Money and housing wont earn love &mdash or respect

When Israeli windsurfer Gal Fridman celebrated his gold medal at the Olympics by singing the Israeli national anthem, “Hatikvah,” millions of Israeli Jews proudly sang along with him. It is unlikely, however, that many Israeli Arabs joined in because in recent years the leaders of the Israeli Arab community have been demanding that the lyrics of “Hatikvah” be changed to remove any references to the Jewish people.

This contrast between Israeli Jews singing about the bond between Jews and the land of Israel, and Israeli Arabs trying to eliminate that bond, is extremely revealing. Their objection is to the very idea of a Jewish state of Israel.

In the last few years, hundreds of Israeli Arabs have been found to be involved in anti-Israel terrorism — and those are just the ones who were caught. They are training the next generation to hate and kill, too. Last summer, Israel Television showed a camp for Israeli Arab children in Kabul, Israel, where campers were shown singing, “Don’t want flour, don’t want sardines, we want bombs.” 

Hostility to the Jewish state is widespread among Israeli Arabs. A poll by the Institute for Peace Research found 83 percent of Israeli Arabs want Israel to “stop being a Jewish-Zionist state.” A survey by Haifa University researchers found only 28 percent of Israeli Arabs consider Israeli Independence Day to be a holiday, and just 36 percent stand in silence on Memorial Day when sirens are sounded. 

From the mass violence by thousands of Israeli Arabs throughout the country in October 2000, to the recent rally in Nazareth by thousands of Israeli Arabs honoring the late Hamas killer Sheik Yassin, the Israeli Arab masses have repeatedly demonstrated a deep hatred for the state of which they are supposed to be loyal citizens. 

No Israeli government, right wing or left wing, has ever drafted Israeli Arabs into the army, because the military leadership does not believe they are fully loyal. Israeli Arabs could prove them wrong by volunteering for National Service (Sherut Leumi, an option chosen by some Israeli Jewish women), which involves communal work instead of army duty. But Israeli Arabs don’t.

The members of Knesset elected by the Israeli Arabs have consistently expressed hostility to Israel and sympathy for Israel’s enemies. 

Knesset member Taleb a-Sana’a has called for “armed struggle against Israel.” He has also proposed removing the Star of David from the Israeli flag. Knesset member Azmi Bishara visited Syria to lay a wreath at the grave of a leader of the Islamic Jihad terrorist group, and has praised the Hezbollah terrorist group as “a legitimate resistance movement.” 

Knesset member Abdel Wahab Darawshe urged Israeli Arabs to refrain from celebrating Israel’s 50th anniversary, since the creation of Israel was “a day of disaster.” Israeli Arab students at Hebrew University in Jerusalem dress in black on Israeli Independence Day to demonstrate their sadness over that “disaster.”

Such extremism contradicts the assumption that giving the Israeli Arabs political equality and improving their standard of living would result in them peacefully integrating into Israeli society and becoming loyal to the state. 

Israeli Arabs are the only Arabs in the Middle East who are free to vote in truly democratic elections, hold political rallies, establish independent trade unions and have a free press. Israeli Arab women are the only Arab women in the Middle East who have equal rights. Israeli Arabs serve or have served in the parliament, the Supreme Court, the Cabinet and in consular positions abroad.

Mortality rates have decreased so much that the average Israeli Arab male lives longer than the average white European male. Infant mortality among Israeli Arabs is even lower than that among American whites. Adult illiteracy has decreased from 52 percent in 1960 to 6.2 percent. Income levels have risen, housing has improved. Yet so many Israeli Arabs remain hostile to Israel. Why?

Because, to rephrase a slogan from a recent U.S. election, it’s not the economy, stupid. Israeli Arabs do not hate Israel because they lack roomier apartments or larger television sets. They hate Israel because they embrace militant Arab nationalism and (in many cases) extremist Islam, ideologies that reject the very concept of the permanent existence of a Jewish state. Giving Israeli Arabs more money or bigger houses will not change that.

As the Palestinian Arab journalist Khalid Amayreh has pointed out, the claim “that Islamic terrorism in Israel is the product of poverty … is simply nonsense … Studies have shown that a substantial majority of Islamists and their supporters come from the middle- and upper-socioeconomic strata.”

What can Israel do? Use all necessary force to stop Israeli Arab rioters. Use all legal means to prosecute Israeli Arab leaders and Knesset members who incite against Israel. Require young Israeli Arabs to do communal service as an alternative to army duty. Resist demands that the Israeli government and American Jews pour more money into Israeli Arab pockets. Israel can’t buy the Israeli Arabs’ love. But it can earn their respect, by standing firm.

Morton A. Klein is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America. Dror Elner, an assistant director at the ZOA, is a former Israeli attorney specializing in human rights.

Integrating Israel’s Arabs

Creating a more just society is a Jewish value