Israel faces existential questions with uprising of Arab citizens

The resurgence of community violence between Arabs and Jews in a series of mixed cities across Israel came as a horrible surprise to many Israelis.

Arab rioters torched at least one synagogue, and another was reportedly set on fire, in Lod. Crowds of Jewish extremists and settlers marched through Haifa and Tiberias chanting “Death to the Arabs”.

As Israeli forces exchanged air and artillery strikes for rockets fired by the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, called for “strength, a lot of strength”To suppress the rioters and close this second threatening front.

What lit up this wildfire from the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem?

The flames of religious unrest were fueled when far-right Israeli extremists chose the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to escalate provocations in areas of East Jerusalem they are trying to get rid of Palestinian families. They have also stepped up the pressure on the Noble Sanctuary or Haram ash-Sharif, which houses the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, as well as the Western Wall sacred to Jews. Israeli riot police carried out three violent raids on the mosque and its compound, causing Arab citizens of Israel to crowd the streets.

There has been nothing like this level of unrest among Arab Israelis since October 2000. It followed Ariel Sharon, the late prime minister and champion of the settlers, marching under armed guard from al-Aqsa to Mount Dawn. Temple, triggering the second “al-Aqsa”. Intifada. This time Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the far-right Jewish Power party and ally of Netanyahu, tweeted: “It’s time to liberate the Temple Mount and Jerusalem, and show them who owns the house once and for all.”

The conflict with Hamas, which erupted in war in 2009, 2012 and 2014, evokes a familiar but deadly Israeli-Palestinian playbook. But an uprising of Israel’s 1.9 million Arab citizens opens wounds that add a dangerous dimension to the existential issues on which Netanyahu and his allies have been complacent.

Netanyahu himself struck many sparks that lit that fire, with scorched earth tactics to help him cling to power even more desperately. On trial for corruption since last May, he has openly embraced the religious and radical irredentist right, promising to annex Palestinian lands colonized by Jews.

Less recently, he used social media in the 2015 election to sound the alarm The “Arabs” “voted en masse”. The dog whistle’s insinuation was that Israeli citizens of Palestinian descent, although a fifth of the population, posed a threat of fifth columnist to the Jewish state.

Netanyahu followed this up in July 2018 by securing a the so-called nation-state law through the Knesset, stating that only Jews have an exclusive right to self-determination in Israel. Ayman Odeh, leader of a coalition of predominantly Arab left-wing parties, said at the time that Israel had “passed a law of Jewish supremacy and told us that we will always be second-class citizens ”.

This law, and Netanyahu’s opportunist membership in openly racist anti-Arab groups such as Ben-Gvir, convinced many Arab citizens to fight for equal rights with Israeli Jews. Palestinians under occupation and the lack of a path to a viable independent state reach similar conclusions.

While Israeli Arabs enjoy rights that their neighbors oppressed by Arab despots can only dream of, they are nonetheless second-class citizens. Israel oppresses their third-class Palestinian brethren in the occupied territories, gradually dispossessing them by expanding Jewish settlements.

the The Association for Civil Rights in Israel declares: “There are glaring socio-economic differences between Jewish and Arab population groups, especially with regard to land, town planning, housing, infrastructure, economic development and education.”

Israeli Arabs were also shaken by the buried suggestion at former US President Donald Trump “deal of the century”That around 350,000 of them could be transferred to the Palestinian Authority as part of a land swap – depriving them of Israeli citizenship.

In 73 years of statehood, no government of Israel has included an Arab party. Arab governments that have “Normalized” relationships with Israel in what appeared to be a new wave of regional relaxation may now think it is time for the Israeli leadership to start normalize at home.

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