For one to truly grasp what a democracy is, it is essential for that person to have been raised in a liberal, democratic country.
Israel is such a liberal democracy, despite the fact that she is often called many other names having nothing to do with democracy!
Not only is Israel a democracy for her Jewish citizens, but for all those lucky enough to be born Israeli. In fact Israel’s democratic values at times do damage to her security.
Very simply, if Israel were not the liberal, democratic nation she is, there would not be an Israeli Arab in the country. Or at least Israeli Arabs would suffer the same consequences other minority groups like the Chechens and Kurds have been dealt when behaving in a treacherous manner.
Israel’s Arab population is afforded political freedom, religious freedom and equal justice under Israeli law. Like all minorities, Israeli Arabs do suffer disadvantages. These disadvantages have been greatly reduced and today Israel’s Arab population is without a doubt the freest of any significant Arab population in any nation.
One just needs to look at the “great” liberal democracy called the French Republic, where wearing a head scarf has been banned in public. Something like this would never fly in Israel.
However, a segment of Israel’s Arab sector is behaving in treacherous fashion. Sheikh Raed Salah is the main orchestrator, attempting to push Israeli Arabs against their state. To put it starkly, Salah is a racist and an anti-Semite, who probably could, and should, be locked up for treason. Israel -- as she did to the Kach movement lead by Meir Kahane -- should ban the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, which is behind Sheikh Reed Salah.
Israel must guarantee her Arab citizens their freedoms and rights. But, just as Israel must fulfill her end of the bargain, so must Israel’s Arab citizens. As of now that just is not happening.
Nor does this Israeli Arab dissent in any way resemble the Civil Rights movement of African Americans starting in the mid-twentieth century. Blacks, in the South mostly, were literally segregated from the white population, unable to sit among whites on a bus or at a lunch counter; forced to use separate water fountains, bathrooms, hotels, motels, restaurants.
I must make several visits a year to Belinson Hospital and every time I have been there in the cardiac section, there have been Arab nurses and physicians, and virtually half of the patients are Arab. Last week I had dinner at a very chic, popular Arab-owned and operated restaurant down on the Tel Aviv waterfront. Perhaps the greatest indignity an Arab has had to suffer in Israel in the last decade was when Hezbollah bombed Haifa and destroyed an Arab woman’s apartment during the last Israeli-Lebanese conflict in July, 2006.
So let’s get real for a moment: Israel’s Arab citizens who are fighting are NOT fighting for equality. Many are actively fighting for the destruction of the country that has afforded them more rights than their brethren in other countries could ever hope to have.
On one hand they still make claims for greater freedom and equality in what they themselves call Israeli democracy. On the other hand they continuously and actively call for Israel’s destruction.
The second someone like Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman talks about a population exchange, Israeli Arabs SHRIEK foul play.
Not because they will lose their houses. When Lieberman talks of an exchange, he means giving the Palestinians Israeli Arab towns in exchange for Israeli settlements over the Green Line. They cry foul play because Israeli Arabs know more than anyone else Israel grants them the freedoms of the most open and liberal democracy. They also know living under Palestinian rule would be disastrous for them.
There is much talk about the growing hostility from Israel’s Jewish citizens towards her Arab citizens. That saddens me, yet can one truly fault them? How many times can you hear your fellow citizen call for the destruction of your country and remain passive about it? Can we be blamed for losing our patience with our Arab co-patriots? Israeli Arabs do not serve in the IDF, WE the Jews fight for their safety. It is their supposed brethren that lob rockets at their towns intentionally during Israel’s conflicts. For them to side with their countries enemies in light of all that their nation does for them; something is very wrong with that.
In reality it should be the Israeli Arabs who are on the front line of defense for Israel in this nauseating anti-Israel campaign.
Instead of fighting for the country that has granted them so much freedom -- a hell of a lot more freedom than any other Arab state grants their citizens -- Israel’s Arab citizens spit on the country whenever they can.
With Israel’s Arabs it gets down to what John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.”
Until Israel’s Arabs learn to live by this creed and demand that their leaders recognize it there will be problems between the two peoples, and it’s all completely unnecessary.