ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Demanding “Peace”

Demanding “Peace”

26 July 2006

By Yisrael Ne’eman

From Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning it was the turn of the anti-war activists to get into the act with demonstrations in Tel Aviv involving about 1,000 people. Most are from the Communist Party (also with some Jewish members) and Arab Lists. The basic message is, “We want peace, just negotiate. In the end there will be negotiations so let’s begin now and save all the human suffering.” Sounds very reasonable, supposedly – until everything is put into context.

With no provocation Hezbollah opened fire, killed eight soldiers, abducted two and Israel is expected to negotiate for their release. Over the past six years at least, the Islamists are gearing up for a major war. With the opening of the attack, the extreme Jewish Left and a good portion of Israeli Arabs talk “peace”. Prof. Ilan Pappe, one of the most rabidly anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian academics appeared on TV in a panel discussion to condemn Israeli actions and demand “peace”. During the debate he was forced to admit that his solution to the problem was the elimination of the Jewish State. Another Jew, MK Dov Hanin (Communist) is not far behind. Demanding “negotiations and peace” is just a euphemism for a pro-Hezbollah, anti-Israel stance.

Calling for peace, negotiations and the immediate halt to hostilities in the midst of Israeli military activities is the best way to ensure a Hezbollah victory. The small minority of extremist Jews are the façade for many Israeli Arabs and their elected leaders like Arab Nationalist Movement MK Ahmed Tibi (formerly a top advisor to Yasir Arafat) whose sympathies lay with the Hezbollah. The above mentioned supported the Palestinian Authority and Arafat initiated conflict against Israel in the fall of 2000 and further encouraged Israeli Arabs to take a radical anti-Israel stand which led to ten days of rioting in October the same year. Then they screamed for Israeli concessions to Palestinian demands, not for peace. After all, at the outset it seemed the Palestinians gained the upper hand. In short, they hypocritically demand peace when it suits their interests.

Nor do they represent the vast majority of Israeli Arabs as many would like to claim. In a poll done by Teleseker in Ma’ariv at the end of last week 95% of Israel’s overall population considered the Israeli response to be “justified and correct” while only 4% objected. Israel’s Arabic speaking sector comprises 19-20% of the whole. There were claims of discrimination in Nazareth concerning the safety of Israel’s Arab population when faced with rocket attacks after two small children were killed by a Hezbollah rocket and dozens injured. True, the city does not have the shelters necessary and there was no warning of an attack. Although it does not absolve the state of its responsibility, there was no expectation that Hezbollah would fire at Nazareth and the sirens did not sound because they were disconnected by the mayor’s office so they would not be heard on Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers. Mayor Gareesi is completely to blame for no alarm system, but no Arab leader will say so. The father of the two children blamed the State of Israel for their deaths and declared them “shahids” (martyrs) for the cause. Nasrallah is in the clear.

On the other hand there are those who condemn Hezbollah openly, but they are not the Israeli Arab leadership. When a Christian Arab carpenter from Iblin was killed by a rocket in Haifa while at work, everyone made clear Nasrallah’s responsibility and refused to speak of martyrdom. In Marar yesterday a Moslem teenager was killed and it seems her parents are in a quandary as whether to consider her a “shahid” or not.

Israeli Arabs are often caught in a very difficult situation as a result of conflicting national, cultural and religious loyalties. But this does not absolve anyone of straight thinking. The moderates are silent for fear of incurring the wrath of the radicals and their emissaries as represented by the more vocal leadership. How many Christian or even Moslem Arabs support Nasrallah’s Khomeinist “Party of Allah” in its demands for Islamic Shi’ite world domination? Or are there those who just want to damage the Jewish State as much as possible.

Like most, Israeli Arabs will go with the winner. The conflict with the Palestinians and the rise of the radical Hamas, coupled with the development of the Hezbollah army, its mini-state in south Lebanon and its challenge to Israel and the central government in Beirut emboldened the Islamic extremists of all stripes and forced Israeli Arab moderates to take a back seat.

The larger a clear cut victory the IDF will obtain against the Hezbollah, the greater the impact there will be on the Arab political leadership in Israel. The provocative extreme anti-Israel positions taken by a few Jews is not worth emulating if Arabs in Israel want their long overdue full integration into the state. Dealing the Hezbollah and Hamas a decisive defeat will have a moderating influence on Israeli Arabs. Such an impact will be beneficial to Jews and Arabs alike and certainly encourage the government and state apparatus to rectify many of the inequalities claimed to be suffered by the Arab community.

Israeli Arab support for the Hezbollah will only lead to more suspicion and alienation from mainstream Israeli society.

Media War Victims

Thousands of the poorest, least fortunate Israelis from the Galilee and Haifa are living in bomb shelters for most of the past two weeks. These are the elderly, the immigrants with no relatives in the center of the country or the Negev, the handicapped and in general those on the bottom rungs of the socio-economic ladder who cannot even afford a bus ticket. Not only are many of the shelters poorly equipped but in certain cases there is a basic lack of food in addition to the sweltering conditions of mid-July.

CNN and the foreign media have finally done human interest stories about Israel’s “humanitarian crisis”. It is almost as if the government (and right wing opposition) are breathing a sigh of relief. Israel can now compete in the “media war” and prove that we too have a mass of unfortunate civilian victims of the conflict besides the direct casualties of the Hezbollah rocket attacks. No doubt that Hezbollah is responsible for all the suffering on both sides and with that point now made, we should all get past the cynical usage of hungry bomb shelter residents as our front line commandos in winning the “media war”.

Is there any reason they cannot be supplied with food, clothing, fans or where possible even air conditioners by the civil and military authorities responsible? Justice and the social cohesion of the State of Israel (greatly undermined) and the Jewish People in the aftermath of the war are of much greater importance than showing off “our casualties” in the media war.