb "little boy" and praise it for eliminating 100,000 souls in Hiroshima as "the greatest thing in history" (Harry Truman).

Gideon Alon, "Bar-On hints Arab municipality heads 'fled' north during war," Ha'aretz, August 28, 2006.

In his appearance before the Knesset's Internal Affairs Committee on Monday, Interior Minister Roni Bar-On accused numerous local council heads and senior municipality officials in the north of "fleeing" their towns during the month-long Lebanon war.

Bar-On said the officials even used their municipality-provided vehicles in order to leave town.

In his remarks, the minister hinted that the main culprits were those from Arab communities.

When quizzed on the matter by Ra'am-Ta'al MK Taleb al-Sana, Bar-On was evasive in providing an unequivocal answer, although he did add that the towns in question "have no synagogues."

MK al-Sana was angered by Bar-On's accusations, saying the minister would be better off restraining his words.

Al-Sana added that he viewed the minister's statements as incitement against the entire Arab community in Israel.

"We are talking about loathsome and irresponsible statements," al-Sana said. "Is it not enough that Arab citizens in the north were abandoned and did not receive proper protection? [He] has to restrain himself in that kind of situation and not come out and incite against the entire Arab population."

The interior minister also assailed claims that the local councils suffered from budget shortages which hindered recovery efforts in the post-war crisis. The financial difficulties did not spring up as a result of the war, but were created at least three years prior.

Bar-On said that the mini-cabinet formed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to oversee reconstruction of Haifa and the north will strive to aid those local councils which suffered economic losses as well as provide special assistance to the residents of those same municipalities.

MKs who attended the committee session offered criticism at what they view as the inability of government ministries to function properly at the outset of the war.

Yisrael Beiteinu MK Yitzhak Aharonovitch said that instead of serving as an example, municipality heads were the first to skip town, resulting in the breakdown of basic services such as public transportation, postal services, and others.

Asked why the government did not declare a state of emergency during the course of the war, Bar-On replied that the Interior Ministry is not authorized to take such a step, referring questions on the matter to the Defense Ministry.

Yulie Khromchenko, "Ezra says Arab towns should not receive aid intended for north," Haaretz, August 28, 2006.

"We have to make a distinction and ensure that the Arab communities in the north do not get all the money for the educational plan," Environment Minister Gideon Ezra said Sunday.

Speaking during a special cabinet to present a plan by the Education Minister on the rehabilitation of the north, Ezra said that the Arab towns and villages "carried on as normal" during the war, and, as such, there was no need to hand out any money to them.

Education Minister Yuli Tamir slammed Ezra for his comments, saying "I can't believe that a minister in Israel would dare say such a thing regarding Israeli citizens."

At the meeting, Tamir presented the plan for rehabilitating the education system in the north, which includes a longer school day and expanding the meal plan. Some 440,000 students in the north would enjoy the benefits of the plan.

The plan, which costs NIS 600 million, is part of a reform plan that Tamir presented to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert before the war. After the war, the plan was restricted to the north.

The Education Ministry is trying to raise money from private funds in order to implement the plan, but most of the money has not yet been raised.

The cabinet is to vote on the plan at the next cabinet meeting, though it is unclear if it will be approved.
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