The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized a major New York Times feature on Israeli Arabs timed for Israel‘s 60th anniversary last week as inaccurate, distorted and misleading. The feature, by Ethan Bronner, ‘After 60 Years, Arabs in Israel Are Outsiders‘ (May 7, 2008) contains the following assertions:
· “After the United Nations General Assembly voted in late 1947 for two states in Palestine, one Arab and one Jewish, local Arab militias and their regional supporters went on the offensive against Jewish settlements, in anger over the United Nations’ support for a Jewish state. Zionist forces counterattacked. Hundreds of Palestinian villages, including Lajoun, were evacuated and mostly destroyed”: The UN partition vote was succeeded not merely by attacks upon “Jewish settlements” by “local Arab militias and their regional supporters,” but by the invasion of Palestine by the regular armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, plus a Saudi contingent. The attackers were not small militias alone, local or otherwise. Additionally, attacks upon unarmed Jewish communities across the Arab Middle East simultaneously took place, even though none of these had any connection to the conflict. Palestinian villages were evacuated and destroyed chiefly because Arab leaders at home and abroad urged them to leave in the early stages of the fight so as to allow the invading Arab forces not to be encumbered by worrying about Arab civilians. Most villages were left intact until after the war, when it became clear that the Arab world would not end the state of war and that the Arabs would not be returning.
· “Israeli Arabs, including the most successfully integrated ones, say a new identity must be found for the country’s long-term survival”: This reflects the fact that many Israeli Arabs do not accept the Jewish identity of the state nor give their loyalty to it. Despite the fact that Israeli Arab citizens vote in elections, belong to the same trade unions and attend the same hospitals as Jews, while having their own political parties and enjoy the freedom to practice their religion, most of them do not serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), nor do they accept the majority Jewish character and identity of the country. A 2007 survey showed that a mere 26.5% of Israeli Arabs are willing to serve in the IDF. According to a March 2007 report by Israel‘s General Secret Service (GSS Shin Bet), in 2005, 17 terror cells involving 22 Israeli Arabs was uncovered by Israeli security services. In 2006, a further 21 Israeli-Arab terror cells were uncovered, involving 24 Arab citizens. Also, Arab advocacy groups do not accept Israel‘s majority Jewish character. In December 2006, the Mossawa Center the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, an Arab advocacy group, produced a paper, ‘Constitution Based on Equality for All’ which calls for overturning the Law of Return which allows for automatic citizenship for Jews who immigrate to Israel. (Independent Media Review & Analysis, December 6, 2006). Similarly, the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee also released a document in December 2006 entitled, ‘The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel,’ stipulating that Israeli Arabs will demand that during the next two decades Israel become a bi-national state alongside an independent Palestinian state (Haaretz, December 6, 2006). Israeli Arabs who have these attitudes wish to replace the Jewish state, not find a new identity within it.
· “Jews fear ultimately losing the demographic battle to Arabs, both in Israel and in the larger territory it controls”: Jews have feared this for years, but mistakenly. A recent study by the American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG) discloses that fertility rates for Israeli Jews stand at 2.75 per woman the highest in the industrialized world and, while not expected to rise further by 2025, the Arab birth rate is expected to drop to 2.4 percent by that date. The latter drop would be in accord with the pattern of Arab birthrates in the Middle East, while Israel’s reduction of monthly allowances for large families has led to a major drop in the high Israeli Bedouin birthrate (down from 9.6 per cent in 2004 to 7 percent in 2007). That reduction did not affect the Jewish religious birthrate, which in fact slightly increased. Moreover, the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics figures indicate that the Jewish births in Israel have risen from 69 per cent of the total in 1995 to 74 per cent in 2006. As for Palestinian Arabs, the AIDRP has amassed impressive evidence, presented to the U.S. Congress last year, showing that the Palestinian Authority (PA) had deliberately misled U.S. and international humanitarian efforts by creating a ‘Million Person Gap’ inflating its population figures to total over 3.3 million, as opposed to the actual figure of 2.4 million. The findings of the AIDRG study has enormous implications for the future namely, a 67% Jewish majority over 98.5% of the land west of the Jordan River (without Gaza) can be expected, contrary to the projections of impending Jewish minority status.
· Many Israeli Arabs express solidarity with their Palestinian brethren under occupation, while others praise Hezbollah, the anti-Israel group in Lebanon, and some Arabs in Parliament routinely accuse Israel of Nazism”: Israeli Arabs have expressed solidarity for numerous regimes and terrorist groups attacking Israel, not only Hizballah. A glance at the leading Arab members of Knesset (parliament) underscores this. Azmi Bishara, for example, has praised Syria, which sponsors several terrorist groups striking Israel, as an “ally.” He has visited the country, despite the existing state of war. He even urged Hizballah chief Hassan Hasrallah, who launched thousands of rockets into Israel in 2006, to “continue his fight.” Other Arab Knesset members, like Jamal Zahalka and Wasal Taha, have said and done similar things. Members of the National Democratic Assembly (Balad) Party, an Arab parliamentary list represented in the Knesset, have been shown in a video chanting in Arabic “Our Popular Front [for the Liberation of Palestine] we want an attack from you” and “Oh [PLFP chief Ahmed] Sadaat we want weapons to build.” The video was screened by Israel TV’s Channel One in connection with Arab protests over Land Day in the Arab village of Arrabe (‘Israeli Arabs call for terror attacks against Israel at Land Day protest,’ Independent Media Review Analysis, March 30, 2008). That is why it is possible for an Israeli Arab to say, as quoted in the article, that “I want to convince the Jewish people that having a Jewish state is bad for them.”
· “Palestinian Arabs became refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Gaza, then under Egypt‘s supervision. But some, like Mr. Mahameed, stayed in Israel. They were made citizens and were promised equality, but never got it”: Israeli Arab citizens vote in elections, belong to the same trade unions and attend the same hospitals as Jews. They support their own political parties and enjoy freedom to practice their religion. They sit in the Knesset and cabinet, serve in the diplomatic corps representing Israel overseas, attend Israeli universities and serve as judges, including on the Supreme Court. Yet most of them do not serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), nor do they accept the majority Jewish character and identity of the country.
· Ethan Bronner throughout casts aspersions on Israel‘s democratic character because of its Jewish identity but he never says anything about the undemocratic and explicitly Muslim or Arab character of many of Israel‘s neighboring enemies. Several Arab states are described as Arab republics. Iran is officially the “Islamic Republic of Iran.” The flags of several Arab states carry Muslim symbols like the crescent and the Saudi one carries a Muslim religious declaration of faith. Many of these states persecute their minorities. Saudi Arabia and Jordan do not even permit Jews to live in the country. The Organization of the Islamic Conference is composed of 56 states which call themselves Muslim, but no one has asked them to renounce their Muslim character.