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January 30, 1987 - Image 40

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-01-30

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1

OPINION

"

Kahane And Arabs:
An American Concern

KENNETH BANDLER

Special to The Jewish News

S

ince Kach party leader
Meir Kahane won a
Knesset seat in July
1984, he has faced a rising tide
of opposition of his decidely
anti-Arab policies from
American Jewry, the Diaspora
community he has visited
frequently in search of
financial and moral support for
his racist political program.
The organized American
Jewish community has suc-
cessfully ostracized Kahane.
Refusing to meet with him,
community leaders have de-
nounced his proposals to limit
the civil rights of Arabs living
under Israeli jurisdiction and
to eventually expel them from
Israel, Judea, Samaria, and
Gaza. An overwhelming
majority of American Jews
recognize Kahane's ideology as
antithetical to the tenets of
Zionism and the teachings of
Judaism.
Yet, ostracizing Kahane in
the U.S. will not diminish his
appeal in Israel. Israeli leaders
have recognized that anti-
Kahane pronouncements and
Knesset legislation will not
alone defeat the scourge of
Kahaneism. Nor will such ac-
tions contribute to an im-
provement in relations be-
tween Israel's Jewish and Arab
citizens. The problem Israeli
society must confront is no
longer Kahane the man, but
the number of Israeli Jews,
especially among the young,
who openly support his views.
Israel's government has cor-
rectly recognized that educa-
tion is the key to fostering bet-
ter understanding between the
country's Jewish and Arab
communities and, thereby,
ensuring their continued co-
existence. While the govern-
ment has initiated important
programs in Jewish and Arab
schools during the past two
years, private citizens con-
tinue to take the lead in this
area. Israeli leaders Shimon
Peres and Yitzhak Navon,
among other officials, have
been actively encouraging
these efforts.
More than 30 non-
government organizations are
active in the field of Jewish-
Arab relations. Many of them
were working on educational
projects that bring together Is-
rael's Arab and Jewish citizens
long before Kahane made
aliyah. Most of them recorded
positive gains in fostering
Jewish-Arab understanding
and cooperation before Kahane
entered the Knesset. Indeed,
the fact that Kahane has failed
to capitalize upon confronta-
tion between Jews and Arabs
in Israel can be attributed in
large measure to the existence

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Kenneth Bandler is Israel Task
Force Consultant at the National
Jewish Community Relations
Advisory Council.

40

Friday, January 30, 1987

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

and traditionally positive work
of such organizations.

For example, weekly semi-
nars at Neve Shalom, a
Jewish-Arab community near
Latrun Junction, and commu-
nity projects facilitated by
Interns for Peace have brought
together thousands of Arab
and Jewish youth. Beit Hage-
fen in Haifa and the Mapam
Party's Givat Haviva Institute
have done pioneering educa-
tional work with Jews and
Arabs. For most Jews and
Arabs, the first time they meet
on a social basis often is by par-
ticipating in such programs.
Until now the role of such
non-governmental organiza-

(

The problem Israeli
society must
confront is not
Kahane the man,
but the number of
Israeli Jews who
openly support his
views.

tions, let alone their existence,
has not been fully appreciated
by the American Jewish com-
munity. A more informed
community could encounter
Kahane and his supporters
even more effectively by
encouraging the work of those
seeking to improve Jewish-
Arab relations in Israel.
We must begin to distin-
guish between the 700,000
Arabs who are citizens of the
state of Israel, and the 1.3 mil-
lion Arabs who reside in Judea,
Samaria and Gaza. More than
70 percent of the Israeli Arab
population were born after the
establishment of the state in
1948. Having grown up an in-
tegral part of Israeli society,
from attending schools to par-
ticipating in elections and
serving in the Knesset, most
Israeli Arabs seek improved
economic and social conditions,
and not the overthrow of their
government. They have not
risen up against the Jewish
population during times of
war, and a minute portion of
terrorist incidents in Israel
have been perpetrated by its
Arab citizens.
Ignoring these facts, Kahane
has targeted for his intimida-
tion campaign the Arab citi-
zens of Israel, and not the
Arabs of Judea, Samaria and
Gaza. The Arab villages he has
attempted to visit are located
within the Green Line, and not
in the disputed territories cap-
tured during the 1967 Arab-
Israeli war. Clearly, one of
Kahane's main goals is to de-
stroy the peaceful relations
that already exist among Is-
rael's Jewish and Arab com-
munities.
American Jews should be
deeply concerned about de-
veloping and strengthening
harmonious relations among

N

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