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September 21, 1979 - Image 62

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1979-09-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

62 Friday, September 21, 1919

Israel's Arab Population: Ignoring A Major Problem

MOVIE
GUIDE

By GIL SEDAN

JERUSALEM (JTA) —
As Israeli leaders spent
more and more time and
energy trying to cope with
the problem of three million
Palestinians beyond the
country's borders, they were
swiftly drifting away from
the nation's own Arab citi-
zens, those who once upon a
time were known as "Is-
rael's bridge to peace."

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During the long years of a
state of war between Israel
and its Arab neighbors, Is-
raeli Arabs enjoyed the
nickname. Now that peace
is a reality, the bridge
slowly is collapsing, and the
almost 600,000 Arab citi-
zens of Israel are generally
considered more as a hazard
than an asset.

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signs and feelings of tension
between the Jewish and
Arab communities, while
the government stands al-
most hopeless in the face of
the deterioration of rela-
tions.
At the beginning of the
year, six Arab students
were suspended from
their studies at Hebrew
University for a three-
month period because ,
they signed a petition
supporting the Palestine
National Council, often
described as the Pales-
tine Liberation Organiza-
tion parliament in exile,
then convening in
Damascus.
At the same time, more
"moderate" Arab students
maintained close contacts
with their colleagues at the
West Bank Bir Zeit Univer-
sity, known as the stron-
ghold of the pro-PLO Arab
intelligentsia.
Other students went one
step further and joined the
El Fatah terror organiza-
tion. Eight of them were re-
cently sentenced to pro-
longed jail periods.
Last June, villagers in -
the usually peaceful village
of Meiliya, east of
Nahariya, clashed violently
with police over an attempt
to pave a road through the
village to a new Jewish set-
tlement nearby.
For the first time since
the establishment of the
state, representatives of

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the 400,000 Bedouins of born after 1948 and
the Negev joined Arabs of graduated from Israeli
the north in nationalist schools, entered the univer-
protests. The occasion sities. But rather than iden-
was a government spon- tifying with the system that
sored bill which forced had made them into the new
thousands of Bedouins Arab intelligentsia, they
from the Negev land they revolted and generally
settled on to make room identified with the Palesti-
nian nationalist theme.
for the new air fields.
They identified them-
In addition, last month,
Gen. Avigdor Ben-Gal, selves not as Israelis, but as
commander of the northern Palestinians, or (if they
command, likened the wanted to ease the shock),
Arabs of the Galilee to- "a as Palestinians of Israeli
cancerous growth in the citizenship.
body of the state." He de-
Of course, the change
nied, however, that he had did not -come about sud-
said this. As if to aggravate denly, nor was it only a
things, the government matter of ideological
failed to promise appropri- transformation. Objec-
ate compensations for large tive social and economic
Arab families for recent difficulties, such as the
price hikes, arguing that as few jobs offered by the
families whose heads did government for Arabs
not serve in the army they (due to security reasons),
were not entitled to the were quite often the
same compensation. Due to background which made
public criticism, the gov- it easy for nationalist
ernment changed that deci- feelings to develop.
sion a few days later; but the
The stronger the young
damage was already done. nationalist Arab generation
Those who argued that becomes, the more difficult
Arabs are discriminated it is for the older, more mod-
against seized the case as erate Arabs. Nowadays, one
can wander for hours in
the perfect example.
Under the circumstances, northern Arab villages
it was hardly a surprise to looking for an Arab who will
hear a young Arab declare dissociate himself from the
on television the following Palestinian identity. Such
weekend: "In five years, you Arabs are often considered
(the Jewish interviewer) traitors. They find it dif-
will hardly be able to enter ficult to maintain such a
our village." Once again, standing, because the state
the bridge of peace was offers them little compensa-
nowhere in sight.
tion.
As a general rule, the
The situation reveals a
wider-than-ever gap be- government has failed to
tween the Jewish expecta- cope with the Arab issue as
tions and the Arab reality, a_ such. Despite the concern
gap that emerged following often voiced by government
the Six-Day War. Until that officials — and ministers —
point, Israel's Arabs hardly the Ministerial Committee
constituted a problem. The on Arab Affairs which
population had no intellec- existed during the Labor
tual elite per se, as most of Alignment government
its intelligentsia had fled ceased to function during
during the War or Indepen- the present government.
dence. The rural population The only body directly in-
far outnumbered the urban volved with that population
populace. And traditional is the Arab adviser on Arab
values and mores were do- affairs at the Premier's
office. But that body has no
minant.
This society, only mini- executive powers and is
mally interested in its na- headed by an "acting ad-
tional political 'advance- viser."
ment, stressed its economic
The previous adviser res-
progress to a far greater ex- igned earlier this year be-
cause he was rarely re-
tent.
Together with the rest _ cieved by Premier
of Israel, this society Menahem Begin. No per-
enjoyed the economic manent replacement has
boom catalyzed by the been found.
provision of German re-
Three years ago, Yis-
parations in the mid- rael Koenig, northern
1950s. Its geographic sec- commissioner in the
lusion from the rest of the Ministry of Interior,
Arab world made it even suggested a detailed plan
easier for its residents to of benefits and 'penalties
integrate into Israeli for Arabs: benefits for
society.
those Arabs who ex-
Indeed, the climax of that pressed unreserved loy-
integration came during the alty, penalties for any-
war, when Arabs volun- body who worked
teered to work in the service against the state. Koenig
of the state in place of Jews even went so far as to
who were then enlisted. The recommend that Arabs
cooperation which the Arab should be "encouraged"
population displayed dur- to leave the country.
ing the difficult period of
The so-called Koenig
May-June, 1967, was an document was denounced
example of the success of by Interior Minister Yosef
that integration.
Burg, but many said quietly
But it was that war which that there were some good
created the gap. Arabs were ideas in that document.
gradually exposed to the Koenig is still in office.
Recently, in a workshop
"Palestinian world," the
West Bank. The young Is- organized by the Samuel
raeli Arabs, those who were Neaman Institute for Ad-

l

vanced Studies in Science
and Technology at the Haifa
Technion, a well-known
Mideast expert, Prof.
Yehoshua Porat, suggested
a proposal diametrically
opposed to that of Koenig.
He suggested finding a new
modus vivendi for Israel's
Arabs by fully integrating
them into the state, includ-
ing their possible absorp-
tion into the Israel Defense
Force.
Porat went so far as
say: "It follows that we z
nearing the -end of the
Zionist era in the history of
the Jewish people. The
majority of the Jewish
people gradually choose to
live outside of Israel. The
Jewish residents of Israel
must wake up from their il-
lusions and act according to
this new reality. Therefore,
we must prepare ourselves
for the day when the rate of
Israel's Arabs threatens the
existence of a Jewish
democracy as such.
"The only way to do so
is to gradually advance
toward a reality in which
two groups of popula-
tions with different cul-
tures and ethnic identifi-
cations can share a com-
mon Israeli citizenship
and loyalty within the
same state."
The workshop finally
recommended the middle of
the road proposal which ac-
tually endorsed the existing
policy: "Israel's Arabs
should live in peace with the
state and be loyal and law
abiding citizens, but one
cannot expect the Arab
minority to identify them-
selves with the aims of
Zionism," said the majority
of the experts who _partici-
pated in the workshop.
Some Israelis say there is
really no solution — that
even if Israel were disap-
pear, there would still be a
Palestinian problem; even if
a Palestinian state would be
established the Arabs
would then demand a re-
turn to the 1947 borders.
But even if one adopts a
more hopeful approach, that
the solution of the Palesti-
nian problem might also
eradicate nationalist feel-
ing among Israel's Arabs,
the demographic statistics
still present a problem: Is-
rael's Arabs, presently
number close to 600,000,
some 16 percent of the popu-
lation.
According to the Central
Bureau of Statistics' f- - --
cast, by 1995 there wil
more than one million
Arabs in Israel, approx-
imately 20 percent of the
population.

Energy Report

NEW YORK — The
Synagogue Council of
America recently released a
report on energy conserva-
tion and simultaneously
urged Congress to speed
implementation of an effec-
tive energy program.

Better off is the poor man
who follows the straight
path than the depraved man ,
who is rich.
— Proverbs 28

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