Israel must make peace within borders

The wail of the siren speaks volumes in Israel.

That's why Israelis use it to commemorate their Memorial Day. Every year the entire country comes to a standstill on Yom HaZikaron to remember those who have given their lives for the Jewish state.

This week, for the first time, Israel's Arab citizens adopted the practice as well. Arabs within Israel observed three minutes of silence, together with their Palestinian brethren outside the Green Line, to mark what they call al Nakba — "the catastrophe" — which refers to the creation of the Jewish state.

Much has been written about how the current intifada has radicalized Israeli Arabs. They now refer to themselves as Israeli Palestinians. In the last election, they overwhelmingly stayed home, and many of those who did go to the polls left their ballots blank.

According to the Associated Press, several hundred made a tour of former Arab villages within Israel as part of al Nakba demonstrations Tuesday, carrying Palestinian flags and calling for their former residents' right of return.

It is important for Israelis — and for us — to realize that some of their grievances are real. Some 1 million Arabs live within Israel, making up one-sixth of the population. Although for the most part, they have been considered loyal citizens, they have never enjoyed equality in the Jewish state.

The events of "Black October," when 13 Israeli Arab protesters were killed by Israeli police, and the delayed investigation that followed have left a permanent stain on the Israeli Arab psyche.

That a solution needs to be found to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is obvious, even though with each passing day it seems more and more unlikely. But just as importantly, Israel needs to make peace with the Arabs within its borders.